BRADENTON, Fla. — For Megan Howell, a Bradenton home isn’t just a house, it's a new beginning for people who need a second chance.
"We want to make them safe and cozy," said Howell, Second Heart Homes founder.
And it was just a few years ago that Howell realized 'safe and cozy' is a luxury that some people don’t have.
"I used to work at a restaurant downtown in Sarasota and there was a gentleman that was homeless and suffering from mental illness and through a series of events I was able to help him off the street and into housing and it was like wow if that was possible then there’s so much more to accomplish," said Howell.
Howell says that’s where Second Heart Homes was born. She founded the organization that now has six homes in Sarasota and thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, a new home in Bradenton was purchased. This enabling the nonprofit to help a total of 43 homeless people get off the streets and get the help they need.
"The critical solution that we provide is not just housing, but housing with support," said Howell.
Support like mental health and recovery programs that Tony McFadden desperately needed.
"I spend almost a decade just drinking and smoking marijuana bouncing from homelessness. It was very scary. I was full of anxiety and not sure what was going to come next," said McFadden.
Thanks to Second Heart Homes McFadden says he's been sober for seven months, has a safe place to live, and has hope for his future.
"I’m pursuing my goals of becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner to help others in the situation I’ve been in," said McFadden.
To learn more about Second Hear Homes, visit their website.