Tampa, Florida -- Construction isunderwayMondayon a huge expansion that could help a lot more of our neighbors in need.
Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa calls its major new addition MiraclePlace, and the first of the work crews building it got started Monday morning.
Margorie Matos said she never understood why people beg for money -- until it was her.
"I remember even, one time, I stood in front of Walmart and I begged a gentleman -- 'I just need to buy my baby diapers. I'm sorry,'" she said.
After a year of living homeless with a baby boy and no permanent place to stay, she found Metropolitan Ministries, which helps people who are needy and homeless in Tampa Bay.
But there's a catch. She went on the waiting list.
On that list, at any given time, dozens of families sit. All of them are eager for the fresh chance Metropolitan Ministries can help bring them.
"I was staying in a hotel that wasn't meant for anybody to stay in," she said. Finally -- she got a phone call saying a room had opened up on Metropolitan Ministries' campus on Florida Avenue in Tampa Heights.
"When I got that phone call, I just cried. I ran here," she said, sitting at a shady picnic table at Metropolitan Ministries.
"I didn't even care. I didn't want anything from that room. I just grabbed my clothes that I had on me, and the baby's backpack, and ran here."
As workers unloaded fencing Monday morning with a big heave-ho, that waiting list was on its way to being no more.
The nonprofit started construction on MiraclePlace. It's an expansion that'll double the number of people they can help get back on their feet.
Right now, as they get job training and other education, members of families live in cramped dorm room-style areas with bunk beds and harsh lighting.
MiraclePlace will add 50 new, larger rooms with a family sitting/dining area and two sleeping areas that are separated from the main room. The new apartments offer a little privacy and a lot of dignity.
Also included: Expanded dining, a new community center, and a hugely expanded daycare to help dads and moms like Margorie Matos.
"Where I want to be is in a beautiful apartment with my son -- just him and I -- and to have a wonderful career," she said.
The whole expansion project is expected to cost $23 million, with plenty of new operating costs afterward, as well. If you want to support the project and donate, find out how at the Metropolitan Ministries website.
The project is expected to be completed in the middle to late part of next year.