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By Christina Russi, (CRS)/(CRS-DC), Community Fiscal Agent and Liaison
December 10, 2021

At this time of year, thoughts go to home, holiday celebrations, decorations in the house and cookies baking in the oven. Coming together in the kitchen over a family meal, holiday music and stockings hung with care for children's delight. Time to be with friends and family reflecting on the year past and speculation about the year to come. 

This year, more than perhaps others before, also come thoughts of so many struggling to maintain their housing, afford the rent, pay the mortgage, or find new homes.

There are those whose children are given to relatives for safe keeping while they work and struggle to rise above their present circumstance.

As the Community Liaison at Glasser/Schoenbaum, this season I have seen those on the brink of homelessness, residents sleeping in cars who can no longer afford the cost of a motel, or sleeping on someone's porch, or in a friend’s driveway. There are those whose children are given to relatives for safe keeping while they work and struggle to rise above their present circumstance. There is the family with grandmother, mother and four children sleeping from family to family, friend to friend ... house to house for months...searching desperately for housing, both with income but unable to find a rental home or apartment that compliments their combined budget. I see the 84-year-old senior who has lived in her rental apartment for many years and now must leave because of the increase in rent she can't afford. Is her only destination the city streets?

There are so many in similar circumstances. Is turning a blind eye really a choice? If they were to leave our region, are other areas better equipped to help them?

Or do we accept this call to action to pay attention? As a community, in this unique, difficult time, do we stand and advocate for those more vulnerable and less able to influence? Do we fight for those whose voices go unheard and whose strength to withstand life's stark realities wanes? Does our soul language prompt us to reach further, push harder...hear the alarms and answer the call to respond?

Does our soul language prompt us to reach further, push harder...hear the alarms and answer the call to respond?

The ability to assist the vulnerable amongst us speaks volumes about who we are and where we are going as a community. Do we accept defeat, or do we try...try again? We have lost battles on the housing front, but have we lost the war?

I say, No; we have our adequate share of expertise, strong leadership, and creative minds in this community to find the solutions we so desperately need now - the operative word being NOW. Our civic community understands collaboration, cohesiveness, efficiencies, effectiveness, partnerships, and the need to overcome barriers to success. In my daily work, I'm so grateful for the vitally important resources that already exist in our community. For more than 21 years, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County's Season of Sharing initiative has recognized the housing challenges for our families, and through generously given dollars, has mitigated the surge of households in crisis. Right now, such support is needed more than ever, as we help our families find a path to recovery and stability.

Christmas tree in the Glasser/Schoenbaum lobby

Any step, all steps toward the resolution of our affordable housing problems - every brick laid to build new housing units and create hearth and home, for many who work and would like to continue to live here, is a step in the right direction. 

So at this time of year when our hearts find joy in the comforts of home, we are compelled to think of housing and how to build a more sustainable workforce and other housing options; remedies that residents can afford and help establish the foundation for longer term stability for our region. 

Wishing you and yours very Happy Holidays.



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Glasser/Schoenbaum is an integral part of our community. They not only provide critical commercial space for non-profits but also build networks within our community to meet the needs of our most vulnerable.

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Dawn Sakes, MSW Executive Director and Mentor More Too Life
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The staff at Glasser/Schoenbaum have done a great job of connecting the many organizations on campus and creating a space that sparks collaboration. This sense of community extends to staff and clients alike, helping to break down barriers and leading to innovative ways to serve the community as a whole.

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Katie Becker Executive Director Parenting Matters
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Real estate is one of the greatest costs in a business budget. Our partnership with The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center allows more money to go towards our mission. And what better place to house our office than on a campus with nineteen other outreach agencies.

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Janet Kahn Executive Director Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County
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