If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I go to lots of fabulous events, and here is an awesome one that I am hoping to attend with a bunch of my girlfriends.
It’s going to be Friday, March 8th, from 7-11 p.m. at the historic Gulfport Casino.
It’s my favorite kind of fabulous event because it is for a great cause…Brookwood.
In the words of my awesome IRunMommies friend Megan, Brookwood is a very important part of our community’s safety net. She and some of my other friends are on the board at Brookwood, and when I learned more about it I knew that I wanted to attend their fundraiser and help to spread the word.
You can read more about Brookwood in this Tampa Bay Times article by Ernest Hooper.
Here’s what else my friend Megan had to say about Brookwood:
Brookwood celebrated it’s 85th anniversary last year!
Brookwood Florida originally was the “Florence Crittenton” home and basically was a home for unwed girls in 1927.
By 1976, they shifted the focus to girls with emotional or behavioral needs…and began a partnership with the State of Florida to provide that unmet need. The house is located on “Brookwood Terrace” so the name was changed again (and was also briefly called ‘A Young Women’s Residence). In the early 1990s, Brookwood opened a second location in Broward County.
Brookwood worked to better serve the young ladies coming into the house and started developing transitional living programs to better prepare the girls for adulthood. That’s huge. There is definitely not enough focus on independent living skills for youth that have lived in a group home for most of their lives. The general age of the girls varies a bit but generally is 13-21 years old. In 2008, Brookwood opened a location in Fort Myers but eventually closed the home in 2012 as it was difficult to support the three locations.
Most of the girls are placed by DCF from all over Florida. They are removed from abuse, neglect – you name it. In some circumstances, parents can directly place children at the home. A few years ago there was an article in the Times about Brookwood and then literally for the next two weeks, parents came by and dropped off their children. It was horrible. Some of the girls are homeless. In some cases, parental rights have been terminated by the courts, the ladies are eligible for adoption – and the adoption breaks down. Then, where do they go? Brookwood is there…and has a very therapeutic focus. All girls have case managers and therapists that work with them every day.
As Kelly stated in her FB post, the staff there does wonderful things to make the girls feel special – every year they take the girls that aren’t ‘picked up by family’ to Disney for Christmas. They do special dinners for Thanksgiving. They must do a lot – sometimes the DCF caseworker approves going home for the holidays for a few seemingly lucky girls. Then, their family doesn’t show up and they sit at the front window waiting. Someone has to be there to help them pick up the pieces and that’s what the staff at Brookwood does.
Many of the girls work on their diplomas while at Brookwood. Many of them go to college. Some come back happy and proud to visit Pam, some don’t. Many seem to appreciate that Brookwood gave them stability at a time when they needed it most. At the Carnival event, we will be reading some of the wonderful letters that Pam receives from former ‘residents’. It best shows the gratitude that these young ladies feel – some admit it took them a long time to appreciate Brookwood. But they did.
Simply put, Brookwood is a very important part of our community’s safety net.
So if you are local or not too far from Tampa Bay, come hang out and party with me at the Brookwood Carnival and help benefit a great cause! If you have a local business, they are also still accepting sponsorships for the Carnival! Do you have goods or services that you could donate?
Check out the Brookwood Carnival page on Facebook! They are going to have some awesome Cajun cuisine by Ricky P’s Orleans Bistro, New Orleans and contemporary music, dancing, cash bar, “pick-a-prize” raffles and much more!