Home is Where the Heart Is

Guest Correspondence

Photo of Harvest House transitional housing.

Our basic need for a home—for the shelter, security, and sanctuary a home provides—is a universal human need. 

While headlines are aswirl with stories of rent escalations and affordable housing shortages, there are many organizations in our area that are positively addressing the daunting task of sheltering those most vulnerable in our communities. I want to share with you two bright spots. 

Last week, Harvest House hosted its annual Home Again Luncheon, a program that featured five people whose lives were transformed by access to counseling, career coaching, and of course, housing. Each story was different—there are many paths to homelessness—but each person experienced profound change through Harvest House that has expanded and enriched their future prospects, including those of their children who are part of the “Home Again” program, which we’ve proudly supported for several years as a part of our 2Gen work. 

We also recently announced a new development in our partnership with Project 180, an organization that provides reentry services to formerly incarcerated people: with a mix of grant and a program-related investment, we helped the nonprofit purchase a house to maintain permanent housing for five men working on rebuilding their lives. 

These organizations are distinct—Harvest House works to democratize affordable housing, food security, addiction recovery and workforce development for individuals and families rebounding from homelessness, while Project 180’s mission is to help men build lives that allow them to live in the mainstream after incarceration. Yet both programs center on providing a home. 

A home is the foundation of stability in a person’s life, a space to eat, to sleep, to dream. Having a place to call home—the security of a protective roof and an address to enter into job applications—is a critical piece of helping people live to their potential and contribute positively to society. These programs center on transforming lives through providing stable housing.

The result? People who find new meaning in life and hope for humanity; people who have overcome lifestyles that jeopardize themselves and those around them; people who have worked hard to master new skills that they can use to help others in gainful employment. 

In a nutshell, the result of their work is not just sheltering a person or a family; instead, it is strengthening our entire community by empowering people to participate in it in meaningful ways. Honest, healthy, contributing individuals don’t all come from stable homes, but they all deserve to retreat to them at the end of the day.

Roxie Jerde is President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

 

Photo of Harvest House transitional housing.

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