Nature Coast Community Services Foundation (NCCSF) is a nonprofit organization that cares for and assists the homeless population across Hernando County. The organization travels to those in need, wherever they reside. This is run by Ellen Paul and a small group of kind people, whose passion is to uplift their community and help whenever and wherever they’re needed.
NCCSF provides tents, tarps, house wares, clothes and shoes of all sizes and for all genders, soaps, cleaning supplies, apothecaries, bicycles, sleeping bags, dog and cat food, blankets, propane stoves and propane, baby wipes, etc. Ellen even will do her best to fill specific requests. For a perfect example someone asked Ellen recently if she could find a violin. And as luck normally finds its way to Ellen, she has found one to give them. On Friday March 12, she was preparing a few more personal items for people; a requested radio with fresh batteries and a quilt for a little girl named Harley with her favorite colors. People will call her and ask her for furniture items as well. Currently she’s on the hunt for a loveseat.
Nature Coast Community Services is able to provide assistance through 100 percent donations and volunteer work. The message gets around town about what Ellen needs through PSAs, then word of mouth takes it from there. Suddenly bicycles are showing up on her front door.
The majority of the assistance and donations are random but a lot of it comes from her small group of volunteers. A group of people come in every Saturday to sort and organize all the clothes and non-food items. Ellen also said a woman brings her bread every Sunday that’s left over from her food pantry. Ellen then takes that bread and brings it to a pair of women who set to work making sandwiches and desserts to be handed out. This frees Ellen up from her previous task of cooking lunches every Thursday. The day that I accompanied Ellen, these women had made a variety of sandwiches like PB&J, chicken and egg, and a few more different kinds; 75 sandwiches in total. They made Irish cake sprinkled with Leprechaun dust in theme with the upcoming holiday. These women also provide clothing, bedding, and shoes, which are always desperately needed. Around Christmas time they collected the names of the children the organization works with and all of their likes and interests. From there they made personalized presents for each of these kids. Ellen calls these women Santa; for all of their selfless generosity and giving. One mom receiving help has 8 kids, “Santa” got each of her kids presents.
Continuing with that spirit of giving, the woman who brings bread says she wants to give more and tells Ellen she is with a group of women who knit and crochet. I suspect this group is the Quilters of Nature Coast, but Ellen didn’t know for sure. This group of women knitters hand made many many quilts for Ellen to hand out to kids and babies. And they are so beautiful and soft, an amazing gift for any little one.
Ellen remarked on the stereotypes that come with caring for a homeless population. Someone once said to Ellen that they didn’t want to go out and deliver goods with her because she, “didn’t want to see so much misery.” Yet, as Ellen socializes with the homeless community, passing out food and goods, there is nothing but laughter, connection, and positivity in the air. Maybe a little teasing here and there, but it’s all in good fun. NCCSF provides joy to these people and eases their struggles even if only temporarily.
Ellen relates that many of the homeless have full time jobs or receive social security but sadly it is just not enough to get them into better living conditions.
Amazingly, Ellen is also helping homeless individuals receive their stimulus checks. For those who didn’t file taxes last year or for a few years, they are invisible to the government. Ellen has been assisting people with filing their taxes, putting proper addresses, email addresses, whatever the problem is that’s stopping their stimulus checks. She even helps people get their government ID’s and drives them to medical appointments. Ellen and her organization have cumulatively assisted area homeless in receiving $61k in stimulus funds.
Ellen was prompted to start NCCSF while caring for the dogs and cats of homeless people around Hernando County. She started traveling with dog and cat food. Then she realized there are people attached to those animals and they need care too.
Nature Coast Community Services Foundation banks at Suntrust and last year at the end of the year Suntrust Corporate went to each branch and instructed them to donate a certain amount of money to their community; something that’s going to help people in their community. Her branch is the Suntrust located on Mariner and 50. The manager, Dusty, called Ellen and informed her the bank wanted to assist NCCSF and that they would love to work with the foundation. They asked, “What do you need?” And it gets better, the smallest Suntrust branch in the county also chose to partner with Nature Coast Community Services Foundation. They donated overall: 10 tents, 10 tarps, 4 propane stoves, a lot of propane, 4 cases of bug spray, and 9 thousand baby wipes.
Giving goes a long way, whether it’s a little or a lot, the impact if this can spread warmth and inspiration throughout.
Ellen still remains in desperate need of tents and tarps, these items provide shelter and are of number one importance.
If you wish to donate, volunteer, or request services from Ellen Paul, her phone number is 352-600-9555 and her email is [email protected]