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SRQ DAILY Dec 7, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"These intangible gifts are unique to each of us and relate to our own personal stories and experiences: the hug of a family member, the advice of a mentor, a shared smile with a stranger. "

- Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  Season of Sharing Unwraps the Gift of Hope
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

As the liveliness of the holiday season infuses our region with merry jingles and thoughtful wishes, families across our community search for the perfect present to bring joy to another’s life, which we all know doesn’t always come with free shipping on Cyber Monday. That warm feeling of doing something considerate for someone else is simply irreplaceable. I have found that the most meaningful gifts are the ones that cannot be wrapped neatly in a box or tied with a bow.

These are the gifts that come directly from the heart.

These intangible gifts are unique to each of us and relate to our own personal stories and experiences: the hug of a family member, the advice of a mentor, a shared smile with a stranger. During Season of Sharing, a community-wide campaign that for the past 20 years has empowered neighbors to help neighbors in need during times of crisis, these gifts are associated with one word: hope.

While our community is frequently recognized for its great wealth, the stories behind its great need often remain untold. For some four out of ten families in our community, a single paycheck is the only difference between enjoying the holidays from the comfort of home and being thrust into the uncertain reality of homelessness. These are individuals who work tirelessly each day to provide for their families but fumble for stability when faced with an unexpected emergency. Not knowing who or where to turn to, hope can be lost in an instant.

From its inception in 2000 as a partnership between the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune Media Group, Season of Sharing has sought to restore that lost hope by unifying our community behind common goals to become part of the solution. Over the years, Season of Sharing has seen local participation triple, with annual donations exceeding $2 million and more than 3,000 individual gifts, both large and small, powering the campaign, with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation. Thanks to an outpouring of support from our community, including our friends with SRQ Media, Season of Sharing has helped 35,000 families and individuals in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties stay in their homes through nearly $22 million in one-time, emergency funds.

While the holiday season is an opportune time to raise awareness about our community’s chronic needs, we believe giving shouldn’t be limited to one particular season, certainly not stopping after the holidays. In fact, donations collected from November to January continue to support our community’s most vulnerable all-year long, providing timely assistance for an immediate need.

Take Angel’s story, for example. Struggling to raise her two children on her own and facing increased car insurance costs, Season of Sharing was able to keep her family in their home. A similar story of hardship and hope is told by Tasha, a single mother of two, who needed assistance after taking in her brother’s three children. Thanks to our community’s generosity, Season of Sharing was able to help Tasha provide for all five children and stay under one roof.

Though each of their stories is unique, they both reveal a common thread: our community's passion and willingness to change someone's tomorrow today. This holiday season, I hope you’ll join your fellow neighbors in giving a gift that will bring hope and joy long after you’ve packed away your seasonal décor. And while open hearts are encouraged, no gift wrapping is required.

To make a donation or learn more about Season of Sharing, please visit  www.CFSarasota.org. Thank you for your generosity.

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

[Education]  A Time to Celebrate Teachers Who Give Every Day
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

We believe a vibrant and prosperous community is dependent upon the value its members place on high quality education.

And it’s evident our community cares. A lot.

From our vantage point at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, we have seen this value demonstrated in good and bad times.

We have celebrated the successful passage of a tax referendum, community collaborations to improve student outcomes, and myriad student scholarships provided by private donors and organizations.

We’ve also witnessed times when difficult situations call for tough decisions, and concerned citizens persuasively defend their positions and demand action.

In all cases, the forces of energy that advocate on behalf of education are vigorous, potent and powerful.

Now it is time to redirect and channel this energy in support of our teachers.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is privileged to showcase teachers when we host the annual Sarasota County Teacher of the Year celebration.

Teachers are everyday heroes who show up, day in and day out, for students. No matter what is happening internally in the district or externally in the community, teachers are present to give their best. 

They show up and turn down the volume of loud, sometimes contentious discourse to keep focused on what’s most important--educating our youth.

They show up on campuses to instruct, listen, coach, guide, inspire. They show up at school games, plays, concerts, parent-teacher meetings. They open their classrooms at off hours and their hearts at all hours to tutor, mentor, advocate. 

Sometimes a steady teacher is the one reliable adult a struggling student can count on for balance amid life’s noisy intrusions.

Teachers who daily invest themselves to this degree can get depleted. They find replenishment in relationships and connections—with families, their community, fellow teachers and students.

In fact, this year’s finalists for Teacher of the Year expressed a bedrock belief that a teacher must be present and engaged for students to learn.

Marissa Dobbert, 2020 Middle School Teacher of the Year, gave an example: “A student from an unstable, harsh home life came to class angry, aggressive, and often disruptive. I saw his potential and was able to help him realize he was a natural leader who was heading in the wrong direction, and it was within his power to become a leader going in the right direction. We have to be alert to opportunities to redirect.”

