A Desk for Hela

“You never know how strong you are until you have no choice.” – Bob Marley

After jumping out her window to escape domestic violence, Hela was left homeless. “To lose him, I had to lose everything. I ended up getting a tent and living in the woods for the last eight years.”

Hela dreamed of being a writer and high school English teacher, and knew the best way to pursue that dream was to go to school. “Going to school while I was homeless gave me more of a drive. I had already lost everything, so the only thing I could do was go to class.” Hela first enrolled at Valencia College, then continued her education at the University of Central Florida.

When asked how she kept up with schoolwork, Hela explained, “I got an outdoor picnic table and chairs from WalMart. I’d set it up outside my tent when I needed to study. Or I’d go to the on-campus library.”

During her first semester at UCF, Hela started the student group, “Castles for Knights,” a club for homeless college students to support one another. Funded by the Student Government Association, Castles for Knights hosted meals for students experiencing homelessness, and ensured that those that don’t have the opportunity to go home for the holiday’s had a meal for Thanksgiving.

Hela moved from the woods in Apopka to staying on campus, where she slept on couches in study halls and on the floor of porta-potty’s. When hurricane’s approached, she was provided a dorm room for a brief reprieve from the elements. At the suggestion of campus police, Hela spent her last two semesters at Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition helped Hela sign a lease for an apartment, and after eight years, Hela finally had a place to call her own.  Hela received the keys to her apartment on December 16th, and walked across the stage on the 17th, graduating with a dual bachelor’s degree in technical communication and writing and rhetoric.

Coalition for the Homeless referred Hela to The Mustard Seed so that she could receive furniture for her new apartment. She selected 13 pieces of furniture and is most excited about the desk she received, so she can continue writing.

To support individuals like Hela in need as they transition out of homelessness, click here.

Furniture for Daniell and Her Children

For Daniell, single mother to four children, connecting to resources in the Central Florida community has given her the tools to rebuild her life. Finding herself homeless in June of 2021, Daniell stayed at Orlando Union Rescue Mission while taking classes with Jobs Partnership. “I graduated in th…

Read More

A Sofa for Conrad

For Conrad, a disabled veteran, adapting to civilian life has been a challenge. When he and his wife decided to start their own business, the company grew and was thriving until the pandemic threw a wrench in their growth. Applications for assistance were denied, and what was once a growing firm dwi…

Read More

Beds for Matt and Phyllis

For Phyllis and James, Hurricane Ian left them with no where to go and very few options. The South Florida couple had retired, and found themselves needing to be rescued by FEMA when their home flooded during the storm. “All we had left were our walkers.” Relocating to Orlando after the storm an…

Read More

Latest News

TMS Furnishes The Bradley House

May 8, 2023

Where do you turn in situations of crisis? For employees of AdventHealth, one option is The Bradley House, which is used by Team Members in need of a safe place to stay as they transition into permanent housing following loss of home, domestic violence incidents, etc. With the help of AdventHealth… read more

10 Years of Leadership: An Interview with Kathy Baldwin

March 23, 2023

The Mustard Seed is not only celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, but also has hit a special leadership milestone. Executive Director, Kathy Baldwin, has been leading The Mustard Seed for 10 years. In the following interview, Kathy shares her experience leading TMS.
Can you share a little b… read more