When asked outright, Erin Minor is too humble to name her best qualities, so she texted her family for help. Four brothers quickly typed “courageous,” “driven” and “stubborn LOL.”
That's because Minor, 39, pushed so hard to grow Harvest House. Started 30 years ago by her parents, both pastors, the nonprofit serves homeless families, veterans, at-risk youth and adults with a history of incarceration, substance abuse and joblessness.
“I saw an opportunity for growth and in 2010 I became the executive director,” she says.
Now she’s the CEO of both the Harvest Sarasota, a non-denominational church, and the Harvest House nonprofit. Since taking leadership, she has expanded the group’s reach through collaborations with other nonprofits and additional housing.
Harvest House now has eight campuses with emergency shelters, transitional housing and 25 affordable rentals in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Minor increased capacity in their housing program from 100 beds to 380; in 2021, they served more than 1,000 adults and children with supportive housing and community-based case management.
A new 11,000-square-foot addition on the corner of 17th Street and Beneva Road, called the Life Enrichment Campus in Sarasota, will focus on the wrap-around services crucial to client success. It will have classrooms, offer therapy and house administrative and community-based activities.
During the pandemic, Minor found new resources to help people during the lowest points of their lives. Her goal, she says, is to never turn anyone away.
Minor’s heart for equity isn't just about the nonprofit’s mission. It’s personal. As a gay woman who married her life partner and grew up in the church, she stands at an intersection that challenges beliefs. When she came out to the greater community a couple of years ago, some donors retreated, as did fellow churches. Others stopped attending the church.
But Minor knew that nurturing a judgment-free space that feels like home can restore humanity, giving the hope and confidence needed to rebuild lives. “I’m trying to bring worlds together,” she says. “When I’m in church and I see a trans person or gay couple worshiping the God they believe in without shame, it’s worth it.”
The same judgment-free approach applies to all of Harvest House’s clients. “They need someone to welcome them like family," Minor says. “Months later they have a job, are reuniting with their kids and see that thriving is a possibility.”