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SRQ DAILY Apr 15, 2017

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"Solutions to government problems are many times generated from the private sector, where innovation is at its best."

- Christine Robinson, Argus Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Hunger doesn't take summer vacation
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

For children in families that are on the edge, when school ends hunger begins.

If you’ve read the news stories and editorials, or you’ve seen the All Faiths Food Bank video campaign (and I sure hope you have), then you’ve heard the message about summer hunger. In our community, as many as 40,000 children will go hungry once school lets out for the year. That figure includes the estimated number of schoolchildren who face daily hunger, plus their younger siblings and others who aren’t included in official counts.

Another way to look at it: every time you see a pair of friends chatting at a bus stop or scrambling about a playground, come early June, one of them won’t always know where their next meal will come from.

That’s because these youngsters will no longer receive the balanced breakfasts and lunches they can get at school each day. Nor will they bring home backpacks, efficiently filled with a weekend’s worth of nutrition, which is something they are routinely offered each Friday during school.

But the hopeful turn in this sad tale is our community’s response through the Campaign Against Summer Hunger. For the past three years, All Faiths Food Bank and a growing group of partners have fed more and more local children through the lean summer months. This 40-day campaign raises funds and food from the community, which are then used to fuel an expanding array of summer-feeding programs that deliver nutrition when and where it’s needed most. This year’s campaign has 30 more days to go.

Now in year four, our community’s commitment is unchanged, but we continue to get smarter, better and faster in how we address the complexity of summer hunger for children. The whole point of feeding kids in need during the school year and over breaks is to ensure that they can grow strong, learn well and reach their full potential. Well, our generous community has fed this annual campaign in much the same way.

As a community, we started feeding over 15,000 children during the first summer, and that has grown each subsequent year, to more than 31,000 last summer. This year, our collective goal is to reach 35,000 children in Sarasota and DeSoto counties with nutritious food for them and their families.

That incredible progress is possible only thanks to many partners:

  • Generous investor-level donors who seed the campaign with matching funds.
  • Sarasota County Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services, a partner from the start.
  • Sarasota County Libraries, which have stepped up to help deliver backpacks and meals to families.
  • Sarasota County Area Transit, which helps promote programs.
  • Dozens of nonprofit agencies that serve as meal sites.
  • Media partners that help spread the word.
  • Businesses and organizations that organize food and fund drives.
  • And the many, many individual contributors to the campaign.

If you think every child deserves the opportunity to have a true summer—one that’s fun, refreshing, and worry-free—please help us reach our ambitious but attainable goal. All donations through May 15 will be matched dollar-for-dollar. You can learn more about the campaign and the issue of summer hunger at AllFaithsFoodBank.org.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Private Sector Solutions to a Public Health Care Problem
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Health care continues to be a concern that affects everyone. We watched the federal government this past month stumble when it came to fixing a system described by both Democrats and Republicans as flawed. Everyone agrees that we have problems to fix, but there was little discussion on solutions. There was a lot of infighting and finger-pointing. It was tough to watch; there is so much at stake for all of us.

The Argus Foundation has a mission statement that includes education on issues affecting our community. We have a speaker series called Meet the Minds that helps us meet the education objective of our mission statement. While we wait for government to act, The Argus Foundation wants to empower our community with options.

On Friday May 5, The Argus Foundation has invited Dr. Lee Gross to talk to us about a health care alternative outside of the Affordable Care Act. This approach is a patient-centered approach that cuts out insurance as a middle man for standard health care. This system of care is called “Direct Primary Care.” Patients travel hundreds of miles to take advantage of this system. It is being used by those who simply can’t afford health care today. It is also being used by those who want an option outside of being dependent on insurance, as well as the costs and lack of choices associated with it.

Last year, I went to a policy conference in Orlando. While I was there, I had the honor at sitting next to Dr. Lee Gross. We chatted and I learned what I could about this system over a short lunch. To my surprise, Dr. Gross has his practice right here in Sarasota County. He practices in North Port while also traveling the country spreading the word about Direct Primary Care. I met him just before he was about to fly out to meet with Dr. Ben Carson to talk about this issue.

