Bridges out of Poverty Getting Ahead in a Getting by World”

The Planning Committee has met with several “experts” in this area and is preparing to launch a series of “getting to know Bridges” mini sessions in Naples and Immokalee.

Stay tuned more to come ……


The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has been utilizing the Cell Dog program since 2011 and its success has been undeniable.

Female convicts at the Naples Jail Center take care of the dogs every day for six weeks straight as part of a 12-week trauma program in order to learn patience, love and responsibility.

“By having them responsible for their walks, feeding them, bathing them, reporting to me if the dog is sick, we’re making them be responsible, to care for a living thing, and that’s very therapeutic for them,” said Katina Bouza, the jail’s reintegration manager.

“Your mind is occupied, you play with them,” inmate Maria Hernandez said. “It’s like having a baby and taking care of a baby.”

Most of the inmates aren’t here by coincidence.

They’ve experienced sexual or physical trauma as young as a year old, Bouza said. Oftentimes, they will turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.

“We teach beyond trauma,” Bouza said. “During the 12-week program, they actually deal with the reality of what trauma has done to their lives.”

The program also helps prepare the dogs for adoption.

Those interested in adopting the dogs can email Bouza at


Committee Chairs will be providing updates on their respective committees at both the next EXE-COM and General Membership meetings.

The Data/HMIS Committee is continuing to monitor the data transfer process and will have more updates has that process is completed. Michael reported that agencies are already pouring in data into the new CRN and he is out and about doing field trainings as requested by the participating agencies. ** Update 7-5-17: The CRN User Group has grown to 52 users in 40 agency/programs.

CoC Committee Chairs

  • Data/HMIS – Chair Michael Overway
  • Employment & Supportive Services – Chair Fred Richards
  • Grants – Co-Chairs Christine Welton & Ashley Jones
  • Housing – Chair Ray Steadman
  • Planning – Chair Christine Welton
  • Youth – Chair Thomas Wedlock
  • Veterans – Chair David Soldano


The 10 Year Plan to End Homeless in Collier County called Vision 20/20 is: A Clear View of Housing for All Members of Collier County is a community-level action plan for addressing the housing needs of adults, families, youth, and children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The development of this plan has been a collaborative effort involving individuals and families who have or are currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless, unaccompanied youth identified as homeless, service providers, advocates, policy makers, and other community leaders.

Goal #4 – Resources for Unaccompanied Youth

Strategy #1 – Develop a drop-in center and increase the supply of overnight beds for youth 16 to 24 years old experiencing homelessness and unaccompanied by an adult.

To learn more about the Vision 20/20 Plan visit our website


June 29th, 2017 the Naples Florida Weekly published an article on Affordable Housing in Collier County. Here is the link to that article OUT of REACH . We encourage all CoC Partners to take a moment and read this article.

If you or your agency has a community event planned please send it to Michael Overway at and he will posted in next months news letter.


Grace Place for Children and Families is an educational nonprofit organization guided by our faith-based core values. The idea of grace comes from the generosity of God. Grace Place expresses this generosity as an educational center that provides pathways out of poverty through educating children and families. A large number of our donors and volunteers come to Grace Place through their faith communities. We seek to offer opportunities for people to put their faith into action, just as the book of James teaches us: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (James 2:14). Volunteers and donors have abundant opportunity to fulfill their faith through welcoming the stranger (Hebrews 13:2), feeding the poor (John 21:17), and transforming lives.

Grace Place does not proselytize. This means that we will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith. The mission of Grace Place is to put our faith into action – providing pathways out of poverty by educating children and families. What a wonderful way to fulfill the greatest commandments, to love God and neighbor! Our vision is that all families have access to education to break the cycle of poverty.