Orlando Health

Partnership with the Orlando Union Rescue Mission

Orlando, FL

Not-for-profit health care network

There are an alarming amount of homeless people in Orlando. At the Orlando Union Rescue Mission (OURM), a population of homeless men are trying to re-engage in the community and learn life skills. While their goal is to be meaningful and impactful, many of these men have been absent from community life for so long that they struggle with re-entering society. Thanks to a partnership between Orlando Health and OURM, success is possible for these men as they work to succeed in their own lives and to impact the overall community.

Orlando Health has been actively engaged for years in working alongside organizations focused on changing the course of the homeless in the Central Florida region. As with many of its community efforts, Orlando Health shares opportunities with its team members and encourages them to make a difference in the community outside the physical hospital walls. Recognizing that so many individuals and families are on the verge of becoming homeless and don’t realize how one single life event can change one’s path, Teresa Loomis, an Orlando Health team member, was inspired to start a Toastmaster speaking club at OURM. She knew that getting the men involved in Toastmaster could change their lives from destitute to great, and that Orlando Health could help make this possible.

The goal was for the speeches to teach the group of men about a variety of topics and life skills. Mentors from other clubs could also attend and assist. The dream for the club was for those struggling to find their way in the community gain skills and knowledge virtually by accident, while in a safe and comfortable environment.

On September 1, 2015, through Orlando Health’s sponsorship, 40 homeless men living at the OURM met and agreed to form a club.  They named the club “Mission Possible.” Through the club men would learn many invaluable life skills, including running a meeting, impromptu speaking, evaluating others, writing, vocabulary, scheduling and organization, dressing appropriately, and more.

The club’s impact and success occurred faster than anyone could have imagined. In just ten weeks the men gained confidence and began speaking and engaging in one of the at least 11 roles assigned at every meeting. Men known to rarely speak have now transitioned to running the meetings. One man writes a poem every meeting summarizing the events, and reads his poem at the end of each meeting.  Many are already on their third project in the Competent Communicator Manual and were invited to attend the District 84 annual speech contest in Daytona.

Today, several men are trying to enter the workforce again.  One is enrolling in an MBA program slated to begin fall 2016. Others are included in speech contests at other clubs.  The club has impacted the broader community as well. Recently “Mission Possible” was referenced in a Municipal Board Meeting at City Hall and Freddie Clayton, OURM Chief Executive Officer, remarked it was an initiative that brought great value to the community, assisted in bettering lives and preparing participants to re-enter the workforce.

The possibilities emerging from this club are enormous, and there is already conversation about bringing the model to other large cities. With so much accomplished in only ten weeks, those involved and the entire community looks forward to even greater impacts in the coming year.