BRADENTON -- The new shelter that will house Learn To Fish Inc., a ministry for women and children, is expected to open its doors in two weeks thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Manatee County Rural Health Services Foundation.
"It's made a big difference," said Sherry Schiopucie, an administrative assistant with Learn To Fish. "It will enable us to finish the house we're building."
Located on the 1300 block of 51st Avenue East, it's a one-story home that will accommodate 24 women and children. The temporary shelter holds half that number.
Learn to Fish is a nonprofit that helps indigent, unin
sured women receive treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction. Its programs run three to six months.
"Their mission is consistent with ours -- give people a chance, the opportunity to improve themselves and their position in life," said John Nash, the chief financial officer for Manatee County Rural Health. "It makes sense for us to be involved with them."
The new shelter was once a condemned building Manatee County transferred to Learn To Fish, a reconstruction project that has taken more than a year.
"The building was in such bad shape, we had to rebuild it from the ground up," Schiopucie said. "We were able to do that with a lot of volunteers and donations from the community, churches and some businesses.
"It was an awesome example of the community's generosity."
When Nash initially saw the building, it had been vandalized and he was prompted to act.
"Somebody had cut the copper out of the wiring they'd already paid somebody to install," he said. "So it needed more work, it had a lot of merit and I saw a good opportunity to assist people who are trying to help themselves."
The MCRHS Foundation will also assist Learn to Fish in providing health care services, health education and other resources.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix