At the Bonita Springs Assistance Office we believe in providing a “hand up” not a “hand out.” We extend the helping hand of assistance, while enabling clients to retain their dignity. We show clients who are able to work how to locate jobs and become productive members of the community. We specialize in working with elderly residents and families with young children.
Our mission is to provide temporary assistance to residents of Bonita Springs who have been affected by an unexpected crisis. Our goal is to foster independence and self reliance through education and by bridging the financial needs of the recipient.
Purpose & Objectives
For over thirty years, the Bonita Springs Assistance Office has served as a primary social service agency in Bonita Springs, Florida. We are proud of the fact that we have helped thousands of area residents at a time of crisis.
The objectives of our organization are to:
- Provide emergency relief for Bonita Springs residents to lessen the impact of financial and personal crises.
- To help others recognize their own capacity to help themselves.
- To cooperate with all agencies interested in various phases of social work in the Bonita Springs area.
Bonita Springs Assistance Office, Inc., BSAO, is a 501(c)(3) organization that has served the greater Bonita Springs, FL area since 1979. BSAO’s goal is to help ordinary people that encounter a life situation creating a temporary financial hardship. More than 30 years ago, Father Foley, pastors from other churches in the area, and Lions Club members determined a need for a not for profit organization that could assist members of our community with temporary assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities, clothing, or food. The original idea was to have a place that the community will support and where people facing a need could go and get a helping hand. An agreement was also made that the Lions Club would provide space for the BSAO to service their clients. Thanks to this long lasting partnership and the goodwill of the Bonita Springs Lions Club, BSAO is able to minimize administrative expenses thereby allowing us to strengthen the food pantry and the financial programs.
The food pantry program includes:
- Ongoing food drives around the community,
- Supplemental food distribution on weekly basis,
- Emergency food distribution in case of a natural disaster
- Assistance to families who wish to apply for federal temporary assistance through food stamps or SNAP programs.
The financial assistance includes:
- Partial payments for rent or mortgages
- Past due utility bills
- Payments for emergency medical or dental care (children primarily)
- Payments for prescription and assistance in enrolling the client in to a subsidized prescription program through pharmaceutical companies or state/federal programs
- Gas cards
- Sponsorship of children to attend after school programs within the area through certified/approved provider
BSAO receives support from generous individuals, charitable and civic organizations.
According to our records, we serve 7 to 12% percent of the residents of the area. Our clientele is anyone who faces a financial hardship due to an emergency and has exhausted all the resources to alleviate the situation. However, our client base is low-income people, mainly families, who need emergency help to meet their basic needs, such as food, shelter, health, education and transportation. A third of those who benefit from our programs are children.
It is estimated that the number of families with children who need services from BSAO will increase during the next five years. Bonita Springs grew and changed in an unplanned and fast pace. Today, due to the economic downturn, we encounter family units who are disintegrating due to the fact that the primary provider is no longer in the household or families who where self-sufficient and now they are seeking support to meet their basic needs. A number of programs exist to help those who are in need and try to overcome the situation. BSAO is an important resource to those programs because we can respond quickly to alleviate the situation subsequently the family can focus on achieving their medium and long term plan to improve their living situation.
Providing food and financial assistance improves the ability of individuals and families to care for their children and senior members and achieve goals of self-sufficiency. BSAO is a valuable resource in the community, if families and individuals do not have a helping hand a time when they still have control of their lives, the social cost would be very steep in terms of health, safety and security issues.