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SRQ DAILY Apr 24, 2020

Friday Weekend Edition

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Friday Weekend Edition

"Now I'm technically an asylee. I have a driver's license, a work permit, and in a year I can apply for a green card and work towards citizenship."

- Aiham Kara Hawa, 2020 Ringling College of Art and Design Graduate

[Local Artists]  Ringling College Graphic Design Senior Finds a Home

Aiham Kara Hawa was a small boy in 2011 when protests erupted in Syria. Then the bullets started flying. “Some nights you could hear gunshots,” he remembers. By mid-2012 things had gotten so bad that he, his mother and two siblings fled to Lebanon, then Egypt. They tried to establish themselves there for a year, but Egypt too found itself mired in political upheaval and widespread violence. By the time his father tried to join them in Egypt, the country had stopped accepting refugees from Syria, so the family reunited in Turkey. They learned Turkish, Kara Hawa and his siblings enrolled in Turkish schools and his parents found work, but their relative peace and stability in Turkey would be replaced by a different struggle. “By the time we got to Egypt I knew I was gay,” says Kara Hawa, “and that got me in a lot of trouble with my family.” To protect himself, he told his family it was just a phase. By 16, he had already fled a warzone in Syria and avoided the fallout of a coup in Egypt—now he had to flee to be himself. “I felt isolated and defeated,” he says.

Then he heard about United World College, a charity with 18 schools and colleges around the world that offer two-year residential programs for people aged 16-19. Graduates attain an IB diploma and can specialize in any number of subjects—Kara Hawa applied and got a full scholarship to the Maastricht campus in the Netherlands. “I had the time of my life,” he says, “everything was new and liberating.” He studied graphic design and in 2016 when it came time to pick from among hundreds of colleges and universities affiliated with UWC, he chose a little art and design school in Sarasota. “I applied, Ringling gave me a scholarship and I’ve been here ever since,” he says. But getting here and staying has had its own obstacles.

It took two visa applications before he was approved. Then in 2018, the embassy closed in Syria and his visa renewal looked unlikely. Asylum would be his only path to remaining in the US in a protected, long-term status, but there were no lawyers around that could take his case pro bono. In his desperation, he turned to GoFundMe to try and raise money for one. “I never thought it would work,” he says, “but in one week we raised $9000.” Last summer he interviewed at an immigration office in Miami and just last month, on March 16th, learned his asylum application was approved. “Now I’m technically an asylee,” he says, “I have a driver’s license, a work permit, and in a year I can apply for a green card and work towards citizenship.”

Kara Hawa is poised to graduate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic hardly seems to register as a concern. “I think what happened in Syria prepared me for this,” he says, “and [COVID-19] is easier to live through than a warzone.” With internet, water, electricity and safety, he has a lot to be grateful for. “I just try not to take it for granted,” he says. After graduation he has something else to be grateful for: his first career with a design firm. “It’s so rare for people from my background to get this far,” he says, “but so many people have been supportive of my journey and I’m so excited to make Florida my home.” 

Photo by Matthew Holler.

For more about Aiham Kara Hawa.

[Art Online]  Art Center Sarasota Brings Art to the Community

When Art Center Sarasota had to close suddenly in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center’s staff quickly went to work to find ways to make the art a virtual reality. The center had just installed four ground-breaking exhibits when it shut its doors. “The artists in our curated and juried exhibits were extremely disappointed that they wouldn’t get the audiences they expected to see their work,” says curator Nathan Skiles. Curator Dustin Juengel says that solo exhibiting artists “spend over a year creating a new body of work just for their exhibit here. To give these artists some of the attention they deserve, we decided to make video tours of all the galleries.” With this challenge, exhibitions coordinator Danielle Dygert went to work videotaping every piece of art in the building. She created gallery tours of each gallery, collected voiceovers from the solo artists and edited it all into four separate tours. The juried show tour is especially creative as she held the camera on each piece, assigned a number and included a gallery guide on Art Center Sarasota’s website that informs viewers of the artist, title and price of each piece. Elizabeth Goodwill, the center’s education director, gathered her team to design online educational programs for adults and children. They created “Art Café,” currently offering free interactive art activities that features art projects, creative challenges and art inspirations from staff members. Her team is also working on designing interactive art classes and artist demonstrations. Goodwill is also preparing online discussion groups, including the popular “Salon d’Art,” and a new discussion group based on New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz’s book, How to be an Artist. The team is also working on projects specifically for children in the event that the center’s Creative Kids Summer camp is not available this year. “One of the bonuses of creating all of this online content is that it can be utilized even after the pandemic is over,” says Goodwill. “Individuals, senior centers and anyone who is homebound can enjoy doing art projects, see our galleries or listen to talks whenever they need a diversion or a lift.” “I am so impressed with the creative and technical skills of my team,” says Lisa Berger, Art Center Sarasota’s executive director. “This was truly a group effort on the part of the entire staff. Using video conferencing we were able to meet regularly to brainstorm and maintain the comradery and collaborative efforts we have when we are all together in person." 

