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SRQ DAILY May 6, 2020

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"This is our answer to staying relevant and driving economic impact through creative partnerships for area businesses during life in the time of Covid."

- Kristi Finigan, Kisses for a Cause

[Community]  Local Female Entrepreneurs Launch Collaborative Covid-19 Response Initiative for #GivingTuesday
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

It’s been nearly two months since the government issued a stay-at-home order due to Covid-19—closing the doors of many Sarasota businesses, including local artist's Alexis Fraser (aka Lipstick Lex). Having to put her Rosemary District gallery grand opening on hold, her business was closed before it even launched.

On a brighter note, Fraser received IRS approval upon filing for her supplemental charity, Kisses for a Cause. Initially, the nonprofit was created to promote the arts as well as spread positivity through cultural and educational programs, experiences, and community outreach initiatives. It so happened that the Kisses for a Cause mission resonated so closely with a widespread global need. “I understand the feeling of working so hard for success and purpose and this pandemic has taken that away for so many,” she says. “My work radiates positivity, and I think that is what we all need more of right now." 

Fraser received a call from Ingrid Harb of Tampa-based Women Ambassadors Forum. After connecting, the two realized an opportunity to leverage their resources and networks to produce the first initiative for the Kisses for a Cause organization. The team rapidly expanded to include Kim Linton of 1Light Daring Leadership & Facilitation, and Kristi Finigan, Director of Development for Kisses for a Cause. The female-empowered team of entrepreneurs began planning how to offer their joined entities to the Greater Tampa Bay Region.

The nonprofit is presently curating "community kits," which will be multipurpose boxes containing items such as gift cards and coupons, non-perishable food items, at-home activities for families, and health and wellness products. The project is affectionately named after one of Lipstick Lex’s creations, Made with Love, which hangs in the gallery. The image will adorn the exterior box of the kits. “We know that shining some light in a time of need is impactful,” says Fraser, “and that if these kits are curated properly, we will provide some relief in mental, physical, and psychological ways to members of our community managing their present reality.”

The women hope to provide upwards of 7,500 kits to struggling families in the area in June 2020.

But as with most businesses now, fundraising looks a bit different in the current state. Kisses for a Cause formally announced its project yesterday for #GivingTuesday, a global day of unity and generosity. While the Made With Love project was able to secure some new area business partners as part of the campaign, the nonprofit continues to urge any businesses faced with staying relevant and looking to get involved to connect with them and leverage their networks on this community-led response.

"I think that this project serves two critical purposes," says Finigan. "First, it gives a teeny bit of hope, relief, and positivity to us as individuals; and second, it will give us the opportunity to pool our creativity with other area business leaders to find ways to benefit the cause while keeping their business at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Not everyone has a budget to do some big ad spend or campaign. This is our answer to staying relevant and driving economic impact through creative partnerships for area businesses during life in the time of Covid.”

Shortly after the #GivingTuesday campaign, Lipstick Lex posted to her IG storyanyone who donates $100 or more this week to the cause will receive a custom kiss sculpture that they can paint/decorate at home and she will re-share on her social with the tag #madewithloveproject.

Donations can be made by texting LOVE to 941-499-5933 or visiting kissesforcauses.org.

Those interested in joining the Made with Love Project and supporting the cause can email info@kissesforcauses.org.


Photo courtesy of Lipstick Lex Gallery

[Museum]  Chalk Festival 3D Illusion Museum Re-opens

With new safety guidelines in place, the Chalk Festival 3D Illusion Museum has re-opened for its final month now till May 31st at the Ice House located at 1314 10th Street in Sarasota.

This unique art experience, a fundraiser for the organization, allows ticket holders to step into the art scenes creating a dynamic three dimensional photo to share with friends on social media. With over 45 different illusions, the scenes range from a giant shark taking a bite out of a glass bottle to a swamp image complete with an enormous alligator and snake slithering through the lily pads.

“We are thrilled to be able to re-open our 3D Illusion Museum again and invite the public to reserve their time to experience this spectacular interactive exhibit for all ages. From the museum space to each of the paintings, the exhibit was created by artists and volunteers gifting their time, resources and talent to the project as a fundraiser for The Avenida de Colores, Inc that produces The Chalk Festivals in both Sarasota and Venice.“ Chalk Festival Founder, Denise Kowal said.

Each illusion has designated the perfect spot on the floor to make the scene “come alive” for guests through their lens. The mind is tricked into seeing the shapes take on depth, breadth or action allowing a shark to swim toward you or a very hungry group of creatures sharpening their forks over a can that you step into for the photo.

