ORLANDO, Fla. — Donna Rodriguez, along with some help, overcomes her own challenges to help the homeless in Central Florida.

Several times a week Rodriguez goes walking to find the homeless in and around Orlando, often at Lake Eola.

What You Need To Know

  • Donna Rodriguez works to help the homeless

  • She seeks out people who need food, water and other necessities

  • The volunteer work helps Rodriguez fight addiction issues

  • She and two friends say they want to give hope to those who need it

“I always like to walk through and pray with them or ask them if I could please provide them with lunch, water or hygiene,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez usually has some help from two other women she met while going through rehabilitation and overcoming addiction.

“I thought I was going to die in addiction.” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t think that I was worthy to come out of it — and God saw differently.”

Joanne Ranucci of Angel Blessings Home Ministries helps supply Rodriguez with some of the food and water she hands out.

“Everybody has a story of what happened to them, and we are disregarded,” said Ranucci, who was homeless for 15 years. “That’s where we come in because they’re not disregarded, and we show them they’re not.”

Kelly Morelli, another volunteer and friend of Rodriguez, said they often don’t have a lot of hope.

“They don’t have it — they lose it — and it’s hard to get that light back,” Morelli said. “But once they see that light, it’s good, so we go out and try to give them that light.”

Rodriguez said she’ll never get over her addictions and it’s a daily battle. But she said helping others serves a greater need.

“Whether they’re medically needy, handicapped, mentally ill or addicted, it doesn’t matter,” Rodriguez said. “They deserve to be fed.”

It helps her get from one day to the next, without falling back into her past.

“Am I perfect? No, but I give back to the next person, and it does feel good and fulfills my heart with gratitude to help others in need,” Rodriguez said.