BREVARD COUNTY — There really is no place like home, but did you know that families and individuals in our county are at risk of losing their homes, paying as much as 50% to 80% of their income on housing?

Family Promise of Brevard (FPB) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower homeless families and support those on the brink of having nowhere to live.

The “Emerald City 5K run/walk” is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at Church at Viera, 9005 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne.

Registration is open through Feb. 24 and will cost $30 for adults, $25 for children 10 years and younger, or $35 to participate in the virtual challenge.

Participants are automatically enrolled in a raffle to win a black and white diamond pendant valued at $3,000 by Wesche Jewelers.

Community members who wish to enter the raffle but don’t want to race can sign up as a race supporter for as little as $25. “Keys” can be unlocked by making a larger donation, which enables you to have your name entered multiple times.

Teams who register will give two chances to win per member, and the largest team will receive three chances per member to win the pendant.

This year’s theme is the “Wicked Witch” after suffering a “witch of a year.”

“Each year we’re featuring a character and talking about their impact on making their way home,” said Tara Pagliarini, executive director of FPB. “Last year was ‘Dorothy,’ and we talked about how families and children are trying to find their way home.

“This year, the witch represents those challenges that families faced like the pandemic that has created so much food instability and housing instability,” Ms. Pagliarini continued. “In the future we’ll talk about other characters and how they helped Dorothy find her way home.”

Because of the pandemic, the number of calls FPB has received asking for help has risen up to 450%. The nonprofit works closely with another local nonprofit, 2-1-1 Brevard, to help families and individuals reach the resources they need.

FPB helps families through its shelter, stabilization and prevention programs.

Due to the major need in the county, FPB is looking to relocate its base of operations to Cocoa and expand its services to focus on workforce development in an area of greatest need.

“We serve all of Brevard but we saw an opportunity to relocate into the city of Cocoa to expand into a component around education so that we can help families not only to get through this pandemic, but be prepared for the next crisis that comes down the road,” Ms. Pagliarini said.

This year, FPB is working to provide post-secondary education opportunities and English as a second language classes to improve work opportunities. Ms. Pagliarini explained that by helping families achieve post-secondary education certifications, it will elevate them out of poverty and make a bigger impact on their wages to live in affordable housing.

The nonprofit has partnered with the Florida College Access Network and CareerSource Brevard to collaborate on a project called Elevate Brevard: Cocoa.

This project aims to help raise residents out of poverty and achieve social mobility, and it will be included in the workforce and wellness initiatives available at its new campus once FPB relocates to Cocoa.

“We we’re wanting to expand during a pandemic, which is crazy but necessary,” Ms. Pagliarini said. “The time is right. The pandemic has been so devastating but it has created that opportunity for so many people to say, ‘I understand that instability now,’ more people can relate it more than ever before.

“We’ve had people rolling up their sleeves and say how do we do this?” she continued. “The only way is through collaboration.”

To register for the race or enter the raffle, visit https://familypromiseofbrevard.org/ec2021.

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