Visit the exhibits online and access lessons online.

[Change to the Season]  Asolo Rep Announces Changes to 2020-21 Season

Asolo Rep announced today that one of the plays originally named as part of its 2020-21 season has been taken out of the lineup.  Originally scheduled to perform in the Cook Theatre in March/April 2021 “Trayf,” by Lindsay Joelle, has been canceled. The change was made for budgetary reasons related to show cancellations this season due to the COVID-19 virus. "The change was a heartbreaking one to make, but we realized we needed to remove “Trayf” from the schedule to ensure that we could meet the production needs of the other seven plays on the season roster,” said Michael Donald Edwards, Producing Artistic Director. “At this time, we remain open to the possibility of replacing it with a different production in the Cook Theatre during the 2020-21 season, and we very much look forward to producing “Trayf” in a future season." Celine Rosenthal, originally named as the director of “Trayf,” will now direct “Grand Horizons” in place of Giovanna Sardelli.

Asolo Rep 2020-21 Season

BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL: November 18 – January 2. Ken Ludwig’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS: January 13 – March 13. GRAND HORIZONS: January 20 – March 15. OUR TOWN: February 10 – March 27. HOOD: April 9 ­– May 1. KNOXVILLE: May 14 – June 5. SUMMER FAMILY PRODUCTION  To Be Announced . 

For more info.

[The Giving Challenge]  Perlman Suncoast Invites Support During The Giving Challenge

This year, we celebrated the 10th season of our inspiring and interactive education outreach programs: PMP Alumni: In Schools and PMP Alumni: Around Town!

The programs are a part of an ongoing collaboration with The Perlman Music Program, to fulfill our mission to bring accessible world-class classical music to the Suncoast. All of the musicians have been trained by PMP, and many are alumni of the Winter Residency program presented on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, so they are familiar to our community and audiences! A kind of wonderful full circle of training-to-performance, all here in our area!

With invaluable support from our sponsors, donors, and members, Perlman Suncoast produces at least three week-long PMP Alumni visits annually, with many events, including all school visits, remaining free of charge. This year, despite postponing our April events, we were able to reach a record number of audience members up and down the Suncoast!

Last November, the PMP Alumni ensemble named the Sara Quartet joined us. They delighted audiences in two school auditoriums, four music classrooms, and eight community venues over the course of a very busy week. From the string students in the master class at Booker High School at the crack of dawn (7:30am!) to the 1200 people in lawn chairs at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Sara Quartet brought smiles to the young and young-at-heart!

As for the impact on a more personal level, our local students were excited to see and meet the Sara Quartet and teachers shared glowing reports about how much the visits meant to their students. As for the community performances, the positive energy and buzz of excitement from our audience members seemed to grow with each event - a testimonial to the musicians' exceptional talent, skills, and charm.

So with that in mind, you are in for a treat as we bring you our "Notes" for this week! Scroll down to find this week’s Perlman Suncoast Presents: In Your Home, linking you to a recording of the Sara Quartet performing live during a broadcast radio interview with Russell Gant in the Classical WSMR Radio studio. Included with this interview is a performance of two movements from Dvorak's "American Quartet." The Sara Quartet plays these pieces so sweetly, we feel sure this beautiful music will brighten your day!

