Dr. April Glasco of Second Chance-Last Opportunity knows all too well the crises that can hit people unexpectedly. More than 25 years ago, she found herself in an abusive relationship and then facing life as a single mother with four daughters. Sometimes she and her children were forced to live in her car, which was eventually repossessed. “I was trying to find resources, and I had trouble finding any,” she says.
Glasco’s parents helped her begin again, and she opened a convenience store across the street from where Second Chance’s offices are today on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. But seeing the community around her struggling, she says, “I didn’t want anyone else to experience what I had.” Having found her own second chance, she wanted others to have theirs, too.
With experience as a corrections officer, a juvenile detention case worker and a tech at Manatee Glens Hospital, Glasco (who eventually received her master’s in mental health counseling) understood the issues of crime, drugs, domestic violence and unemployment. In 1995, she closed her store, giving away its contents, and established SCLO. The nonprofit organization, supported by foundations and individual donors, offers life management skills training, counseling, after-school youth programs and more. When someone needs a jacket to wear on a cold day, they come to “Miss April,” as she’s called. If they need food, she and her volunteers (many of whom have been helped by SCLO themselves) are there to distribute it.
Her reach extends far beyond the Newtown area. “I get calls from North Port, Manatee, Brandon, Tampa even,” Glasco, 55, says. (In fact, she got a desperate call from a woman in Fort Lauderdale in need of housing as she was being interviewed for this story.)
She makes sure those reaching out to her also help themselves. “She makes you do your part, but she’ll help you all the way,” says Tina Peterman, who had trouble finding work and a home after release from prison when she came to town in 2007. “She got me to her life management class, she got me to the Salvation Army. I got myself into a hole, and she got me out of it. Now I do what I can for her.”