Safe Children Coalition and Supporters Celebrate Youth Shelter Campaign Progress



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SARASOTA, FL – Although the campaign is technically in its “quiet phase,” Safe Children Coalition is making enormous strides in raising community support and funds for its new Youth Shelter. SCC recently held a Youth Shelter Campaign Milestone event to recognize those who have supported the effort with time and resources, and update guests on the campaign’s progress.

The event kicked off with a welcome and remarks by SCC President and CEO Brena Slater and Vice President of Communications and Community Engagement Jacqueline House; they offered a hearty round of appreciation for early donors and leadership volunteers – including those who have assisted with the feasibility study and served on the Quiet Phase Committee – and SCC’s dedicated staff.  A cornerstone of the celebration was the recent Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation $1 million leadership gift, which included a $500,000 match that SCC leveraged to raise an additional $500,000, resulting in $1.5 million that will help build the new facility.

Florida Representative Fiona McFarlane spoke about her early days in the Florida House and how she became involved in supporting resources for the child welfare system. Last year, she and Florida State Senator Joe Gruters were instrumental in securing sharply increased operational funding for Safe Children Coalition for the current program year and also recently championed for SCC to secure a $750,000 award from the State of Florida, Department of Juvenile Justice, designated for the Youth Shelter. 

Jill Steiner, Vice President of Out of Home Care, enlightened the audience about various ways teens are served by the youth shelter and the success of the program. She recalled a quote from a college professor, “We can make a change now or pay for it later, if we don’t invest in our children”. This quote  caused her to change her future career path and has continued to inspire her throughout her decades long career in child welfare. 

Recently retired Selby Foundation CEO Carol Butera has been a valued Quiet Phase Committee member – she talked about how the shelter needed work from its very beginnings, work that was put off through the years. “This shelter will be a safe place for kids to come, talk to trusted staff members, and change their lives,” Butera said. “It’s our job to be here!” She encouraged supporters and future supporters to help SCC in its race to get the campaign to the finish line by helping to bring new supporters to the cause.

Builder Tandem Construction was represented by Brian Leaver, Senior Vice President, and Principal Officer. In addition to providing construction updates, Leaver shared his journey as a foster and adoptive parent. His connection with Safe Children Coalition spans the last 15 years, during which he and his wife have fostered over 60 infants and adopted two daughters. His updates included a timeline for permitting, building, and occupancy for the new youth shelter. He also noted how thrilled he was to be able to combine his two greatest passions: families/youth and construction.

The new Youth Shelter will be located on Sawyer Road in north Sarasota, sitting on two acres of land, with another two acres available for expansion of services. The nearly 9,000-square-foot building will provide safe, temporary emergency housing for teens ages 10-17 and will  reduce the list of homeless or unaccompanied youths waiting for safe shelter. Groundbreaking is anticipated mid-2024 with construction taking approximately 16-18 months beyond that point. 

To learn how you can support the Youth Shelter Campaign, visit or contact Jacqueline House: or 941-371-4799, ext. 1127.