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SRQ DAILY May 8, 2020

Friday Weekend Edition

Friday Weekend Edition

"You've got to personalize the political commentary and you don't have to use a name; everybody will already know who you're talking about.."

- Jason Cannon, Associate Artist with Florida Studio Theatre

[Theater]  FST Students Make the Best of Flying Solo

The Zoom conference begins like any other, with attendees sorting out the technical aspects of the program. Some are seen and not heard, others are heard and not seen, but, eventually, seven faces and their corresponding voices find themselves connected digitally. They exchange greetings and small-talk about the weather—“How’s Maine?” one person asks to another who appears to be in a cabin. Jason Cannon, Associate Artist with Florida Studio Theatre, sits at his desk with headphones, his face centered in the top row of this group of seven. The rag tag bunch on the screen are part the FST “Flying Solo” class Cannon teaches, a workshop in which the students produce a one-person show from concept all the way to performance.

Today’s workshop opens with a read-through of a monologue. The student-playwright has written a piece tentatively titled “Cozy Quarantine,” a fictional number that is part vlog and part confessional. She explores all the new friends made during the COVID-19 pandemic—a gopher, a lobster, deer ticks, wild turkeys, a porcupine and a skunk—and interspersed in her list is running commentary on each new friend, even a bit of bickering with an off-camera husband. With each member’s video and audio feed muted, the student performs completely in isolation, her face the only face on the screen. The “solo” in this performance is utter, with no corresponding laughs after well-executed punchlines. Then again, perhaps that makes it better practice.

As her solo performance comes to an end, faces return to the screen, some of them searching again for the appropriate buttons, others still smiling from the self-deprecating jokes contained in the piece. The subsequent critiques all praise the humor and execution. Where the peer input is more a collection of impressions (and still useful), Cannon, a consummate pro and encouraging instructor, provides specific ideas for the piece. He talks about tightening up the story and upping the stakes. He talks about supplementing the characterization with backstory and how to navigate the use of political humor without alienating the audience. “You’ve got to personalize the political commentary,” he says, “and you don’t have to use a name; everybody will already know who you’re talking about.” He’s done this before, and the student, though first through the gauntlet, seems to take it all in stride, jotting down notes for revision.

The whole workshop continues smoothly in this way. It’s as though the Zoom format is not, in fact, a substitute for the “real thing.” It helps that each of the students have all taken courses with FST before—performing and writing for the stage are not entirely new to them. It also helps that each student seems fully committed to making the best of their social distancing and embracing the “new normal,” the dichotomous sphere of digital interactions in which one can feel simultaneously separate from and a part of their peer groups. For Cannon, FST and the Flying Solo students, this new normal may not be ideal, but the 7 faces on the screen don’t seem to mind much. 

Pictured: Jason Cannon offers notes to a student in last year’s Flying Solo class. Photo by Sarah Haley.

Click for more.

[Virtual Gallery]  Sarasota Artists Create Innovative Color and Clay Virtual Exhibit

Sarasota artists, Joan Libby Hawk, ceramist, and Jana Millstone, painter, create unique collaborative exhibit that celebrates light color and form presented via social media throughout May 2020 by Art Uptown gallery. Begun before the need for social distancing, the artists are grateful to send their images and personal story as never-before-seen-gifts that lift spirits. The result of their partnership in art and narrative showcase their commitment to create and share during this difficult time. 

For more info.

[Brews]  Motorworks Brewery Rolls Out Five New Beer Releases for American Craft Beer Week

Motorworks Brewery will be releasing five new beers including two unique Dali Museum Collaborations: Salvador's Wit and Rhinocerotic. They will make one new release every day from Monday, May 11th to Friday, May 15th. Each beer will be available for pickup starting at Noon. Stop in and try any of their 20+ packaged beers plus new mixed 24-pack cases now available, including Mixed Lager, Mixed IPA and Mixed BGA. 

Place your order for pick up.

[Recognition]  Visit Sarasota County Recognizes Voice of Sarasota

Visit Sarasota County (VSC) celebrated its annual National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) Award Ceremony virtually today and announced the Sarasota County Tourism & Hospitality Voice of Sarasota recipient, Vickie Oldham. The Zoom presentation included special guests, Sarasota County Commission Chair, Michael A. Moran, and VSC Board Chair, Christine Johnson, President, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. VSC also shared an inspirational video featuring local hospitality employees speaking to this year’s NTTW theme, “The Spirit of Travel.”

This year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is having an unprecedented impact on the travel industry and the entire economy. Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other, and remind our country that even through the most difficult times, the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken.

“Albeit differently than previous years, Visit Sarasota County was excited to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and honor the 2020 Voice of Tourism, Vickie Oldham,” said Virginia Haley, President, VSC. “The Spirt of Travel can never be broken, and we felt it was a nice opportunity to focus on the positive and bring together the local hospitality and tourism industry.”

National Travel and Tourism Week is hosted by the U.S. Travel Association and is an annual tradition for the U.S. travel community. It is a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses, and personal wellbeing. In Sarasota County, it is also a time to celebrate and pay tribute to locals in the community who keep this industry thriving.

This year VSC honored Vickie Oldham, CEO of Vickie O Heritage Productions and Consultant to Newtown Alive. Vickie grew up in Newtown in the City of Sarasota. In 2015, she led a team of professionals and volunteers who researched Newtown’s history, produced a book, installed 15 historical markers, conducted oral history interviews and inventoried historic structures. She opened this history to the world through a website, an app and very popular historic trolley tours.

