Singing for affordable housing

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — To raise awareness about the continuing shortage of affordable housing for low-income and homeless families and to bring a little holiday cheer to all, Celebrate Outreach, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit organization working to end homelessness in St. Pete, is bringing back “Still No Room in the Inn.”

People are invited to gather at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 100 Mirror Lake Drive Fri., Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. to sing Christmas carols to homeless persons, a retirement center and other groups. Ending at 9 p.m. at the manger scene near the corner of Second Ave. North and Beach Drive., next to the approach to the Pier, cookies and hot chocolate will be served to the carolers.

For 25 years, residents, supporters and staff of ASAP Homeless Services sponsored “Still No Room in the Inn,” an annual carol sing through the streets of downtown St. Pete. The caroling had become an annual tradition for many in the area as people of all ages, professions, economic conditions and religious beliefs caroled together, united by the belief that everyone should have decent housing. The last carol walk took place in 2011 and ASAP closed its doors soon thereafter.

“Typically, this event has attracted about 75 persons,” noted George Bolden, president of Celebrate Outreach. “We are expecting at least that amount again this year. We’ve planned for our refreshments—homemade cookies and hot chocolate—to serve 100 people.”

Founded in 2007, Celebrate Outreach is a nonpartisan, volunteer-run, faith-based, tax-exempt nonprofit, Bolden explained, and its mission is to prevent and end homelessness in the greater St. Petersburg area.

“We work to fulfill this mission through advocacy, social justice, community education and direct service,” he said. “Our vision is a society in which all people are treated with dignity and respect, and as a result ensures that everyone has safe, decent, affordable housing, enough food to eat and a means to make an honest living.”

The organization’s current activities and programs include weekend meal service, monthly community forums, an annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service and a tiny homes project to provide permanent housing for homeless veterans and others.

To participate in this year’s Christmas carol walk, visit celebrateoutreach.org/christmas-caroling.html or call (727) 362-4737.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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