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Hermanos De La Calle helpline

Lessons Learned: One grassroots organization fine-tunes its approach to homelessness

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Have you ever wondered how grassroots organizations get their start working within our community? Hermanos De La Calle is a non-profit organization working to reintegrate homeless individuals into society by providing security, love, support, and opportunity – and they are also an integral part of the homeless outreach successes in Miami-Dade. 

What started with friends wanting to make a difference with warm meals turned into a mission to help the homeless reconnect with society.

We sat with Hermanos De La Calle founder, Narciso Munoz, to learn about his inspiration and vision. Like so many great missions, Hermanos started because Munoz wanted to expose his kids to a reality they had never experienced. "Life is about a lot of luck, and there are some things you cannot control… there is dignity in poverty and dignity in other things… I wanted to show that God lives in the people, not only in the church. It is around us; it is good to give service. There is something super special in giving when you give more than you receive."

Six years ago, Narciso started living out his vision by going to a soup kitchen with his kids but felt he wasn't changing enough lives, so he took his mission to the streets by organizing feedings in Downtown Miami. He quickly realized there was more than just hunger in the streets -- there were addiction, health, education and employment issues and it would take more resources than what he had at his disposal.

Narciso explains that Hermanos De La Calle's work with The Homeless Trust empowered their organization. “We were not able to deal and help somebody on the spot, and now it is something that we are able to take out 3,4,6, or sometimes more people just per week out from the streets. So it is very important to be connected to the government network and to be like a centralized place where you can share experiences and can try to place persons in the shelters."

When we spoke about the goals of Hermanos, Narciso shared one of the most significant issues he sees, "We fight loneliness. Loneliness is something that complicates reintegrating people. Also, the stigma of being homeless; we believe that shelters are super necessary and give an immediate solution. When you are living in a shelter, you are still with some stigma."

As a perfect example of a volunteer group that went beyond feeding, since its inception, Hermanos has assisted more than 270 homeless individuals off the streets, supported over 110 individuals in obtaining housing, worked with more than 50 persons to locate and maintain employment, helped over 70 substance abuse victims to manage their sobriety, and reunited countless individuals with their families. In following their clients as they move through the system of care, they can provide continuous support to those individuals.

Narciso continued to share his vision for the future, the "problem of homelessness is… resolved as a community. Three million people in Miami, 800 living on the streets. It can be solved. We invite everyone to get involved… there are ways to get people off the streets and out of living in inhumane conditions. Solutions are there.”

Hermanos is a living, breathing helpline that works on the ground with the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust to render safe housing, mental and emotional support, access to healthcare, legal services, employment opportunities, and reconnection to family. In addition, they provide the Homeless Trust with valuable insight into the challenges individuals are experiencing on our streets.

We hope their lessons learned, inspire you.

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