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SRQ DAILY Sep 7, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"I have found that one’s home is not always a tangible place or location; rather it is a shared feeling of belonging that follows you wherever your path may lead you."

- Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[On County]  The Myakka Time Machine
Paul Caragiulo

Florida State Statutes, Chapter 258.501  “Myakka River; Wild and Scenic Segment”: The Legislature finds and declares that a certain segment of the Myakka River in Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte Counties possesses outstandingly remarkable ecological, fish and wildlife, and recreational values which are unique in the State of Florida. These values give significance to the river as one which should be permanently preserved and enhanced for the citizens of the State of Florida, both present and future.

The Myakka River; scenic, wild and certainly, surreal. I can’t say remote because it’s not. It’s very close to town.

It’s a different world, not a world of few people, a world of no people. It is right on your doorstep and it’s yours, most of it is on your property. For nearly four years, my friend Jono Miller has invited me on a canoe trip down the Myakka River and unfortunately there was always some issue that prevented it from happening. A few weeks ago we were able to do it.

The Myakka is designated a “Wild and Scenic River,” the only one in the state. This was done in back in 1985. Shout out to the late, great Sen. Bob Johnson. Specifically, the designation recognizes the river’s extraordinary beauty and undeveloped character. It is also protected. From just about anything. And as I said, most of it is on public property. It’s not just a beautiful stretch if water. It’s a time machine. 

My wife and I packed lunch, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and lots of water. We had already left my truck down at Snook Haven off River Road, the float trip’s terminus, before we put the canoe in the water a bit south of the Upper Lake in Myakka State Park just after 9am. Truth be told, there was some additional motivation since, and this will come as no surprise, the water level is high due to all the rain we have had this summer, which makes for a faster ride and a much wider transportation channel down the river.

The 19-mile float down the tea colored river is nothing short of amazing. After floating under State Road 72, we did not come into contact with another soul for nearly six hours. You will, however, see beautiful scenery, lots of birds, fish hitting food on the water’s surface and many of those ridiculous, over-sized lizards that I am not at all fond of. They, by the way, make this really strange bellowing sound, which is quite unnerving when you hear it coming from both sides of the river bank, at least I think it was the gators making that sound. Don’t know…. ask Jono.

You may ask, if it’s such an amazing experience, then why do so few people do it? It’s because there are few places to enter or exit the river and only 30 people a day can sign out to do the trip from the park. It’s not like going to the beach; it takes a commitment. Do it, get out and go enjoy what is mostly your property—but don’t do it by yourself. Take a guide or there are vendors who will take you. Google it. No matter what, take a map, like the paper kind. Jono had one and he kept looking at it. It’s always nice having some idea of where you are.

I couldn’t help but think as I was floating down the river how many times I have heard the question“Why are you paving over the whole county?” or something along those lines. I don’t see how one can say that after floating down the Myakka, so thank you to anyone who had anything to do with protecting that river. And thanks again, Jono Miller!

Paul Caragiulo is a former Sarasota City and County Commissioner. 

[Education]  Fill Out FAFSA to Fund Higher Education
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Nationwide, 661,000 high school graduates in the Class of 2018 who were eligible--but didn’t complete an application--for federal financial aid lost out on their share of $2.6 billion in free money for college, according to NerdWallet, a financial media company.

How is this happening when cost is a top reason many students give for not pursuing or completing postsecondary education?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is key to getting money for postsecondary education, including work-study, government grants and loans, aid from states, and scholarships from organizations and schools.

Fear or confusion about completing the FAFSA or an assumption by some families that they need not bother because their students would not qualify for aid are common reasons given for a lower-than-desired FAFSA completion rates.

The same factors cause some families to miss out on potential state scholarships and grants by not submitting the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA), required for Florida Bright Futures.  

To clear up confusion and emphasize the importance of completing the forms, a community-wide campaign is launching October 1 through the Local College Access Network to provide assistance for all high school seniors and their families to complete the FAFSA and FFAA applications as integral to postsecondary planning.

We are committed to this collaborative, full-press endeavor. Increased FAFSA completion rates are related to higher rates of postsecondary completion, especially among low-income students, which aligns with the strategic goals of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and LCAN. In fact, some states (not Florida) now require that seniors complete the FAFSA as a graduation requirement.

