James | We have bed
checks here every night.
Jared | We live on property,
we're here in case of
emergency for our clients,
we help them with
everything from referrals to
food stamps right down to
mental health, dentistry, you
name it. Lot of these guys
come in they finally have just
come out of detox, they're
not ready to be isolated and
left alone. This is their place to
reintegrate back into society, to learn how to manage money and that seems to be the first thing to
disappear, when someone falls into drugs and alcohol is the whole responsibility factor of taking care of
yourself. So it's the one thing we push the hardest, employment being the first.
Armando | How many residents would you be able to take at one time?
James | We can house up to (26). We have (3) buildings on property that almost equals an acre of land.
Armando | What sort of non-profit organizations do you hook them (your clients) up with?
Jared | Poverello Food Bank, EDP.. James | Out of the Closet..
Jared | Henderson Mental Health..,um James | Bridges of Wellness..
*The Sanctuary House offers the Joseph C. "Buddy" Sanzeri Jr. Memorial
Fund (named in honor of James's brother who suffered a drug abuse related
The scholarship is offered to anyone who needs assistance (2) weeks in, while the
House helps them find work, the fund helps provide the purchase of clothes for
they can get up and be a part of society too. That's just how we feel about it. I'm (1) of (11) children, you
know when you were raised like that everyone had to pull their own weight or nothing worked.
Armando | Do you have a time limit for how long a resident can stay @ Sanctuary House?
James | There is no time limit on this sort of thing...usually when the clients feel that they're ready to go
back out and live as productive members of society, that's when the moment arrives.
Armando | What kind of political outreach have you had from local government if any?
James | ...the community that's actually been involved in this place...this was a test by fire! They wanted to
see if we'd actually stick it out and do what we said we'd do. For the (4th) time some body's tried this, the
only difference is we actually wanted everybody involved. The city commissioner, Commissioner Newton
just donated items out of his house for our yard sale. We've had city commissioners, former mayors, and a
few judges come through here.
As we concluded our interview, I asked the gentlemen if they had anything that
they would like to add, "You know we're just getting started...I think if we continue
on the track that we're going that this place will be here long after us."
I was then taken on a tour of the property and had an up close & personal look at the residential units, as
well as a couple of the residents themselves. And by the way, a shout out to the scantily-clad resident who
was trying to cool off, 'thanks for the view, it was not bad'. The grounds offer multiple living quarters, a pool,
a stage, a BBQ and picnic area, as well as a gym space for working out! It's simply fantastic so look out
Betty Ford! And construction is far from done. The House was also recently donated a Winnebago, which
Jared and James plan to perhaps incorporate into field trips and travel excursions for the residents, looking
towards the future.
Since opening it's doors, Sanctuary House has assisted over (94) people reintegrate themselves and
rebuild their lives. On their revamped website Jared states, "We hope that a stay with us will evoke both a
need and desire to return to independent living with the confidence that former clients now enjoy. We know
that making a decision to alter your life can be stressful, at times; and our goal is to make your stay the
beginning to great things."
bank rented another apartment in the same building and it kind of just took off from there.
*Having took note of Jared's multiple rentals of the apartment units, City
First Mortgage of Hollywood, FL (which had the property originally listed
just @ $1.4 million dollars), offered the property to Jared for $336,000 and
advised Jared to put down whatever deposit he could, City First Mortgage
maintained its offer of holding the note on the property*
Armando | And how long ago was this?
James | We've been open just about (2) years now
Armando | And how did Tim come into this?
Jared | <laughs> We met at a social function and in the course of conversation, they asked if I
knew of a place where they could rent a stage for a benefit. And I said yes, I actually have (1) in my
warehouse and once I found out about the organization I said I would donate the stage. We got a
rapport going at that point.
Tim | I told them that I had recently started an events company and that I would help them in the
future with fundraisers, helping them brand it and build it!
Armando | What different kinds of people traffic do you have that comes through here?
Jared / We're a VERY community based organization, we're the only non-profit halfway house that I
know of that targets gay men in recovery. We chose that road simply because, I worked as a
criminal court reporter for most of my adult life. And the one thing that I found was that gay tenants
were coming through they were being misplaced. Being placed in homes that were violent or
abusive and there was no safety factor without a lot of hiding or having to be dishonest about who
you are. From there I felt that it was something necessary, it was just necessary in our community
here in Wilton Manors (Fort Lauderdale).
