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Carolyn Mason

Director of Donor Engagement

Harvest House has had the honor of working with Ms. Carolyn Mason as the Director of Donor Engagement since early 2017. Born and raised here, Carolyn is a symbol of strength, perseverance, and wisdom all throughout Sarasota. She has served as a City Commissioner, County Commissioner, and the City Mayor, all while being the first black woman to do so. When Carolyn was active in politics, she served as a bridge between the historical black communities and the developing affluent communities in the area. “A friend of mine always said, ‘if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.’ I made it a point to make my seat at the table and make my voice heard for my whole community.”

Carolyn has now retired from her political career, but she has not stopped playing an instrumental role as an advocate. She currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County as Chairman of the Roy McBean Club Advisory Board, a member of the Sarasota County Agricultural Fair Board, a member of the Supervisor of Elections Canvassing Board, a Community Advisor for Habitat for Humanity, and a member of the Sarasota Sheriff’s Advisory Board. She is also the SAVE Grant/Project Prevent Project Manager working to prevent violence and bullying at Booker Middle School.

Everywhere she goes she finds someone she knows, which is a symbol of both her good-hearted nature and her special skill of connecting people. She is able to help engage policymakers, thought leaders, business owners, and other influencers in Sarasota with the mission and vision of Harvest House. She’s always hosting tours of the campuses, having lunch-meetings with potential partners and donors, keeping our elected officials updated with what is happening on the frontlines in the fight against homelessness, and keeping the Harvest House administrators updated with what’s happening in the community.

Carolyn has experienced first-hand the socioeconomic disenfranchisement of the people of Newtown. “When I moved from what is now known as the Rosemary district to Newtown, as so many black Americans did in the early 1960s, it really was a new town. But, when faced with economic strife on top of institutional racism plaguing the political climate at the time, the pockets of crime havens were inevitable. If you had lived near the apartments where one of the Home Again campuses and the Lee Wetherington Family Village are now, your heart would have hurt like mine did. Who wants to hear gunshots in the middle of the night and fear it may be one of yours? Who wants to hear stories of trafficked children across the street or people overdosing on your daughter’s route to school?” Harvest House stepped in as an answer to the issues of homelessness and substance abuse that are symptoms of decades of this gentrification. “Harvest House literally turned a drug haven into a program for homeless families, the Family Haven.”

For more on Carolyn’s history, check out the  Newtown Alive project and the Herald Tribune.