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Cold Weather Shelter at Hyde Park United Methodist

Four cold weather shelters will open in Hillsborough County on Tuesday night as temperatures plummet in the Tampa Bay area.

City officials announced the county’s cold weather shelters program will be activated Tuesday night for the homeless and those who live in homes without adequate heat. 

Temperatures are expected to dip as low as 46 degrees and possibly even below 40 degrees with wind chill overnight in Hillsborough County.

At Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, volunteers spent the day setting up enough mats and blankets for at least 80 people.

“To be able to provide a night that they can rest comfortably at least somewhat in a safe place is really important,” said Heidi Aspinwall, Hyde Park United Methodist Church’s interim coordinator for missions and outreach.

Each person coming in gets a warm meal Tuesday night and a take-home breakfast Wednesday morning.

“They’ll have a hot meal tonight for dinner, and then they’ll have a takeaway meal in the morning. A lot of folks need to get to work. Our volunteers also need to get to work, and so we’ll have to reset, clean up, and then we just have to hope that it warms up,” Aspinwall said.

Also working hard to help is Metropolitan Ministries. Their volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon preparing hundreds of meals for the shelters.

Check out the full report here.

The Portico on Thanksgiving

A trendy cafe in downtown Tampa, Florida serves up delicious foods, sweets, and all the proceeds go to those in needs.

The Portico Cafe also offers people transitioning out of homelessness, addiction and incarceration opportunities for job training, employment and safe affordable housing.

The Cafe is a social enterprise, and when you make a purchase at The Cafe, you help build a bridge from brokenness to restoration.

Rev. Justin LaRosa, LCSW joined Gayle Guyardo the host of the global health and wellness show Bloom to share The Portico Cafe’s mission and how they serve those in need on Thanksgiving Day and year round. Watch the full report here.

10 Tampa Bay reports on Ashes to Ashes Ceremony

A soil ceremony was held on Ash Wednesday at The Portico. The ceremony honors those lynched between 1892-1934 within the Tampa community. This was the second ceremony held at The Portico. This year the church honored Lewis Jackson. See the full story here.

Volunteer at The Portico Received Presidential Pardon

One of The Portico’s volunteers, Thad Bereday, was recently surprised with presidential pardon, wiping out his conviction for a federal crime from several years ago. Thad has been volunteering at The Portico for some time, serving with The Portico Work Force Housing Solution. His unexpected pardon removes any trace of the federal conviction he received during his time at WellCare, a Tampa company, and has given him a fresh start on life. In addition to working with clients in Work Force Housing, he is involved in Criminal Justice reform. Watch Thad’s story in the video below.

WMNF Reports on Homeless Memorial With Special Focus

Local community radio station, WMNF, reported on this year’s Homeless Memorial held at The Portico on Jan. 25. After setting the scene, reporter Daniel Figeroa IV described the reading of the names of 112 men and women who died on the streets of Tampa in 2020. He interviewed Officer Daniel McDonald, Tampa Police Department, who recognized some of the names as they were read. McDonald interacted with many on the streets, providing resources and assistance. The story then focused on Esau “EJ” Coney, known to many for his involvement at The Portico. For more, visit WMNF’s website and play their story.