Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless, Inc.

Samuel Kaufman, Esq

John Sangston
Rev. Larry Schenk


Joan Higgs

Rev. Randolph

Rev. Sarah Fowler

Ronald Roberts

Cathy Stentzel

Niels Hubbell
William Malpass

Eric C. Nichols, Ph.D.


Neils Hubbell Graduates from
Board Leadership Academy

Neils Hubbell is the third FKOC board member to graduate from the Board Leadership Academy sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. The intensive four-week curriculum covers all aspects of nonprofit governance. FKOC President and CEO, Rev. Stephen E. Braddock and Board Chairman, Samuel J. Kaufman attended Hubbell's graduation followed by a social at the Doubtree Grand Key Resort.

Bradshaw Honored for Service

Doug Bradshaw (C) recently received FKOC's Board Appreciation Award
for 10-years of service as the organization's treasurer.
He is flanked by Chairman Sam Kaufman and CEO Rev. Stephen Braddock.

Dr. Nichols Graduates from
Board Leadership Academy

Dr. Eric Nichols, a Clinical Psychologist and active FKOC Board Member, recently completed an intensive board leadership training academy sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys (CFFK). Pictured is CFFK President and CEO Diana Sutton
presenting Dr. Nichols with his graduation certificate.

Homeless man recognized for rebounding in life

BY JOHN L. GUERRA Citizen Staff

Ronald Roberts taught music in Monroe County public schools for 27 years and planned to enjoy life when he left the district in 1997. It didn't work out that way.

The now-64-year-old ran through his retirement money while abusing alcohol and drugs, and in 2000 found himself without a permanent home. He would stay occasionally in friends' homes on Stock Island , but often he would stay at Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) and wander the streets, dying a little bit every day from his addictions.

"At times I had to sleep in the street and different places," Roberts said. "I got mixed up with the wrong people and wrong things, and it got to the point where I was homeless with no place to stay."

Something happened inside Roberts to give him the spark to turn his life around in 2005. His road to recovery won him the 2011 Personal Achievement Award from the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League (SHAL) during its annual meeting two weeks ago.

A new path

Living on the streets is a young person's game; national statistics indicate chronically homeless men and women die at the average age of 44. Roberts came in from the cold in 2005 at age 58 after realizing his life was at stake. His "bottom," as addicts call such powerful realization, was the understanding that he was gradually killing himself, he said.

"I went into drug and alcohol abuse -- cocaine, that was the basic thing right there -- and many years of alcohol," Roberts said. "I was very desperate and got to the opinion where my life was in jeopardy and I was going to lose my life. It was either walk a new path or lose my life. I had no options left."

Desperation led him to seek help by reaching out to the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC), which operates a recovery program with housing and substance abuse counseling.

"Having stayed at KOTS several times, I knew about Patterson House and how they help you get off the street and get clean," Roberts said. "I knew I was going to die. I wanted to live."

A second chance

Roberts was in rough shape when he showed up at Chris Welts' office.

"He looked hopeless," said the case manager, who evaluates and registers homeless addicts for the coalition's program. "I didn't give him much of a chance of succeeding. He was pretty much a mess, but everybody deserves a chance."

Roberts said his life improved after he entered Patterson House, now called The William M. Neece Center for Homeless Recovery.

"They counsel you, and then after a certain length of time require you to get a job," said Roberts, who worked at Albertsons when he first got sober. "Rent's low enough that a person can get a small job and make rent."

Roberts also applied himself to the residential program by maintaining his room, staying away from drugs and alcohol -- residents are routinely tested -- and regularly attending 12-step meetings, Welts said. Gradually, Roberts regained his health and mental alertness.

"When I look for a definition of the word 'miracle,' all I have to do is look at Ron," Welts said. "He took me by surprise. We couldn't be happier."

Exemplary turnaround

Roberts said he stays active in the 12-step community by helping others at Neece and serving as a coalition board member.

"FKOC provided the means for me to turn my life around and begin a change in my life," he said. "I try to do my best to volunteer for them in the front office at FKOC, handling calls. What I mostly do is work with the group's food pantry."

