By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A turkey dinner with all the trimmings came a little early for the residents at the Homeless Family Center in Vero Beach, thanks to Roque Family Dentistry and Pelican Diner, both of Sebastian.
The dentistry practice and restaurant crossed city lines to reach needy families last week, bringing them hot turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and more during their evening meal.
Dentist Louis Roque finds joy in giving back to the community and this feeding opportunity was the first time he had the opportunity to share the experience with his staff members.
"I could just give money, but doing something like this, it's not detached, it's more personal," Dr. Roque said.
"The staff were very enthusiastic when I told them about it. This place is a good place to help, because you know the people that you are helping are the people that really need it," he said.
The Homeless Family Center provides emergency and transitional shelter for homeless families from Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties. The facility can house up to 72 individuals, and the organization helps the families housed there to end homelessness by achieving self-sufficiency through education, living wages and permanent housing, the website said.
Christina Richard, office manager of the dental practice, said she has driven past the Homeless Family Center many times but this is the first time she has stepped up to help.
"This is such a great place and we can show our kids by example how to give back," she said.
Ms. Richard contacted Greg Hepler, owner of Pelican Diner, about preparing the food and she was thrilled when he went above and beyond to help.
Mr. Hepler has worked with the Homeless Family Center previously, most recently by participating in the 2013 Top Chef Challenge, benefitting the center.
Ivy Meighan, children's program manager for Homeless Family Center, said usually the center cooks and provides the meals for the residents, but occasionally, members of the community step up to bring something.
Financial donations for the center are always welcome. According to the nonprofit's website, $60 provides one month of food for one resident.
The Homeless Family Center is located at 720 Fourth St., Vero Beach.
For more information about the Homeless Family Center, visit www.homelessfamilycenter.com.