How It Began
In 2014 our current CEO, Steve Cleveland, was a volunteer program director searching for ways to take services into the most needed areas of Pinellas County. He, along with our founder, met with various community leaders and decided on Lealman. Adopt-a-Block began on 11/01/2014 within a single block in Lealman, Florida. Roughly 40 food boxes were distributed each Saturday, homes were cleaned and alleys were cleared while volunteers knocked on neighbors’ doors to see how FLDC could serve them.
Adopt-a-Block promotes community strength within Pinellas County by adopting low to moderate communities in need of assistance with lawn, alley, home improvements, code violation relief to reduce costly fines and trash/debris removal to reduce the blight of the community. In addition, this program addresses immediate/basic need services such as food, hygiene, clothing, etc. every Saturday paired with the Mobile food bank at our four stationary locations.
Our Neighborhood Outreach Crew (N.O.C) canvasses at-risk neighborhoods going door to door providing resource information and building relationships with residents, while cleaning up the sidewalks.
Our Community Enrichment Crew (C.E.C) work to beautify and revitalize homes, alleys and empty lots by clearing debris, improve dilapidated homes, and relieving code enforcement items that can carry hefty costs for homeowners.
The program bridges the gap between at-risk residents and socio-economic equality in the areas of affordable housing, nutritional food/immediate need access, and social services.
- Removes roughly 83 tons of trash from the surrounding neighborhoods in 2020 and works closely with Pinellas Code Enforcement to relieve code violations for poverty-stricken residents.
- Promotes “aging in place” campaign for seniors in our area to age in their own homes by making it safer and more affordable.
- Clears out alleys for our Emergency Responders to easily maneuver to urgent calls.
- Community partner for research data collectors such as: Point in Time Count (homeless count in County), Census count, Florida Department of Health county wide health assessments, Adopt a Block surveys, etc.
- Program utilizes 90% volunteer hours, estimating 6,300 volunteers per year.
How It Began
Florida Dream Center Mobile Food Bank began as a church pantry for Pathways Community Church, which was based in Seminole, Florida. This pantry consisted of a single room with a few refrigerators and one freezer. Pathways Community Church congregation helped with the pantry until Pastor Bill Losasso decided to re-integrate it under the umbrella of the Florida Dream Center. The pantry grew to a three-unit food bank spanning 4,800 square feet and supporting the distribution of millions of pounds of food a year to food deserts across Pinellas County.
Mobile Food Bank – Distributes food within Pinellas County to at-risk communities at four stationary sites on Saturdays, bringing the food to our residents who are either without transportation, elderly, homeless, low-income/no income, or disabled. Additionally, during the week, our food pantry distributes to 30 different locations including local churches, organizations, shelters, and other pantries.
- Our food bank is a three-unit warehouse that distributes over 1,500,000 pounds of food each year, which consists of bread/grains, fresh produce, and meat/protein. In 2020, our mobile food pantry distributed 1,533,210 pounds of food, 33,552 pre-packaged youth meals, and recently, within the past six months, we served over 50% of households with children, totaling to 10,497 homes, which, on average, is 56,364 pounds of food.
- One of the four largest food banks in the County and has been declared as a disaster relief center in Mid-Pinellas County.
Food is distributed to our community through our bank by supplying food to over 30 smaller partnering distributors such as low-income mobile home parks, Veteran Villages and Senior Citizen Mobile Home Park (MHP). We also give to local neighborhood family centers, felon friendly living facilities, churches, shelters, and smaller food pantries to reduce the impact of hunger on our vulnerable families.
- On Saturdays, we package food boxes to be taken to four local sites for pick-up and delivery to our more vulnerable residents (elderly, homeless, disabled, Sick & Shut-in, Veterans etc) through our Adopt-a-Block program.
- This Program utilizes 90% volunteer hours.
How It Began
During a strategic review in 2018 it became evident to FLDC leadership that a case management approach during Adopt-a-Block outreach was imperative. While immediate needs such as food, clothing and hygiene were important, the need for stability and self-sufficiency in our struggling communities was essential. FLDC leadership decided to introduce a case management program that would be present at Saturday Adopt-a-Block as well as available during the week. This program would be staffed by resource knowledgeable employees that would work closely with individuals struggling to re-integrate into society to help facilitate change.
Resident Advocates connect residents to county-wide social and community services within the areas of education, childcare, public transportation, community health, mental health, substance abuse, legal assistance, and state/federal public programs.
- Acts as a conduit for an achievable transition into a higher quality of life, regardless of background history.
- Measures, evaluates, and develops self-sufficiency in over 18 categories/domains using an assessment referenced to the Arizona Self-sufficiency Matrix.
- Pairs with Workforce Advocate to ensure a developmental plan includes financial security matched with proper client capabilities.
- Enrollments into public/governmental financial resources such as food stamps (SNAP), unemployment, Section 8 housing, SSI, SSD, government-subsidized childcare, etc. as they transition from codependency to self-sufficiency.
- Address immediate needs while evaluating a holistic point of view of a client’s story.
- Mobilize case management services to clients who are homebound, disabled, elderly, and/or homeless through our street outreach program, Adopt a Block.
- Build a community resource referral pool to assist clients rapidly with emergent needs.
How It Began
In late 2017 our CEO, Steve Cleveland, was approached by local business owners struggling to hire employees that were capable of completing job tasks. After much discussion and touring of these businesses, Steve realized that our unemployed demographic needed more support to become self-sufficient. The Work Readiness Training program was developed to enhance basic introductory skills to the hard-to-employ population (homeless, illiterate, ex-offenders, etc.) while building relationships with companies willing to work with our clients and our staff to improve retention rates.
Work Readiness Training Program prepares and empowers individuals for employment placement, skills training, and employment preparation while focusing on applying basic work skills, communication skills, and on the job etiquette through resume building and interview skills training. The Florida Dream Center is now a candidate for the NCCER accreditation, which means we are able to train and certify individuals for Core Construction and Carpentry level 1 through the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER).
- Partners with various organizations such as Boley Veteran Services, Pinellas Ex-offender Re-entry Coalition, Second Chance, Pinellas County Jail, etc. and various employers (Gulfcoast Aluminum, Base culture, County Sanitation)
- Target residents with two or more employment barriers that withhold he/she from obtaining and retaining a family-sustaining wage.Partner within the Lealman Workforce Committee that fosters more formalized collaborations in the future through active recruitment (employers and potential employees), growth in size (clients and service providers), and employment support from all angles.
- Works closely with the Resident Advocacy program to address barriers to employment attainment and retainment through community resources that provide supportive services such as utilities assistance, daycare, transportation, healthcare, etc.
- Builds an employer bank that participates in second chance or anti-poverty programs.
- Builds career ladders or career pathways by developing a growth plan for unemployed clients, underemployed clients, and income-constrained clients.