April 2016

Vol. 7, NO. 4

A New Dine-out for May: The White Horse Pub

We'll do without a dine-out this month to allow some time for our "Just Desserts" participants to get back on their diets. But save this date: On Thursday, May 19, we'll gather The White Horse Pub, 6240 N. Lockwood Ridge Rd. (in the

shopping center where the Parkway 8 Cinema is located).

White Horse owner Bob Kirscher used to own The Broken Egg restaurants. The pub features British favorites including fish and chips, steak and Guinness pie, sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and beer cheese soup. You'll also find Mary Shelley's Seafood Fra Diavolo, burgers, wraps and Downton Abbey dishes, plus award-winning chicken wings, flat-bread pizza, a varied kids' menu and desserts to die for. To see the whole menu, click here.

Family Promise of Sarasota will receive 20 percent of the night's tabs between 5 and 9 p.m. Reservations are

requested for groups. Call 941-358-1353.

Thanks to the crowd that came out for our March 28 dine-out at rev-el-ry Pub and Grill. We're working on summer dine-outs now. If you have some suggestions, please contact the Family Promise office.


Want to Know More about Family Promise? Here's How

An orientation class for prospective Family Promise of Sarasota volunteers will be held on Saturday, April 30, at 1 p.m. It will be held at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1031 S. Euclid Ave. (behind the Frank G. Berlin Sr. YMCA on Bahia Vista Street).

The training is "for anyone who would like to know more about how we do what we do," George Lavigne, who'll lead the session, said. It's offered to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or in learning more about the Family Promise program. You don't have to be a member of a host or support congregation in order to participate.

The session will take about an hour and a half. While it's aimed at adults, "you can bring your children if you'd like them to help with hosting, too, and they won't distract the class," George said.

Those taking part in the orientation are under no obligation to become volunteers, "but we do ask all new volunteers to attend one of these classes before you meet and work with our guests," he said.

The training is also open to any volunteer wanting a refresher course. Those planning to attend are asked to notify George via this e-mail address.

Update on Our Families

The past month included spring break weeks off from school for the children in our shelter program. We were able to secure day camp and other care for them through the Boys and Girls Club and other resources utilizing funds from our REACH (Recreation, Education, Afterschool Care and Holidays) program.

Our mom and dad with daughters ages 12, 10 and 1 graduated from our shelter program and moved in mid-March into Steve's House, our transitional residence, where they will be able to stay until mid-July, paying an affordable rent plus utilities. They continue to receive bi-weekly case management services. Dad had found a full-time position in March doing electrical work with a boat company. Mom has worked since the family entered our program.

Our dad with sons 16 and 10 and a daughter 13 also graduated from our shelter program. The first weekend of April they moved into their new rental home, secured with HUD Section 8 assistance. Dad continues to work full time as a tow-truck driver. Family Promise has partnered with several other social service agencies in assisting this family and remains available to provide ongoing case management care.

Our mom and her 11-year-old son are in their third month with us and doing very well. Mom began full-time work this month in the office of an air-conditioning firm. Her son has shown improvement in his grades in all areas at the private school he attends on scholarship. The family is seeking out rental options, looking to make the move into their own housing at the end of this month.

Promise House
Gets Some Nearly New Furniture

Family Promise of Sarasota has been in partnership since last year with the Fabulous Finds thrift stores of The Pines of Sarasota for the donation of furniture and home accessories for families when they graduate from our shelter program.

Last month, Family Promise itself was the beneficiary of this special relationship. We were in dire need of replacement furniture for the living room of Promise House where our day center is located. Many thanks to Fabulous Finds for the donation of a love seat and three matched chairs!

Our like-new Promise House loveseat and chairs from The Pines.

Two Fashion Shows Benefit Family Promise

Many thanks to two organizations whose fashion shows in February raised funds in support of Family Promise of Sarasota.

All Angels By the Sea Episcopal Church, one of our support congregations, hosted a show at the Bird Key Yacht Club on Feb. 17 as a Family Promise fund raiser.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority presented an event at the Field Club on Feb. 29 for which Family Promise was one of two benefiting agencies.

Board member Sandee Davis represented Family Promise at both.

Coming Up on the
Family Promise

Saturday, April 30, 1 p.m. -- Family Promise volunteer training, First Congregational UCC

Thursday, May 5,
5:30 p.m. -- Board of Trustees meeting, Temple Beth Sholom

Thursday, May 19,
5 to 9 p.m. -- dine-out at The White Horse Pub

Tuesday, June 21,
5:30 p.m. -- Volunteer Coordinators meeting, First United Methodist Church

40 Desserts and So Much More: Oh, It Was Sweet!

The eight center banquet tables were laden with a record 40 desserts created by pastry chefs, master bakers and others.

On one side of the Payne Park Auditorium space were more tables, filled with silent auction offerings. On the other side of the room were hot and cold "light bites," along with a table displaying offerings for the live auction.

The celebrity judging team -- Florida Rep. Ray Pilon, Sarasota Commissioner Carolyn Mason, ABC/7 reporter Max Winitz, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyons, and former city commissioner and mayor Fredd Atkins -- tasted their way through all 40 sweet treats. It was hard work, but somebody had to do it. Each rated the desserts numerically, and then their numbers were totaled.

The highest rating resulted in a tie for first place: the Cheesecake from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and the Bete Noir flourless chocolate cake from Madfish Grill.

Taking second spot was the Carrot Cake also from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse.

Rated third was revelry's Triple Layer Chocolate Fudge Cake with Espresso Buttercream Filling.