As a quick reminder, Perlman Suncoast will be participating in the 2020 Giving Challenge taking place next week, April 28-29, noon to noon (24 hours ONLY). Gifts $25-$100 are eligible for a 1:1 match thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation. All gifts will support presenting Perlman Suncoast education outreach programs like the ones featured in today's email. -- Also worth noting, part of the Cares Act expands charitable giving tax deductions. Please consult with your tax advisor for details. 

[Giving Back]  Cassidy Family Funds $20,000 to Care for Therapeutic Horses During COVID-19 Pandemic

Sherry Cassidy has fond memories of her time spent with horses. When she and her brother, Bruce Cassidy, Jr., were teens, they participated in 4-H and Quarter Horse shows throughout high school and college. Sherry enjoyed spending time in equestrian activities, and it helped her to overcome her shyness. It was a family affair that the entire family enjoyed, including her parents, Bruce Sr. and Cynthia Cassidy.

As time passed and the Cassidy’s settled in to the Bradenton/Sarasota area from Ohio, finding a horse-centered organization to give back to was an easy choice. The family was introduced to the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) in 2011 by the Manatee Community Foundation. They have been partnering with SMART for nearly a decade now, covering veterinary bills, adopting horses, and supporting programs. They even donated “Buddy Cassidy”, a beautiful Paint Horse that quickly became a favorite with SMART’s riders, children and adults with special needs who find connection and healing through these majestic animals.

SMART’s brand-new executive director, Rebecca Blitz, hasn’t met the Cassidy’s yet. In fact, she hasn’t met any of her donor partners or volunteers, but it’s not for a lack of desire. When she took the reins at SMART on April 1, it was more than two weeks into one of the most challenging periods of our lives—the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Having already canceled SMART’s major fundraiser of the year in March, Blitz has quickly found herself in need of some horse-loving angels who can help support the herd of fifteen animals who continue to need feed, care and veterinary services, even though the facility is closed to protect the health of students and volunteers.

Responding to the call for help was an easy choice for the Cassidy’s, whose Concession Charities 501(c)(3) organization had just come off of their successful Archie Griffin Celebrity Golf Classic fundraising event at The Concession Golf Club in early March to help organizations that support young people. Concession Charities last week provided SMART with a $20,000 check to help care for their horses, which will cover just about a month and a half of feed, boarding and veterinary services.

“Not knowing how long this situation will last is what’s most scary about what we’re facing,” Blitz explained. “This gift from Concession Charities gives us a bit more time to find additional support to care for our horses so that they can be ready to bring a sense of peace and normalcy to our students when they return to ride. We are truly grateful.”

Because their biggest fundraiser of the year was canceled in March, SMART could use more donations to help keep horses healthy and ensure that their programs are up and running as soon as possible once our community is safe. The organization could also benefit from additional volunteers when they reopen to help out around the barn to support those who currently give their time to care for the horses and may need to shelter at home for a bit more time once restrictions are lifted.

To keep up-to-date with videos on daily happenings at SMART, join Rebecca Blitz on their Facebook feed at Facebook.com/SmartRiders. For volunteer information, visit SmartRiders.org or call 941-322-2000. And consider making a donation from noon to noon, April 28 through April 29, at GivingPartnerChallenge.org, where The Patterson Foundation will be providing a 1:1 match for donations from $25 up to $100 per individual donor. 

For more info on SMART.

[The Giving Challenge]  The Ocean's Future is In Our Hands and Yours

On April 28-29, from noon to noon, we will once again participate in the community-wide day of giving known as the Giving Challenge. This is a very special opportunity for the Mote family this year, with generous matches that triple individual gifts of up to $100.*
When you pledge now, you will receive a personal reminder email and phone call on April 28. If you prefer to pledge by phone, please call (941) 388-4441, press 2, and then dial 309#.
Your generous support ensures the ocean's future is in our hands, and yours. Please be the one to pledge your support today and join us on April 28. 

Visit Mote Marine's Giving Partner profile.

