Highlights of our first 10 years!

Dear Friends,

As this year comes to a close, we know many people begin to think about their end-of-year donations. There are wonderful organizations to choose from, yet we hope that our work resonates with you and that Peace4Tarpon will be one of your choices. In our 10 years, this is our first donation request. Let me tell you a little about us and our work to hopefully inspire your decision.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 10 years since Peace4Tarpon took the initial steps in our journey toward becoming a healthier, more compassionate and peaceful Tarpon Springs. Those first steps led us to become the first trauma-informed community in the United States. This was an undertaking beyond ambitious – we were the trailblazers – embarking on an uncharted path.

As we were learning and discovering our way, we were sharing difficult and relatively unknown information, helping people to recognize trauma in a different way than was commonly understood at that time. We wanted everyone in Tarpon Springs to begin to see through a “trauma-informed lens” and to understand that most if not all of our community challenges shared a common root of unaddressed childhood trauma, abuse and neglect. This was challenging and sometimes uncomfortable information and at times, we did experience push back but more often open arms. Our work resonated with many people and even if it wasn’t warmly received at first, we knew we were planting the seeds of understanding. Those seeds would lead to the awareness of how unresolved early trauma was connected and interwoven with problems of individuals, families, and our community. We also learned and spread the word about building resilience in our lives and in our world.

Now 10 years down the road, trauma is more widely understood, and many communities have begun to follow a similar path – some seeking our guidance and even adopting the Peace4 model.

For much of our existence, we have been an entirely volunteer grass-roots organization with little monetary funding. We have been blessed with extraordinary community support and a wealth of in-kind services. We count on our entire community to “offer the peace/piece they can” and they do! The modest funds we did have were returned to the community as we are volunteers and have no staff or brick and mortar facility. Yet, with little funding, we have accomplished much. This is a small sampling of our successes suggested by our Peace4Tarpon Board – wish we could share them all!

§ Raising awareness of unresolved early trauma and its consequences, de-stigmatizing mental health, encouraging early intervention, and building resilience with wonderful trainings throughout the community on diverse and fascinating subjects.

§ Inspiring trauma informed protocols in our educational systems, providers, governmental and faith-based entities.

§ Offering information on our website, social media and also through our Community Resource Guide (available to print from our website – also printed by partners and made available at different locales) connecting people to each other, to resources, building relationships and supporting each other.

§ Nurturing our ongoing partnerships with the City of Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Library and Tarpon Arts, Leepa Rattner Museum of Art, the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society, and our faith-based community.

§ Building partnerships with great child-centered programs and organizations like the YMCA of the Suncoast, Early Learning Coalition, Head Start, and The Union Academy Neighborhood Family Center. Providing S.A.F.E. trainings by Juliana Menke from Suncoast Center throughout the community to help caregivers better understand how to keep their children safe from the epidemic of child sexual abuse.

§ Connecting local educators with each other through our annual Education Leaders Breakfast at our St. Petersburg College campus. Last month was our 5th and this year, we also adopted 3 Tarpon Springs Elementary School Classrooms shining a light on three teachers who are utilizing trauma-informed approaches in their classrooms.

§ Distributing Mini Grants to community members who had brilliant ideas to help Tarpon Springs be a healthier, more resilient community and to foster the inclusion and creativity of our citizens.

§ Collaborating with University of Florida’s School of Public Health on their Master’s Public Health Communication class where Peace4Tarpon was the class subject for two semesters. One of those Master’s students going on to receive her Doctorate and creating the nation’s first Master’s level Trauma and Resilience course. Many of our folks recorded lectures for the class.

§ Supporting existing initiatives and communities just beginning this work that wish assistance with this Peace4, Trauma-Informed, Trauma Resilient path.

§ Receiving one of the 14 awarded, Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) Grant out of the 24 invited to apply. This two-year funding helped us expand our community efforts, develop materials (all done in-house by our Marketing team), and develop an on-line Trauma-Awareness course for the community with our partner St. Petersburg College.

Thanks to Peace4Tarpon, our official City Tree is the Red Mangrove – a symbol of transformation and resilience seen by residents and visitors at shorelines throughout our city. The mangroves are a powerful symbol of connection, resilience and health, reminding us that we are all connected through this community we share.

We choose to see ourselves and others through a trauma-informed lens and with compassion. We don’t ask the question “What’s wrong with you?” we ask, “What happened to you?”

We hope you see the value in what we’ve accomplished and the potential of the work that lies ahead. Please support us in our mission to connect, inform, transform and heal our wonderful community of Tarpon Springs. We hope you contribute to our mission as you are able, knowing that sharing creates great plenty!

Robin Saenger
Founding Director
Trauma Informed – Building Resiliency
P. O. Box 1752
Tarpon Springs, FL 34688-1752