Clearwater Attorneys and Staff of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, Volunteer at Pinellas Hope

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In the spirit of the holiday season, and throughout the year, the attorneys and staff of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett help out the residents of Pinellas Hope.

Matt Donaldson and Tony Viera at Pinellas Hope

Matt Donaldson, fully dressed as Santa Claus and carrying a sack full of goodies, cried, “Ho, Ho, Ho” as he pulled a gift out of his sack for each of the bright smiling faces.

Throughout the year, attorneys Tony Viera, Matt Donaldson, and Sarah Barkley Raaymakers volunteer at Pinellas Hope to assist the people with any legal matters or questions they may have. On Friday, December 7, 2012, Matt Donaldson invited some of the fellow Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett staff to go along and help out during this holiday season. The staff members attending felt to be able to participate in bringing some gifts and spreading a bit of joy among the residents this holiday season.

Pinellas Hope is a program of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which opened on ten acres of land on December 1, 2008. It is a temporary emergency shelter for over 250 homeless men and women located in Clearwater, Florida.

In this safe haven for the residents, they meet with case managers and are assisted with legal issues, job and housing placement. Many of the residents live in tents, while a few who may be disabled have small cottages. There is a large kitchen, several offices and a large covered eating area. The 300 residents receive the use of laundry facilities, computers, telephones, GED classes and medical checkups.

As they walked through the gates they were greeted by grateful residents with big smiles on their faces who were truly happy to see them. The large covered area is surrounded by a row of beautifully decorated Christmas trees. The staff, Carrie Jannazo, Laura Morgan, Mary Ann Bounacos and Megan Sipe, carried bags of goodies to the back kitchen area.

On this sunny afternoon, attorney Tony Viera came in and set up in a nearby office preparing for his appointments scheduled by the staff of Pinellas Hope for that day. Matt Donaldson, fully dressed as Santa Claus and carrying a sack full of goodies, cried, “Ho, Ho, Ho” as he pulled a gift out of his sack for each of the bright smiling faces. His beaming smile and good humor were infectious as he brought the warm spirit of Christmas to the people. It was an inspiring sight to see the residents sitting to speak with him, admiring their gifts and exchanging hugs.

In a story for the Tampa Bay Times written by David Decamp and Stephen Nohlgren, they state that “Success is hard to measure. Organizers say they help move many into long-term housing, but their statistics show that nearly just as many, four of ten residents, are likely to get kicked out, land in jail, or simply disappear." Here, at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, we say “Hooray to the 6 out of 10 who are helped by Pinellas Hope.

The office of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, were happy to help out and to bring a small piece of joy to the community of Pinellas Hope, as it continues in its mission on twenty acres of land to provide a safe living environment for homeless, and will continue to do so.

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