This alternative health care system is being noticed on the state level throughout the country. A little over two weeks ago, The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that supports Direct Primary Care. The vote was 107-6, a vote that crossed the political aisle. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Danny Burgess, claims that the bill will promote Direct Primary Care. He describes Direct Primary Care on his Facebook page as an “affordable, innovative new approach to quality health care for Florida's families.”

We invite you to come learn with us about this alternative from one of Sarasota County’s own practitioners. Solutions to government problems are many times generated from the private sector, where innovation is at its best. Come learn from a doctor who is on the cutting edge of an alternative in the medical practice that could change the way we look at health care, while cutting out insurance and government at the same time. www.argusfoundation.org.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  Enrollment trends reflect economy
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

College enrollment trends offer an interesting look at our society. They reflect the economy, unemployment rates, cultural norms and personal preference. Our state and national leaders are focused on getting students through college and into the workforce as quickly as possible. Students are reflecting a different mindset, and at a college like the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, those students are typically already in the workforce and pursuing a degree at a pace they chose.

Enrollment at a community or state college is typically inverse to the economy. When the economy is down and unemployment is high, enrollment is up, as we experienced at SCF from 2008 to 2010. If the economy is strong and unemployment numbers are low, our enrollment decreases. From 2010-16, the declining unemployment rate in Manatee and Sarasota counties mirrors a decline in SCF students’ average credit load. That’s great news for the economy of our region, but a challenge for our college. This trend mirrors state and national averages.

Students are able to work as much as they can, and while they are still enrolling at SCF, they are taking fewer classes each term and deferring degree completion in exchange for economic benefits. In enrollment, we focus on two metrics: headcount and credit load. Headcount represents each individual who enrolls at the college, while credit load accounts for the average amount of credits for which each enrolled student registers. We deem headcount as expense, because the cost to support each student is incurred regardless of how many classes they take. Since we charge tuition based on how many credit hours a student registers for, credit load is considered revenue.

Is there an explanation for this trend of students taking fewer hours beyond the economy and unemployment rate? One theory is that our current students are survivors of the recession; they have learned the value of paying as they go and are avoiding the acquisition of debt. It’s tough to argue with our students making sound financial decisions and prioritizing the opportunity to work over potentially accumulating debt as they pursue a degree. Spread out over time, however, a college degree does become more expensive. When the goal of a college education is to find a higher paying job, deferring a degree costs money in the long run.

At SCF, we’ve begun to take several actions that should positively impact our headcount and credit load in our robust economy. We have a recruiter for each county working with area high schools to not just inform students about SCF, but to educate them on the process of applying for college and financial aid. We have also appointed a dedicated transfer coordinator to meet the unique needs of students transferring to SCF after attending another college or university. These initiatives and many others are bearing fruit as we see applications and enrollments increase for our upcoming summer and fall terms. We’re hopeful that the plans we have for the coming year will build on this momentum as we continue to develop concierge services for our students and defined degree pathways for timely completions.

Students always have a choice. They get to decide how many classes they will take and how fast they want to pursue a degree. At SCF, we will provide the programs and services to support them at their pace and successfully complete their degree or certificate.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[Education]  Remindful Lessons from Teachers
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County this past week hosted the 2017 Teacher of the Year luncheon in partnership with Sarasota County Schools. It was inspiring to witness educators, donors, business leaders and administrators united in celebrating the value of teachers. One expects this annual event to be filled with excitement, but what struck me was the undeniable atmosphere of respect and deep admiration. Everyone in the room recalled a personal and powerful memory of the teacher who made a difference as they watched the award presentations and listened to statements from past winners. It was outgoing Teacher of the Year, Booker High’s Khea Davis, who made me take note of the meaningful, teachable lessons we could learn from this collective group of professionals.

