ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A couple from Green Cove Springs is taking a leap of faith, growing their family from three daughters to seven overnight in hopes of making a difference.
Pastor Billy Mills from Reverb Church, along with his wife Isabel Mills and their children, have decided to move to St. Augustine to live with four homeless students they have never met.
"There are going to hopefully be a lot of memories here around the dining room table with seven daughters," Billy Mills said.
They have put their house in Green Cove Springs on the market and hope they'll be settled in their new home in St. Augustine at the beginning of the year where they will be mentoring the homeless students they have yet.
"Some people say 'how can you do that?' and the question that I ask is 'how can you not?'" Billy Mills said.
Currently, there are more than 400 homeless students in the St. Johns County School District. More than 100 of them - including the four planning to live with the Mills - are "unaccompanied youth," according to the District. In other words, they don't have a parent in the picture, or anyone to take care of them or lead them down the right path.
"Just thinking of the people, thinking of the kids out there, they don't know where they're going to spend the night, they don't know where their meal is ... " Isabel Mills said. "We would be the closest thing to their parents."
The four girls who will live with the Mills will be a year or two away from graduating high school. They will be chosen by the non-profit organization, Somebody Cares of St. Augustine, to move into the Mills' new home, which is owned by the Homeless Commission.
They will live in a neighborhood full of second chances. Many of the families who live nearby used to be homeless.
"This is exciting because these homeless girls that are living in pillar to post, sometimes in their car, sometimes go from home to home just [with] a bucket full of things because they can't take everything with them," said Kim McNickle, the executive director of Somebody Cares.
McNickle said the home will represent a stable environment where the girls can feel safe, secure and loved; "something they haven't probably felt in awhile," she said.
McNickle also said the girls will live with the Mills rent free.
"We don't want anything, any burden on them whatsoever," she said. "We don't want them to worry about, you know, how to get to school, how they're going to pay for books, how they're going to pay for rent or any of their food. We want everything to be totally taken care of 100 percent for them."
McNickle and the Mills said the goal is to end the cycle of homelessness and give the students hope.
"How do we say 'no,' ... how do we live life normally knowing there's kids that don't have a place to live?" Bill Mills said. "How do we pursue the American Dream while there are so many people in our community that don't have some of the basic necessities? ... We don't see it as something extraordinary. We see it as this is how we play out our faith; this is how we show the world this is who God is."
Somebody Cares of St. Augustine is trying to raise enough money to cover the cost of one year's rent and utilities. If you would like to make a donation, you can email McNickle or visit their website by clicking here.