Sarasota Magazine: Lending A Listening Ear

Sarasota Magazine: Lending A Listening Ear

The following article was written by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and appeared on Sarasota Magazine’s website on March 20, 2024

Nestled on 84-acres of beautiful, conserved land, Resilient Retreat, a nonprofit organization in Sarasota County, is transforming the lives of individuals impacted by trauma.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast) has supported Resilient Retreat since their inception. Most recently, Gulf Coast awarded the nonprofit with a $10,000 grant to support the Kind Line which ensures free access to mental health support for all. Mental health is a priority focus area for the Foundation. Gulf Coast’s first grant was awarded to Resilient Retreat in May 2020 to help launch the director of training and community outreach. Together, Gulf Coast’s donors and Board of Directors have contributed over $3.6 million to Resilient Retreat.

large field with trees
Resilient Retreat’s peaceful campus located on 84-acres of conserved land provides a sanctuary for people and wildlife in eastern Sarasota County.

Resilient Retreat’s mission is to empower survivors of trauma to be resilient and thrive by providing accessible, confidential, evidence-based programs and education. A vast array of free evidence-based programs (such as equine therapy, neurofeedback, nutrition, yoga, and support groups) are currently being offered to address the impact of trauma on the mind, body, and spirit. Resilient Retreat’s 18,000-square-foot Retreat Center in Sarasota is breathtaking, healing, and peaceful. Resilient Retreat’s adorable therapy dog, Journey, is a regular on campus. He represents mindfulness in a cute, fluffy package and helps individuals heal. Resilient Retreat has impressively trained 7,493 trainees, completed 304 trainings, and served 152 organizations since its inception in 2018.

Healing Together

Resilient Retreat operates a Kind Line, Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Acting as trauma navigators, the Kind Line (941-343-0039) helps community members impacted by trauma find support and resources. It is not a crisis hotline, rather a listening ear to anyone who needs it.

From December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023, 4,190 calls were made to the Kind Line number which averages 350 calls each month. The need for this resource is evident and Gulf Coast is honored to support it. All community members may utilize the Kind Line and its services. Callers do not need to provide any identifying information. Providing this service to adult survivors of trauma, first responders, and helping professionals makes the community safer and healthier for all.

five people and a dog standing outside a barn
Members of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Resilient Retreat teams gather outside of The Gathering Place, one of several locations on Resilient Retreat’s campus you can rent for your next event. It truly is the ‘venue that saves lives.’ All event rental proceeds benefit Resilient Retreat.

“After Hurricane Ian, when there was devastation in south Sarasota County, nonprofit staff members called the complimentary Kind Line to process their experiences. So, in turn, they could offer support to others. We are lucky to have the healing resources of Resilient Retreat available in our region,” said Gulf Coast’s Director of Community Leadership Jennifer Johnston.

We sat down with Resilient Retreat’s Founder Sidney Turner, Ph.D. and Executive Director Lisa Intagliata to learn more.

When asked how they created the concept of Resilient Retreat, Sidney shared, “Starting Resilient Retreat came from my professional experiences as a researcher studying trauma and my personal experiences with trauma itself. Both taught me there isn’t a resource to help people with trauma in the long term. There is help in immediate crisis, but the impact goes far beyond that. About 70% of people are impacted by trauma at some point in their lives. Resilient Retreat prevents people from having a negative experience after trauma. Anybody can benefit from the services at Resilient Retreat.

Lisa replied, “Resilient Retreat was established as a nonprofit in 2018 and we hired our first staff person in 2019. Then, COVID-19 hit and the world stopped. We were receiving calls from for-profits and nonprofits that staff were really struggling and needed virtual programming or visits to their agencies. The COVID-19 relief funding that we received from Gulf Coast Community Foundation truly helped us. We applied for COVID-19 Response Funding through Gulf Coast Community Foundation which funded the director of training and community outreach position for one year, held by Mandy O’Malley. The gracious response we received from Gulf Coast was transformative. They were the first foundation that came to support what we were doing with immense credibility.”

When asked to share a story from the Kind Line, Sidney said, “There was one helping professional that called us who was struggling with burnout and compassion fatigue because their work was strenuous, and they were living out of their car because they couldn’t afford anywhere to live. We worked with this participant to help them find a secure housing situation.”

Lisa replied, “One of our staff members received a call from a police officer. He came from a hard call and had to pull over. His sergeant had given him our rack card. He said he was struggling and couldn’t turn his radio back on. He just needed to talk to someone. After 15 minutes of breathing and body regulation techniques received from the Kind Line, he vocalized that he could get back to duty.”

On how it feels to do the important work they do every day, Sidney shared, “I sit in awe to have the ability to help people through struggles I’ve struggled through before. What better gift from life than to take lemons and make lemonade with them. I see this as a true honor and privilege to do this work every day.”

To learn more about Gulf Coast’s health and human services work, including mental health, click here.