‘Shining Hope’ dinner benefits families experiencing housing insecurity in Lakeland, Florida

Apr 13, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

‘Shining Hope' dinner benefits families experiencing housing insecurity in Lakeland, Florida

By: Maria Matheus

The Salvation Army of Lakeland, Florida held its annual dinner, ‘Shining Hope,' to benefit families who are struggling with housing insecurity on Tuesday, March 7. In a sold-out auditorium at Victory Church, keynote speaker Tim Tebow addressed a large audience of fans through his namesake foundation to support programs that help the most vulnerable in the community like the George W. Jenkins Community of Hope.

The Salvation Army of Lakeland recently built a semi-permanent transitional housing facility that added 20 rooms to its existing emergency shelter, 12 new apartments for transitional living and 13 houses for supportive housing to address unstable housing needs. In the current economy, the need is more and the urgency is great as parents seek and find support through the Pathway of Hope initiative, a program to stabilize and place families on the path of home ownership.

Tebow's Christian faith aligns perfectly with The Salvation Army ministry as both steward humanitarian assistance and support to communities around the world and right here in the local area.  Musing on when Tim was younger, his dream was to be the best and winning Most Valuable Player was an important goal in his life. Amid the MVP chase, Tim travelled overseas, and was repeatedly reminded of the call of faith in his life, not playing football, baseball, or basketball, but serving the most vulnerable members of society. He emphasized how poverty is an issue that we need to tackle both on a global and local level, and that we must not forget about those who are less fortunate in our own backyards.

As Tebow addressed the crowd, he discussed how he took his then fiancé, Demi, to see the Broadway show Hamilton, based on Alexander Hamilton authoring essays non-stop for The Federalist Papers, and how the song ‘Non-stop' stirred him emotionally. Like the song goes, "How do you write like you need it to survive? How do you write every second you're alive? Every second you're alive?” By asking the audience the same rhetorical question, Tim emphasized the importance of proactively taking action to reach a desired result. He was suggesting that, like Hamilton, people need to be relentless and consistent in their efforts to meet local needs.

"I believe what Mother Teresa said, that true love does take true sacrifice and sometimes it hurts." Tebow said. "Are you willing to help, to give, to care, to love, to sacrifice, not just when it's easy, but even when it hurts? Will you give until it hurts a little?"

"Let's join forces and show them that hope is still alive in this world," he declared.

Capt. Jeremy Mockabee, corps officer, concluded the dinner with a plea. "We need your help here in Lakeland, we need your time. We love having volunteers come to our Community of Hope to assist us in any way, whether it is planting a garden, reading to our kids, we are always looking for volunteers."

"As a long-term transitional housing program, Pathway of Hope initiative is intentional about budgeting, so clients have enough money to pay for their own place." Captain Mockabee said, "We are happy to share those tools with our clients to ensure their success."

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