City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

The WareHouse

Local Nonprofit Provides Teens With Positive Activities, Volunteering Opportunities, And The Chance To Be Part Of The Community.

Over the past two decades, the nonprofit Venice WareHouse has provided thousands of local middle and high school students with positive, drug-free activities and volunteering opportunities. The WareHouse was founded by Executive Director Linda Banister, her son Justin Banister, and long time family friend, Debbie Eaton, based on an experience Justin had when they first moved to Venice. 

“Our vacation destination became home for Justin and I in 2001, shortly after he finished high school. We hadn’t been in Venice but a couple of weeks when he came walking in the house and I could tell that something was wrong. He said, ‘Mom, we have to do something.’ He’d gone to Blockbuster to rent a movie and was approached by a teen who asked to buy drugs from him. Justin let the young man know that was not something he was involved in. They chatted and Justin learned that teens here thought there wasn’t much for local teens to do.”

Linda and Justin opened their home to local teens as a safe hangout spot. Then in 2005, they were offered a portion of a warehouse, which the teens furnished with a small coffee shop, a stage, a pool table and pingpong tables. The group was incorporated as a nonprofit under the name the WareHouse. Though they had outgrown the original warehouse space, the name stuck. 

Today, the WareHouse has a van, meets the 2nd Saturday of every month, has many generous local sponsors, and offers teens free activities like a croquet program with the Sarasota County Croquet Club, bowling nights, USF basketball games, Rowdy Soccer tickets, the Venice Quest scavenger hunt, and much more. The WareHouse team has volunteered with over 250 local nonprofits. It also directs the local Drug-Free youth Rewards Program known as ‘Venice D-Fy’ at Venice High School and throughout the Venice area. 

“This generation is highly interested in being involved in a cause,” Linda says. “We offer them opportunities for that, as well as to learn how to be part of a community.”