[The Giving Challenge]  #myplayersstory Highlights The Players Centre for Performing Arts’ Impact in the Community

The Players Centre for Performing Arts is excited to participate in the 2020 Giving Challenge. From April 28 at noon to April 29 at noon all gifts from $25 to $100 will be matched 1:1. The 2020 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

To raise awareness about the important work The Players does all-year, they have started a social media campaign called #myplayersstory. With a 90-year history, The Players has shared numerous performances with the public, but the impact made by donors behind the scenes is personal. Through the #myplayersstory campaign, the community is sharing how The Players has made a difference in their life whether through a performance, volunteering, or education. Please visit Instagram and Facebook (@PlayersCentre) to read stories directly from Players volunteers. The Players Centre holds a special place in the heart of this community, and it’s abundantly clear when reading the words of The Players Centre family.

In addition to these heartfelt stories, check out some musical numbers and scenes from past shows. The quality and joy in the performances illustrates the commitment to live theatre The Players has provided for 90 years.

COVID-19 forced The Players to close multiple shows and The Players Studio. The financial losses are huge for a non profit community theatre. The Giving Challenge comes just in time to help overcome this crisis and remain prepared to continue The Players mission to entertain, educate and engage through high quality live theatre. 

Donate to The Players Centre.

[Recognition]  Sarasota Forest Champion "Canopy Meg" Selected for Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability Celebration of 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

Globe-trotting forest champion "CanopyMeg" -- Dr. Meg Lowman, Executive Director of the Sarasota-based TREE Foundation -- has been selected by Arizona State University's Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability as the special guest speaker during its month-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. ASU ranks top in the U.S. and fifth in the world in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and as an internationally-recognized thought-leader on global sustainability though forest conservation, Dr. Lowman will discuss the TREE Foundation's international mission to create 10 canopy walkways around the world using the Myakka River State Park canopy walkway, which the foundation built in 1999, as the model. The free, hour-long talk is part of the school's Wrigley Speaker Series and will be broadcast via Zoom and available to thousands of participants across the globe on Tuesday, April 28, 2 p.m., Mountain Standard Time. Online registration is required at https://asuevents.asu.edu/content/moved-online-life-treetops-adventures-woman-field-biology

Dr. Lowman was also featured in the Miami Herald on Earth Day, April 22, in an opinion essay she co-authored with famed oceanographer and marine activist Dr. Sylvia Earle. The op-ed marks the launch of the TREE Foundation's Mission Green initiative to save the planet by saving forests. The op-ed is found at https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article242176696.html.

An Adjunct Professor at ASU's School of Sustainability, Dr. Lowman's talk will also highlight whole-forest exploration and how research is used to create sustainability practices on local and global scales, such as designing canopy walkways to encourage ecotourism for local income instead of logging. The Myakka River State Park canopy walkway serves as a model for forest research and education across the globe.

Wrigley Lectures are typically presented in person on the ASU campus. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ASU restructured the event as a virtual one with the potential to engage thousands more participants. The event will be re-broadcast in entirety on ASU's social media on Thursday, April 30 at 4 p.m., and again at 5:30 p.m., both in Mountain Standard Time. Wrigley speakers are leaders in their field and past Wrigley speakers have included best-selling author Michael Pollan, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, recipient of the 2014 Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. 

For more about the Tree Foundation.

[Board of Directors Announcement]  Florida-Based, Publicly-Traded, Growing Company, Taps Tampa Partner Greg Yadley to Join Board of Directors

Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP is pleased to announce that Helios Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIO), a global industrial technology leader that develops and manufactures solutions for both the hydraulics and electronics markets, today announced that its Board of Directors appointed Gregory C. Yadley to the Board, effective April 20, 2020, and a member of the Governance and Nominating Committee.

Philippe Lemaitre, Helios’s Executive Chairman of the Board, in welcoming Greg and two other directors to the Board, stated that, “We anticipate that their insights will prove invaluable as we navigate these historic times in the near term and drive toward our strategic goals in the long term.”

Greg has practiced corporate and securities law for over 40 years and has been a partner with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP since January 1993. Prior to entering private practice, he served as Branch Chief at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Assistant General Counsel for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, both in Washington, D.C. Greg currently serves as a member of the SEC’s Advisory Committee on Small Business Capital Formation. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the George Washington University Law School. Helios Technologies, in its press release, noted that Greg “brings to the Board broad experience with respect to securities, corporate governance, financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, internal investigations, contract negotiations and disputes, strategic planning, and general corporate matters.”