Roberts' efforts made him the fourth recipient of SHAL's third annual award, given to homeless people who turn their lives around. Former Personal Achievement Award winners were Debra Reid, who won in 2010, and Susan Bleich and Wayne Lewis, who won in 2009.

"The strategy of the award is to not only honor those who put in the work to change a seemingly impossible situation but to also educate the public who might be in need of services themselves," said SHAL Executive Director Wendy Coles. "Ronald is one of those examples of a turnaround and why these programs are necessary to help people turn their lives around."

Sarah Fowler Joins FKOC Board

(Rev. Stephen Braddock, President of FKOC, with newly appointed board member, Sarah Fowler)

Well known community activist, Sarah Fowler, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC), by the homeless service organization's Chairman, Sam Kaufman.

Fowler is a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and will be ordained an Episcopal deacon in December. She has been active in outreach ministry to the homeless since 1992, stating that her "life has been dedicated to serving people less fortunate than others."

As an FKOC Board member, Fowler will help govern the group's five transitional housing facilities for homeless men, women and children; the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter; and, the Loaves and Fish Food Pantry, an anti-hunger initiative cosponsored by St. Paul's.

Fowler's community involvement includes serving on the board's of: Old Island Restoration Foundation, Hospice/VNA, Key West Woman's Club, Wesley House Family Services, Easter Seals, Cancer Society of the Florida Keys, League of Women Voters, and the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys.

In February, Fowler received the Florence Spottswood Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Red Cross for her tireless work on behalf of the community's poor and needy.

"I am thrilled Sarah has accepted this position and look forward to working with her to advance FKOC's mission to assist homeless individuals and families attain lives of self-sufficiency and independence," said FKOC President, Fr. Steve Braddock.

Former Key West Mayor Elected
FKOC Vice-Chair

Rev. Steve Braddock with former Key West Mayor Jimmy Weekley. Weekley has served on the FKOC Board of Directors since 2005 and was recently elected to serve as Vice-Chairman. As Mayor, Jimmy was instrumental in the successful transfer of excess Navy property for use as housing for homeless individuals and families. He also worked to establish the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) and co-chaired the committee that developed the Key West and Monroe County 10-year Plan to End Homelessness.



Homeless Coalition Elects Board for 2008 - 2009

(KW) The Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC) celebrated it's
16th anniversary during an awards luncheon on April 23rd.
Judge Peary Fowler was on hand to adminster the oath of office
to the organization's newly elected board of directors.

Front L-R) Paul Clayton; Jimmy Weekley; Rev./Dr. Randy Becker; Rev. Ron Paige.
(Rear L-R) George Maurer, Esq.; John Dionne; Stephanie Robinson; Dr. Eric Nichols; Samuel J. Kaufman, Esq.; The Honorable Peary Fowler; and Rev./Dr. Stephen E. Braddock, President and CEO.
(Not pictured: Dennis Ward, Esq.; John Sangston; Jennie Wolfe; Doug Bradshaw)


Board Elects Officers for 2007/2008

The Florida Keys Outreach Coalition elected officers for the upcoming year during its May 16th general meeting.


Left-Right) Rev. Stephen E. Braddock, Ph.D., President and Executive Director; Rev. David Wilt, Vice-Chairman; Samuel J. Kaufman, Esq., Chairman; George Maurer, Esq., Secretary; and Douglas Bradshaw, Treasurer.




Pastors Elected to Board
The Reverend Ron Paige, of the First Congregational Church,
and the Reverend Randy Becker, of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, were elected to the FKOC Board.

  (Photo by Joe Knoth)
Pictured (L-R) FKOC Chairman, Samuel J. Kaufman, Esq.; Rev./Dr. Randolph Becker; Rev. Ron Paige; Deputy Director, Gina Pecora; and President &CEO, Rev./Dr. Stephen E. Braddock.
FKOC logo

The FKOC, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, supports its programs through local, state and federal grants, foundations, and corporate and private donations.

FKOC logo


Copyright © 2007-2015 Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, Inc. All rights reserved.
P.O. Box 4767
Key West, FL 33041