Manatee's Community Coalition on Homelessness gets early present

vmannix@bradenton.comDecember 14, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Joe Mercado felt like a rich man Friday.

That's because the Community Coalition on Homelessness operations manager learned the nonprofit was the beneficiary of $10,000 thanks to Bright House Networks' "12 Days of Giving Campaign" on Facebook.

"It's incredible, awesome," he said. "I can't say enough about everyone's support and willingness to help. We're very thankful to community -- and Bright House Networks."

The campaign ran Dec. 1-12.

According to Bright House spokeswoman Leah Brown, the Homeless Coalition was chosen the Tampa Bay area winner, vying against nonprofits in Bakersfield, Calif., Birmingham, Ala., Detroit and Indianapolis.

"Local organizations were selected throughout our national footprint in four areas of support -- hunger, homeless, veterans and children's services," she said. "The focus area with the most Facebook likes/shares over the 12 days won."

Brown chose the Community Coalition on Homeless and Galvano One Stop Center for the Manatee organization.

"What a great day," she said. The check will be presented Dec. 18.

The Coalition on Homelessness received more than 30,000 likes and shares, a winning number executive director Adele Erozer attributes to Mercado's energy and creativity.

"Joe did an enormous amount of work, brainstorming ways to get it out to the community, sending email blasts to get votes," she said. "We're very grateful."

The money couldn't come at a better time, Mercado said.

"During the holidays is when families are struggling, so this money will go toward services they need -- buy more food, clothing, keep people in their homes," he said. "They key is keeping people in their homes. Nothing is worse than being out in the street during the holidays -- or any other time."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix.

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