The exhibit has implemented the proper COVID-19 safety measures to include cleaning procedures, encouraging guests to wear safety masks, and limiting the groups to 10 with proper social distancing. 

For more info.

[Crisis Support]  All Faiths Food Bank Plans Mass Food Distributions in Sarasota County on May 9 and May 16

All Faiths Food Bank is organizing two mass food distributions in Sarasota County this month to help residents impacted by COVID-19. The events will take place in the parking lots at CoolToday Park (18800 South, W Villages Pkwy, Venice) on May 9 and Ed Smith Stadium (2700 12th St., Sarasota) on May 16. Both distributions – which are first come, first-served – will begin at 9 am and continue until food runs out or 2 pm The National Guard will provide on-site assistance with the massive effort.

The event is planned for people who are recently unemployed or impacted by COVID-19. Florida led the nation in unemployment claims last week, with over 180,000; more than 900,000 jobless Floridians have submitted claims since mid-March. All Faiths expects to serve as many as 4,600 community members at each location.

"We want area families struggling with the loss of jobs, or whose businesses that have been forced to close due to the pandemic, to know that we are here for them," said Food Bank CEO Sandra Frank. "For many in our community, hunger is something that happens to ‘other people.’ But now, with the current state of the economy, we all know someone who has lost their job, or been forced to shutter their business, and is facing financial challenges."

The Food Bank has taken special measures to remove barriers to assistance: there will be no registration or approval process, and no collection of information on-site. Social distancing and no-touch strategies will be observed – food will be distributed via drive-thru and placed directly into the trunks of cars. Attendees will also receive information about additional Food Bank locations where groceries are available.

News stories continue to highlight the desperate plight of farmers forced to destroy fields of crops and local dairy farmers dumping milk down drains because demand has dried up while, simultaneously, an unprecedented number of families can’t afford enough food. The Food Bank has purchased nearly 10,000 gallons of milk from Dakin Dairy Farms and produce from local Florida farmers, obtained with support from Feeding Florida (the Florida food bank association). These foodstuffs will be distributed at the May events.

“We’re doing everything we can to assist local farms while providing food for area residents and families negatively impacted by COVID-19,” Frank said. “Last month, the Food Bank increased produce distribution by 78% – we are pleased to have access to these healthy foods, thanks to Feeding Florida.”

The stadiums have donated the use of their facilities for the food distributions. “We are grateful to the management of the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles for donating the use of their spring training locations,” said Frank. “These venues offer the sheer size and infrastructure necessary for such a large effort. We are grateful they are providing such vital assistance to help community members who are struggling.”

The coronavirus has caused an unprecedented spike in need for food assistance. In the first 30 days of the crisis, the Food Bank saw a 100% increase in food distribution and a 40% increase in new clients at mobile pantry distributions. Simultaneously, costs have skyrocketed due to the loss of consumer food donations, the loss of its significant volunteer force under the stay-at-home order, and changes to food distribution, including a need for individual packaging and the move to a drive-thru/no touch model. 

Pictured: Amber Lee, All Faiths Food Bank's Agency Relations Manager, directs traffic during a recent mobile pantry distribution at Gulf Gate Elementary School Photo by Cliff Roles.

Fore more info.

[Summer Art Classes]  Registration Opens for Studio & Digital Arts Summer Teen Studios

Students aged 12-18, entering 7th through 12th grades, will find inspiration, outstanding instruction, and interdisciplinary opportunities in online classes that are fun and educational.  Young artists eager to grow their artistic abilities will get their chance this summer at Continuing Studies at Ringling College’s Studio + Digital Arts Summer Teen Studios. In this year’s online Summer Studios, students will investigate new and proven techniques while developing their unique style and advancing critical thinking skills. Students aged 12-18, entering 7th through 12th grades, will find inspiration, outstanding instruction, and interdisciplinary opportunities in online classes that are fun and educational. Class subjects include experimental animation, illustration in pen and ink, writing for video games, digital design fundamentals, a cartoon and comic art workshop, among many more. All classes will be offered via Zoom.

“These sessions stimulate young imaginations and help develop creative skills,” says Diane Zorn, Continuing Studies education program coordinator. “The classes are designed for students focused on developing their art. They’re also very useful for students who want to build their portfolios for college admission.”

For more information visit www.ringling.edu/SDA; email scs@ringling.edu; or call 941-309-5111 and leave a voice message with your name, billing address, and phone number, and also tell us what classes you would like. 

For more info.

