Wedding bells ring around South Florida homeless veteran James N. Hutchins and his bride-to-be Bobby Jo Jones. They are a Fort Lauderdale homeless couple who will exchange nuptials Saturday, March19, 2016 at nine a.m. at Christ Community Church, 901 East McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Hutchins, a U.S. Army veteran, will tie the knot with long-time companion Bobbi Jo Jones. The ceremony is thanks to the ministry outreach provided by Luke 14 Homeless Outreach as part of Calvary Chapel Plantation. It is being coordinated by Mercedes and Marty Ayala, members and volunteers at Calvary Chapel Plantation along with community partners Christ Community Church and Hope South Florida. These are agencies which are dedicated to assisting homeless individuals rebuild their lives and get off the streets.
“The work that we do with the homeless began two years ago because it broke our hearts to see so many individuals living on the streets with no hope and no futures,” says Ayala. “We began bringing food and personal items to Stranahan Park in Fort Lauderdale with friends, family, and volunteers from church to help anyone who needed it. It was clear many of these folks simply needed someone to listen to them and believe in them to start turning their lives around.”
For Hutchins and Jones, hard times followed them during a drive South from New York. The couple stopped in North Carolina to visit family when their truck, with all their belongings caught fire. They made their way to Fort Lauderdale, to the Luke 14 Homeless Outreach where members found them and offered help.
Since its inception, Mercedes and Marty’s homeless outreach has grown to over forty volunteers who offer love, compassion, and assistance to homeless individuals the first and third Saturdays of every month at Christ Community Church. Homeless guests are greeted by cheerful volunteers, served a light breakfast, have access to a “free” shopping experience with clothing and personal items, a sit down lunch with their own waiters and have access to one-on-one spiritual counseling sessions. Individuals are also referred to social services and offered assistance in securing emergency shelter or housing.
In addition to the upcoming wedding event for Bobbi Jo and James, attempts are being made to secure medical attention and immediate housing assistance from the William “Bill” King VA clinic in Sunrise, Florida.
“This is truly a team effort of many to make this happen,” says Mercedes. “We are blessed and want to be a blessing to those in need. James and Bobbi Jo deserve happiness as much as anyone. To assist in making wedding bells ring around South Florida homeless veteran James Hutchins brings great satisfaction.”
Like any newlyweds, the homeless couple says any practical wedding gifts would be welcome including a good tent, air mattress, lantern, mosquito repellent or bus passes; but most importantly job opportunities.