Living in a box helps families in a bind


Journey Sams and her father, Michael, will spend the night in a cardboard box April 17 to raise awareness and funds to help families facing homelessness, as they once did.

Michael Sams has been in a bind, but he’s never been in a box. So this year, he and his daughter, Journey, will spend the night in classic homeless conditions to see that other families get the help he received.

The nonprofit Family Promise of Brevard is asking people to show support for homeless families in an event called Box City to raise awareness of homelessness and raise funds to help families in the community. Families and individuals of all ages make their own shelter from a cardboard box starting at 5 p.m. Friday, April 17 and stay overnight to briefly experience what it’s like to sleep without a roof over their heads.

“I never could have imagined it could happen to me,” said Sams, who said his wife walked out on him and his toddler, leaving him without day care and unable to go to work to afford to pay rent.

He and his daughter lived overnight at a series of churches for a week at a time, and during the day he looked for work and Journey went to day care, all coordinated by the nonprofit that provides intact families in Brevard County with emergency shelter and support services through a network of interfaith congregations and trained staff, with the goal of transitioning the family into sustainable, permanent housing.

Sams now has a home of his own, a permanent job and Journey is in day care while he works. 

“We were in the program 41 days and the volunteers and everyone were great in the evenings while we enjoyed the fellowship of other families and their children in the program. It was a lot of busy work in the days getting done what needed to be done,” Sams said. “It was a great experience and it makes me want to help others like they helped me.” 

The Holy Name of Jesus fairgrounds at 3050 N. Highway A1A in Indialantic will be transformed into a cardboard box encampment to give participants a better understanding of homelessness and poverty.

For those who want to lend support without spending the night, Box City Walk includes a bowl of soup from the “soup kitchen” and live music, games and a movie. Requested donation is $25 minimum for individuals and $50 for a family of any size. Walking is not required.  

The event is also open to teams, and supporters can donate in the team name. For more information or to register or donate, go to or call Tara Pagliarini at 321-209-3391.