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Behind The Scenes At Women United

The United Way Affinity Group Is Focused On Helping The Region's 'ALICE' Population As It Faces The Eviction Crisis

Nikki Sanders, chair of the United Way South Sarasota County’s Women United, was the headline speaker at the recent Masquerade appreciation event (see photos from the event in our City Scene section on page TK). One of Women United’s missions this year is to help the region’s ALICE population as it faces rising evictions. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, to denote those who are working but still struggling financially.

It’s a situation Nikki knows personally, and she shared her story at the event.

“I was a single mother of two kids and a Vice President at a well-known bank when the financial crisis hit,” Nikki says. “I went from having a home, a nice car, and all the things that go along with success, to falling behind on everything. My car was repossessed. I get so emotional talking about this. It was all just so awful.”

What followed was a seven-year period in which Nikki had to work multiple minimum wage jobs to provide for her children.

“Now I have a successful consulting business (Change Consulting Solutions), but I can never forget that time,” she says. “My message is that this kind of crisis can happen to anyone. It had nothing to do with drug abuse, nothing to do with not wanting to work. I had an MBA and experience. It had everything to do with the economy. I know just how much a little bit of assistance can help. Working parents can pay for after care, keep their family together under one roof and allow their children the stability to focus on school. I want people to know that we are here to help. If you give low-income people and the people who are trying a chance, there's a great possibility they'll become real assets to society.”

To learn more about Women United:

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Christiana Naletko, founder of Naletko Designs & Marketing, and Kelley Shaw, owner of Studio KS, organized  the United Way’s Women United’s Masquerade to show appreciation for the Women United members working to support our area’s ALICE population, which is facing rising threats of eviction. 

“This work is so important to me because I was a single parent who faced eviction issues,” Christina explains. “The misconception is that Venice is an elderly, wealthy, retired community, but younger families do live here and many are struggling.”

“We don’t have affordable housing,” says Kelley. “If one thing breaks and needs to be fixed, these families are done financially. We have over 600 people in South Sarasota County facing eviction right now.”

Naletko Designs & Marketing. 941.234.2242.

KS Studio. 941.786.8053.

Page 2 pull quote: “My parents were part of the ALICE population,” says Kelley Shaw, co-organizer of the Women United Masquerade. “I came home with the lights and water off. I want don't want other children to have to come home and feel that way.”

  • Women United's Christina Naletko and Kelley Shaw
  • Women United Chair Nikki Sanders