Poverello Lives Up To Its Mission of Caring for Poor, Sick and Hungry

Il Poverello in Italian translates to “the little poor one.” St. Francis of Assisi – Il Poverello – was a wealthy Franciscan monk in the 13th century who had a tremendous yearning to become a knight. He was captured in battle and, after spending a year in captivity and in subsequent sickness, began to question the necessity of his worldly, material possessions. Francis gave away his earthly belongings and possessions to feed the poor.

The Spirit of Franciscan Philanthropy as an Inspiration

The Poverello Center carries on this mission of service to the poor, sick and disadvantaged. This spirit of Franciscan philanthropy spearheaded The Poverello Center (food bank, thrift store and wellness center) in Wilton Manors, Florida, by founder Father Bill Collins, a Franciscan chaplain.

Collins cooked and delivered homemade soups and meals to HIV patients discharged in the Fort Lauderdale area starting in 1987. At this time in the mid‐late 1980s, HIV was ravaging major cities worldwide, as antiviral meds that could control the virus were nonexistent. He and other volunteers fed the HIV population and soon thereafter, Poverello’s thrift store opened in Pompano Beach, then moved to Wilton Drive and then, in 2012, to Dixie Highway.

A Lot to Offer to Those in Need

Poverello offers a food bank for ALL clients who are 150% under federal poverty level (being HIV positive is NOT a requirement for obtaining food at the food bank). Poverello operates an 11,000 square foot thrift store in Wilton Manors, the proceeds of which are earmarked for the chronically sick including those with HIV. Poverello’s wellness centers offers clients free chiropractic services, free massage therapy, free barber/haircut services, free gym/cardio machines and free acupuncture services.

Poverello’s mission is the provision of nutritious food, services and basic living essentials for those with HIV and critical and chronic illnesses in South Florida. Initially, the mission of Poverello was limited to HIV patients, but five years ago, the organization expanded its service profile to diabetic, cancer and other comorbidities.

Currently there are 22 employees and 115 volunteers running the thrift store, food bank and wellness center. Poverello maintains association with area groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Police Athletic Leagues and the Food is Medicine Coalition.

Non-Stop Support

Poverellos helps clients with HIV maintain an impressive viral suppression rate of 92%, meaning viral load is overwhelmingly undetectable in the HIV Poverello population. They want to make sure that last 8% is linked to high quality healthcare.

The food pantry with support from the community will continue to feed thousands of Broward County residents and the thrift store sells an excellent assortment of clothing, furniture, books and shoes to raise money for the effort.

The ever-growing LGBT community in South Florida and the general population will continue to enjoy the philanthropic efforts from Poverello’s services and food supplies for years to come.

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Beth Cooper

Beth Cooper

Beth Cooper is a Philadelphia Pennsylvania native. She has lived and practiced in Oakland Park for 21 years. Her practice, called Sunshine Chiropractic Center, focuses on family, pediatric, pregnant women, back pain, and auto accidents.

Fitness, running and yoga are her passions. Beth loves spending time with her 11 year old daughter and husband Rob of 20 years when not working.

She loves to support and utilize local mom and pop, entrepreneurial businesses whenever possible. She volunteers for Poverello Live Well Center weekly as the agency’s chiropractor and has done so for over 10 years.

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