Helios Technologies is a global industrial technology leader that develops and manufactures hydraulic and electronic control solutions for diverse markets. The Company operates in two business segments, hydraulics and electronics. The hydraulics segment markets and sells products globally under the brands of Sun Hydraulics in relation to cartridge valve technology, Custom Fluidpower with regard to hydraulic system design, and Faster in connection with quick release coupling solutions. Global Electronics brands include Enovation Controls and Murphy for fully-tailored solutions with a broad range of rugged and reliable instruments, such as displays, controls, and instrumentation products. 

For info on Helios Technologies and information about its associated companies.

[Real Estate]  RE/MAX Alliance Group Ranks #1 in Florida

Once again, RE/MAX Alliance Group has been ranked the #1 RE/MAX franchise in Florida for both transactions and sales volume. An independently owned franchise with 11 offices on the Florida Gulf Coast, the company also placed #9 nationally in closed transaction sides. In addition, RE/MAX Alliance Group was nationally recognized in the REAL Trends list of top 500 U.S. brokerages, based on 2019 data. RE/MAX Alliance Group placed #164 by transaction sides and #191 by volume, closing 4,686 residential transaction sides and $1,461,551,461 in sales volume. REAL Trends 500 is an independently verified compilation of the nation’s leading residential real estate companies. “We’re proud to place among the top firms nationally in a very competitive industry,” said RE/MAX Alliance Group Co-Owner Ron Travis in the Bradenton, Florida, office. "It’s a privilege to be included in this elite list and it’s a testament to the expertise and professionalism of our dedicated associates.” RE/MAX also made the REAL Trends Top Movers list, ranking #39 for largest increase in transaction sides, #46 for largest percentage increase in transaction sides, #42 in largest increase in volume, and #40 in largest percentage increase in volume. RE/MAX Alliance Group is the #1 RE/MAX franchise in Florida and the #1 RE/MAX franchise in Florida for contributions to the Children’s Miracle Network. The company offers residential and commercial real estate solutions throughout Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. 

For more info.

[Recognition]  Scott Pinkerton Names to Barron's Top 1,200 Advisors List for 12th Time

Scott Pinkerton, the managing partner FourThought Private Wealth, (a part of the FourThought Financial, LLC family of companies) has been named to the list of 1,200 top U.S. financial advisors by Barron’s.com and Barron’s Magazine for the 12th time. The list can be found at Barrons.com/report/top-financial-advisors/1000/2020. According to Barron’s, its rankings are based on data provided by over 4,000 financial advisors. Ranking factors include assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, and client retention. Pinkerton adds the Barron’s recognition to his recent listing on Forbes’s 2020 list of “Best in State Wealth Advisors.”* He was ranked #17 out of 115 in the north Florida region, which encompasses markets including Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando, Jacksonville and the Florida panhandle. He is the only nominated wealth advisor who made the list who practices in Venice, FL. Pinkerton stated, “It is always an honor to be personally recognized by Barron’s but speaking for our entire team at FourThought Private Wealth, it is especially gratifying because it is a reflection of our commitment to putting our clients’ best interests first. When you prioritize their needs, inclusion on Barron’s is the result.” A lifelong resident of Venice, FL, Pinkerton has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He was educated at Wittenberg University and at the Wharton University School of Business. Pinkerton holds professional designations including Certified Financial Planner™, Certified Investment Management Analyst® and Certified Private Wealth Advisor®. 

[Recognition]  Elizabeth Van Riper Awarded Certified Residential Specialist Designation (CRS)

Elizabeth Van Riper, Realtor® of Michael Saunders & Company has been awarded the prestigious Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation by the Residential Real Estate Council, the largest not-for-profit affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Only 3% have earned this credential nationwide. Real estate professionals who receive the CRS designation have completed advanced professional training and demonstrated outstanding professional achievement in residential real estate. Homebuyers and sellers can be assured that CRS designees subscribe to the strict REALTOR® code of ethics, have been trained to use the latest tactics and technologies, and are specialists in helping clients maximize profits and minimize costs when buying or selling a home. Elizabeth Van Riper is a member of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee and has expertise selling properties throughout Sarasota County. In addition to the prestigious CRS designation, she holds the GRI (Graduate of the Real Estate Institute), RENE (Real Estate Negotiating Specialist) and the CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist). “I love my career,” said Van Riper. “When asked what I specialize in, I respond, ‘Assisting people navigate their lifestyle transitions with grace!’” 

