By Michael A. Mora
Hundreds of people are living on the streets in Miami, FL.
On a recent weekday evening, two monks from The Orden De San Benito—dressed in grey robes—lead a group of volunteers to provide nourishment for the homeless in Miami, utilizing funds from URENERGY YOGA.
“The main problem for them is hope — they [the homeless] don’t have hope,” said Father Miseal. “We’re here to give them food. But the main goal is to support them. We are here for them. They are not alone. There are people that pray for them.”
Volunteers are instrumental in accomplishing their mission, as volunteers are often the ones who prepare the food for the evening excursions. Martha Bltren, a reoccurring volunteer, believes through her assistance, the homeless “sees Jesus Crist through us.”
“They need love. They need to feel important to somebody,” said Bltren. “They’re always nice to us. Never try bad us. I always feel safety all of the time.” Beltren’s fondest moment helping the homeless was when she provided a man with a meal and a bottle of water. As a response to her gratitude, the man hugged Beltren and kissed her on the cheek.
During the evening excursions, the monks and volunteers distribute meals — usually consisting of rice, beans spaghetti, chicken, or beef. The meals are cooked earlier in the day at their homes. The quantity of the meals given out fluctuates by the amount of donations they receive.
Usually the monks handout over 300 pre-made meals, in their evening meal deliveries they only have about 100 pre-made meals. In addition to the pre-made meals, which included pastelitos donated by a local bakery and bottled water, the monks also have donated clothes stored in the trunk of their car for those homeless residents in need.
As the cars drove, the two volunteers who were in the back of the vehicle were on the lookout for homeless people on the street that they point out to Father Miseal. When they came across a small group of 10 to 20 people, the cars stopped. The monks and volunteers opened the trunk and took out the items to hand out.
One of the monks approached a couple lying next to one another, on top of a card board box positioned as a mattress, and he handed them nourishment. They were happy to accept; more homeless people approached, eager for the free items with which were being handed out.
This continues and repeats itself throughout the evening, in various locations at which the monks have learned that the homeless people stay. About two hours later, they are nearly out of meals, with solely pastelitos and water bottles to distribute. The location the monks approach is along west and east Flagler St. in Downtown Miami, where for several blocks many homeless people stay.
As the car stops, the monks and volunteers exit their vehicles and are greeted by a deafening alarm sound. Having light in the walkways psychologically provides a sense of safety among the homeless, but the repetitious alarm sound makes falling and the quality of sleep poor.
One of the purposes of the alarm, however, is to discourage homeless people from staying in that area because of the fear they may break into stores during the evening or scare shoppers who arrive early in the morning. Regardless, at 5 a.m., according to the monks, local police disperse those staying in the area.
Robert Scott, a man who was staying on that street for the evening, had a string of bad luck and mental health issues. Scott was recently divorced from his wife of nine years; after which he fell into a deep depression.
He has been living on the street for about two months, yet he maintains a job in construction where he works five days a week. “I’m homeless, but I am not helpless,” said Scott. “I’m in a state of mind where I say you know, I got to get up. I got to move, I got to motivate myself. I got to create some type of energy to motivate myself.
“I wash my clothes by hand — and I take a bath in a bucket,” he said. Scott plans to take his meal with him to work the following day, so as to “minimize his expenditures.” He’s hoping to save up and improve his living conditions within the next three months.
URENERGY YOGA—a yoga company in Miami—is deeply committed to improving the lives of Miami’s homeless, such as Scott. The company provides 20 percent of their proceeds to organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the homeless, one of which is The Orden De San Benito. If you’re interested in providing meals, please call Father Miseal at (305) 807-1512.