Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Overcoming homelessness through Metropolitan Ministries' Uplift U

Joanne Rossi just finished a promising job interview. Michelle Miller passed the state's certified nursing assistant exam last week. And Blu Jamison continues to impress her supervisors at MacDill Air Force Base.

These three women appear to be on the right track, so it's difficult to believe their path to success began with the despair of homelessness.

Not too long ago, they didn't know where they would sleep, what they would eat or how their children would survive. They had become the people they used to see on the "other side of the street," the people they just knew were choosing to be poor and had no real excuses.

With that realization came a chance to start anew. They gained entry into Metropolitan Ministries' Uplift U.

"They take people whose families and friends and society as a whole has given up on," said Rossi, 47.

Rossi was once married. She had a car, a management job and a teenage son destined for college. Divorce, layoffs and the death of her mother left her battling alcoholism and struggling to cope.

But she doesn't call herself a victim or make excuses.

"I didn't want to come here," Rossi said, "because it levels your pride out. But it's the best thing that ever happened to me."

Through Uplift U, Rossi has received 12 weeks of employment classes, a 140-hour job-training program and tons of life-skills counseling. Now she's working toward a degree from Brewster Technical Center as a behavioral health technician.

Rossi says the program gave her more than just training. "(They've) given me back my belief in myself," Rossi said. "The counselors and everybody saw something in me that I couldn't see."

Miller echoes Rossi's sentiments. Divorced with two young children, she came to Uplift U after bouts with cancer and heart disease. Her determination could not be dented. She graduated from her nursing assistant program with a 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance.

"God is in this facility, continuously giving," Miller said.

Jamison is where these ladies hope to go. She came to Uplift U after moving to Tampa from Texas and failing to make ends meet. In addition to the classes, Uplift U also offers programs for children. She says her kids are doing much better.

Jamison's daughter broke out of her shell after attending Speak Up, a teen version of Toastmasters. Now she hopes to attend the University of South Florida after graduating from Hillsborough High this year. Her son, who suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy, has made tremendous progress and recently enrolled at Chamberlain High.

As for Jamison, 39, she continues to earn raves at her job with MacDill's janitorial services. "If you really want to change your life and never become homeless again, this program is life changing," Jamison said.

There are more residents at Uplift U looking to change their lives, and they need help.

Officials have a wish list that includes mentors for clients, plus-sized professional clothing, bus passes, gas cards, resume writing help and referrals to employers. Call (813) 209-1092 for information.

The cry of jobs, jobs, jobs is heard all around America. Metropolitan Ministries' Uplift U answers with meaningful results and a simple refrain: You are not alone.

That's all I'm saying.

Overcoming homelessness through Metropolitan Ministries' Uplift U 02/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 1, 2010 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.