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Tallahassee's Sharing Tree Again Looking For A Home And Community Help

Tom Flanigan
The Sharing Tree's present location on Third Avenue

The creative learning organization for young people will be leaving its Third Avenue location at the end of January.

Tallahassee's Sharing Tree, a creative space for kids, is once again facing homelessness. Its Third Avenue location in Midtown will shut down at the end of January, although its executive director remains hopeful for a rebirth elsewhere.
The Sharing Tree was born in a tiny corner of Railroad Square in 2009. Originally offering donated and recycled art supplies to Leon County teachers, the organization ultimately morphed into a creative learning space for area children. One constant through the half-dozen moves and mission modifications has been its Executive Director and guiding light, Carly Sinnadurai. And once again, she and the Sharing Tree face an uncertain future.

"We are going to focus on the positive things that come from these challenges right now. Everyone has a sad story to tell - as do we - and I know our followers have heard my 'hurtfelt' sadness about losing this location."

But Sinnadurai insisted there's reason for hope. That stems from a public plea for help, including an emotional video, that she posted on social media for Giving Tuesday.

"So I asked, if you have any idea, email me, send out a message. And what happened the next day was completely overwhelming in the best kind of way. My inbox was flooded with ideas: 'Have you thought of this? Let me connect you with this person...' Everyone from the Early Learning Coalition to the Tallahassee Museum, everyone had ideas for us."

Sinnadurai said she and the Sharing Tree board are still following up on those suggestions and offers for help. She's convinced the creative expression the facility provides kids is more critical now than ever, especially as the pandemic spreads stress and isolation ever deeper into young lives.

"This is important on so many deeper levels. Creative people, emotional people, if we don't learn how to deal with these things, I fear for what happens in the future. So I know that's why my fight isn't over. I know that our community is going to try and support us. We just need to find that perfect solution."

Even if a perfect solution isn't in the immediate future, Sinnadurai said she'll settle for simply having a new place for the Sharing Tree to call home.

"We need a space that is more affordable during these times. We need more outdoor space for outdoor classrooms because of the pandemic. We need to focus on what families are more comfortable with. We're paying for this 5,000 square foot indoor space and it's not as appealing for families."

Still, for Carly Sinnadurai, the top priority is keeping alive a critical creative resource for the area's young people.

"I didn't work and fight this many battles to give up now. I am not laying down for COVID and I'm not giving up on our children or our community. And I want to prove that to our kids and tell that story one day and they'll go, 'Wow! If her dream can come true, my dream can come true!' And if one kid says that, my life work is done here."