The Florida Dream Center's mission says "when we see a need, we meet it... When we find a hurt, we heal it."
- Zelda O'Connell is volunteer coordinator at Florida Dream Center
- She leads a team of 300 volunteers at outreach center
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For Zelda O'Connell, that mission rings true.
Founded by Pastor Bill Lasasso, the Center helps the homeless, the hungry, those in need and many more through its multiple outreaches. The Center uses 300 volunteers, and on any given day, O'Connell can tell Lasasso what any of them are doing, he said.
One of the Center's unique outreaches is "Adopt-A-Block," where volunteers spend a Saturday knocking on doors in needy neighborhoods and simply asking people, "How can we help you?"
O'Connell is the administrative giant for the Dream Center, coordinating its volunteers. She said she is no stranger to the people she serves.
"My family was around drugs and gangs," she said. "My sister passed away from drugs and sex trafficking in that sense as well."
Another one of O'Connell's duties is running a boutique that aids human trafficking victims.
Housed in a confidential location where rescued victims attempt to rebuild their lives, the boutique gives the victims basic necessities for everyday life.
Meanwhile, there is the food distribution center that supplies 40,000 pounds of food every month. The center also reaches out to those in jail and prison and aids addicts trying to kick their habits.
For O'Connell, it all comes from a place of love, caring and a genuine desire to help.
"Our goal is to find the short term help to then allow them to change something long term," she said. "So it is more than just a band-aid. It is a relationship."