Lewis Center Success Stories

Michael's Success Story

Michael became homeless in 2017 for the first time in his life. He soon started feeling betrayed by everyone that said they were “there for him”. Family and friends refused to take him in instead of reaching out to help him.

There were times where he was not able to eat for five straight days, fainted from dehydration, and even collapsed from the lack of sleep. He then was able to see the importance of self-reliance and independence.

His life forever changed when he was accepted into the Lewis Center. During his stay at the Lewis Center he received his security licenses, found a security job, entered college, and saved enough money to buy his first car. According to Michael, The Lewis Center transformed him from a boy to a responsible young man within a span of three months.

Now he is a full time straight A student at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens, a full time Armed Security Officer, and he is pursuing his dream to become a part time CDL Driver.  He now has opportunities he has prayed for because he refused to lose!

Michael has some inspiring advice to others."Anyone who is experiencing homelessness, please believe you can and you will get a second chance in life. It’s not about what made you fall it’s about how fast you get back up! Take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and know that you can be somebody! You will be somebody! You ARE somebody!" 

Overcoming Challenges

B.J  has faced and overcome many challenges. The most recent, an act of betrayal and discrimination left B.J and her seven year old grandson homeless. B.J found help through the Lewis Center.

B.J diligently saved all her income so that she could move to her own apartment, but her past presented an obstacle. B.J had committed a crime 30 years ago, and although her rights had been fully restored, landlords did not want to rent to her.

The Adopt-A-Family housing specialist refused to give up and located a unit with a willing landlord. The Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County paid the deposits so B.J could make the move. Now that she has her own place she says she can focus on her grandson’s education and begin the process of adopting him. 



Rebuilding After Loss

Being a single father to four children is no doubt a challenge. Managing the responsibility while trying to overcome homelessness feels practically impossible.

That’s the situation C.O found himself in after his wife died of bone cancer in 2015 and he lost his job. Unable to pay the rent, C.O and the children moved in with his sister. The family was forced to move when the landlord determined there were too many people in the apartment.

C.O went to the Lewis Center and was assigned to Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches. His case worker helped him get grief counseling. He also learned money management and got help finding an apartment.  

C.O is now working full time as a bus attendant with the School District of Palm Beach County. He and the children just moved into a three bedroom apartment.

There is Hope

Wilbert Cravatt is reminded constantly about the help he received from the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County. Cravatt says much of his clothes, furniture and household items came from the nonprofit’s donation room at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center.

Cravatt had been homeless off and on for a year when he came to the Lewis Center last fall. He attended a Project Homeless Connect and learned about available resources. The 45 year old admits his pride often kept him from seeking help.

“There is help available, no matter what your challenges are, you just have to be willing to accept help,” Cravatt said.

Cravatt says his case worker at the Palm Beach County Homeless Outreach Program helped him access disability benefits and the Palm Beach County Homeless Outreach Housing First Program assisted with his apartment. He has completed a job ready class through the Lord’s Place and is hoping to get into the Culinary Apprenticeship Program.  


They Won't Let You Fail

M.P is used to the great outdoors, but his love of fresh air did not prepare him to be homeless. M.P lived in a tent for almost two years. The 57-year-old was a boat captain in the U.S. Virgin Islands until the recession hit in 2008. M.P lost his home and his girlfriend while gaining significant debt.

While homeless, M.P underwent two major back surgeries which left him unable to work. Without a job, he said he could not see how he would rebuild his life. M.P says he learned how to begin the process at Senator Philip D. Lewis Center. Once he had a stable roof over his head he was able to concentrate on piecing his life back together.

His case worker helped him get signed up for disability and social security. They also helped him find an apartment. M.P says the staff at the Lewis Center is truly dedicated to helping others, “As long as you keep doing the right thing they are not going to let you fail.”

He has been living in his own apartment for nearly a year and says he is beginning to enjoy a little of the good life again.


You Never Know Where Life Will Lead


As an educated woman in a two income household, M.S says she would have laughed at anyone who predicted that she, her husband and 5 year-old son would become homeless. Now she says, “You never know where life will take you.” Anyone can experience homelessness.

M.S was working as a nursing assistant while attending nursing school when she suddenly collapsed. Tests revealed the 26 year old had gallstones that were effecting her liver. She needed emergency surgery.  

