Franciscan Sister Jessica Zwarra, OSF shares about her life as a volunteer at The Health Care Center for the Homeless Dental Clinic, Christian Sharing Center and a food pantry in Central Florida.
The Health Care Center for the Homeless Dental Clinic has been described as the “third world mouths with sugar”. The homeless need for dental treatment is continual. There are an estimated 8,000 homeless men, women, and children in Central Florida who have no other source to receive dental care. The dental clinic also provides care for low income, uninsured people living in the downtown service area.
As a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, I serve the poor at the clinic by helping to make the dentures and partials. 3, 025 patients were served at the clinic last year. It is a blessing to make available oral health services to the disadvantaged, homeless and uninsured in Orlando.
The Christian Sharing Center is a faith-based, non-profit charitable organization that helps individuals in Seminole County during times of personal financial crises. It was formed by a group of church leaders who recognized that their staffs did not have the training, time or resources to help effectively. There are about 40 denominations providing financial support and food drives to stock the pantry. As Christians, the goal of the center is to have the Gospel delivered to all people, knowing that “actions speak louder than words”. They strive to be Christ to others to proclaim the Gospel by providing for the physical needs of the poor. Last year, they helped 51,024 people and the number needing help has soared 40% this year. They provide a range of support from food, clothing, shelter, transportation and shelter.
I volunteer my time in the food pantry. We receive a list of the needed items from the clients and fill shopping carts and bags with the requested food, cleaning products and personal hygiene items. One of the favorites for the children is pizza,which is donated by local pizza parlors. When I take the shopping cart to the waiting room for the family, children will often start eating the old pizza. Thanksgiving and Christmas, we prepare the ingredients for a complete holiday dinner for the families in need. The motto of the Sharing Center is “because we care, we share”. It is a joy to share my time there.