For more info.

[Best of SRQ]  Readers Choice: The Best Special Occasion Cakes

These winners take the cake! You’ll want a piece of our Platinum Best of SRQ winner CAKES BY RON. Our Gold winner MORTON’S will bake you crazy, and don’t forget to buy candles for the creations at our Silver-winning baker A SLICE OF HEAVEN.

Our readers weigh in: Scott S. (on Cakes by Ron): He can make whatever you can imagine! Kassandra Burdwood (on Cakes by Ron): Every specialty cake is unique, beautiful and tastes amazing. There is no compromising here. The end product is always perfect. Gail Hoey (on Morton’s): Marvelous ingredients and decorating skills make their cakes exceptional. Camden Harding (on Morton’s): Whether it’s for a birthday or for forgiveness, Morton’s cakes will complete the mission. Paige Farr (on A Slice of Heaven): Custom-designed cakes any way you want them. Platinum Winner- Cakes by Ron / Gold Winner- Morton’s Gourmet Market / Silver Winner- A Slice of Heaven 

Read more from the Best of SRQ 2020 Competition HERE

[Crisis Support]  Key Chorale Receives $5,000 in Matching Funds from Huisking Foundation

Key Chorale’s Cirque des Voix® should have been their most profitable and exciting event of the season with revenues from the event helping make ends meet as they planned for the upcoming season. While they run a very lean organization, you can imagine the devastating financial impact of this major event being cancelled. That’s why the organization was so thankful when they received $5,000 in matching funds to aid during the 24-hour Giving Challenge on April 28 & 29. During this online campaign, each gift up to $100, will be matched through giving strengthened by the Patterson Foundation, and will provide the funds necessary to keep Key Chorale strong and vital. Additionally, the first $5000 raised will be matched by the Huisking Foundation on behalf of Key Chorale.

Funds raised through the Giving Challenge will help to get Key Chorale through this period when no revenues are coming in. “We are committed to being here for you and our community after this health crisis has passed. We vow to keep our entire community singing and to add beauty, hope, and healing to our world through music,” says Key Chorale’s Artistic Director, Joseph Caulkins. April and May are typically busy months for Key Chorale’s important community outreach with Visible Men Academy, an at-risk school for K-5 boys, in which Key Chorale brings music to 100 students who wouldn’t have a music program otherwise. Spring music sessions were cancelled due to school closures. Off-Key Chorale, for those living with Parkinson’s, and Where Are My Keys? Chorale, a choir for those dealing with memory loss, had to cancel their spring rehearsals. In the meantime, Key Chorale has moved to YouTube and launched its Come Together Choir, Online Choral Rehearsals, with more than 350 registered from all over the country – and beyond. These episodes help singers to feel connected and to continue to experience the transformative power of music in a time when we all need it more than ever. 

For more info.

[Frontline Support]  Mattison’s Partners with Local Businesses to Deliver over 600 Meals to Frontline Heroes

Mattison’s has partnered with local businesses to provide meals for local healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 30th, Mattison’s has prepared and delivered 620 meals to those helping keep everyone healthy and safe.

Chef Paul Mattison’s states, “This is a very trying time for many businesses but no one has it more difficult than the healthcare workers and first responders who are dealing with this unimaginable situation daily and often in close proximity to those who have the virus or may be contagious. We want to help in any way we can to show them how much we support and appreciate what they are doing. Feeding people is what we know how to do and what we do well so when we asked ourselves, what can we do to help, it was a no-brainer.”

Partnering with local businesses to sponsor the meals seemed like a good way to allow them to be involved, making it as simple as saying yes to be a sponsor. Mattison explains, “We knew there were businesses expressing interest in wanting to help but just didn’t know how. Many businesses are helping in other ways and we applaud everyone’s efforts to help our community deal with this terrible situation.”

