This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece by Sabra Maisonet, a Lakeland local who has experienced homeless in the city.
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When you think of homelessness, what comes to mind? Someone on the streets with dingy clothes? Someone who looks like they haven’t bathed in weeks?How about someone who always walks up to your car or outside the corner store asking for spare change?
This is what some in our community may think homelessness is and what homelessness looks like. But homelessness can look very different. It can be a mother of three children that fell on hard times and had no support or anywhere to go.
I was that mother. My name is Sabra Maisonet and this is my story.
Photo via Sabra Maisonet
As an individual that’s experienced homelessness, one thing I wish the Lakeland community could understand is that some homeless people are comfortable with their situation. They are only comfortable because it’s what is known. Regardless of how old or young, once a habit or routine is established, people in general usually stick to it. Things will only change when the homeless are ready for change.
I know people in the community might feel bad for the homeless and their situation because they can not relate to or even imagine the experience. This is an expected and normal emotion from people. We also must remember that the more we give the more we will enable. I’m not saying not to help — I’m not saying that at all…
Click the button below to read more of Sabra’s story + what she envisions could help those experiencing homelessness in the city. ⬇️
Regional ○On Feb. 26from 5-8 p.m., downtown Winter Haven will host their very first Final Friday event which will focus on making local residents + visitors aware of the upcoming small businesses in the city. Despite a tough year for businesses, Winter Haven has many new spots coming to liven up their downtown scene, including new branches of Adler’s Burgers+ Honeycomb Bread Bakers. (The Ledger)
TryThis ○The City of Lakeland is hosting Black History Discovery Trail, a self-led activity to several city facilities where locals can learn about Lakeland’s Black pioneers. The first 100 participants to visit each facility will receive a special commemorative package + a free visit to any city recreation center. The trail will run until the end of the month. For those who would like to complete it virtually, click here. 🥾
Number ○ $21.8 million. That’s how much Polk County received from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program aimed to help landlords + renters impacted by the pandemic. $9 million will be distributed to landlords to help cover up to 12 months in rent for tenants. $4 million will go towardpre-existing applications for the Rental Assistance Programlaunched last December. Another $5 million will fund a Renter Utility Assistance program for those who have outstanding utility payments. (The Ledger) ○ $787,000. The City of Lakeland received this amount from Housing and Urban Development for financially-impacted homeowners. One-third of the money will fund the Emergency Rental Relief Program. This will go toward the hundreds of applicants still waiting for their applications to be reviewed. For more info on the Lakeland CARE Program, click here. (The Ledger)
TryThis ○POURS at GreenWise Market. Have a glass of wine, beer, fresh kombucha or locally-roasted coffee at the bar, or sip while you shop.🍷Ⓟ
FeelGood ○Winter Haven’s batting their eyes in thanks, due to the generosity of one local philanthropist. Over the weekend, Eliezer LaSalle gave out free Mink eyelashes to women in his city as Valentine’s Day gifts — and to mentors to give out to their students for motivation. The lashes were previously part of Eliezer’s pre-COVID-19 business. (Bay News 9)
Ranked ○ 5. Florida’s ranking in WalletHub’s recent list of 2021’s Most Sinful States in America. To find the rankings, all 50 states were measured on the “seven deadly sins.” Within the list, FL ranked No. 3 in “Jealousy” + “Vanity,” and No. 7 in “Lust.” Nevada ranked No. 1 as the most sinful state + Wyoming ranked No. 50, deeming them the most angelic. 😈 (WalletHub)
Cause ○Lakeland Magic is donating $20,000 to helpfight childhood hunger in Polk County in a slam dunk kind of way. Through the Hoops for Hunger Program, the local G League team raised $75 with Mosaic for every three-point shot made by the Magic during a home game last season — rallying for a total of 258 points. This season, donations will be doubled, with $150 for every three-point shot and proceeds will benefit both the previous beneficiary, KidsPACK, as well as One More Child. 🏀
Coronavirus ○ On Monday, the Florida Department of Health announced 3,615 new cases of COVID-19 and155 additional deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 1,830,988 + the total deaths to 28,934.You can find more updates concerning COVID-19 case numbers on theFlorida Department of Health dashboard. See Lakeland + Polk numbers here. ○Monitorthe Florida Department of Health in Polk’s websitefor the latest information regarding vaccines. Seniors can register for the vaccinationhere.
TheBuy ○Get cozy in these Ponto Shorts – because you’ll never want to take them off. Made with Vuori’s Dreamknit™️ fabric, the Ponto Short is a smooth-as-butter, lightweight short ft. stretchy material + a brushed elastic waistband. Read: Great for running, pilates, or Sunday chillin’. Get 20% off your first purchasehere. Ⓟ
Celebrate ○ Nearly all residents of Lake Gibson Village, an assisted living facility in north Lakeland, have received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ⓟ
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Dish ○ Sun’s Just Egg Rolls| Tues., Feb. 16 | 3-9 p.m. | Swan Brewing, 115 W. Pine St. | Prices vary | #ProTip: Try the strawberry cheesecake delight egg roll. 😋
TryThis ○ Karaoke Night| Tues., Feb. 16 | 6 p.m. | The Yard On Mass, 803 N. Massachusetts Ave. | Free | Happy Endings Food Truck will be serving up dishes based on Hawiann and Taiwanese roots — all available for purchase.
Active ○ Yoga for Pain Relief| Tues., Feb. 16 | 6-7 p.m. | Soul Tree Yoga Studio, 330 Doris Dr. | $10 | A cocktail of Hatha with Restorative, Nidra, and Reiki. 🧘
ForKids ○ Art with Character| Tues., Feb. 16 | 6-8 p.m. | Enchanted Fairytale Hollow, 214 Trader’s Alley | $20 | Bring your little one for an evening of art with the ultimate snow queen. ❄️ ○ It’s Music Day for Infants| Tues., Feb. 16 | 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Virtual | $15 | Tune into this Zoom call, enjoy music playtime with your baby + listen to other parents about what it’s like to raise a baby in 2021.
Cause ○ Mobile Food Pantry| Tues., Feb. 16 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Blessings & Hope Lakeland, 2150 E. Edgewood Dr. | Free | If you’re in need, pick up a box or bag of prepackaged food. 🥬
FeaturedEvent ○ Grab a lunch on us at Trinity Medical Group | Tuesdays through Mar. 30 | 12-2 p.m. | 550 Pope Ave. NW, Winter Haven | Free | Trinity Medical Group is offering free, pre-packaged meals prepared according to COVID-19 safety measures, to seniors 65+ at their Winter Haven location every Tuesday through Mar. 30. RSVP at 863-949-8080. Limit one meal per person.Ⓟ
Disclaimer: It is up to readers’ discretion to determine whether they feel comfortable participating in any mentioned events based on COVID-19 protocols and precautions. If you have questions, please contact the event’s organizers directly.
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❓ DYK: Have you ever wondered what LALtoday stands for? We’ve had a few questions about this in our inbox recently, so, if you’re new, or are just curious, here’s the tea: Simply put, it stands for “Lakeland.” It’s also the three-letter code of our very ownLakeland Linder International Airport— which to us, is our calling card. The more you know, LAL, the more you know.
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