While recovering from surgery, M.S was unable to fulfill the physical requirements of her job. After two months the hospital she was working at let her go. With only one income her family was not able to maintain their rent, car payment and daycare costs. They had to move out. For seven months they bounced around among friends, family and church members.

In April 2015, M.S and her family came to the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center and were referred to Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches. At first she was self-conscious about seeking help. She worried that she and her family would be judged because of their situation. Instead, she was relieved to find help in her time of need. M.S says her case worker became like a second mother, helping them to budget and find a place to live.

Thanks to the Homeless Coalition’s Creating Housing Opportunities program, the family was able to move into an apartment.  A year later, M.S says the grass is finally greener. She is working full-time and has gone back to school. Her husband has a new job and theywere able to buy a car. Their son, now age 6, is thriving in kindergarten.

Peace of Mind 

N.T was living in a friend's car with her two children, ages 8 and 1. The young mother slept in the car during the day with her infant son, and worked at night to try to get back on her feet. Embarrassed to tell her co-workers or friends about her desperate situation, N.T called 211 looking for help. She was referred to the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center.

N.T came to the Lewis Center in December of 2014 and was referred to Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches. She and the children were immediately moved into a hotel and she was able to recieve financial assistance for her son's daycare.

Thanks to the Homeless Coalition's Creating Housing Opportunities program N.T was able to move into a three bedroom apartment. N.T says the basic necessity of having a safe roof over her head plus childcare gave her the peace of mind to find a second job.

N.T is thankful for the support she found through the provider partners at the Lewis Center. Her case worker helps her budget her finances each month and gives her someone to talk to if her situation gets difficult. She says she is amazed at the difference in her life and feels confident that she will never be homeless again.


Life Changing Experience

At age 66, D.L says she never dreamed she would be homeless. She worked at the same job for nearly 30 years. D.L lost her job when her mother died and she suffered a major depressive episode.

D.L moved to Florida to be closer to friends, but was not able to find work. She lived in a motel until she ran out of money. She had nowhere to turn, until a friend told her about the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center.

D.L came to the Lewis Center in August 2014. During her two month stay, she took classes which helped her understand how to claim benefits and to build her self-esteem. D.L says her roommates and staff at the Lewis Center became her second family.

The partner organizations at the Lewis Center provided the first and last month’s rent so D.L could get an apartment. D.L has been living on her own for six months, just bought a new computer and is looking for a job.

From Homeless to Home

D.K was living in Jupiter, working at a funeral home and about to buy her first home when her life took an unexpected turn. A new love relationship introduced her to the world of drugs and addiction. Within months the college graduate lost everything; her job, her home and most importantly her children.

D.K knew she had to change her life to get her little boys back from the state. She went to rehab and had been drug free for a year, but finding stable housing was a challenge. One day a man on the bus heard her crying about being homeless and suggested she call the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center.

Working with Adopt-A-Family, D.K was able to get first and last month’s rent and the security deposit for an apartment funded by the Homeless Coalition’s Rapid Re-housing Program. She has been living in a safe stable place for seven months and her children are home. D.K is now works for herself, painting faces at parties and events. She lives by the words, “Don’t stop until the miracle happens. Keep going ‘til you get where you’re trying to go.”


Just in Time


Health challenges combined with the loss of his long time job left Milton in a desperate situation. The former chef was living in his truck at a local store parking lot while having to attend kidney dialysis three times a week.

Unemployment payments were not enough to support Milton and he was on the verge of losing his truck. Without his vehicle, Milton would have been on the streets and without transportation to dialysis.

A case worker helped Milton register for social security and referred him to the Lewis Center. For 90 days Milton had a safe place to call home and three meals a day. It was exactly the break he needed to save enough money for a permanent home.

Now, settled into his own apartment, Milton spends his time reading, watching movies and working on his photography hobby.


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Just The Facts

Minimum Wage Doesn't Pay the Rent in Palm Beach County
The School District of Palm Beach County Reports
4,414 students are homeless.

Current Needs

  • Toiletries (Full size and travel size)
  • Adult men's & women's undergarments (new)
  • Adult men's & women's socks (new)
  • Diapers all sizes
  • School supplies

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