Feeding bodies and souls: Under The Bridge Ministry offers hope to those in need

Curtis and Tracy Wright answer a calling to feed the homeless

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – The Central Florida coastline provides plenty of million-dollar views, but in some cases, just blocks away, people are struggling.

We met a couple who are trying to bridge the gap.

Curtis and Tracy Wright started Under the Bridge Ministry nearly seven years ago. That first night they went to the A. Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville and fed one homeless person. Today dozens show up - so do countless volunteers. Together they feed body and soul.

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Monday night, with the sun setting behind them, volunteers set up folding tables, generators, lights and chairs along the shoreline at Sand Point Park in Titusville.

Nearby others unload trays of food and drinks.

It’s a process that happens every week. Only one time in six years was it put on hold. That was for a hurricane.

People like Hank Clayton are waiting. Clayton has been homeless for two years.

“I actually had a great job, a great house [and] had a great life,” Clayton said as he sat under one of the park pavilions just feet from the river’s edge. “But my elderly parents ended up with dementia at the same time. I ended up having to give up everything to take care of them.”

Clayton said he and others spend most days in and around the park. The Wright’s know where to find him and over time people in need have learned where to find Under The Bridge Ministry.

“Not everyone here is homeless. But everyone has something they’re battling, or that they’re needing. We’re here to tell them they’re loved.” Curtis Wright said. " Some of our folks, unfortunately, don’t ever get that except here on Monday night.”

The Wrights along with volunteers from several churches and nonprofits provide home-cooked meals, clothing and bedding. There are even services to help people get government identification and apply for temporary housing.

But many just come for the message.

“The food is kind of an afterthought,” Pastor Curtis Wright said. “We’re out here to tell the homeless and those in need who Jesus is.”

Pastor Curtis Wright offers a short sermon each week. The message is a simple one. “My message is never to give up hope. All we have is hope so that’s what we’re here to talk about is hope and to show one another that you are loved.”

“We have people that come every week they call this their church,” Tracy Wright said.

Clayton said the words are inspiring.

“When you end up out here on the street, hope is a hard thing to come by. And every week they come out here, bring you a meal, bring you a message,” Clayton said. “They give you hope, give you a chance. They give you an idea that you have a chance to beat this.”

Clayton said the services provided by Under The Bridge Ministry have made a difference. He is scheduled to start a new job next week. “I’m excited for the first time in two years,” he said.

Curtis and Tracy Wright say they’re happy when people move on but they plan on staying here.

“Honestly, it’s a mission that God gave us. A simple commandment,” Curtis Wright said. “I think that’s the most important thing we can do and I won’t stop until he tells me to do otherwise.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.