TAMPA, Fla. -- A community's push to help folks experiencing homelessness in Hillsborough County is getting a much-needed boost from Tony and Lauren Dungy.
The Salvation Army announced they’re leading the campaign to help build a new, state of the art emergency shelter in Tampa Heights. They’ll serve as honorary chairs for the fundraising campaign.
“We are in it together as a community and when one part of the community is hurting, we all should hurt and so there are things that we can do,” said the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach. ”Maybe I can just do a little, but if I team up with other people together, I can do a lot and that’s I think our message. We really want people to know, no matter how small you think your gift is, it can be part of something big.”
“We also like to think, especially during this time with COVID, there’s a need to help others to bless others that are experiencing challenges,” said Lauren Dungy.
The building will be at 1603 North Florida Avenue. According to the nonprofit, it will include a 39,000 square-foot facility with on-stop for social services and the residential facility. It will be a campus-like setting.
The Salvation Army has already sold two properties and plans to sell a third as part of the consolidation. The fundraising goal is $6.5 million, according to a spokesperson.
“We’re looking forward to being able to serve people better to accomplish our mission in a more comprehensive way. We’re doing really well with what we have. I say we’re making some great lemonade out of some tough lemons,” said Captain Andy Miller, the Tampa area commander.
He said over the last few months, they’ve been operating at maximum capacity and that calls have gone up by about 300 percent. The organization works to help people get jobs as a way out of homelessness, however, many people at the shelter have lost jobs due to restaurant and event venue closings.
“So that process has slowed down but we’re starting to see this come back. But hopefully, this sign of life is just another sign that our country and our society can respond well,” said Miller.
For those in need, the Dungys offered this message:
“The message is yes we’re out here there are people in our community who do care and please don’t give up,” said Tony Dungy.
“We really want to spread that message of love that we care for people regardless of their situation or the choices that they’ve made we want to walk alongside you we support you we love you and we want to help you,” said Lauren Dungy.