Local Nonprofit Helps People and Families Affected by Pandemic

Posted at 4:48 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 16:48:18-04

People across the nation and in South Florida are continuing to find ways to recover and rebound from the financial burden the Coronavirus pandemic has caused leaving families without food and struggling to make ends meet.

A local nonprofit organization aims to provide some relief for those families and needs our help.

“In March, when COVID really escalated, and in April, we saw people were running towards us when we brought food and that’s something they would never do so we knew times were desperate and tension was really high,” said Alyssa.

24-year-old Alyssa Hernandez is the co-founder of Big Smiles Ministry, a nonprofit that focuses on serving the homeless community. She says because of COVID-19, she has noticed an increase in the need for food.

“We’ve noticed that it’s people who are new to being homeless, which is heartbreaking, and it’s other people who have left the shelters because they’re afraid of catching it there because of the living situation. They all share communal spaces, showers, and kitchens. A lot of of them are afraid that they have compromised immune systems,” said Alyssa.

Although their initial mission was to feed only the homeless, they’re now providing hygienic supplies and food for families and people who’ve been affected by the pandemic.

“We met a gentleman at Bayfront Park, and he was sharing how just before this he had just got a job bussing tables, and then he lost his job and now he’s back on the streets,” said Alyssa.

Maria Guerreo is a volunteer. She helps spread the word about their food distributions. She also helps buy and deliver the items. She says the need for volunteers is higher than ever because more people are depending on them.

“The need is still high, especially now. Besides us there were other people during the year going out to deliver food. But now due to COVID, a lot of people are taking restrictions and not going out to deliver,” said Maria.

If you can’t volunteer, Alyssa says a donation is more than enough.

“I’m unemployed right now but I’m fortunate enough to live with my parents so I’m OK. But it’s that much more real that we’re all really one thing away from being in those circumstances. So, just to view those people with greater compassion in humanity because that really could be you,” said Alyssa.

The next food distribution will be on Sunday, May 24th. For more information on that or on volunteering opportunities, you can reach them on their Instagram page @bigsmilesministry.
They're accepting donations on Venmo: @givebigsmiles , Cash App: @givebigsmiles and PayPal: