Florida Stories

Scott Billue, Ocoee

(Nominated by Karen Lougheed)
Ocoee Community Center
February 19, 2011

I am nominating Scott Billue, Pastor of Next Community Church, as a local hero. The Ocoee/Winter Garden/Oakland area in any given year has an estimated 500 homeless neighbors. Scott has worked with these people in their camps in the woods for years, as the closest shelter to serve the homeless is 9 miles away. He founded Matthew’s Hope in late March 2010, and faithfully serves almost 300 homeless guests, expecting no payment in return. One-third have been homeless less than 3 months, and 30% are women and children.  Matthew’s Hope works hard to help the homeless improve their lives and in many cases has gotten them off the streets. Each Tuesday at facilities donated by the Church of Christ of West Orange, many of Matthew’s Hope’s 150 volunteers and numerous local donors support the mission by providing 3 warm meals, legal documents, food stamps, job search assistance, healthcare, clothing, education, training and numerous other services and items. There is no program in Central Florida like Matthew’s Hope; but it uses resources across Central Florida in order to not replicate services provided elsewhere. One new initiative is a custom multi-stalled shower trailer. The money was raised through sales of a special CD featuring some of Matthew’s Hope’s homeless musicians and homeless advocates. In ten short months our homeless friends are healthier spiritually physically, mentally, and safer. Their self-esteem has grown, and their outlooks have improved based on knowing that people do care.