Sanctuaryhouse12's Blog


Sanctuary House Overwhelming Community Support

Written by A. Sebastian Fortino In November 2010 SFGN interviewed Jared Cashner, a retired court stenographer and his partner of three years James Sanzeri. Two years ago they founded Sanctuary House, a residence providing sober and safe living for gay men in recovery. Initially they did things on their own, selling their own home, and a car to keep the 1957 property located at N.W. 25th St in Wilton Manors.

“Soon after the article ran calls, emails and checks came flooding in,” said Cashner and Sanzeri, who after only three years start and finish each other’s sentences. “An older lady from Ocala who didn’t know much about gay people but knows when people are doing the right thing even sent us a check.”

Other donations – such as a check for $500 from the South Florida Bears – were welcome surprises for which the couple is very grateful. This is a far cry from when they pawned their wedding rings to pay bills.

The property was a den of iniquity before a sanctuary. Cashner shared stories of finding crack pipes and other paraphernalia buried under rubbish on the grounds of the complex, which consists of three buildings and seven apartments. The facility, the only one of its kind in Florida, currently accommodates 22 men. Yet, there is more to come.

“A private financer recently sent out an architect,” said Sanzeri. “The city of Wilton Manors recently redid the swells, and pavements.” The couple is very modest about the great scope of work they have done, although do admit it’s “very nice to be recognized for our hard work.”

They are not, however, completely alone in their mission to rebuild fractured lives. There are five people on the Board of Directors, including a former resident. In terms of administration Sanctuary House has one full-time employee and one retired volunteer who works in the office.

Furthermore, AIDS Healthcare Foundation established a relationship with Cashner and Sanzieri. Through their contract they are able to hire seniors on a fixed income to act as couriers and bring medication to shut-ins with HIV/AIDS.

“Not only are we able to help the shut-ins and the retirees but 35 percent of the funds allotted to the couriers goes back to Sanctuary House,” Cashner added.

Touring the facility there is a beautiful pool, original to the house, restored through local assistance. The garage –as well as a winnebago – were filled to capacity with wares to sell at one of three flea markets they host annually. What is not sold they redistribute to Out of the Closet and the Poverello Center.

There are fruit trees on the property, also original to the house. A path between the pool and main house, where Cashner and Sanzieri have their apartment, is flanked by tall palm trees while prized ponytail palms stand in front of the house. Cashner has been told the trees are quite valuable. The palms, for instance due to their age and height, could fetch $10,000, yet he will not sell them.

“This place is a sanctuary,” said Cashner. “They add grace and charm to the property – so I won’t sell them.”

At the close of the interview with Cashner and Sanzieri one of their cell phones rang. While it was a beautiful Friday, close to five in the afternoon, their work was not done. They have an arrangement with the Parole Board of Broward County to transfer men directly from the courthouse to Sanctuary House.

“We’ve got two more coming in,” said Sanzieri to Cashner. “We’ll send someone out there to pick them up right away.”

Visit SanctuaryHouse.info to make a donation or learn more.

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