The Country’s 2nd “Emergency Shelter on Wheels” is ready to roll into Palm Bay
The Source for the poor and the homeless in Vero Beach, Fl has operated under the leadership of Executive Director Anthony Zorbaugh for the past four years. Coincidentally for the past seven years, along with his wife Anna, the Zorbaughs have resided in Palm Bay. With only a short 30 miles between the two cities, the two locations face a similar issue; specifically, the homeless and unsheltered individuals who are living rough on the streets in their individual communities.
Since 1995, The Source a Christian Outreach Ministry has offered life-changing possibilities to residents in crisis. Through an extensive list of programs and services they help their clients out of homelessness and into a dignified way of life. In March, 2021, following a long thorough assessment of their community and the needs of the poor and homeless clients in Vero Beach, they launched the Dignity Bus, a mobile overnight shelter on wheels, the first of its kind in the country. Their focus in creating the bus was to provide a safe, temporary overnight accommodation for those without any shelter.
And now with ten months under their belt, over 2,000 safe sleeps enjoyed, and a wide-spread marketing plan, their phones began ringing with inquiries from other cities and states, to find out how they can utilize this safe sleep concept, as well as many other successful programs and services, for their own individual communities. One of those calls came from the city officials of Palm Bay, Fl. Following meetings and presentations to city officials, plans began for the development of the second Dignity Bus.
The timing of this decision turned out to be quite uncanny, and some may even call it a miracle. For just before the planned opening of South Brevard’s only cold night shelter (located on the property of Truth Revealed International Ministries on Palm Bay Road), a devastating fire occurred gutting the entire structure.
While this disconcerting event was happening, Zorbaugh was simultaneously putting the finishing touches on the Palm Bay Dignity Bus, a 40-foot motor coach being outfitted with 16 beds (sleeping pods), personal storage, restrooms, heat, air-conditioning and air-purifiers. The aim of the mobile shelter is to get people off the street and keep them safe and healthy until they can get back on their feet. The Palm Bay Dignity Bus is planned to operate 365 days a year and will sleep 16 individuals at $2 per night, launching by the end of January as the only overnight shelter in south Brevard County. The Source has partnered with St.Vincent DePaul-Our Lady of Grace, located at 300 Malabar Rd SE, Palm Bay, FL to help facilitate the process of logistics and registering clients for the bus.
According to Kenny Johnson, Deputy Mayor of Palm Bay’s City Council, “I am excited to have The Source serve our community, especially for those in need. The completion of this bus is perfect timing given the recent devastating fire that has occurred. I have connected Anthony Zorbaugh and Bishop Merton Clark, who oversaw the cold night shelter, so those who were looking for shelter through the church can now be comforted knowing that they will still have a safe haven with the Dignity Bus. God Bless The Source and all who have brought this Dignity Bus into fruition.”
This union with Palm Bay is the first foray for The Source in Vero Beach to expand into another county. “Brevard County appears to be an excellent fit for this expansion, enabling us to replicate our successful programs and services in an area that wants to reach out, just like we have done, to those less fortunate and in need,” shares Zorbaugh. “The City of Palm Bay, and their enthusiasm towards helping the homeless, should be congratulated for their foresight, their empathy for others, and for recognizing this much needed way to help the unsheltered residents of their community. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect a person’s mental and physical health, and ultimately their safety. We know from our experiences in Vero Beach that sleep can change everything.”
The Source operates from their outreach facility located at 1015 Commerce Avenue in Vero Beach which is open seven days a week. In addition to offering life-changing possibilities to residents in crisis, The Source offers emergency hunger relief, clothing, counseling, support groups, hygiene items, showers, mail and telephone services, benefit referrals, and much more. As first responders, The Source helps provide critical care for physical, spiritual, civic, and social needs. For more information on The Source and the Dignity Bus please visit www.Iamthesource.org, or call Executive Director Anthony Zorbaugh, 772-564-0202.