Ashley Rhodes-CourterSubmitted by Elliott Darrow
Ashley is my boss. (I know, crazy for an employee to rave about their boss.) But Ashley is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever met. Her dedication to the foster care system and the Pinellas County Community is like nothing I have ever seen before. After growing up in the foster care system, Ashley became a social worker and created a non-proift organization called The Foundation For Sustainable Families. At the foundation, Ashley helps educate, support, strengthen and sustain families, children, and communities. She incorporates expertise from professionals in child welfare, education, social work, environmental sciences, counseling, parenting, medicine, and the arts; to create access to tools that will help both individual families and groups become stable, self-sufficient, and sustainable. She has taught me that having strong ties to a support system within a family or community is the primary pathway to reversing the cycles of neglect, dysfunction, and abuse that are so costly to a society.
By creating the foundation, Ashley has helped families big and small through times of struggle. Whether it was providing a teen who aged out of the system with a set of dishes and silverware for their apartment, gave kids in poverty haircuts before the new school year, or fully furnished and supplied the necessities of a new baby entering a family in need Ashley has always been there to make accommodations and help others get back on their feet despite Age, Race, Sex, National Origin, Religion, Disability, Pregnancy, Medical Condition, Marital Status, or Sexual Orientation.
Recently we have created a community farm where we educate, give back, and grow. Hundreds of pounds of food has already been harvested in less than a year and we are still growing! Ashley has made it a point that students from as young as 4 to as old as 70 are learning the importance of farming, the techniques and skills involved, as well as ways they can incorporate gardening in their own homes.