Mattison’s will continue providing meals as long as they have the product to share. In addition to providing meals for hospitals, fire stations, police departments and healthcare facilities, Mattison’s is also planning on donating meals to nonprofits that help the underserved in our community. Nonprofits like the homeless community through the City of Sarasota and Mothers Helping Mothers that assists mothers and families with basic life necessities are among those Mattison’s is reaching out to.

Mattison’s is looking for more businesses who would like to partner. If any business would like to partner with Mattison’s to sponsor meals for our healthcare and front line heroes email mattisons_marketing@mattisons.com or call 941-713-3105. 

[Entertainment]  WSLR Rolls Out New Programming During The COVID Crisis

In response to COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home orders, WSLR Community Radio has added some new cultural and educational programming to their lineup.  The Asolo Rep and the Sarasota Opera are both producing ½ hour shows for the radio station to help keep their supporters engaged. A syndicated children’s program has been added to the Sunday schedule. The station has also stepped up its local news and public affairs programming to make sure people have the information they need to stay engaged and make informed decisions.  WSLR welcomes community feedback on all of its programming.  Listeners can email the station management at info@wslr.org or call 941-894-6469.  

Engage:  On Air – Wednesdays at 6pm

Engage: On Air is 30 minutes of Asolo Rep like you've never heard it before. Listen to the artists responsible for making the theatre you love as they discuss their creation process. Hear brand new content created for a radio audience and stay up to date on all the fantastic work going on throughout the year. Hosted by Associate Artistic Director Celine Rosenthal, the program will feature weekly guests from the staff of Asolo Rep as well as the world class artists they work with. Our Audit-orium has room for everyone!  

At Home with Sarasota Opera – Alternating Wednesdays at 6pm

Executive Director Richard Russell and Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi will share some insights and updates about Sarasota Opera. They’ll also discuss their favorite art form and entertain you with some of the things that make it special.

The Children’s Hour – Sunday at 4pm

The Children’s Hour is produced by a New Mexico based non-profit organization which believes children are entitled to broadcast media that is educational, entertaining and engaging, and also includes their participation in its creation. Kids deserve a voice in broadcasting, and The Children’s Hour is the only program in the entire nation that allows kids to be full participants in live radio, and that involves kids in all aspects of the show’s production.  The program themes focus on four areas: STEM education, civics, cultural education and performance. Each week listeners hear educational programming that’s also engaging and entertaining.

The Beat Goes On – Tuesdays at 9am

WSLR Managers Arlene Sweeting and David Beaton host this informal talk show and converse with community members about how they are dealing with the social distancing, economic challenges, stress and other issues that are part of the Covid-19 crisis.  They also give updates about what is happening in our community and around the state.

Headline News

WSLR is now airing locally-focused Headline News daily at the following times:  9am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. 

WSLR has been broadcasting non-commercial, locally-produced programming in Sarasota for 15 years.  All of the community programmers on the air at WSLR are volunteers.  The WSLR studios are currently shut down, but programmers are still producing their shows remotely and you can still hear all the music and talk shows you’ve come to appreciate.  WSLR is a low power community radio station.  If you are within the broadcast range (7-10 mile radius from Downtown Sarasota) you can listen to the station at 96.5FM.  In West Bradenton you can listen on WBPV-LP 100.1.  The station also livestreams from their website at WSLR.org and has mobile apps for both Android and I-Phones available. 

For more info.

[Testing]  DOH Sarasota Sets Dates for Second Round of Community Based COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing

DOH Sarasota is scheduled to host three by appointment only COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites throughout Sarasota County next week. These community based COVID-19 testing events are for those individuals who are currently experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) or who work in a health care setting.

To make an appointment, please call 941-861-2883, Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers will be screened using current CDC testing criteria. Appointments are limited however more testing opportunities may be scheduled in the future.

North Sarasota
Tuesday, 4/28, 8 a.m. to Noon - RL Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th Street, Sarasota

South County
Wednesday, 4/29, 9 a.m. to Noon - Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd, North Port

Thursday, 4/30, 8 a.m. to Noon - Laurel Civic Association, 509 Collins Road, Laurel

All patients must have an appointment to be tested, please call (941) 861-2883 to be evaluated and scheduled for an appointment.

The Florida Department of Health continues to see new positive cases across the State, please visit www.flhealth.gov/covid-19 for the most current case count and county specific data.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The Florida Department of Health reminds everyone that the elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.
If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Stay home except to get medical care: You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis. 

