Sarasota cop's mentoring program refurbishing homes and lives

The youths are renovating a home to put it up for sale.

SARASOTA, Fla. - A unique partnership between a mentoring group and the city has turned into a win-win for both sides with the group renovating a home for a low income family.

For one year, dozens of young men, ages 8 to 25, spent every Saturday working on the home.

“It was a hard process but it was worth it,” said Samauri Bane, 17.

Bane is one of about 50 members of the Brotherhood of Me,n a mentoring group founded 10 years ago by Sarasota Police Officer Dominic Harris.

“The whole goal of Brotherhood of Men is to make productive members of our community that can go take care of their families and do the right thing," Harris said.

The group started a skills trade program last year and partnered with the City of Sarasota in a pilot program. The city deeded one vacant home in the Newtown neighborhood for the group to rehabilitate.

The walls had holes, the piping and electrical work needed to be replaced, the doors needed to be replaced, the floor was bare concrete and the yard was overgrown, Harris said.

“We gutted this bathroom, tore out the old bathroom,” said Harris as he gave a tour of the 950 square foot, 3 bedroom and 1 bathroom home.

Brotherhood of Men funded the project through donations. Contractors donated labor and materials.

The pilot program has been so successful that the city donated three more vacant properties for the group to restore.

“We’re taking some of the crimes that happen in these properties away from the crime lords and giving it back to families,” said Rowena Elliott, administrative assistant for the City of Sarasota’s economic development department.

Samauri hopes this home will change a family’s life just like the mentoring group did eight years ago.

“When I was in elementary school I was a troubled kid," he said. "I’d get suspended kicked out of school. My mom referred me to the program. I stayed in the program because I saw a change in myself. Behavioral changes…my grades went to an A from Fs. It taught me to be a responsible person."

The city will hold a ribbon cutting and dedication at the home at 10 a.m. Saturday. The group will sell the home at an affordable price to a low income family and they already have some interested buyers.  The money will be used to pay for one of the kids to attend trade school as well as fund the next renovation project.

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