Hearts for the Homeless, a nonprofit started to assist people experiencing homelessness, recently established a UNC chapter to help serve the community.
The chapter was established in November 2019 by Kayla Ferro, who is the treasurer for the international Hearts for the Homeless organization and a master’s student at the Gillings School of Public Health. Ferro is the co-founder and president of the UNC chapter.
“We contribute to the health and well-being of the homeless through preventative health screenings and education,” Ferro said. “And we do this by pairing with the local food shelters, homeless shelters or the food shares where, in the community, they offer dinner every night. We partner with them location-wise, then we go and offer blood pressure screenings, then we connect them to other community resources.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hearts for the Homeless is unable to perform direct service, but the pandemic hasn’t kept the organization from helping those struggling with homelessness during this time, Ferro said.
“Internationally, we designed a prototype initially for a hand-washing sink station, and we implemented that at UCF and at Florida State University, and those have been pretty successful," Maureen Whittelsey, the chapter's director, said. "We’re trying to find the best location and way to implement it here in Chapel Hill, so that’s in the works now.”