Where the homeless can find family

Alex Chaviano, case manager at The Caring Place, was addicted to crack cocaine. Like many other individuals in unfortunate circumstances, he lived on the street for many years. Then he found The Caring Place: Miami Rescue Mission.

“I was on the street and in a horrible place in my life,’’ he said. “This place allowed me to put myself through college and obtain a doctorate in divinity, and I have been working here for the past 18 years.”

When it comes to people who come in and out of the facility, there is a certain feeling to be had about the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in. “I got 350 men here, but I don’t see a man. I see a mother, daughter, or grandmother somewhere who could sleep knowing he was safe, but now he is on the streets.”

The Caring Place started as “City Mission” in 1922 and focused mainly on serving meals to the needy. Today, as the city’s homeless population rises, the organization focuses on creating a better community by providing housing, meals, and mentorship to the homeless and intervention for at-risk youths.

“We have a 1-year program that prepares displaced participants through different phases that prepare them for the future and help them become productive members of society,” Chaviano said.

On average, about 700 people eat and sleep in the barracks-like place at 2020 NW 1st Ave.

Emilio Rodano is one of them. 

“The disease that I had, which was drug addiction – after the divorce, which was in 2013 till now, I cut out everything, and because of the drugs, I almost lost the trust and relationship I had with my daughters and parents, but coming here to this organization brought those things back to me.”

Emilio Rodano was a displaced citizen who sought the help of the Caring Place and has given no shortage of thanks for the mission and the services they provided him.

“The Miami Rescue Mission allowed me to get back into the community, bringing me back into a relationship with god. Coming here has given me something to put me on the right path, and I can not be more grateful for this wonderful organization.”

“This place works miracles,” Rodano said.

Emilio Rodano, participant and guest servicer. (Photo by Andres Rivera / Caplin News)

Almost 47% of the organization’s staff have participated in the program.

Liannar Navarro, the organization’s senior community development leader, focuses on gathering donations and volunteer support. 

“The main thing we focus on is how we can educate the community to give back, give them a place where they can donate clothing or hygienics for those in need.”

 “We provide counseling, coaching, and general job readiness when it comes to our participants, and when they are finished with the program, we are proud to say we help them every step of the way,” Navarro said.

Liannar Navarro, senior community development associate. (Photo by Andres Rivera / Caplin News)

The Homeless Trust provided details of their most recent census. In the Miami-Dade County area alone, the number of sheltered and unsheltered displaced citizens rose 4% in 2023, from 3,566 to 3,720.

According to wisevoter.com, Florida currently ranks third in the homeless population at a staggering 27,487 displaced individuals. 

The Caring Place is dedicated to serving the homeless community in South Florida. With homelessness and drug addiction here to stay in the nation and Florida, The Caring Place makes it easier for those without a home and purpose to find the right resources and stand tall in the face of hopelessness.

For information regarding the organization and or to volunteer, please check here

Andres Rivera is a senior and veteran FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Journalism with a minor in political science attached. Before FIU, he obtained an associate degree in Psychology from Miami Dade College. He served as a sergeant in the United States Army for seven years, with a deployment to the middle east that broadened his knowledge of culture and foreign affairs. He is also an FIU Panther Now staff writer and photographer with experience in keeping up with quotas and media content creation. After graduation, he plans to become a reporter on foreign politics outside of the united states.