Heart 4 Winter Haven Wants Zero Homeless Children by 2030
by James Coulter
Almost 96,000 children in Florida are homeless, according to statistics from the University of Florida. Heart 4 Winter Haven hopes to reduce that number in Polk County to zero by 2030.
Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Heart 4 Winter Haven has taken the initiative of identifying homeless youth in Polk County and implementing programs to help alleviate homelessness.
“We believe poverty has been misdiagnosed,” their mission statement on their website declares. “It’s rooted in broken relationships. We bring people together through collaborations that restore relationships, build resources, and grow community.”
Heart 4 Winter Haven, a local non-profit organization, addresses homelessness through its C.A.R.E. method: Connect all sectors of their city, including government, businesses, non-profits, and churches; Alleviate poverty in all forms; Restore relationships; and Elevate the entire community.
Their many programs and initiatives are designed to address the root causes of poverty and homelessness by providing low-cost mental health counseling, helping with eviction prevention and housing stability, and offering financial education and training for people in low-income situations.
“By December 31, 2025, we will directly impact the lives and homes of 1,000 families,” their website states. “By December 31, 2030, we will ensure there isn’t a single homeless child in Winter Haven.”
Heart 4 Winter Haven celebrated the grand opening of their newest location with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce. The organization had previously operated in four previous locations. Their newest location was provided in part by South State Bank, explained Brad Beatty, Executive Director of Heart for Winter Haven.
Beatty and his organization have lofty goals to not only reduce poverty and homelessness in Polk County, but to completely eliminate it by the end of the decade. Their new location offers them greater space to do that, Beatty said.
“That [effort] will take a lot from all of us, and we are excited about it,” he said. “We think that is a goal worth rallying around and it fits a beautiful space like this. And our partnership with the City and the Chamber are so important with what we are doing…That [goal] will become a big deal come 2030 and something we will look back and say we were able to do something special for our community, and our community deserves that.”
City Commissioner Brian Yates commended Heart 4 Winter Haven for their efforts in addressing poverty and homelessness in the city: “Heart 4 Winter Haven is an awesome community partner. There are so many things on the government level that are difficult to get down. And that is where community partners like H4WH come in and take the torch to the end of the finish line. Brad, you are doing a great job with Heart for Winter Haven. You have a great team. And we wish you all the best of luck.”
Sarah Beth Wyatt, Winter Haven Chamber President and CEO, cut the ribbon for Heart 4 Winter Haven at their previous location nearly a year ago. It was her first act as the Chamber President.
“I hope this is your forever home, and we are so excited for all that you are doing with all of the growth,” she said. “So, it is exciting to see how you all have grown over the years, the great community partner you are to all of us…We are excited to have you all here, and we are excited to see what magic comes out of this building.”
Heart 4 Winter Haven is located at 1951 8th St NW, Suite 100, Winter Haven, FL 33881. For more information, call 863-291-6270, or contact: [email protected].