[Openings and Sales]  North River Ranch Community Celebrates First Sales, Two Model Home Openings

Neal Land & Neighborhoods, a Manatee and Sarasota-based master-planned community developer, announces the first 13 home sales at the North River Ranch community in Parrish. As the developer celebrates the sales progress with Centex, a homebuilder within the community, Centex has also debuted two model homes – the first to open in the development. All 13 Centex home sales had an average selling price of $300,000 and range from three to four bedrooms and two or three bathrooms. The homes average 2,200 square-feet. The sales are part of Phase One of the community, which will include 769 single-family homes and townhomes across two neighborhoods.

“Considering the majority of these home sales occurred before the community had model homes formally open for viewing, we’re extremely encouraged by these sales,” said John Neal, President of Neal Land & Neighborhoods. “Now that the first model homes are open and future pre selling about to begin, we expect sales will increase even more."

The two Centex model homes, the McNair and Hanover models, are now open for tours, both virtual and in-person. Both are filled with natural light, modern-style finishes, open-concept layouts and show one and two-story options. The models provide prospective homebuyers a first-hand glimpse of the finishes and options available by touring the homes.

Additional model homes by multiple homebuilders are expected to break ground within the next 45-60 days. 

Pictured: North River Ranch model home kitchen.

For more info.

[Virtual Concerts]  Fogartyville Presents a Virtual Concert with Grant Peeples

Grant Peeples is a compelling and gritty performer; his fresh, honest, incisive, and eloquent songs command your attention. He’s an original writer with a strong political awareness, writing for the little guys downtrodden by the world in the rush for ever greater prosperity. Grant will perform a virtual concert for WSLR+Fogartyville at 7pm on Monday, May 18th. It is not a Facebook live event, where just anyone can 'stop by.' It is viewed through the 'Zoom' program, and all you do is make your donation, then receive the link to get in the show. The show is exclusive to WSLR+Fogartyville patrons and Grant's fans in the Sarasota area. The minimum suggested donation is $10. The link to reserve a seat is: https://WSLRpresentsGrantPeeples.rsvpify.com . Expect great sound and video quality as Grant is working closely with Pete Winters of Winterstone Sound in Tallahassee to bring you an excellent online concert experience. There will be songs and stories----familiar tunes and some brand new.

A self-described “tree-hugger that watches NASCAR, and Buddhist with a gun below the seat,” Grant Peeples is known for his axe-sharp socio-political tunes, raucous humor and heart-gigging ballads. He is the recipient of the Focus Foundation Award for Creative Excellence, which cited the “humor, compassion and wisdom of his songs,” and their "unflinching social insight and cultural acuity.” Grant tours coast to coast, and is a regular performer at The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, the 30A Songwriters Festival, and The Florida Folk Festival. January 2019 marked a second tour in The Netherlands, where FolkForum.nl described him as “…a pure storyteller, in the best American folk tradition…” and his show “…one of those gems that you will remember for a long time…” 

Click to listen to Grant's EPK.

[Giving Back]  FCCI Charitable Foundation makes grants for COVID-19 Relief

The FCCI Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of FCCI Insurance Group, has recently distributed $100,000 for COVID-19 relief. The Foundation contributed $70,000 through the COVID-19 Response Initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and $30,000 for relief and response funds in communities FCCI serves in Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and Winter Park, Fla. This contribution was made in recognition of and on behalf of FCCI’s valued agency partners.

Prior to distributing the funds, the FCCI Charitable Foundation worked to identify and maximize matching opportunities. The $70,000 awarded in our region was matched 1:1, resulting in $140,000 for COVID-19 relief benefiting organizations addressing hunger, mental health, healthcare and medical supplies, jobs and financial security, education, youth services, and child care. Matches in other regions are expanding the impact of the FCCI Charitable Foundation contribution as well.

The purpose of the FCCI Charitable Foundation, which was formally established in April of 2019, is to maximize the impact of each donated dollar. This Foundation was formed in partnership with Gulf Coast Community Foundation. FCCI leadership noted that this is a highly efficient and cost-effective way to operate its charitable arm: of every $1 that is placed in the Foundation, there is 99 cents available to donate to organizations focused on bettering the lives of others.

“We felt this was a wonderful opportunity to positively impact our communities during this unprecedented crisis,” said Lisa Krouse, member of FCCI’s Board of Directors, EVP, and Chief Administrative Officer. “We live in and care about the communities we serve and consider it an honor to contribute to local and national charitable organizations - especially those serving on the front lines to address the effects of the coronavirus, which are being felt by businesses and families across the country.”

Since FCCI’s founding in 1959, the company has given back to the community. As its business has grown, so have its efforts to support the regions in which it does business. Individually, FCCI teammates donate time and raise money for many causes, such as gifts for children and seniors during the holiday season, on-campus blood drives, beautification projects, and more. FCCI teammates also receive paid time off to participate in community involvement and volunteer at the charitable organizations of their choice. Since the inception of the program in 2012, more than 17,000 volunteer hours have been donated by FCCI teammates. 

