They may be women fleeing abusers. Children needing shelter. Or families crumbling under financial strain.
Amid the thousands of families and individuals helped by Season of Sharing each year, there are many who, for reasons related to safety, homelessness or the child welfare system, remain anonymous to the general public.
Season of Sharing help is a lifeline to the silent beneficiaries, too, caseworkers say.
That’s especially true for mothers trying to escape domestic violence, said Sierra Ebersole. She works with Safe Children Coalition as a specialist with the Emergency Response and Assessment Team, or ERAT.
In the face of the area’s skyrocketing rents, some domestic violence survivors don’t know where to turn.
“It’s a lot of reason why women are going back to their abusers,” Ebersole said, “because they can’t figure out how to make it on their own.”
Amid a crisis in affordable housing so dire that some Florida lawmakers recently asked Gov. DeSantis to declare a state of emergency, many women and children are living in cars or motels, Ebersole and other caseworkers say. Others crowd into the homes of friends or relatives – sometimes exacerbating family tensions, financial strain and the trauma on the kids.
“There are not a lot of options right now,” Ebersole said about housing.