In the words of Heather Young, 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year: “You show up every day and don’t ever give up on them even if they want to give up on themselves.”

A student’s words underscored the impact made by Josh Grant, 2020 High School Teacher of the Year: “I had a tough sophomore year, and when I needed guidance he was there to listen without judgment and helped me get the resources I needed. Mr. Grant is trustworthy, opens our eyes to the bigger picture, pushes us to work to achieve the highest possible outcome, and will go out of his way to help a student in need.”

These teachers represent the consistently high caliber of our 2,500-plus teachers who have earned Sarasota County a reputation as an A-rated school district and a vibrant place for young families to raise their children.

If you are unable to attend our December 11 Teacher of the Year celebration, please send a note of encouragement or gratitude to our teachers by email to info@EdFoundationSRQ.org. I will see that your supportive message is shared.  

Let’s take this opportunity to lift a strong, united community voice in appreciation for teachers who show up for our community every day.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County 

Photos courtesy Education Foundation: Marissa Dobbert, Josh Grant, Heather Young.

[City]  Great Performances – The Next 50 years
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

As Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall begins a new season, it’s 50th, I had the good fortune to be in the audience for Tony Bennet’s concert last Tuesday night. Mr. Bennet is 93 years old. When his talented daughter Antonia opened the show with three songs of her own, I began to wonder if we were only going to see Tony for a few duets. But after her fourth song, Antonia said “goodnight” and exited the stage. The curtain parted, and with Frank Sinatra’s voice introducing him, out walked Tony Bennet, blue suit, red tie, full head of hair, a twinkle in his eyes and a big smile on his face.

He loves singing. His first lyrics were “I’m in the prime of my life and I’m having the time of my life” to which the crowd roared in appreciation for the spirit of the 93-year-old crooner. “I’m in the prime of my life, I’m having the time of my life” What a great mantra at any age. Mr. Bennet went on to perform 27 ballads, no breaks, never sat down, never missed a note. As he exited the stage, seeing how much joy was in the house, I thought about how fortunate we have been here on the Gulf Coast for the past 50 years to have such an accessible performing arts hall and all the talent our community has had a chance to enjoy over the decades.

Like Tony Bennet, our performing arts hall is still functioning, but unlike Tony, it’s showing its age and vulnerability to rising sea levels, as it sits near the edge of Sarasota Bay. But now, thanks to a $10 million bequeath to the Van Wezel foundation, from former Ringling Circus star and local philanthropist Herta Cuneo, the planning for a modern new performing Arts Hall, on high ground, set back from the Bayfront, is now underway.

On Monday, the City Commission accepted the first report from the team planning the new Sarasota Performing Arts Hall. The new hall will have more seats, a larger lobby and its front porch will face Sarasota Bay. The current hall will be repurposed. The new complex, which we hope to open within five to seven years, will feature an outdoor amphitheater and facilities to strengthen our youth arts education programs, which served over 30,000 youth on the Gulf Coast last year. Beginning early next year, the new Performing Arts Hall Team will begin a major outreach effort to solicit input on what features the public would like to see at the future Sarasota Performing Arts Hall adjacent to downtown Sarasota. I hope you consider participating. Their mission is to provide a great new facility where you will always feel you are in the prime of life where you can have the time of your life.

Your comments are always welcome. Please email me at: Thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov. 

Art courtesy City of Sarasota.

[SCOOP]  Pilot Program Encourages Homeowners to Plant Mature Trees

To continue to grow the urban canopy, the City of Sarasota is supporting a community-driven pilot program offering an incentive up to $500 for residents who plant and maintain a mature tree within program guidelines. Residents will own the tree and are required to invest $100. Homeowners will purchase the tree and will be required to water, prune and maintain it. The program focuses on planting mature canopy and understory trees with a minimum 2-inch caliper. Planting is limited to the right of way or within ten feet of the right of way. Participants can select from over two dozen approved species, from pink tabebuia to shady lady to live oak. The Mature Tree Canopy Pilot Program is being funded with $50,000 from the City’s tree replacement fund which collects a portion of tree removal permit dollars to be used specifically for urban canopy programs.  

City of Sarasota

[KUDOS]  Impact 100 SRQ Announces 2019 Grant Recipients

Impact 100 SRQ awarded $228,000 in strategic, high impact grants to two local non-profits committed to improving the community. The group of local women philanthropists announced the 2019 grant recipients at Impact 100 SRQ’s annual meeting and grants award celebration. The two Sarasota and Manatee non-profit recipients were selected from five finalists recognized during the meeting. Both receive a grant of $114,000 to support the following community changing programs, The Haven and Mothers Helping Mothers. The final vote to select the two high-impact grant recipients happened after the five finalists delivered a 10-minute presentation to the Impact 100 SRQ membership. Members cast their vote and the two $114,000 grant recipients were immediately announced.  