Jared | We tend to gear towards drug and alcohol rehab, we have a good rapport with both hospital
and state, and out of state who refer clients to us due to our geographic situation. We live in a city of
gay men, gay men and women. This is a haven. And the city,
MIAMI RIVER INN
Out in the Tropics
June 7-11, 2010
www.ambiente.us JUNE| JUNIO 2010
Jared Cashner and James Sanzeri are Changing Lives &
Attitudes |Owners of the Sanctuary House, Fort Lauderdale
by Armando Diaz
Near the heart of Wilton Manors, driving past 116 NW 25th Street (just west of Andrews
Avenue), you might not think twice to look upon it. You might not think it anything aside
from another "fixer-upper" in the ravaged real estate landscape of Fort Lauderdale.
However 116 NW 25th Street is not only an example of how to once again, NOT judge a
book by it's cover. But it is also a beacon of perseverance, hope, and determination.
The House was founded by Jared Cashner (45, a native of Kentucky) and his partner
James Sanzeri (21, born and raised in Sunrise, FL), Sanctuary House's evolution from
a dilapidated and abandoned crack house into the beautiful manifestation it is
becoming today, is nothing short of an exercise in will power and confidence. Those
are the very elements that Jared and James inspire daily upon their clients also
referred to as "sanctuary residents".
The Sanctuary House's mission statement reads that, "The binding
mission... is a resolute commitment to excellence while
providing structure and direction for a life absent of the strain
caused by addiction".
I met with the couple on a balmy June afternoon, over nicely prepared sandwiches,
empanadas and refreshments. Sitting in with us was also Tim
Harisses, who runs an area
events coordination and
promotions firm, which has
been instrumental in the
marketing and branding of The
Armando | What was the birth
child for Sanctuary House, how
did it all come about?
Jared | It actually came about by
accident, we had a friend who
had been down and out,
displaced and he was
homeless. We weren't sure
about inviting him into our
home, so instead we went to go
rent him an apartment in what
was a just dilapidated and not at
it's best. And we rented the
apartment and put him in there
to help him out part time. Well
before we knew it, he had called
a few others whom he had told
about us and we called the
well they weren't too thrilled at the first thought of having us here when they saw all the work and how many
other community partners got involved so quickly. From different churches to different civic organizations to
total strangers who'd send us checks in the mail and this is how this all came to being right down to the
chair that you're sitting on. We actually invite our police on property, they come by all the time by invitation,
they meet our guys and they realize that they're here for the right reasons and we can get them help. Wilton
Manors Police has done just that, they are truly one of our biggest allies.
Armando | What's your specific role or title would you say then?
Jared | I own the property and am essentially the general manager, James handles all the daily
Armando | Now myself and our readers in trying to understand the functions within the Sanctuary House,
would you call yourself mentors?
Jared | That's a good question.
James | Yeah.
Jared | I don't think mentor is the right word, we live our lives like we're supposed to live, and we don't
expect more or less from anybody else that lives here. We (ourselves) follow the same rules. We have
curfew every night, 11 o'clock.
job interviews, food, and transportation, as well as the cost for the primary need to
see a doctor. The scholarship has reached up to $4,000 dollars and is issued to
qualified applicants multiple times per year*
Armando | So you're close knit with pretty much all the major LGBT groups in the area?
Jared | Absolutely we would not have been able to survive without them. I'll give you a prime example we
have our van that was donated to us b/c they heard that our older van was broken down, and even being
brand new they donated it to us. We use it during the day to make some money doing some courier
delivering, it goes right back into the homeless fund. We have a flea market that takes place here every
other month...we've never taken a dime of government money. We live off donations and what we earn for
Armando | The residents that are here are they different age groups?
James | Yes they are we've had residents as young as (18) we've had residents as old as (72), the key is if
they want help and are willing to accept help then we'll help them.
Armando | Now do you all have the rules of a 12-step program installed here?
James | Yes we do, we have a Sunday meeting here at 6 o'clock every week. They're required to attend (4)
outside meetings weekly with a sign in sheet managed by the chairperson of that particular group. But not
rules, I would call it more...guidelines.
Jared | Curfew... we all have to live by a curfew. We all have to go to work every day. Whether you're
employed or not that's still a part of life. Getting up and cooking for yourself and cleaning for
yourself...integrating back into society minus the drugs and alcohol, and there's a lot here to do! We have
the Fuzion Club (great social club), Java Boys (great social area...I spend a lot of my hours there! We have
sober league bowling, sober league softball teams...we have the GLCC here. This is our home
Armando | Is there anything that would be considered a violation by a resident?
Jared | Yes, bringing drugs and alcohol on to the property...
James | Not coming home by curfew and/or missing a bed check.
Jared | We're willing to get up and we care enough about this to work second jobs and be here all
afternoon and working on this house non-stop...working on their schedules, finding them referrals..