Spotlight: Celebrating 25 Years of Helping Those in Need!

It has been 25 years since a couple of women with a desire to help feed those who were hungry, packed up some food in the trunk of their car and began their humble feeding program. Since Anna Romillo and Donna Dunbar began their mission, the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition has grown to be the number one service provider in the tri-county area to help those in need of food, shelter, counseling and assistance to receive other social services for men, women, children and families.

Of course, the longevity and growth of the Homeless Coalition would not have been possible without the generous support of the community through individual donors, churches, and thousands of volunteers, as well as the support local businesses, especially restaurants and Publix Supermarkets. The support is especially generous during the holiday season. However, the challenge that the Coalition faces each year is during the summer months when those in need are not on the top of everyone’s mind as during the holidays, and also, because many of the snowbirds who support the Coalition have gone up north to enjoy their friends and family in cooler weather. While through proper budgeting the Board of the Coalition, and its team led by Executive Director Angela Hogan, can adjust for the payment of recurring expenses, the biggest challenge we face is in providing fresh food, not only for our meals we serve, but for the pantry that distributes food for people to prepare at their homes. The Coalition certainly cannot store enough food to get through the four months of summer and, without a steady flow of donations, are pantry shelves are often bare during this time of year.

The pantry is critical in the Coalition’s mission and as part of the overall solution to preventing hunger and homelessness. Quite often, the money that families can save related to the cost of food allows them to keep their electricity on or pay their rent. For the elderly, it allows them to avoid having to make the choice of choosing between food and required medication.

Again, during the holiday season, the generosity of our community is very moving. To walk through the halls of the Coalition and see it stacked with boxes of food to be distributed for the holidays, evidences the true meaning of Christmas. However, the Coalition needed to address the lack of this abundance during the dog days of summer. In order to alleviate the bare shelves the Coalition regularly faces during the summer, it has created the “Buy a Shelf” program. The concept is that if we knew we had individuals who would on a regular basis make a very small contribution throughout the year instead of just a large contribution once a year, it would allow us to properly regulate our flow of fresh nutritious food throughout the year.

The Coalition is in a unique position to be able to coordinate donations and buy food at an extremely discounted amount, much cheaper than you or I could feed our family on our own. Because of its purchasing power and its ability to leverage its connections with food banks like Harry Chapin, generally, the average cost to feed a person for the Coalition is under three dollars a meal. Therefore, for just $15, it can feed a family of five a complete and nutritious dinner. I challenge you to go to any restaurant and order a meal, drink and pay a tip for under $15. So therefore, we came up with the idea that we would offer four different shelf levels for a person to pledge meals for those in need, once a month.

The levels per month are: 5 meals for $15; 10 meals for $25; 20 meals for $50; and 40 meals for $100. The goal is to get pledges for 30,000 meals.

If you would like to provide a meal once a month for one family or more, simply contact my office for a pledge form by calling 941-206-3700 or emailing me at and I will be happy to send you a form or you can use the form provided below and mail it to me at c/o Martella Law Firm, 18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 304, Port Charlotte, FL 33948.

For more information about the Homeless Coalition and all the services it provides, you can visit its website at

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Martella Law Firm
18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 304
Port Charlotte, FL 33948