Teachers have a voice outside the classroom. As the respected professionals that they are, teachers are in an enviable position to educate the community and instruct our legislative representatives on issues they are facing, providing innovative ideas from the front line on how challenges can be addressed. Khea Davis inspired us with her passion to “help her babies” by encouraging us to expand these important conversations beyond the school walls.

Teaching is a calling. The United States is facing a teacher shortage and within the field some become discouraged for reasons that may include funding concerns and mandated assessments. Yet, when listening to the compelling backstory of Teacher of the Year for Middle Schools Chris Braun, I learned her heart was in teaching long before she ever stepped into the classroom. She overcame obstacles and persevered in her own educational pursuits to become a teacher. A self-described “late bloomer,” Chris has unmistakably impacted hundreds of students with her selfless dedication.

Teachers are a force of influence. Jerusha Connor, an education professor at Villanova University, states that “ample qualitative research shows that a single teacher can shape the course of a young person’s future, for better or worse.” When Riverview High School’s BJ Ivey accepted the award as the 2017 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, he commented “teachers have the opportunity to inspire new young men and women that we reach every day.” Watching the videos of testimonials from students from elementary to high school, it was easy to see the impressionable impact teachers are making daily.

The Education Foundation is honored to amplify the volume to elevate the valuable role teachers play in our community and grateful to be reminded of such noteworthy lessons.

Jennifer Vigne is executive director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Letter from Lewis Hanan]  STOP! works for Quality Development
Lewis Hanan

I take exception to the letter published by Dave Morgan to the editor of SRQ Daily. It was obviously politically motivated and self-serving. This was a flagrant attempt to denigrate a candidate for the City Commission by attacking STOP!, the city-wide organization which has the endorsement and support of 17 other viable community organizations. His comments are without truth or merit. 

At no time has STOP taken a position against any individual project or developer, nor will we. The organization was founded with the sole intent to promote Quality Development, I restate Quality, by giving the citizens in our wonderful community a voice and an opportunity to have input on new projects that may affect their well being and way of life. Taking this further, it is our goal to promote wider sidewalks and to improve traffic studies in an effort to better deal with the many cars on our roads. How can this be interpreted to be against development? Taking away an individual’s right to speak out on their own behalf is un-American and undemocratic.

STOP! is in no way against quality development. We are simply working to enhance the beauty and safety of our community.

Lewis Hanan is a steering committee member of STOP! 

[Letter from Vald Svekis]  Lawsuits of Kafkaesque merit
Vald Svekis

Having served with Susan Chapman on the Planning Board for some years, I always found her to be the most concerned about violations of the Sunshine Law. I was not at the meeting that was attended by her and [Suzanne] Atwell but greatly doubt the violations she was accused of. It is my belief that a major reason for the lawsuit was her stance on the homeless issue.

The Sunshine Law is much needed but it has to be treated with respect from all sides. Misuse can damage our city and misinterpretation can chill political engagement with the public. Is it really a violation for more than one Commissioner to attend a neighborhood picnic? Could it not be pointed out that the Commissioners in attendance spoke to the same neighborhood people and thus had a method to pass on information to the others there. Would the City settle a law suit with such Kafkaesque merits? More than likely. 

What will happen with the payment of attorney and court fees to the City and Chapman? I am awaiting that chapter.

Vald Svekis, Sarasota. 

[SCOOP]  Zota Beach Resort On Longboat Key Job Fair

The newest beach resort on Longboat Key will be hosting a job fair on April 26, 2017 from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Holiday Inn, Lido Beach Resort. The luxury resort is filling a variety of positions in its culinary, housekeeping, maintenance and guest service areas. This is your opportunity to be part of the opening team at this iconic beachfront location.  Both year-round and seasonal positions are available. To request an application prior to attending, please contact Liz Cotner, Director of Human Resources at liz.cotner@zotabeachresort.com, (941) 387-1677.  On the spot interviews and job offers will occur at the job fair. 

