Sarasota Magazine: Part One - Light Shining Through Darkness

The following article was written by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and appeared on Sarasota Magazine’s website on September 6, 2022.

When we work together with those in need, specifically individuals with mental health and substance abuse diagnoses, powerful, transformative, and life-altering outcomes can occur. Gulf Coast Community Foundation is honored to partner with Tri-County Counseling & Life Skills Center Inc., a nonprofit that provides mental health counseling and serves individuals who are in recovery from a substance abuse disorder who are rebuilding their lives after being incarcerated.

Tri-County Counseling has been awarded three grants totaling $75,000 from the COVID-19 Response Initiative of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation to underwrite the cost for counseling sessions for individuals who couldn’t otherwise afford to pay. Tri-County Counseling clients receive mental health and substance abuse counseling. The majority of patients supported by these grants are being seen at their North Port office.

Doors to office, plant, mailbox
Tri County Counseling's North Port Office

Tri-County Counseling’s headquarters was established in North Port in 2006 to focus on low-income clients. They see patients six days a week in their North Port office. They employ veterans. Many patients lacked transportation, especially during COVID, and walked to their appointments. Tri-County Counseling offered in-person and video therapy during the pandemic, offering the safest way possible to connect with their clients. They help many clients referred by the Department of Corrections and other community agencies to assist with mental health and substance abuse services. They provide court-ordered therapy sessions for $25 through the grant, free support groups, and aftercare for life so people always have someone to call. They also started virtual groups at no cost for first responders.

Dr. Charlton Cerbone is the chief executive officer and clinical director for Tri-County Counseling and has been in recovery for 14 years. “When we saw our community suffering from high levels of recidivism and relapse, we recognized that we had to start doing things differently to reduce these factors. I began researching peer reviewed studies and utilizing anecdotal experience from experts in our community,” said Dr. Cerbone. “Recovery is the process of overcoming negative emotions and attitudes to realize a positive sense of self and well-being. Environmental requirements are necessary for recovery such as housing and jobs, and personal responsibility, the importance of social support in the community, and developing a wellness recovery action plan and implementing it,” said Dr. Cerbone.

“During the height of the pandemic, I visited Tri-County Counseling in North Port and saw that they were a safe port in the storm for many who are in recovery and/or needed support due to mental health challenges. They stayed committed to their vulnerable patients during a challenging time. Each person they assist has a brighter trajectory for their future, for the future of their family and our community,” shared Jennifer Johnston, Director of Community Leadership at Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Tri-County Counseling is a tremendous example of lifting up people forgotten in our community during the pandemic. They never closed their doors, always found a way to meet the need, and helped individuals transform their lives into triumphant stories of hope.

In part two, you will meet Zack who is traveling on the road to recovery with tremendous success.

To learn more about Tri-County Counseling, visit https://www.tri-countycounseling.org/.


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