Unfortunately, as you read this, hundreds of homeless families across Tampa Bay are living in their cars, tents and in the woods in this extreme summer heat. To add to this concern, the Zika virus is a potential threat to the area.
Instead of waiting for the virus to be detected in the local mosquito population, Metropolitan Ministries launched an effort to proactively combat the potential spread among the homeless community in late June. Our Outreach Centers in Tampa and Holiday Florida have been offering Zika Virus Kits based on the need of each requesting individual or family.
For little children, and expectant mothers, these conditions are dangerous. It’s not uncommon for us to see homeless children and their parents covered in bug bites coming into our outreach center desperate and afraid.
One client came for help with her nursing license which expired because she couldn’t afford to renew it. Because of that, she lost her job and eventually found herself living out of her car in a Wawa parking lot. Despite experiencing extreme heat, she could not afford to keep her car running and kept the windows down. She received a Zika Kit for protection. (The Ministries also paid for her to renew her CNA license. She was recently hired as an in-home nurse and is no longer living out of her car).
More than 100 homeless families and individuals in similar situations have come to the Ministries for help. By the end of July, the supply was depleted. Donations from caring members of the community now exceed $7000. The Penta Five company in Sarasota donated 1400 vials of MosquitoPaq repellent lotion.
Currently there are 639 cases attributed to travel and 71 cases locally acquired in Florida. The Tampa Bay area has had 47 reported travel related cases and 1 locally spread of the Zika virus.
These families need help — and they need it immediately.
We need your help to offer Zika virus kits that include bug spray, mosquito nets and Permethrin Spray that provides up to six weeks of protection on clothing. Mosquito nets are the most requested item.
Once that first step of alleviating their suffering from bug bites is met, there is even more that can be done. This month, we’re also asking you to join us in rescuing homeless families from Florida’s heat and humidity – and the threat of mosquito bites – by helping them to get into comfortable, safe housing.
We urge you to act today. You just might save someone’s life!