First United Methodist Church of Bunnell
One Sunday in the winter of 2008-2009, Carla Traister walked into church and noticed the evidence of a few homeless people sleeping on the steps. Filled with compassion for them, she began to leave food for them. She also went to the church’s Reverend Beth Gardner who encouraged Carla to develop a plan to help the less fortunate. Carla grew a case to start a shelter and argued it before the church’s leadership. Her work resulted in the church opening a shelter on nights where the temperatures dropped below 40 degrees.
Since then First United Methodist Church of Bunnell (FUMCB) and it’s partnering neighborhood and faith-based organizations have created more than a shelter – they have engaged their community in a constant flow of events to impact the homeless in Flagler/Volusia counties.
Out of the community’s effort a nonprofit coalition of individuals, faith-based communities and service organizations has grown. The Flagler County Family Assistance Center, Inc. (FCFAC) is dedicated to feeding the hungry and providing shelter to the homeless while helping them transition to permanent affordable housing and preventing at-risk individuals from becoming homeless. FCFAC, Inc. believes all individuals deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and provides a doorway through which their clients can find the support they need to move forward in rebuilding their lives.
Laura Zublonis, the Volunteer Center Director of United Way of Volusia/Flagler Counties had this to say of FUMCB and its role in FCFAC, “Their impact on the homeless is beyond measure, helping them access needed health care, transportation, extra food amongst many other needs. However, First United Methodist Church of Bunnell’s greatest impact is creating a vehicle whereby so many who live comfortable existences in our community—some of whom deny that there is a homeless problem—come in contact with people in genuine need—and those comfortable people become educated, learning that the homeless are not so different than the rest of us, not so smelly, dirty, not mentally ill, but rather articulate people genuinely trying to make a go of life in 21st century Flagler and Volusia Counties. It is amazing how central FUMCB has become.”