Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Signs of Community Progress

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Signs of Community Progress

Article excerpt

Help for homeless families and young readers

There are many ways of going forward, said Franklin D. Roosevelt, but only one way of standing still.

With those sage words (and the recent Ken Burns series on FDR and Theodore Roosevelt) in mind, we recognize two community events involving initiatives that are at dramatically different stages but are, most important, examples of forward movement.

The first event, which represents not a small step but a giant leap forward, is the Sept. 29 ribbon-cutting to celebrate the creation of the North County Emergency Family Haven in Sarasota. This facility, which opens Oct. 1, will serve children and parents - - quite often mothers -- who suddenly find themselves homeless.

The haven will serve as a temporary shelter for families in distress. Services will be offered immediately and around the clock, and master caseworkers will help the families obtain what they need to stabilize and eventually regain independence -- transportation to school, health care, job training, transitional housing, etc.

The facility will be operated by Harvest House Transitional Centers, a faith-based organization that has earned a reputation for providing cost-effective services and responding quickly to community needs. Additional aid will be provided by an that have been convened by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which funded renovation of the building that will house the portal.

Fulfillment of a goal

The ceremony and opening of the Family Haven will represent the fulfillment of one of the recommendations made by Robert Marbut, the consultant hired by Sarasota County, the city of Sarasota and other local governments to create an action plan for tackling homelessness in its various forms.

The lack of substantive gains with chronically homeless adults has been discouraging, but this progress on children and families is encouraging. (What's more, another portal for homeless children and families, also recommended by Marbut, is scheduled to open in North Port by early 2015.)

Combined with the annual "Season of Sharing" campaign, which raises millions of dollars to prevent homelessness among children and families in our region, these havens will not only prevent human suffering but help make Sarasota County a model community. …

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