Fleming's and Madfish Grill have been "Just Desserts" supporters since the event was created in 2009 -- and have won the judges' favor more than once before. This was the first year of participation for rev-el-ry.

Saying thanks is a long list:

To our sponsors: First Congregational United Church of Christ, Florida Winefest & Auction, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Cares, Shumaker Loop & Kendrick, The Pelletz Family and Total Wine & More.

To our 28 dessert donors.

To our dozens of silent and live auction item donors.

To the Al Hixon Jazz Ensemble for great music the fourth year in a row.

To Rodney and Rev. Roger Shenk for their musical gifts.

To Pastor John W. Walker Jr. for offering the invocation.

To our celebrity judges.

To auctioneer Pam McCurdy.

To Bahia Vista Mennonite Church for lending 16 round tables.

To Julie Martelo, for planning the decorations.

And to the dozens of Family Promise of Sarasota volunteers, especially PowerPoint producer Rick Barry, kitchen team coordinator Ellie Stoll, photographer Joel Servetz, mistress of ceremonies Wendy Leventhal and all the hard workers of the "Just Desserts" Planning Committee.

Here are just a few photos.

Auctioneer Pam McCurdy working the room.

Marsha Albert, Nancy Levine and Dick Smothers.

Rodney and Rev. Roger Shenk.

Rick Barry, Sharon Meyer, Sue Barry, Pete Meyer.

Fredd Atkins, Rep. Ray Pilon, Sheila Atkins.

Drummer and band leader Al Hixon.

Photos by Joel Servetz, RGB Media Sevices, LLC

Look for more photos soon on the Family Promise website and on our Facebook page.
-- Jean Etsinger
"Just Desserts" founder and chair

'Just Desserts' Sponsors Donate Seating to Families

By Caroline Chambliss
Director of Development

For this year's "Just Desserts," two generous sponsors made it possible for graduates of the Family Promise program and current family members to attend.

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Cares, a Gold sponsor, qualified for a VIP table for eight. Rather than send their own attendees, they offered all of their seats to graduates of the Family Promise program.

The Pelletz Family, a Bronze sponsor, had two reserved seats. They made these available to current family members.

A total of nine family members were present. Child care was arranged for the parents utilizing funds from the REACH (Recreation, Education, Afterschool Care and Holidays) program, funded in part by the Five Talent Fund.

It was a fun opportunity for members of the families we serve to enjoy the camaraderie of many of the volunteers who have served as mentors, coaches and friends.

Notes from the National Family Promise Conference

By Wendy Fitton
Network Manager

The 14th Family Promise National Conference, held in Long Beach, Cal., on April 8-10, attracted many staff, board members and volunteers from all over the country. With over 200 affiliates now in operation, this was a weekend of productive networking and workshops to help local organizations provide the best and most up-to-date services and assistance to thousands of families nationwide experiencing a crisis of homelessness.

For the first time, the conference was nearly paperless. Attendees used an online app on their smart phones to access conference information -- the workshop schedule, biographies of speakers,

Scene at one of the sessions at the national meeting.

listings of not-for-profit partners, and pdf files of workshop handouts.

Workshops -- targeted for staff, board members or volunteers -- covered a broad variety of topics. I attended these:

About the Color of Napkins: a practical look at do's and don'ts of effective board meetings and board orientation.

Achoo: best practices for addressing health situations, managing infectious conditions and helping families secure necessary wellness support.

Networking: about building connections, not collecting business cards.

Not Every Congregation Is a Congregation: hosting and support in affiliates can also come from hospitals, colleges, business and civic groups, and more. Affiliates are looking beyond houses of worship and the faith community for volunteers.

Positive People.

There Are No Obstacles, Just Opportunities.

Transcendent Relationships.

I also attended a round-table discussion for low-budget (less than $120k) affiliates that focused on networking and common issues.

Claas Ehlers was introduced as the new national Family Promise president, succeeding founder Karen Olson, who retired. Presenters included Dr. Robert Marbut, the national expert on homelessness hired as a consultant locally a few years ago.

National conferences, held every 18 months, provide a wealth of information and opportunities for networking to renew and refresh the vision of assisting the families we serve. The next one will be held in Fall 2017 in Washington, D.C.

A Volunteer Finds Purpose in Child's Success at School

This note came from a volunteer after she learned that one of the children in our program had received improved grades in all areas of study after entering the shelter program.

Lately I've been faced with something of a crisis of purpose and whether or not anything I do makes any sort of a difference to anyone. Seeing this [the news of the child's improved grades] helps me realize that I don't have to be Marie Curie, Duchess Kate or even Wendy Fitton to have a meaningful impact on a life.

It doesn't have to be grand gestures or newsworthy or have a far-reaching, world peace-inducing effect. I'm never going to change the world. But perhaps one of the people that I brush up against, offer a word of encouragement to, or just sit quietly beside and provide a sense of security and stability and an example that there is a possibility of a better life will be the one who changes the world -- and that in some small way, so will I.

Go me! Go all of us who volunteer! Go everyone who makes a concerted effort to be kind and project positive energy into the universe! We can make a difference. And that's definitely not nothing.

-- Toska Strong
First Congregational UCC volunteer

Two Fashion Shows Are Benefits for Family Promise

Many thanks to two organizations whose fashion shows in February were held to raise funds in support of Family Promise of Sarasota.

All Angels By the Sea Episcopal Church, one of our support congregations, hosted a show at the Bird Key Yacht Club on Feb. 17 as a Family Promise fund raiser.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority presented an event at the Field Club on Feb. 29 for which Family Promise was one of two benefiting agencies.

Board member Sandee Davis represented Family Promise on both occasions.