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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Daystar Life Center Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Emergency Assistance, Food, Food Banks & Pantries, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services

Mission: Daystar Life Center, Inc.''s provides our neighbors in need with basic necessities in times of hardship and in our ever changing community. We do this by providing services and advocacy with compassion, volunteers, donations and charitable support.

Results: During the last fiscal year, nearly 50,000 clients avoided hunger, homelessness and hopelessness, at least temporarily, because of Daystar. 13,734 clients avoided hunger and enjoyed nutritious meals; 154 clients used gas vouchers so that a mom or dad could go to work or visit a sick child in the hospital; 1156 clients used daily bus tokens to go for a job interview or keep a medical appointment; 11,986 clients avoided health issues because they had dry socks, a change of underwear, a change of clothes, or a jacket during cold weather; 1,596 clients were able to cook a meal or stay warm and wash dishes because their electricity or water was not turned off; 75 clients were able to remain in their apartments because they received rent assistance; 671 clients were able to take showers because their water was not turned off; 6,130 clients were able to brush their teeth, wash their hair, or wash themselves because they received personal hygiene items; 301 clients were able to travel to a safe haven at a friend or relative’s home because they received Travelers Aid; 106 clients were able to live healthier lives because they received prescription medication assistance; 2,909 clients were able to apply for jobs, housing, or social security because they received assistance for a state-issued identification card. Another 1400 people had a safe place to receive mail because of Daystar’s secure mail service.

Geographic areas served: Pinellas County, Florida

Programs: Daystar Life Center, Inc. provides the following services to neighbors in need: -Food Pantry-Local transportation (bus tokens,daily/weekly passes, GPTMS)-Rent assistance-Power, gas and water utility assistance-Financial assistance to obtain Florida IDs, including birth certificates -Internet Project ACCESS Gold Member (clients apply on-site for public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid and TANF)-USDA Food Distribution to two low-income housing units serving 200 clients per month.-Traveler's Aid (sole source for Pinellas County-Confidential mail boxes for 1400+ clients, RX assistance-Clothes Closet-Personal hygiene products-Holiday food baskets-Information/referrals for other services. Daystar serves on average 100 clients per day,clients usually receive more than one service per visit. All services are provided by a committed corps of trained volunteers who literally do every job, allowing Daystar to maintain a very limited staff: two full-time, two grant-funded and two part-time.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

A scam and awful charity, at least the one in Lecanto FL. I am a disabled male who fell on very hard times and requested electric assistance and was denied for not being able to produce an Id for my just turned 18 year old son which they make no mention of on their requirments...just your photo id, income statement an electric cutoif notice. Not only did they not help, it was my last chance and i wasted $6 worth of gas just to be tild no.

Donor

Rating: 5

Daystar is a great organization. The charity helps struggling families in their darkest hours. Many good people come across hard times and Daystar has been the glue that has keeped many families off the streets. Without Daystar many good families would not still be together.

Review from Guidestar

7

Board Member

Rating: 5

There are many charitable organizations that provide many meaningful and needed services and Daystar is one of the very best. It is an organization that provides for the basic necessities for those in need and does this with compassion and humanity. Daystar is interested in one thing, serving those in need, and at this, it does a wonderful job. Daystar provides food for the hungry, clothing for those in need and even mail services for those who have no stable addresses. The number of employed staff is very low while the number of volunteers and volunteer hours are high. This allows the organization to spend the vast majority of its funds on services to those in need. Daystar is a model organization.

