Wherever and whenever there is a need, there should also be an urgency to educate the community about how and why this need should be met. The Shepherd’s Way, located in Fort Lauderdale, offers both this education and a desire to provide countless homeless families with housing, food and the understanding necessary to develop and sustain peace and stability in their lives.
To personally learn what services were offered to these families, I visited The Shepherds Way and had a conversation with Executive Director, Robin Martin. While receiving a complete tour of the facility, I was greeted by a staff that was gracious, friendly and inspiring.
“Half of my mission is to be an ambassador to the homeless; the other half is to inspire, educate and motivate others to enter the world of poverty and see the need that is on the streets,” Martin explained, “and for churches, leaders and pastors to give assistance, time and extra space to house families in need”.
In a survey dedicated to the homeless, completed every two years by the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership, up to 200 families find themselves on the street, homeless and in crisis at any given time. “These individuals pick up a phone book, go to a church, or a food pantry, and are told to call the Crisis Hotline and seek shelter. For individuals this process is easier, but for families it is much different,” states Martin. “There are between 50 to 100 new calls from families every month for shelter. These calls are handled by priority according to ages of the children, those who are actually living on the street, rather than [those] losing their residence in thirty days, pregnancy, and an entire menagerie of other circumstances.”
Ninety-two percent of those families who remained in The Shepherd’s Way program were eventually successful in transitioning to a permanent or more stable environment. In this program, they are taught to maintain a budget and keep financial attentiveness in their sights, in addition to maintaining a peaceful atmosphere in their lives. They do not teach spiritual awareness, directly; it is learned more through living by example.
Through partnerships with other major organizations, the men and women at The Shepherd’s Way are also taught life skills such as parenting, assistance with codependency, and dealing with drugs, alcohol and anger.
“We are a faith mission based on the life and writings of Jesus Christ,” says Martin. “Families don’t need to believe anything. This Life allows the love of God to immerse them rather than convert them. After this demonstration of love, their hearts are usually more receptive, once their initial needs are met.”
When help is needed, emergency shelter is provided and transitional housing follows. The goal of The Shepherd’s Way is to get people back on their feet. With such an enormous amount of homeless living on the streets of Broward County, there are not sufficient amounts of housing to go around. Due to this overwhelming need, the call is out to the Christian community, the body of Christ, to help. With eight hundred registered churches in our area alone, families could be temporarily lodged in church halls, spare rooms, etc.
Martin also explained that 1,600 children enrolled in Broward County schools are currently homeless. This is a Christian call to arms -the many, many arms of the body of Christ. At the present time, The Shepherd’s Way has a dilapidated upstairs section in one of its buildings. If restored, this area could become home to so many needy families. It can also serve as an area where countless activities can take place, such as daycare, and an area for arts and crafts – a favorite among the children there.
Providing so much to so many in need, The Shepherd’s Way could also use a helping hand from the community to continue its mission. In addition to continued prayers, they could use help in restoring their building and donations to buy items that are desperately needed.
My mission is to voice the call for those knowledgeable in home improvement and construction, business, and pastors or other employees of local churches and ministries so that they could partner up with The Shepherd’s Way.
A goal of $750,000 has been set so that desired projects can be completed and this Life will be able to continue helping countless families in Broward County.
If God has placed it on your heart to donate funds, services or time, or if you feel lead to help pull together a real community effort to support this Life, please visit: www.theshepherdsway.org.