In partnership with several local organizations and surrounding law enforcement agencies, the C.A.R.E.S. Team organized the event in an attempt to lift up their homeless community.
The Plant City C.A.R.E.S. Team held their first Helping Hands Outreach Event on Tuesday in partnership with several law enforcement agencies across the Tampa Bay Area, including the Plant City Police Department, the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and the Tampa International Airport Police.
The C.A.R.E.S. Team — Creativity – Action – Research – Expertise – Solutions — is a team of employees across several different departments within the City of Plant City to come up with innovative ays to address various situations that effect their local community.
The event was aimed at providing necessary resources to the homeless community in Plant City by providing them access to a number of organizations that would not solely provide them with crucial short-term assistance like haircuts, clothes, mobile shower units and meals, but leave a tangible impact on their future by providing access to healthcare, vaccinations, housing, substance abuse treatment and mental health services.
“This is extremely important because what we’re doing is try to provide people with the opportunity to improve, or make better, because a lot of [the homeless population] are in certain situations or circumstances that they didn’t ask for,” Plant City Chief of Police James Bradford said. “So if we can provide them with a leg up or an opportunity, and they have the drive and the willingness to do it, they can help themselves. We are trying to help them, but we’re also trying to give them ownership of making these changes.”
Master Deputy Stephanie Krager with HCSO’s Behavioral Resource Unit said that the department holds these events quarterly in different areas throughout the county, with an emphasis being put on local organizations to ensure that they can service the community right here in Plant City.
Plant City Police officer and C.A.R.E.S Team member Billy Harvester developed a partnership with the surrounding agencies to organize the event, along with the rest of the C.A.R.E.S. Team, after attending a previous outreach event held by HCSO in Apollo Beach earlier in the year. He echoed Krager’s statement.
“We wanted to make sure that our providers here are providers that will provide a service in Plant City,” Harvester said. “We wanted local folks and that’s what we ended up with, people who said, ‘We service Plant City, we are local, we are here, we will come here and we will help you.’ The support has been amazing, the turnout has been good and we hope to keep building on it moving forward.”
Outside of the Planteen Rec Center where they event was held, Showered and Empowered provided showers, Bags of Brotherly Love provided hygiene and snack bags, HCSO provided clothing and volunteers from the LaSalle Tech School of Cosmetology provided haircuts and other beauty services.
Inside there were meals provided by Plant City’s Wooden Spoon Diner, as well as several booths that individuals could stop at for assistance
In addition to various other organizations in attendance and services that were made available, the Florida Dept. of Health provided several different vaccinations while also offering free COVID-19 testing along with Frontline Community Services. The Office of the Public Defender offered assistance with open court cases or warrants. Metropolitan Ministries Metro BrigAIDe offered assistance with identification, food stamps, Medicade, social security assessment and enrollment and housing assessments/referrals. St. Vincent DePaul offered assistance and housing for homeless veterans, Community Pet Project provided animal services and products.
“The contacts that we’ve made, everybody has been super willing to get involved and help us here in Plant City,” Harvester said. “You can see the outcome. We’ve got folks here from all over the place that want to help and their heart is in the right place.