Fort Myers woman helps homeless veterans get back on their feet

Gloria Watkins, a resident of Amavida Living, said her passion project is in a room, which is full of items for a cause she supports – helping homeless veterans get back on their feet.

“As you get older, you don’t want to take it somewhere or be bothered with it,” Watkins said. “Now, the vets just want it all.”

It is an idea that she spearheaded when she noticed residents leaving their gently used furniture by the trash. She wanted the items to go to a good home.

“I got to thinking about it and started working on it,” Watkins said. “Then, I found through Bay Pines that the hearts and homes were there.”

Keeping it local was Watkins’s only wish. The items would be picked up and sent to Hearts and Homes for Veterans in Fort Myers.

It is a needs-based organization, which provides homeless and low-income veterans with shelter, food and other items.

For Vice President of Hearts and Homes for Veterans Tom Donoghue, who is a former military veteran, seeing items being donated was touching.

“It’s really rewarding to be able to see the veteran get back up and get on their feet,” Donoghue said. “Then, come back and a lot of times they come back and help us, so it kind of goes full circle.”

Watkins’s idea has experienced so much growth that she is running out of space. Amavida Living staff is providing help, collecting items in an empty storage room, dubbed “Gloria’s Closet.”

“Everybody knows how hard it is to downsize and get rid of their items,” said Eileen Spence, resident services at Amavida Living. “They just want to make sure it’s going to a good cause, so it makes them feel good knowing that it’s going to help somebody in the local community.”

For more information about how you can support Watkins’ project, call her at 239-301-4595 or Amavida Resident Services at 877-969-0712.

For Watkins, she said she is just getting started with the project and hopes that word will continue to spread. She wants to keep lending a hand as donations at Amavida Living have picked up so much, they are now delivering items twice a month.

“I have just always kind of needed to do something to help people,” Watkins said.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
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