Westgate Timeshare Helping Revitalize Florida Nonprofit Homeless Commission

Westgate Resorts, owner of Westgate timeshare, is helping with a new plan for the struggling Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness. As one of the positive steps forward for revamping the organization, the Chief Operating Officer for Westgate timeshare, Mark Waltrip has been named to the Commission.

Waltrip explains, “Central Florida is at the precipice of a challenge that will define the resolve of our community to handle homelessness in a humane and proactive manner. Collaboration across all stakeholders is the key to addressing this challenge, and I firmly believe that a re-organized and re-energized Central Florida Commission on Homelessness is our best chance to achieve a collaborative effort.”

The Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness is recognized as a, “broad coalition of government, business, nonprofit, faith-based, and philanthropy communities working together to fight homelessness in our region.” Since its founding, the commission has struggled with the overwhelming task of addressing homelessness in Central Florida, a region known for dealing with not only its own homeless families but for attracting homeless individuals and families from colder, northern climates.

Commission member and chief financial officer of CNL Financial Group, Tracy Schmidt, told the Orlando Sentinel, “We’ve got to be more successful at getting homeless issues front and center in the community.” Schmidt adds, “When you use words like ‘ending homelessness,’ you’re going to draw a lot of fire.”

Among the plans for the Commission on Homelessness is one to reorganize as an independent, nonprofit organization. Backers have already secured more than a half-million dollars in government and charitable contributions for the new program, which is planned to be similar in its new structure to that of a successful program in place in Seattle’s King County.

Westgate Timeshare and Westgate Foundation Serving the Community

In addition to providing Waltrip’s knowledge and leadership, Westgate Resorts Foundation has made a financial commitment to the Commission of $150,000. This seed money donation is intended to serve as a challenge to other businesses in the region to match or exceed the Westgate commitment. David A. Siegel, founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, says, “Homelessness is a significant issue that is detrimental to the core values of the Central Florida community. And, while there may be many challenges to overcome, the one thing we can’t do is ignore it and hope it solves itself.”

Other efforts by Westgate timeshare to address this significant challenge include the Florida timeshare company’s launch of the Hospitality Helps program in conjunction with partners from the hospitality industry, property management, and local and state government agencies. (See: Westgate Timeshare Working to Help Homeless in Orange County)

Hospitality Helps was created to help Central Florida families to transition out of homelessness. Since its founding, over 100 people have been helped through the program. Says Siegel, “It is my hope that Westgate Resorts’ public commitment, both financially and through the providing of jobs and housing as part of our Hospitality Helps program, will encourage the involvement of other business leaders to bring resources and solutions to this important issue.”

In a letter to David Siegel, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer wrote, “Your willingness to publicly support the continuation of a re-organized and re-invigorated Commission is critical to its success. The work of your Hospitality Helps program in housing and employing homeless families is tremendous and serves as a model for other businesses here and across the nation. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for our community and for making such a significant matching gift to this most worthy cause.”