TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - On Tuesday, the Big Bend Homeless Coalition announced that it has named Holly Bernardo, a longtime advocate for the region’s most vulnerable families, as its new Chief Executive Officer.

According to BBHC’s press release, Bernardo will assume leadership of the the Tallahassee-based non-profit organization on October 19, 2021, as Sylvia W. Smith departs for a leadership position with another regional nonprofit, after six years at the helm of the operation.

“Our commitment to serving families, veterans, and those exiting chronic homelessness is our north star. Holly Bernardo’s skill set as a former COO, Development Director, and most importantly, as a former family therapist, for nonprofits in Nashville and Tallahassee, ensure we remain in steady hands as we move toward the future,” shared Board President Melanie Quinton.

Quinton added, “BBHC’s history under Sylvia Smith’s leadership was transformative to our community. We provided shelter and housing services to over 5,000 people during her tenure. During the ongoing housing crisis in our community, we take pride in our ongoing ability to help thousands more find a safe and stable place to live.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has hit our most vulnerable households severely,” said new CEO Holly Bernardo. “There was a time when the consideration of becoming homeless was anathema to most of us, but that is no longer true. I am proud to join the Big Bend Homeless Coalition’s team at a time when their work is being recognized as imperative to the health and vibrancy of our overall community.”

“It has been a profound experience and honor to serve with the staff and board of the BBHC,” said Sylvia Smith, “The secret to the organization’s success is its relationships with community partners, a strong management team, engaged and passionate staff, and a dedicated and talented Board of Directors.”

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition’s success in providing emergency shelter and housing occurs through its programs, including the HOPE Community, Patrick Avenue Townhouse Apartments, REfire Culinary, Home Place at Balkin, Home Plate, Home Front, Homeless Prevention/Rapid Rehousing, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families.

Its work is supported by the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, the United Way of the Big Bend, HUD, the VA, the Big Bend Continuum of Care, and numerous volunteer businesses and partners such as the Junior League of Tallahassee, A Bag for HOPE, local churches, and many individual volunteers.

For more information on the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook.

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