The FAFSA is worth taking the time to fill out. For one thing, financial aid is not just for students with lower incomes. More students are eligible to receive financial aid than their families might realize. Many scholarships, grants and other types of assistance, such as merit-based awards, are not needs-based but require the FAFSA information to be considered.

Another important clarification is that students planning to go to technical colleges are eligible for financial aid; it is not limited to traditional college or university students. 

Students who qualify for Bright Futures scholarships programs, but think they don’t need to complete the FFAA because they are going to college out of state, are advised to reconsider. If they don’t file their FFAA by Aug. 31 of their senior year, they can’t tap into their Bright Futures funds should circumstances change and they return to Florida.

Everyone has a role to play in this community-wide campaign. Volunteers are needed to help families complete the applications. Prior experience with the FAFSA application is not needed. Free training will be provided September 16 and September 19 at United Way of Suncoast office. Go to http://www.LaunchYourPlan.com/fafsa to find specific dates and locations of FAFSA and Bright Futures open houses and register for volunteer training.

The FAFSA and FFAA applications open Oct. 1, and you can apply beginning that day. Helpful links are provided at the end of this column. Because many colleges and universities make priority financial aid decisions by December 1, it’s advantageous to apply as soon as possible.

A series of FAFSA and Bright Futures open houses will be held during the month of October at convenient locations throughout Sarasota County for families that need assistance. There is no charge to students and families. Financial aid officers from colleges will be present to assist with technical aspects, and dual-language volunteer support will be available. 

Don’t let funds go to waste. If you have a senior, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Remember, applications open Oct. 1. Please spread the word to your neighbors, family and friends.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Community]  Packing Home in Your Suitcase
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

There is nothing quite like the energy-filled roar of thousands of fans cheering on in unison their favorite football team. I had my first taste of fall football season this past weekend in New York City when my husband, Mike, and I were visiting our nephew, Trent Jerde. We found ourselves huddled in a crowded Manhattan bar filled to the brink with Iowa fans watching the Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Miami University RedHawks.

The Hawkeyes won, which of course I enjoyed, but watching the game thousands of miles from Iowa City with a group of fellow Iowa supporters gave me the feeling of belonging and of being “home,” a sense of comradery, and that reminded me so much of our Sarasota community. In that moment, I was welcomed by a group all connected to a common passion. Belonging really is where and what you make of it.

When each of us travels or moves to a new town, there is one essential item we all proudly carry that doesn’t fit neatly in carry-on luggage: that precious feeling of being home.

Over my many years of trips and moves, I have found that one’s home is not always a tangible place or location; rather it is a shared feeling of belonging that follows you wherever your path may lead you.

In our home community, there is certainly a lot to be proud of recently. Thanks to the continuous support and generosity of our donors, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County was able to approve nearly $10 million in grants this past month, with more than $1 million dedicated to supporting access for families to needed services and cultural amenities in honor of the foundation's upcoming 40th Anniversary. With these gifts acting as a catalyst for connection, our thoughtful partnerships with more than 60 nonprofit organizations, local schools and universities has created opportunities for people of all ages to uplift and improve their lives through greater access to needed services, as well as educational and cultural programs.

From participating in STEM experiential learning to supporting mental health, these programs bridge ingenuity and diversity to dive deeper and address emerging opportunities. Through strategic grantmaking, our aim is to ignite dialogue between people and across organizations to advance our network of community-wide care and impact. Other areas impacted by these programs include animals and the environment, arts education and enrichment, family togetherness and women’s empowerment.

These contributions made on behalf of our donors, along with ongoing community-wide support of major regional initiatives such as Season of Sharing, EdExploreSRQ and next year’s 2020 Giving Challenge, demonstrate how in our growing community, all of our new friends and neighbors are bringing their unique vision of “home” with them and give their gifts to make our region an even better place for all of us.

Much like how universities forge alliances and team spirit and gather people around a common cause or sports team, I’m proud that our Community Foundation can create allegiances and connections to add to our area’s welcoming hometown feeling that can fit in anyone’s carry-on regardless of what city they departed.   

