When Adell Erozer moved in 2002 to Sarasota, she experienced a lot of difficulty finding a job. She had been living abroad for nearly 17 years and, in that time, most of her work experience was volunteer-based. As the wife of a diplomat, she was not allowed to work in a country with high unemployment.
“When I came back, nobody would hire me,” she says. “Nobody would even look at my resume.”
After two years of searching, she learned about an open position for executive director at Turning Points, a Manatee County organization that provides assistance to the homeless and those at risk for homelessness. She admits that she was initially hesitant about the job.
“At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to be the executive director of a homeless organization because I had this idea of who the homeless were. It wasn’t until I started working here that I realized they’re a lot more than just those people we envision — in fact, that’s a very small part of the population. Now, this is something I’m very passionate about.”
She says her job-searching difficulties actually better prepared her for the position.
“It can be very frustrating, knowing you’re very qualified, but you’re new, nobody knows you, and you haven’t worked in 17 years,” she says. “It’s nice to realize someone gave me a chance. I want to pass that on and give other people an opportunity. A lot of times, that’s all people need to get back on track.”
Erozer brought her experience in community health to Turning Points, which provides services such as rental assistance, hygiene needs, food, medical and dental services, job-skill training and special programs for veterans.
Turning Points is currently seeking volunteers for its regular office hours as well as for an upcoming study.
On Monday, Jan. 27, the organization will conduct a 24-hour point-in-time survey to get an accurate count of all homeless people in Sarasota and Manatee counties — information that Erozer says is essential to effectively working to solve homelessness.
“There’s nothing more personally satisfying than being able to do something that will help somebody else,” she says.
BY THE NUMBERS
2,000 — Approximate number of homeless children in Manatee County last year
24 — Hours in the point-in-time survey
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