Are you upgrading your washer or dryer? Did you just score a cool, new lamp online? Are you replacing the motion-activated outdoor lighting in your yard? Wondering who can use your kids’ old twin beds? 

Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless can use all of it and more. The nonprofit organization that helps men, women and families transition from homelessness to permanent housing is repairing its apartments at Poinciana Housing complex, where termites and water damage have rendered several units unlivable.

Jeanette McLernon took over as FKOC executive director in mid-January, and is working with the organization’s new maintenance director, Dave Crooks, to make the community a place where clients are proud to live and help maintain.

“This playground has been closed for two years, because the equipment was broken and the weeds were as tall as me,” said Crooks, who recently cleared out the play area himself and then enlisted 20 or so skilled volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Maintenance Augmentation Team, or MAT, to paint and repair the playground equipment and spread mulch beneath it. “These guys are amazing. Over three days, Feb. 2, 3 and 4, they (will have) completely gutted a few units that haven’t been livable for years. They’re putting in new flooring, fixing walls, paint, windows, you name it,” said Crooks, who’s seeking donations of gently used appliances, furniture, power tools, construction materials, patio furniture, pea rock and mulch for landscaping, lamps, outdoor security lighting, twin beds and box springs. 

“Our units are a sober-living community, and our clients are drug and alcohol tested and are transitioning back into jobs and self-sufficiency,” said McLernon, who has a master’s degree in social work and has worked with Key West’s homeless residents for the past decade.

She and Crooks will host a thank-you barbecue for the Coasties on Thursday, Feb. 4, and have set up a donation drop-off tent. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, I can’t pick up the donations, but we’re making it as easy as possible here at 1620 Truesdale Court. We’re so appreciative of this community’s generosity. We can put these gently used items to great use.”

 Call, text or email Crooks at 727-642-4138 or [email protected].

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