Homeless man holding sign that says seeking human kindness

Season of Sharing Helps Neighbors Keep Their Home

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Patrick Dorsey & Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Editor’s Note: Patrick Dorsey is publisher of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Roxie Jerde is president and chief executive of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. This column originally appeared in the Herald-Tribune on Nov 5, 2017.

For many, our sunny stretch of coast in Florida represents a breath of warm air in contrast to the cold climate up north, an escape to a cultural oasis filled with world-class artistic treasures, and a toast to a social scene orbiting around exquisite attractions.

What may not be so obvious from the surface is that many in our community are not afforded its many luxuries. Highlighted in a recent three-part series by the Herald-Tribune Media Group, the harsh truth is that thousands of hard-working people in our community are finding it consistently harder to build a bridge to an economically stable life.

What this means is that many of our friends, family, and neighbors often live one missed paycheck, one medical emergency, or an unexpected disaster away from the ultimate financial crisis: homelessness.

The fear of homelessness is often invisible from the outside. It is a back-breaking, mind-bending stress that affects all aspects of life, from the classroom to the office to the kitchen table, and it doesn’t discriminate by age or experience.

The stories of those in need in our community are as varied as they come. Sometimes it’s a family of four that required an emergency house repair, a young adult transitioning out of foster care who missed a paycheck because of car troubles, or even a retired couple who saved their whole lives only to find that an unexpected illness has set them way behind.

Fortunately for our region, our community has been there to help. Started in 2000 by the Herald-Tribune with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and fueled by the generosity of local residents, Season of Sharing has raised more than $17 million to provide a vital safety net for more than 15,000 families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties who were on the verge of losing their homes. Last year alone, $2 million was raised by the public and multiple funding partners to make sure that thousands of our neighbors kept a roof over their head.

Thanks to Season of Sharing, and a network of fiscal agents, nonprofit organizations, and social workers who distribute the funds, an invaluable and immediate safety net is provided for these individuals so they can get the critical assistance they need to get back on their feet, whether it be support for rent or mortgage assistance, utility bills, child care, transportation, food vouchers or other crucial expenses.

What goes on to create the immediate impacts of relief is equally as impressive, and we could not be more proud of this partnership.

Season of Sharing is the collective work of many partners who dedicate time, energy and dollars. Throughout each year, staff of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Herald-Tribune Media Group, various nonprofit organizations, and other media partners provide hundreds of hours of time for project management, administration, and creative planning free of charge so that 100 percent of each donation goes directly to help those in need.

Additionally, inspired by the generosity of our region, The Patterson Foundation is contributing $100,000 for every $500,000 raised by the public for Season of Sharing, to encourage even greater giving and participation throughout the Suncoast.

Research and data have shown that Season of Sharing works.
Knowing it costs eight times more to put a family back into housing after they have lost the roof over their head, stopping homelessness before it happens is an approach that makes sense. It also helps families avoid the heartbreak, indignity, and anxiety of losing the place they call home.

We are also proud to report that less than 15 percent of Season of Sharing recipients return the following years for assistance. This outcome led to national homeless expert Dr. Robert Marbut declaring Season of Sharing one of the finest programs in the country at preventing homelessness.

Will you join us in ensuring Season of Sharing once again helps provide relief for those who need it in our community? While we ask for your support this season, know that the services provided by Season of Sharing last all year long for the families and individuals who need it.
Your contribution will have a longstanding impact, inspiring hope and changing the fate of individuals in our community-wide family for the better.

To make a donation or learn more about Season of Sharing, please visit www.CFSarasota.org.

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