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Charity leader who once lived on the streets wins public service award from PBC Homeless Coalition

Updated: May 6, 2021

Francky Pierre-Paul at virtual awards luncheon May 5 (Screenshot)

FRANCKY PIERRE-PAUL KNOWS what it’s like to be homeless. As a teenager, he was living on the streets.

Now, at age 31, he’s a husband, father and respected community leader known for selfless acts of charity for his most vulnerable homeless neighbors.

Pierre-Paul received his latest accolade on May 5 when he was honored by the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County with Senator Philip D. Lewis Public Service Award.

The honor is given each year “to an extraordinary person who has used their leadership role in public service to improve the lives of those who are experiencing homelessness,’’ said Emily Pantelides, who emceed the coalition’s annual awards luncheon, held virtually this year because of the pandemic.

Pierre-Paul, whose life experiences inspired him to launch the non-profit charity A Different Shade of Love in suburban Lake Worth Beach, said it was a “privilege” to receive the honor.

“I can't take this award by myself. I have to present this award back to my community and those who have helped me service our homeless neighbors,’’ he said in a pre-recorded speech.

“Without everyone I would not be standing here today accepting this award.’’

Franck Pierre-Paul helping a neighbor in March. (Instagram)

Also at the luncheon, the Leslie L. Alexander Foundation received The Senator Philip D. Lewis Champion of the Homeless honor.

And the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center Community Partner of the Year honor went to Faith, Hope, Love Charity for its work helping homeless veterans.

For winning the honors, all three recipients received a painting purchased by the coalition from Hernando Lopez, a homeless artist living in Bryant Park in Lake Worth Beach.

The gesture was special for Pierre-Paul, 31, because he was the one responsible for shining a light on Lopez’s plight and talents through social media.

As a result of Pierre-Paul’s efforts, Lopez’s story was featured in March on ByJoeCapozzi.Com, which was followed by local and Miami television stations. Lopez also attended the virtual luncheon -- in the form of a video that appeared on this blog in March.

Pierre-Paul’s efforts include regular visits to homeless camps where he provides food, clothing and toiletries with help from community groups.

He was instrumental in helping residents of a homeless tent city in John Prince Memorial Park last year at a time when other charities had scaled back because of the pandemic.

Aerial shot of Tent City on June 25, 2020. (Palm Beach County Government)

“A Different Shade of Love was started basically because I was homeless at 16,’’ he said at the luncheon.

“I know what it feels like to be cast out. I know what it feels like to be voiceless. I also know what it feels like to have a hand up and a hand out. So it is a privilege and honor to be doing the service that I do in my community and I strive to end homelessness in Palm Beach County.’’

Last year, Pierre-Paul was honored by Rep. Lois Frankel as the first recipient of a Local Hero award.

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