No matter how many suitcases you have packed in your lifetime, one truth holds true: home is where your heart is. And mine is right here with our generous community.

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Photo: Roxie Jerde (center) watches the game with husband Mike and nephew Trent.

[Philanthropy]  Florida Suncoast for The Northern Bahamas Accepting Donations for Hurricane Relief Efforts

For those looking to contribute to relief efforts in the wake of Hurrican Dorian’s devastating impact on The Bahamas, local business-owner Thomas Bethel, a native Bahamian, has started a grassroots philanthropic organization to help collect, organize and ship much-needed supplies to the island nation.

Called Florida Suncoast for The Northern Bahamas, the organization that started on Facebook just this past Wednesday is currently establishing drop-off points throughout Sarasota and Bradenton for volunteers to donate their time, labor or any number of needed supplies, including medical and hygiene items, bedding and clothes, food and water, and even building supplies to help restore damaged homes and construct new shelters.

Through a partnership with Odyssey Aviation and the Bahamian government, these items will then be flown and shipped to relief workers in The Bahamas.


Through this page, volunteers and donors can also get in contact with Bethel and other organizers, to answer any questions and even volunteer. 

Florida Suncoast for The Northern Bahamas

[SCOOP]  Key Chorale Announces New Associate Conductor

Key Chorale has recently appointed Jamal Sarikoki to Associate Conductor. Conductor, singer, organist, and minister, Sarikoki can be found wearing any number of hats on a given day. Sarikoki also currently serves as Minister of Music and Worship at Venice Presbyterian Church and additionally as the Artistic Director of the Venice Community Concert Series. He enjoys planning ambitious programming and brings in artists from across North America to perform for the community. 

Key Chorale

[KUDOS]  Success at the WCR Sarasota Network Event: Stars, Stripes & Style

On Wednesday, the Women’s Council of Realtors Sarasota Network hosted over 400 attendees at their 26th Annual Fashion Show. While the funds are still being counted, the event has already brought in $30,000 including the funds Goodwill Manasota raised from their Lotto tree. The organization collected fun facts from their runway models this year and learned that one of their male models was a marine for 10 years and part of the VBSS rescue operation of the M/V Magellan Star, where they rescued 11 crew members and captured 9 Somali Pirates. One of the female models was a soldier in the Israeli Defense Army for 2 years and speaks 4 different languages. 

Women's Council of Realtors Sarasota Network

[SCOOP]  Taste Test for the Goodwill Manasota Cookbook

Whether you've just attended a Lunch & Learn and want to get involved, or have been a Goodwill Ambassador for years, you are invited to join Goodwill Manasota for September's Ambassador Meeting hosted by Seaside National Bank & Trust in downtown Sarasota. At the next meeting on September 24, Goodwill Manasota will be picking winning dishes to be featured in their new cookbook. Help taste test yummy dishes and favorite family recipes submitted by their team members. The winning recipes will be featured in the first GoodWellness Cookbook, which will be available in time for the holidays. All proceeds from sales support their mission. You can RSVP online at the Goodwill Manasota website.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Buchanan Announces More Than $1.9 Million Awarded to Mote Marine

Congressman Vern Buchanan recently announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded more than $1.9 million to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota for red tide research. Specifically, the funding for Mote Marine comes as a part of the NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Competitive Research Program. In 2018, a Buchanan proposal to increase NOAA’s competitive external research for red tide by $8 million was signed into law. The project will occur under the direction of Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine. 

Mote Marine

[SCOOP]  Teri A Hansen Named Top 500 Executives Across State

Teri A Hansen, President and CEO of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, was named one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Florida 500, a special recognition that highlights the most influential executives in different economic sectors throughout the state. Hansen joins a dozen philanthropic leaders positively impacting the lives of children and families in their communities. Under her leadership, Barancik Foundation became a major catalyst for improving the lives of the less fortunate in Sarasota County and beyond—spearheading efforts like First 1,000 Days and Here4Youth Mental Health Initiative.  Previously, Hansen transformed Gulf Coast Community Foundation into a regional philanthropic powerhouse that awarded more than $200 million in grants during her 13-year tenure. 

Barancik Foundation

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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