10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Over the years I have referred numerous clients to Daystar for assistance with utilities, food, clothing, Travelers Aid, prescriptions and other essential needs. They treat everyone I refer with dignity and respect and usually find a way to assist them with their needs. Jane and her volunteers are wonderful to work with and I cannot say enough about their compassion and willingness to serve the most needy in our community. They are a wonderful organization.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteer for 13 years. Developed computer system used by Daystar. Presently yhe IT person. In the past have interviewed, ran errands, did minor maintenance. Daystar sees an average of 85 clients per day. Clients are treated with respect and helped with necessities if at all possible.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Daystar Life Center almost ten years. This agency has continued to grow and challenge the citizens of Pinellas County Florida in every imaginable way possible. If something needs to be done that will help the disenfranchised, especially if no one else will do it, Daystar Life Center will find a way to get it done. To quote the Director, Jane Walker "Many hands and hearts participate in providing the myriad essential services our neighbors in need receive from us. No gift of time or money-in kind donations or prayer is too small to make a difference in our efforts to take care of those in our community unable to care foe themselves." In the years that I have served with Daystar Life Center it has been a privilege to be actively engaged in data input, client registration, pantry work, client interviewing and the responsibilities of being a member of the board of directors. I am currently a volunteer and reamin a volunteer because I firmly believe in assisting the needy and that they are helped best in two ways. One way is with a hands on approach by way of direct service and the second way is working with others for systemic change and improvements in our communities. These are goals that can be achieved by me in my association with Daystar Life Center.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known Daystar Life Center since the early 90's when I managed the CDBG funds that helped expand its facility in downtown St. Petersburg. More recently, as a volunteer for the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless I have been obtaining and managing state funds allocated to Daystar for their homeless programs. I know of no other agency that has done more for the homeless with fewer resources than any other agency around. Jane Walker is a Saint.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered as a grantwriter for Daystar Life Center more than a year ago (until I went to work fulltime). I was amazed and impressed by the dedication of the volunteers there. I still see them occasionally at other events. To a person, they are kind, caring and faith driven to make a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor. Daystar does a great job of thanking its volunteers, of caring for them as people. Otherwise, they would not keep coming back. Both volunteers and staff are extremely frugal, using both sides of paper, turning out lights, etc. to stretch every penny as far as it will go. Clients are generally very respectful and appreciative of volunteer and staff efforts. Tucked away, almost under the interstate, few are likely aware of Daystar's existence. Any way of shining a light on its efforts to provide food, ids, bicycle locks, referrals to medical care, a mail center, etc. for St. Petersburg's forgotten and unwanted would be well-deserved.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's amazing to me that an organization like this can operate with only two paid staff members, and yet serve 20,000 people-in-need during the course of a year. Folks who come to Daystar for assistance are given individual, personal attention - one on one with an interviewer - who listen to their stories and provides a huge variety of services: food, clothing, help in securing birth certificates, i.d. cards, prescriptions, transportation to the doctors and to new jobs, diapers, personal hygiene items and on and on. This role is filled by about 200 volunteers who, in addition to interviewing, also do data entry, stack shelves with food, clothing and any other chore that needs to be done. As an interviewer, I have been deeply touched sometimes when hearing the difficulties that some of our clients are facing. One young man came to us from a treatment center because he needed an i.d. In talking with him he also confided in me that he was a 'cutter' and estranged from his family. Another man was taking care of his brother's six children while the brother was in prison. You cannot do this job without having your heart touched. Daystar provides so much to so many and the blessings flow each way. The community of St. Petersburg is truly blessed to have Daystar available to its citizens.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

rosemarie and I have beed volunteering here every winter for 21 years doing anything asked such as computer input,interviewing,assist in clothing rooms,bag food bags,and encouraging our friends to assist in person and monitarily.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so impressed with a nonprofit that sticks so closely to it's mission and does it with 2 paid staff and the rest volunteers. About 95 cents of every dollar goes to services. I am excited to be a part of this great organization.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Daystar is a wonderful place staffed mostly with dedicated volunteers, resulting in 95% of the contributions given going to help those in need. This was very important to me when I was looking for a way to "give back to the community" after retiring. It is a very rewarding experience when you can truly help others. Jane Walker the director and Linda, are extremely hard working and do an amazing job!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For 14 years I have been a donor and volunteer at this amazing organization that impacts the lives of more than 20,000 people a year by providing a myriad group of essential services for those in emergency need. The services include food distribution,clothing,rent aid andutility bill help,transportation assistance and mail service for more than 900 pedple. Daystar applies $.95 of every dollar recieved to client services according to last CPA audit.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known Jane Walker for years and she has a mindset of frugalilty; the client first and foremost. It is an efficient organization with just two staffers and hundreds of volunteers and supporters. The volunteers have guidelines but not rigid. Each volunteer receives training and then is urged to use their own judgement and common sense to arrive at a determination of what Daystar can offer. I happen to know also that there are more referrals from 211 than to any other organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Filled with gratitude, I have always wanted to "give back" to others. When I retired and found Daystar, I was impressed first with the very high percentage (95%) of contributions going back to the community. In selecting a non-profit to work with, it was a high priority to me, that I wasn't supporting a costly bureaucratic network at the expense of services to the needy. As an interviewer at Daystar, I meet people in all kinds of emergency situations and I am thrilled to be the face of Daystar, able to "make a difference" and see the impact right there in front of my eyes. I see the thanks in the face of the 80 yr old gentleman who won't receive his SS for another week and needs food to make it through a few more days and I refer him to the Sunshine Center or other places providing key services to Seniors that he never knew about. I see faces light up receiving a new dress or clean socks or shoes with soles intact. After helping with their electric bill to keep it on through the holiday, I see their relief and get a hug from the grandmother or aunt raising 3 children from their extended family, whose parents are in jail or out of the picture. We help the unemployed and ex-offenders get identification needed to get a job; we help children to get birth certificates for school or Medicaid; we help the displaced to get home to family willing to help them get back on their feet. And more, much more. Among the volunteers, there is a great hopeful spirit and camaraderie, which is imparted to our clients, who are treated with kindness and respect. With only 1 % of the budget spent on fund-raising, we need all the "free" publicity we can get....so thank you for this opportunity to make potential donors and volunteers aware of this wonderful organization. I'd give Daystar 10 STARS if I could!