Click for the most current case count and county specific data.

[Crisis Support]  First Step of Sarasota, Inc. to Receive $4,000 in Emergency Assistance from United Way Suncoast

First Step of Sarasota, Inc. is committed to ensuring that our outpatient clients in Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto counties have access to mental health services. First Step of Sarasota, Inc. is pleased to announce that United Way Suncoast, is providing the nonprofit $4,000 in emergency. The funds are part of a more than $1 million of COVID-19 emergency assistance from the United Way Suncoast’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund being distributed to human services agencies across the Suncoast to support housing/shelter, food, childcare, financial stability and mental health services. “We are deeply grateful to United Way Suncoast Rapid Response Fund for awarding us a grant to fund our telehealth platform. This grant will allow us to provide telemedicine services to our outpatient clients of all ages,” stated First Step of Sarasota, Inc.’s CEO, Gwen MacKenzie. “It is extremely important that we continue to provide crucial mental health and addiction services through individual and group therapy as well as psychiatric services and medication-assisted therapy in a safe manner.” First Step of Sarasota, Inc. will use the funds to offer outpatient services that are usually treated one-on-one by providing telehealth services for their outpatient clients for a period of 2 months. First Step of Sarasota, Inc. treats the underserved individuals and families that cannot afford insurance, and those that are below the federal poverty guidelines.

[Crisis Support]  All Faiths Food Bank Receives $150,000 for COVID-19 Relief

All Faiths Food Bank is the recent recipient of $150,000 to support its hunger relief efforts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding came in the form of two grants through the COVID-19 Response Initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

A $40,000 grant for hunger-relief services in Sarasota County included a $20,000 gift from the Truist Charitable Fund that was matched by $20,000 through the Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation initiative. The second grant of $110,000 to fund emergency food in Sarasota and DeSoto counties included $85,000 from William G. and Marie Selby Foundation matched by $25,000 through the COVID-19 Response Initiative. These funds will support the Food Bank’s crucial work to meet increased needs as the impacts of the coronavirus hit area residents hard.

“The pandemic has created a ‘perfect storm’ as the need for food is skyrocketing at the same time our donated food supply has been sharply reduced,” said Sandra Frank, CEO of All Faiths Food Bank. “We are so grateful for this much-needed funding – it will enable us to provide more food to thousands of our neighbors facing hardship during this crisis."

With schools closed and children eligible for free or reduced-price meals unable to access them, the Food Bank has accelerated its Campaign Against Summer Hunger, partnering with the Sarasota School District to help feed children at eight area schools as well as through area Boys & Girls Clubs, Children First, Girls Inc. and Early Learning Coalition. Additionally, due to the temporary hold on consumer food donations in response to the guidelines and recommendations of public health experts, the Food Bank is stepping up the purchase of food to meet the needs of the community. Finally, with its significant volunteer corps under the stay-at-home order, staff members at all levels are now filling significant gaps in mission-critical operations – such as food sorting, packing, boxing and distribution – in addition to performing their regular duties.

The COVID-19 Response Initiative is a joint philanthropic initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation to help ensure the region’s immediate and long-term well-being in the face of the pandemic. During its initial “response” phase, the foundations have focused on strengthening the health and social safety net for those who are most susceptible to the devastating impacts of COVID-19. Many donors and funding partners such as Truist Foundation and the Selby Foundation have directed gifts through the initiative to leverage additional funding and realize a greater strategic impact.

“BB&T/SunTrust, now Truist, stands ready to partner with our community businesses and organizations and face the COVID-19 challenges together,” said Mark Irwin, SVP and Market President for Manatee & Sarasota Counties, Truist. “The Truist Foundation grants, together with matching grants from Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Initiative, will help community organizations like All Faiths Food Bank address basic needs in our area and provide relief and rebuilding to those impacted.”

For those who wish to contribute much-needed funds to All Faiths Food Bank, it is important to note that the Food Bank can purchase five meals for every $1 given. To donate or to learn where and when to find upcoming food distributions, please go to www.allfaithsfoodbank.org. 

Click to donate or to learn where and when to find upcoming food distributions.

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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