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NEED HELP? Resource center in Lehigh Acres opens to support community

Resource Center Lehigh
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 05, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A one of a kind and the first of its kind resource center opened in Lehigh Acres. It's called Open Gates of Mercy Ministry and it helps anyone, no matter their background or story.

CEO Michelle Riberio Lilly founded the ministry.

"This is what we are here for," she said. "To help those who cannot help themselves and are not getting help from anywhere else."

She and her husband, Bruce, moved to Lehigh Acres two years ago. The Ministry provides resources to victims of human trafficking, abuse and anyone in need.

"This human trafficking and this abuse is very dear to me it's because…I've known so many people that are very close to me that have been through abuse, who have been through trafficking," Riberio said.

She says it impacted her growing up, and even recently with her own family.

They help families and individuals with jobs, housing utility costs, counseling, bus or gas cards and provide access to their food pantry.

They even have one large room dedicated for clothing and furniture, including a closet full of mattresses and some wedding dresses donated by David's Bridal.

Also, what some kids dream to have: soccer cleats.

"I feel like Lehigh Acres, Florida has been forgotten, so we are so grateful to be here to continue on this journey with them and help with all the resources that we have," Riberio explained.

She says this wouldn't be possible without their community partners like local churches, St. Matthews House, the Sheriff's Office and Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue.

And, of course, her husband Bruce, OGMM Executive Director.

As they help more people, they need an extra hand too.

"People do need here. More than other areas...working in Lehigh we need help too," she said. "We'll take all kind of volunteers we can."

It's not always easy to ask for help — the couple knows the feeling; they're both are in cancer remission.

"All you have to do is walk in here," Riberio said.

If you or someone you know could benefit from these resources has interest in volunteering, or wants to donate household items find more information here.

Their address is 1241 Taylor Ln Suite 5D, Lehigh Acres, FL.