Talbot House Ministries marks decades of providing short-term and long-term help

It's another day of service at the Talbot House Ministries in Lakeland.

"We offer emergency shelter and long-term programs to help people regain the skills that they need to be self-sufficient," said Erin Martinez, director of development for Talbot House Ministries.

The non-profit organization is the oldest homeless care center in Polk County. They've been around for 42 years.

"We started as a soup kitchen in 1979, and since then last year we served 1,800 people just through our emergency shelter," explained Martinez.

The shelter was founded by St. Joseph's Church in Lakeland, but has since turned into a non-denominational non-profit.

"Our residents are people who are in one of our long-term recovery programs," said Martinez. "They're learning to stay sober, to deal with their grief, to overcome mental illnesses and work towards employment and self-sufficiency. Our overnight shelter guests are those who may not be ready for our program, but they just need a safe place to stay for the night."

For resident Keith Gleason, it's been a saving grace.

"I'm actually smiling these days instead of walking around frowning. This last time they brought me back, it’s been much better. I don't know what the change is. I would just [say] gratitude."  

The comprehensive ministry provides meals, clothes, and shelter for those who need it the most.

The Talbot House is having a fundraising event later this month. For more information, visit: www.talbothouse.org.