Impact 100 SRQ

[SCOOP]  Discover Sarasota Tours Adds Holiday Tours For December

Discover Sarasota Tours launches a fun new holiday-themed tour at 2pm Sundays and 11am Wednesdays in December: the Holly Jolly Trolley Tour. Join guide Jenny Jingle for a special daytime holiday tour with cocoa, carols & Christmas stories of Sarasota. Visit city spots with Christmas story connections, hear about our Sarasota traditions during the holidays & sing along to your favorite Christmas songs. Prizes will be awarded for Best Ugly Sweater on every tour in December, so come dressed in your holiday worst. The Holly Jolly Trolley runs 2pm Sundays and 11am Wednesdays in December, with an additional tour at 2pm on Tuesday, December 24. 

Discover Sarasota Tours

[SCOOP]  SMART Receives $3730 Grant from Overwatch Alliance

In November, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, Inc. (SMART) was pleased to announce their receipt of a grant for $3730 from Overwatch Alliance. The grant will be used to support their Warriors in Transition program, which is aimed at empowering veterans with an emphasis on leadership, team building, and physical and emotional wellbeing. “We are so grateful for the continued support of Overwatch Alliance,” said Dee Danmeyer, executive director of SMART. “We are proud of our Warriors in Transition program and the support it provides to our veterans. This grant will allow us to expand our outreach and better serve the brave men and women of our military.” Located in Goodlettsville, Tennessee Overwatch Alliance is a non-profit organization that partners with small, community-based charities to provide support and resources for American military veterans and their families. 

SMART Riders

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Announces Full Event Calendar for The Suffragist Project

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is proud to officially announce the full event calendar for The Suffragist Project: Celebrating 100 Years of the Woman’s Right to Vote. This unparalleled city-wide commemoration of the 19th Amendment has brought together over 55 community organizations, each creating their own artistic, educational, and cultural programming. Inspired by this historic milestone, community partners will host a wide spectrum of events throughout Sarasota and Manatee, including performances, visual art exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, and arts-in-education programming for youth. The Suffragist Project will culminate in August 2020 with The Dangerous Ladies Festival, a weekend-long celebration of the new theatrical work created over the course of The Project. The Festival will include World Premiere public readings of four new Suffragist Project-commissioned plays written by playwrights Rachel Lynett, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Mark St. Germain, and Sandy Rustin. The Festival will also feature the presentation of Dangerous Ladies: The Voices of the Suffragists, a devised theatrical piece created by Kate Alexander and Meg Gilbert.  

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  Loyal Locals Save on Hostess Gifts

Next time you're at the Morton’s Gourmet Market, visit the Gift Department. Rebecca has filled it with her favorite finds, including hostess gifts for that last-minute gathering. As a Loyal local, when you spend $100 in the gift department you will receive a $15 electronic gift card that may be used at either the Osprey or Siesta Village location.  

Morton’s Gourmet Market

[SCOOP]  Bradenton Locals Set to Film New WWII Documentary

Kim Galway, executive producer of Victory Journey, is making strides in the Bradenton/Sarasota community to fulfill the promise she made to her grandfather, World War II Canadian Veteran George G. Blackburn. In interviews on At the Movies with Gus Mollasis, Galway and co-producer David Taylor, share ways in which individuals and companies in the community can sponsor, donate and be a part of Galway’s retracing of the deployment route taken by her Grandfather and Allied soldiers. Galway and the crew will stand where her Grandfather stood on May 8th, 1945 on German soil, in time for VE Day’s 75th Anniversary on May 8th, 2020. In writing three books about his experience in combat, George G. Blackburn’s hope was that his grandchildren and future generations would not soon forget the sacrifices made by the allied troops, the struggles they faced and the battles they fought in World War II.  

Victory Journey

[SCOOP]  InStride Therapy Raises Over $100,000 for Equine Services

Shining a bright light during a cool November night onto the role horses play in physical and behavioral therapies for men, women and children facing a variety of challenges, InStride Therapy hosted the annual signature Black Tie & Blue Jeans, An Equestrian Gala on its beautiful 62-acre Nokomis equestrian center. The event transformed the sand-covered riding arena into a rustic yet elegant extravaganza, raising awareness as well as more than $100,000 for therapeutic services. Attendees were treated to specialty-crafted cocktails, a classic Chef Paul Mattison-catered dinner as well as line dancing lessons, S’mores and auctions. Bronson Arroyo, former Boston Red Sox World Series pitcher, provided the evening’s musical entertainment.  

InStride Therapy

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.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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