The issue is OUTSIDE the woods.
In the beginning of my journey into the woods of Martin County to minister to the homeless this last year, I never would have expected to see the things that I have seen. I’m not talking about IN the woods, I am talking about OUTSIDE the woods of Martin County.
Although Martin County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, there are absolutely NO emergency shelters for men, families or women. Martin County does not provide any emergency housing provisions for our residents who find themselves unexpectedly homeless.
I have personally served over 30 friends who have recently been displaced from the woods around Walmart in Stuart.
Martin County has literally banished these people into the woods so they can’t be seen because if you can’t see something surely it must not exist. The sad thing is Martin County has been just fine with that.
My husband and I have been ministering to our neighbors in these woods for a year now with Tent City Helpers. Most have become friends and we have built relationships with them and learned their stories.
They are fathers and mothers. Sons and daughters. Husbands and wives. And yes, many struggle with mental health and addiction issues but so do a lot of people who aren’t homeless.
Today a lot of people are one paycheck or one tragedy away from being in the same position as the people that I minister to in the woods. Posting trespassing signs won’t make these people magically disappear. There is a huge need that need to be filled in the homeless community.
So, the question remains.
Where do they go now Marin County?
Guest Blog by Karen Hopping
Tent City Helpers-Volunteer Coordinator