Zota Beach Resort

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Orchestra Announces Midori To Appear in 2017-2018 Season

Sarasota Orchestra announces the 2017 – 2018 season, featuring the appearance of Midori as a violin soloist and a season full of a wide range of musical experiences.The 2017 – 2018 season is composed of four concert series. Highlights of the Masterworks series include a performance by world-renowned violinist Midori and the celebration of composer Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday.This upcoming season for Pops Series includes Principal Pops Conductor Andrew Lane in a concert of The Best of Broadway, guest conductor Jack Everly with the Doo Wop Project, and jazz trumpeter and guest conductor Byron Stripling in a concert entitled The Cotton Club.The eight concert Chamber Series expands to encore performances for select concerts.  The season of concerts featuring small ensembles feature principal musicians of the Orchestra.  The Chamber series features a crossover of guest artist Lukas Vondracek, who is also a Masterworks soloist. The six concert Great Escapes Series  includes Pops and light classics with commentary by the conductor.  Great Escapes concerts will be conducted by Jacomo Bairos, Christopher Confessore, Andrew Lane, and Stefan Sanders.  



Sarasota Opera


Winner! Obie Award for Best New American Play. Winner! National Latino Playwriting Award. Finalist! Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This no-holds-barred satirical comedy slams together big characters, big ideas and thrilling spectacle – and transforms the Cook Theatre into a professional wrestling arena. You’ll have a ringside seat for an invigoratingly over-the-top championship tale that masks a sly allegory about race, class and power. Come root for the underdog at this rowdy, hilarious hit play about America’s heroes and villains. Body slams. Bravado. Brilliance. Don’t miss this extraordinary event! 

Asolo Theatre

[SCOOP]  2017 Great American Cleanup Clean Your Block Party

Keep Manatee Beautiful, which envisions a Manatee County that is a clean, green and more beautiful to live, announced today the launch of the 2017 Great American Cleanup Countywide on April 22, Sat., which is on Earth Day, 9:00 a.m. – noon.  Tree plantings will occur the following week for Nat. Arbor Day, April 28. Entering its 19th year, Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program that kicks off each March with events occurring from spring through fall in more than 20,000 communities across the country. This year’s Great American Cleanup theme is “Clean Your Block Party.” The objective of “Clean Your Block Party” is to encourage local volunteers to build a sense of community pride with their family, friends and neighbors, while making a lasting, positive impact – block by block. Participating affiliates and partnering organizations will provide activity ideas and resources to help anyone conduct a Great American Cleanup event in their own neighborhood. Adopt-A-Highway, Road and Shore groups will be doing cleanups at their adopted sites.  More volunteers are needed to clean, beautify and improve roadsides, shores, parks and neighborhoods throughout Manatee County. Other volunteers can help by arriving at 9 a.m. at any of the following cleanup block party locations which are posted at www.manateebeautiful.com.  

Keep Manatee Beautiful

[SCOOP ]  Rotary Club Grant Enriches Playground, Helps Honor Supporter of Children First

This winter, Children First requested a grant of $8,000 from the Rotary Club of Sarasota to make improvements to the playground at its Orange Avenue headquarters. The Rotary Club funded the request in full, enabling Children First to install a "Merry-Go-Cycle," a magnet wall, and large timber stackers. The new equipment, which is being used by children ages 3-5 years old, is developmentally appropriate and encourages children to learn through play as well as helps them to develop fine and gross motor skills. After the items were installed, Children First used the opportunity not only to thank the Rotary Club but also to honor a longtime supporter. Jo Rutstein served on the Children First board of directors from 2009-2014, serving as board chair in 2012. She and her husband, Stan, have been wonderful supporters of Children First for many years – as donors, co-chairs of events, and friends. To honor Jo's contributions, Children First installed a sign near the new playground equipment, naming the area "Jo's Place." The recent dedication was attended by numerous Rotary Club members and Children First board and staff members. 

Children First

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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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. 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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