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Milnor, TRSA Give Annual Conf. Snacks to Shelter

Representatives of Joyce's Baskets, the Miami firm that prepared welcome boxes originally intended for TRSA's Annual Conference attendees, dropped them off instead at the MIami Rescue Mission after Hurricane Irma forced a cancellation of TRSA's conference.  

Hurricane Irma put the kibosh on TRSA’s Annual Conference in Miami, but several hundred homeless residents will benefit from a donation of welcome boxes stocked with water and assorted snacks, in a move agreed to this week by TRSA and event sponsor Pellerin Milnor Corp.

“It’s very sad that for the first time in living memory, bad weather has forced TRSA to cancel our Annual Conference,” said TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci. “However, the welcome packages that we had intended for guests were already purchased locally, and given the likelihood that the storm will cause great hardships for many people there, we and Pellerin Milnor agreed that it would be best to donate those items to charity.”

The company that supplied the 175 boxes for the Annual Conference – originally scheduled for Sept. 12-14 – moved them on Sept. 7 to the Miami Rescue Mission. This homeless shelter houses roughly 350 men at any given time and serves some 1,500 meals a day to its “guests,” said Mitchell Haller, a former resident who now serves as food services supervisor for the shelter. “Thank you so much!” said Haller, who noted that staff have broken down the boxes for easier distribution to residents. “What’s great about what you donated is at night we like to give the guys snacks and things like that. So we’ll put out a big bin with the different snacks in it and let them eat snacks. Then the water we’ll use for drinking. We’re anticipating that the water service will go down, or we’ll get a boil-water order. So that’ll come in handy.”

Due to the storm, Haller anticipates an even larger number of guests than usual as people come seeking shelter from the hurricane. “We have another 25 women and children that are coming,” he said. “They’re normally in their own transitional housing that we have. But we brought them all to our center because it’s not a house. It’s a four-story building. So we’ll also help them by giving them some of the snacks for the kids. It’ll be utilized.”

The Rescue Mission at 2020 NW First Ave. is the second-largest homeless shelter in Miami. It includes three buildings and can house up to 400 residents. The shelter is funded solely through private donations and provides residents with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Each of the gift boxes that TRSA and Pellerin Milnor have donated to the shelter include two bottles of water, nuts, cookies, pretzels, popcorn, chocolates, crackers, cheese and fruit.

While there’s no below-ground space in the shelter, Haller said it’s on relatively high ground. He’s confident they’ll weather the storm, come what may. “There’s no basements in Florida,” he said. “Not in our end of Florida. Our four-story building is actually a number of feet above the ground level.”

The shelter staff have extensive experience in dealing with storms. “We’ve been here for 30-something years and of course we’ve been through (Hurricane) Andrew (in 1992). We lost power but we never flooded out. We never got to the point where we had to send people away. We always accept people. We’re a shelter. We try and service the community to the fullest extent, whether it be food, clothing, shelter, furniture, however we can do it.”

Beyond the TRSA/Pellerin Milnor donation, shelter staff have stocked up on supplies well ahead of the storm, which could make landfall in South Florida by the evening of Sept. 9.”Oh yes,” Haller said. “We’re all set. We have all our emergency provisions. We’ve got eight or 10 pallets of water. We’re in good shape. We’re not moving.” Click here for details.