For more info.

[Brain Health Initiative]  Protecting Brain Health: Dealing with the Grief of What is Still to Come

Many of us associate grief with the feelings and emotions we experience when we lose someone close. But grief is much more than that. We experience grief when dealing with any kind of loss. And then there is anticipatory grief — what we feel when we know there is more loss on the horizon.

Our current situation with COVID-19 has triggered feelings of grief in most of us: grief for those people we have lost to the coronavirus; grief for the loss of normalcy in our day-to-day life; and perhaps most of all, the fear of those losses that are still ahead.

A recent post on Healthline.com, How ‘Anticipatory Grief’ May Show Up During the COVID-19 Outbreak and the return to new “normalcy”, shares five warning signs of anticipatory grief.

We’re on edge — and it’s not always clear exactly why: It might be a sense of dread, persistent anxiety or a feeling of being overwhelmed. This feeling can make it hard to maintain our emotional balance.

We feel angry at things we can’t control: Frustration is a common expression of grief. The little things, things that would not have bothered you in the past, are unconscious reminders that things aren’t the same. It’s a normal reaction to our situation.

We’re resigned to the worst-case scenario: By mentally and emotionally preparing for the worst we think it won’t be so painful when it happens. Be careful of this sign. Maintaining a high level of emotion can lead to chronic stress. Balance is key.

We withdraw or avoid others: It may feel like we’re protecting ourselves from their stress and anxiety by avoiding others, but isolation can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. Try to stay connected but set firm boundaries.

We’re exhausted: All of this stress, fear and anxiety keeps us in a constant state of “fight, flight, or freeze.” The flood of stress hormones that is keeping us ready to react is wearing us down. Exhaustion is a pretty universal grief experience and you are not alone in feeling this way. Do what you can and know that it is enough.

What you can do to protect your brain health.

Validate your feelings. As we have discussed in previous posts, feelings are a normal part of the human experience. Take a brain healthy approach and accept without judgement the feelings that you experience. Everyone deals with things in their own way. Be compassionate to yourself.

Get back to brain healthy basics. Stay fed, hydrated, and rested.

Connect with others. Even when you don’t want to, connecting with others is important to your brain's health and overall well-being.

Make rest and relaxation a priority. When your anxiety levels are high, it is important to give your body and brain the opportunity to relax.

Creatively express yourself. Brain health is protected when you participate in creative outlets that can help you process what’s happening.

Talk to a professional. Online therapy can be an important resource for moving you through your grief and anxiety. 

Click here for the full article.

[Testing]  Manatee County Commissioners Approve Additional Funding for COVID-19 Testing

County Commissioners today authorized spending an additional $100,000 from the County’s Disaster Recovery Reserve to purchase additional COVID-19 testing kits to help the County reach its new goal of testing 2 percent of Manatee County residents.

Commissioners previously approved $100,000 of funding for additional kits and personal protective equipment (PPE). The County has spent $93,000 so far to purchase 1,800 tests. The additional funding helped the County surpass its initial goal of having 1 percent of residents tested. To date, there have been 5,004 COVID-19 tests given in Manatee County.

Some 2,000 of those tests were done through MCR Health with kits provided through the previously approved funding. MCR Health currently offers testing at three of its locations in Manatee County. Two drive-through testing sites offer additional opportunities for residents to get tested.

A new regional testing site is now open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mall at University Town Center. No prescriptions or appointments are required.

The Health Department is holding its third round of drive-through testing at the Bradenton Area Convention Center this Wednesday through Friday, May 6-8, and added new drive-through testing dates for May 11, May 15 and May 29. Appointments are required and can be made by calling (941) 748-0747.

Public Safety Director Jacob Saur noted the importance of additional testing as effects continue to rise locally.

“Florida is declining but Manatee County is plateauing and on a slight decline,” said Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. "But with testing capabilities locally and regionally, Manatee County could see 5,000 tests performed over the next two weeks.” 

Click to see Manatee County's COVID-19 Testing info.

[Best of SRQ]  Celebrating the Best Butcher of 2020

We introduced a new category to the Best of SRQ ballot this year and roaring support came in from the community to name THE BUTCHER’S BLOCK the people’s choice for Best of SRQ Local Platinum winner. In close second is SOUTHERN STEER, who took Gold. DETWILER’S proves they are more than just your average local grocer winning Silver, and tied for bronze is GEIER’S and ALPINE STEAKHOUSE.


Read more from the Best of SRQ 2020 Competition HERE

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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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