The Community Ministry

About Us

Our History

Have a Heart Mission, now the Community Ministry at First Baptist Church of Islamorada, began in 2000 as an outreach to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in our community. Over the years God has blessed the ministry and enabled this small church to help thousands of individuals and families each year.

Our Mission

Serve as the hands and feet of Christ bringing the healing power of the Gospel to those in need in the Upper Keys Community.

Guiding Principles

Share the good news of the Gospel.

Show love and respect to all that pass through our doors.

Cultivate relationships and build trust.

Partner with government, businesses, churches and the community to provide key services that meet the needs of the economically challenged.

Offer outreach & restorative services to those in need.

Provide a robust referral network to those needing additional social services.

Leadership

Steve Olsen

Steve has served as the Director of the Community Ministry since 2019. Prior to moving to the Keys, Steve served as Chairman of the Board of the Atlanta Mission, a homeless shelter and residential recovery mission that serves more than 1,000 people each day. Steve led a nationwide best practices study looking at both secular and Christian recovery programs. This research led to the development of the Atlanta Mission Transformation Model, a next generation set of services focused on helping the homeless and addicted.

Esther Dieujuste

Esther leads the clothing ministry and believes it is an honor to serve the community and those in need. As a believer it is a privilege to fulfil my Christian duty with the services we provide. As it is written, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40.

Sherry Jordan

Sherry leads the Prayer Ministry as the Prayer Team leader. In this role, Sherry distributes the prayer requests from Ministry guests and distributes them to the prayer team. In addition to praying for any individual that might ask, Sherry follows up with guests and encourages them with the support of the prayer team. The prayer team members are all prayer warriors and it’s Sherry’s responsibility to pray and encourage each person to pray for others as well as each other.

Ed Kattel

Ed leads our Community Garden. The Garden started with two plots in 2013. There are currently 24 plots where members of the community grow food from November 1-April 1 each year. This food is used to supply vegetables to their family, friends and the food pantry. One of the goals of the garden is to educate all who wish to learn about growing food and creating sustainable food producing gardens.

Cara Kesling

Cara has been attending Celebrate Recovery since 2014 and has been a member of First Baptist Islamorada since 2016. Cara took on the leadership of the Islamorada chapter of Celebrate Recovery in August of 2016 and leads the weekly meetings.

Sue Miller

Sue currently serves as Food Assistance Coordinator of the Community Ministry. She has a genuine desire to help the food insecure obtain the healthy and nutritious foods they need. When not helping at the Community Ministry she enjoys spending time on the boat with her Golden Retrievers.

Nancy Olsen

Nancy started volunteering at the Community Ministry in 2018 after 20 plus years of teaching science. Her responsibilities include training new volunteers, heading up the fall dental project, maintaining records for Feeding South Florida and helping to connect guests to local resources. She enjoys the sense of community with both guests and the wonderful group of volunteers that serve at the Community Ministry.

Jack Wheatley

A longtime volunteer and “Jack of all Trades”, Jack serves as pantry lead coordinating food distribution on Tuesdays. Jack enjoys serving the Lord in addition to being a classic car enthusiast.

Janice Wilson

Janice Wilson has been a resident of the Florida Keys since 1996. She has been actively involved in community service in the Keys, starting with IFFBA which brought her to the Community Ministry. Since hurricane Irma in 2017, Janice has been providing much needed hot and to-go meals to support those in need. Her current role on the leadership team includes managing weekly community dinners, participation on the benevolent committee and outreach to those in need.

Testimonials

I felt taking charity was shameful. I also don’t have an easy time around people. The volunteers at this food pantry welcomed me. I have been able to come back and pick up both healthy and fun treats for my children. I usually leave feeling not like a pitied charity case but as a person immensely blessed. This blessed feeling is allowable due to the demeanor of the volunteers. Thank you.
All the volunteers at the Baptist church food pantry that I have encountered have been a true blessing. As a person who has never been in a position to need assistance, the first fear is that you will be judged. No one here has ever caused me to feel guilt or shame. Instead they appreciate that my family and I are giving them an opportunity to serve. Wow?! What a gift from God! This is a special place for people who need to feel love and acceptance. Oh, lol, and you get food, supplies and clothing too!
Nicole
What have you given me? Heart full laughter, soothing comfort, embracing hugs, loving smiles, rides to doctor appointments, comforting counsel, sustaining food, gentle encouragement and spiritual sustenance. In other words, you enriched my life.
Lennie
The first time I went to the First Baptist Community Ministry in Islamorada was when I needed food because I spent all my money on drugs and alcohol. I was treated with love and generosity. Then I went back after Hurricane Irma and again was treated with love and generosity. There was just something about that place. Everyone was so kind and non- judgmental and I wanted to be a part of it.

I started volunteering at the Tuesday food pantry and soup kitchen. I was welcomed with the same love I saw in my times coming there. I was a drug addict, alcoholic and they welcomed me. I was able to volunteer when I was sober. When I wasn’t, they gave me food and water. My years volunteering at the food pantry I saw them provide groceries, hot meals, assist in hurricane clean up, provide COVID supplies, provide counseling and so much more.

In March of 22 I was in the height of my addiction and after I lost my sailboat due to fire I became suicidal. I was done with life, done with starting over, done with ruining relationships and jobs. I ended up in the mental health facility in Marathon. I was in contact with the people at The Community Ministry at First Baptist Upper keys and they suggested, in love, I try a rehab. My initial reaction was I don't need a rehab. Another night on suicide watch I called them back and agreed to go to a rehab. They aided me in finding a long-term inpatient rehab that had beds available, and I went to the Christian Care Center Men's residence in Leesburg, FL. During my time there I accepted the reality of the Christian faith and devoted my life to our Lord Jesus and was baptized.

I am incredibly grateful for the genuine love everyone at the Community Ministry at First Baptist Islamorada has always shown me, and every client that comes through those doors. I am now sober since 3/22. I am a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, my relationship with my son, who I abandoned in 2012, has been reconciled, I have a full-time job at First Baptist Leesburg, I'm a mentor for new men coming into the program at the Christian Care Center, I lead and mentor 9th and 10th grade boys in our student ministry, and am a full-time college student pursuing a bachelor's degree in biblical studies.

If you are feeling broken, tired, hungry, desperate I urge you to come on Tuesday get groceries, hot meal, clothes, and talk to someone about your circumstances. They will do everything in their ability to help you and connect you to somewhere if they can't. The Community Ministry will meet your needs and share Christ by reflecting His Glory with their actions. God bless you all and praise God for that ministry.
Brendon

The Community Ministry

Feeding bodies and nourishing souls. We are committed to providing comprehensive support to individuals and families who are facing food insecurity and other challenges in their lives.

Our Gallery

Contact Details

Mailing Address:

PO Box 453
Islamorada, FL 33036

Faith Discussion Group
Tuesdays 9 – 10 am

Food & Clothing Pantry
Tuesdays 10 am – 12 pm, 5 – 6 pm

Community Meal
Tuesdays 5 – 6 pm

Weekly Message