PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The founder of a local organization that has helped the needy and homeless for years is now feeling similar struggles of those she helps — and says kindness is the answer.
Maybe you’ve seen coats tied to trees or poles around Pasco County in the winter time. Or treats being handed out to make people smile. It's all done by an organization called Bright Hopes, which is operated by one woman.
"There’s just a lot of people who have a need," said Melissa Cohee.
Cohee feeds nearly 60 homeless people a week, among doing many other things.
"Give them a hug see how their week’s been, sometimes just a smile makes all the difference in the world," said Cohee.
But recently she got sick.
"The doctors don’t know why I’m having seizures," she said.
She’s had to stop working and says now it's more clear than ever to her how big the need is in the community.
"I’ve heard for years from them how hard it is to get help but now I’m on the other side trying to get help for my family and doors just keep closing," said Cohee.
Cohee says volunteers are helping with Bright Hopes while she recovers
With her medical problem, Cohee says she’s physically unable to manage people reaching out to help the organization, but she wants the spirit of kindness to live on through others, in doing little things like one of her volunteers.
"We go to the Dollar Tree, we grab an umbrella or two and keep them in our truck. Whenever its raining and we see someone at a bus stop we pull over and say here’s an umbrella," said volunteer Lisa Harper.
Cohee encourages people to slow down, look around, and see how to be kind.
"Everybody needs love and wants to feel loved," said Cohee.
If people are looking to reach out and help other organizations in Pasco County.
Cohee says here are a few: