(WSVN) – The coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of hospitality and service industry workers without jobs and struggling to feed their families. 7’s Kevin Ozebek shows us how one group of friends is on a mission to keep families fed and their refrigerators filled.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of life in South Florida. For some, it has taken away their ability to care for their own families.
Mabel De Beunza, Adopt A Family Miami volunteer: “These are people that don’t receive government aid. They don’t get a government check. They don’t receive a stimulus.”
This group of women wants to help fill the gap and provide much-needed support for some of Miami Beach’s most vulnerable residents.
Mabel De Beunza: “We are Adopt A Family Miami, also known as Fill the Fridge. Really, connecting people with people, and people who have a great deal of need.”
Adopt A Family Miami started in April after founder Mytyl Simancas saw an online post about a family that needed food.
Mytyl Simancas, founder, Adopt A Family Miami: “I saw that dropping off food one time was not going to solve any issues, so I decided to do it more frequently, and I started getting friends, asking them to help me.”
Her wish was granted in the form of donations and dozens of volunteers.
They are focused on helping low-income families with parents who work in hotels and restaurants in Miami Beach.
Many have been out of work for months.
Roberto Inoa, Adopt A Family Miami recipient: “Nobody was working, and they came, and just in time.”
Army veteran Roberto Inoa was laid off from his hotel restaurant job four months ago. He says the program has eased some of the financial burden.
Roberto Inoa: “Not only have I made friends, but friends are very involved, like, ‘What does your family need?’”
Families are visited several times a month by an assigned member.
Not only do members keep the refrigerator stocked; they also help in other ways.
Leslie Cooper, Adopt A Family volunteer: “We’ve had some pro bono medical work done and pro bono legal work done to help our families.”
Adopt A Family Miami started out with one family in April. They are now helping more than 150.
According to member Mabel De Beunza, that shows the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had in South Florida.
Mabel De Beunza: “Just when we think that we were graduating some of our families — their fridges didn’t need to be filled as much as necessary — then the closures of indoor restaurants happened.”
The plan is to never turn away a family in need, but the group also needs help.
Mabel De Beunza: “The resources need to be there, and that’s what we’re trying to do, is to raise as much money as possible.”
They’ve launched an online fundraising effort in the hopes of raising $100,000.
Even if they don’t reach their goal, they plan to keep helping families, even if the money comes out of their own wallets.
Mytyl Simancas: “It’s very moving, and when we are delivering, and every time we see them, we only get blessings and gratitude.”
They say that gratitude and the ability to make a difference is worth every penny.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Adopt A Family Miami
Operation Fill the Fridge and Beyond
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