Mornings At Seven

Every day, all day, ASAP provides a haven for the homeless.

A line of people snakes down the alleyway behind the quant white house on 11th Avenue S. in St. Petersburg. It is 7 a.m., and the hubbub is about to begin at ASAP Homeless Services, where many of St. Pete's homeless men and women gather every morning.

"It's insane here in the morning," said Nina Dauzet, an ASAP volunteer of two years.

For over 20 years ASAP has been providing basic assistance to the homeless in Pinellas County. According to the center, 44 percent of homeless adults are employed, and this support is needed in order for them to keep their jobs — which are sometimes the only good things they have going in their lives.

"From 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. we have anywhere from 60 to 80 homeless men and women come here to take a shower, get a clean change of clothing, something to eat, access our telephones, access mail and get breakfast," said Karen Butler, ASAP's executive director.

Besides being able to use ASAP as a phone number and mailing address for employment purposes, the center provides food, bus tokens and clothing every day.

"We allow them to give us their dirty clothes, so we do about 500 tons of laundry a day," Dauzet said. "Today the dryer broke, so we're running out to the Laundromat, and everyone's been pitching in quarters."

Volunteers are needed at the Drop-In Center to sort clothing, perform handyman repairs, help with food preparation, solicit sponsors for fundraising, distribute brochures and speak at service organizations to help get the word out about ASAP's good works. ASAP is also looking for some volunteers who can donate extra time to become board members to help direct the program.

"Volunteering here fulfills a need in me to give back," said Dauzet. "It doesn't just help homeless people, it helps the whole city, the whole of Pinellas County."

Dauzet usually volunteers one day per week but wishes she could do it more.

"I feel like I'm part of something that's really important in this world," she said. "It's important that we help, because there is not one of us that hasn't been in need."

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