Published: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
PALM COAST — There are those who see something and decide to take action and there are those who live through an experience and decide to change the world. Maria Pinto Barbosa is the latter.
Drawing on past personal experience, she founded D.I.V.A.S., an organization “provide service to homeless and families with needs,” she said.
The organization’s name is an acronym for Devotion, Inspiration, Victims, Altruism and Strength, which are the core values that the organization was built on, Barbosa said.
The team works to create a network of services and training for those who have experienced difficulties in life.
“The first year was pretty good,” said Barbosa. “My next year’s wish is to be able to publish all eight books to have ready to do all the workshops.”
With three books in print, Barbosa, a licensed counselor for the past five years, teaches workshops that focus on behavioral and social issues. The workbooks and counseling “help bring suppressed issues to light and have a good mentor to work through it,” she said.
Barbosa said she was motivated to start the organization after volunteering at a shelter and seeing the opportunity to provide additional assistance in the community.
On her team is Rose Chumercerio, who will serve as president of the organization in 2013. Chumercerio keeps the organization running, handles monthly meetings and the “Tech Exchange,” which meets three times a year to update business information and add new members. The Tech Exchange provides members promotional opportunities and gives a 5 to 10 percent discount to members on products and services.
The organization’s service project “Wings of Love”, which helps the elderly. The program focuses on visiting those living in nursing homes, getting to know them and providing support. Participants show up when a friend has a hospital stay, send cards on holidays and when the patient is sick.
Sylvia Purcer, chief operating officer of the organization, is in charge of the group’s warehouse at 9 H Palm Harbor Village in Palm Coast. The site is open to those in need of clothing and household items the first and third Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. She also maintains the homeless outreach.
The organization also has a youth outreach and the group’s Teens Club currently has eight members. The teen group meets the first Saturday of the month and is involved in several community building programs, including “Just 1 Book,” which works to get books in the hands of children in the community.
The ACCEL Teen Leadership Program is also an important part of the organization, Barbosa said. Teaching youth as young as 10 years of age leadership skills, building self confidence and communication are vital for healthy growth, according to Barbosa. Workbooks covering more than 150 topics are designed to “help them empower themselves and to be better leaders. It’s to keep them out of juvenile court,” she said.
Teens are also able to log community volunteer hours needed for school with the organization.
The group recently held a fundraiser at Hilton Garden Inn, raising $1,000 after costs.