On Monday, September 11, I got a call at noon from the CEO of SOS Children’s Village (It’s a foster home serving homeless kids for Broward and Palm Beach County) Jillian Smath saying there we being released from their shelter and had no place to go with the 70+ kids they take care. Their homes had no electricity or water. They hadn’t showered and have been wearing the same clothes for 5 days. They were hungry as they had not eaten yet today. They needed help.
I told the Jillian to bring the kids over to our home in Boca Raton and we will figure out a plan where they can go. By 12:30pm they started arriving. As nightfall came we realized we could find no place for these kids to go, shelters were full and no beds were available. So my wife Jenn and I decided to allow them to stay with us for the duration and hence a very large sleepover began. 70+ kids and their house parents.
I then posted on Facebook what was going on and that I needed help. Having 80+ houseguests last minute was a lot of me and Jenn to handle alone. In life, there are those who talk about what they are going to do, and those who just do. Over 100 of our neighbors came over to volunteer to help and made a huge difference, actually all the difference between what could have been a disaster, and an amazing time for the kids.
We served over 800 meals in 72 hours. Did 36 loads of very dirty laundry. Arranged for 80+ much needed baths and showers. Celebrated 4 birthdays, 3 doctor visits and 1 tooth fairy. We had singers, Bobby the Balloon Guy, Ziggy the Clown, School of Rock, a folk singer, manicures for the girls, arts & crafts, organized basketball and football games, you name it. Our family, friends and neighbors made it happen. Without the help of our amazing community, some of whom worked 16 hour days, we never could have pulled this off. Most importantly was the abundance of love everyone showed these amazing children.
They got back into their homes late Wednesday night. We turned a tragedy into a love filled experience for these kids. And yes, they have all asked to come back. And of course we said yes and will be having them back for a more organized reunion in a few weeks.
You can learn more about SOS at http://www.sosflorida.com/ We set up a GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/sosirma to help raise money to repair their homes and provided needed things for them. Since the storm between GoFundMe and checks I have collected we have raised only $130,000. It’s a pittance of what we need.
The state only provides 50% of what is needed to house, clothe and feed these children. It is a huge tragedy is our own backyard. When we ask state legislature for more funding the answer is always the same and I will paraphrase: They don’t vote, they don’t give to campaigns, so we don’t care.
This tragedy of the kids being abandoned has helped raise awareness of our own plight, but this is a nationwide problem and not going away. With an ever increasing population the volume of homeless kids whose parents are deceased, incarcerated or unable to care for their children due to drugs, alcohol or metal issues will continue to grow.
Any help in bringing attention to SOS Florida and our cause of taking care of these kids is greatly appreciated. These kids are our future. They will be doctors, lawyers, scientists, you name it. But they will only get there with our help.
Thank you for listening.
Marc and Jenn
Marc H. Bell
Marc Bell Capital
6800 Broken Sound Parkway
Boca Raton, FL 33487