The Community Foundation of Sarasota County awarded $21,553 from the Margaret L. Bates Fund to local human services organizations working with an emphasis in the advancement of women, specifically disadvantaged women. Each year the Community Foundation allocates a number of grants to support organizations working in this field through the endowed fund.
This year Harvest House is one of the nonprofit recipients, and the funding will go towards their New Heights Program, which helps disadvantaged young women and men transition out of homelessness like Alexis Manna.
After her parents divorced and her father was arrested, Alexis had been haunted most of her life by domestic abuse and toxic stress in her home. Her mother’s boyfriend had drug issues, and police and child services were constantly in and out of their house. At the age of seventeen, Alexis gained the courage to stand up to her mother and tell her how she felt about what was happening in their home.
However, things took a turn for the worst when her mother sided with the boyfriend and kicked Alexis out onto the streets. She had moved around for a while staying with other family, however not much was different. After hearing about the New Heights Program at school, she looked into it and quickly found that she was able to stay at Harvest House. The program has gifted her a safe place to stay and allowed her to focus on school and her other goal, which is to enroll in the Culinary Arts Program at Suncoast Technical College after graduating high school.
“My mother would say to me ‘You will never graduate. You will never be anything in life,’” says Manna, now aged 18. “Not only will I prove her wrong, but I will be a great role model for my younger sisters and brothers to look up to.”
The fund was named and established by Dr. Margaret L. Bates, who was a former professor and provost of New College of Florida. In addition to her work with students, faculty and administration at the college, she devoted significant time to organizations in the community including the Women’s Resource Center, United Nations Association, and the Sarasota Institute of Lifelong Learning. She passed away in 2009.
This year’s awardees are as follows:
Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice – Our Mother’s House – $2,000 to provide counseling to their mothers to address long standing and pervasive issued such as untreated trauma, abuse and neglect, depression, grief and loss, domestic violence and the effects of profound poverty. This funding will support one mother and her children for the first month in the program.
First Step of Sarasota – $3,480 to support the Crossroads program, by providing a minimum of 13 women who enter their programs a physiological and health evaluation, which is necessary to properly diagnose any mental or health issues and provide medication.
Harvest Tabernacle of Sarasota (Harvest House) – $7,500 to support one 18-24 year-old woman in the New Heights Program, by providing wrap around case management and support services for those who are homeless and may have aged out of foster care.
In the Pink Boutique – $1,000 to provide funding Project HEAR (Hope, Education, Assistance & Respect) by providing educational support to disadvantaged female breast cancer patients in Sarasota County. The program also provides post-surgical products free of charge.
New College of Florida Foundation – $1,653 to provide supplementary funding to New College students seeking grants for independent studies for research and travel for women meeting the fund criteria. This is in collaboration with the Zonta Club of Sarasota.
Second Chance Last Opportunity – $2,420 to support the Sister Circles’ Skill-building Intervention Program which empowers, promotes and supports disadvantaged women in Sarasota County. The program is an 8-week class covering job readiness, communication, health and wellness, allowing them to become more self-sufficient .
Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County – $3,500 to provide 50-60 hours of individual mental health counseling to clients in Sarasota and Venice.
About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County
The Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of over $333 million in more than 1,400 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling more than $33 million dollars this past year in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, animal welfare, and the environment. Since our founding, more than $217 million has been invested back into the community through grants and scholarships. For more information, visit CFSarasota.org.