Her work documented the 1950s efforts of the African American community to open segregated Lido Beach. All this effort led to Sarasota’s Newtown into the U.S. Civil Rights Trail in December 2018. Sarasota’s Newtown was one of the first five historic sites in Florida to be included in the Trail, a tremendous national honor. Thanks to Vickie’s passion, the rich history of Newtown is now being shared with both visitors and our community. For this, VSC decided to recognize Vickie with the 2020 Voice of Sarasota award. 

For more about National Travel and Tourism Week.

[Merger]  Forza Wealth Management and K-Mack Financial Announce Merger

Forza Wealth Management, LLC is pleased to announce that it has merged with K-Mack Financial, effective April 1, 2020. Both firms are Registered Investment Advisers (RIA) with the State of Florida and the combined firm will carry forward the Forza Wealth Management name.

“We have looked at other potential RIA transactions but, given the synergies between our companies, it made a lot of sense for our firms and clients to come together,” explains Forza’s founder Michael DeMassa, CFA, CFP®.

“We will not grow just for the sake of growing. We are committed to delivering a high level of service to clients and keeping their interests first in the relationship,” adds Forza’s chief investment officer Timothy Videnka, CFA, CFP®. “We anticipate a smooth transition given our investment in best-in-class technology.”

After a successful 25-year corporate career in banking, Kevin McKenney, CFP® launched K-Mack Financial in 2013. DeMassa and McKenney met more than a decade ago, while working at the same bank and trust company. DeMassa notes that it was McKenney’s move to begin his own firm that inspired him to make the same leap and found Forza in 2015.

There has been no change to the business model as the combined firm continues to operate as fee-only, with a focus on financial planning. All of Forza’s investment advisors hold the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation and provide investment advice under the Fiduciary Standard. As such, the firm and its advisers do not receive commissions or participate in revenue-sharing arrangements with third parties on any of the investment recommendations made to their clients.

“Merging with another firm that is a fiduciary 100% of the time was of the utmost importance to me and my clients,” McKenney says. “Mike and Tim’s investment experience and credentials will only add to our portfolio management going forward in this new world.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. K-Mack clients transitioning over to Forza’s platform are anticipated to be completed in the second quarter of 2020. 

Pictured: From left to right: Timothy Videnka, Kevin McKenney and Michael DeMassa of Forza Wealth Management.

Click for more about Forza Wealth Management.

[Anniversary]  Sonya Kristie Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Caldwell Trust Company

Sonya Kristie began with Caldwell Trust Company in 2005 as an intern. Today, she is the manager of the Sarasota office, vice president and trust officer. In 2003, as she was finishing her associate’s degree and working as a waitress in a Venice restaurant, the clear-eyed sophomore looked towards her future. Not yet 20, she charted a career path to align with her interest in business and has never strayed.

She enrolled at the University of South Florida, where she would earn a bachelor of science degree in business in 2005 and walked into Caldwell’s Venice office with her resume. After subsequent meetings with Jan Miller--now senior executive vice president—and CEO/president R.G. “Kelly” Caldwell, Jr., Sonya became an intern. Ever cautious, she continued her job at the restaurant while finishing her studies.

In 2005 Kelly suggested Sonya round out the last six months of her internship by joining Jan Miller in Sarasota. She did so on May 1, 2005. The rest, as they say, is history. Fifteen years later, Jan and Sonya are still working together in Caldwell’s Sarasota office on Main Street, and soon in the new facility at 27 South Orange Avenue.

As expected, things change. Jan had managed the Sarasota office for years, but “she handed over the torch to me about a year ago,” Sonya said. She assumed the added functions without batting an eye.

As an intern, Sonya worked first as an administrative assistant, then trust assistant. Upon graduation in 2005, she became a trust associate. She was promoted to assistant trust officer in 2009 and to trust officer in 2010. In 2014 she advanced to assistant vice president and trust officer. She became a vice president in 2018.

Since joining Caldwell, Sonya has completed Florida Graduate Trust School programs sponsored by the Florida Bankers Association, as well as studies in fiduciary income tax, basics of probate practice and special needs trusts. She has also completed classes to become a certified trust financial adviser. She is now halfway through a Juris Master program in financial regulation and compliance through Florida State University. “I’ll finish in July 2021,” she said, pleased to describe the many ways this program expands her knowledge of the industry.

Her volunteer work is no less impressive. Sonya serves on the board and is an active K9 Handler for Sarasota K-9 Search & Rescue, which assists local, state, and national first responders in finding the lost. Duke, her German shepherd dog and good friend, is an active participant in this program.
Sonya is also a member of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council, the Florida Banker’s Association, and the Women of the Sun Coast of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is also a past member of the Sarasota Evening Toastmasters Club and has completed the Engage Sarasota 2012/2013 program and the Adult Leadership Program Class of 2014.

Caldwell Trust Company is an independent trust company chartered in the state of Florida, with offices in Venice and Sarasota, Florida. Established in 1993, the firm currently manages over $1 billion dollars in assets for clients throughout the United States. The company offers a full range of fiduciary services to individuals including services as trustee, custodian, investment adviser, financial manager and personal representative. Additionally, Caldwell manages 401(k) and 403(b) qualified retirement plans for employers. The company, known for its family-oriented culture and strong ethic of corporate citizenship, has donated over $1 million to local nonprofit organizations that focus on youth and social causes. 

For more info.

[Giving Back]  Conservation Foundation Announces $300,000 Challenge Campaign in the Race to Save Orange Hammock Ranch

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announces a $300,000 challenge campaign that will secure the permanent protection of Orange Hammock Ranch. The foundation needs to raise $1.5 million by June 1st to conserve the 5,777-acre ranch forever. Conservation Foundation was $600,000 away from that goal when a group of donors agreed to pledge $300,000 as a challenge to the community to help raise the remaining $300,000 needed.

“This is an historic moment for our community. For nearly two decades it has been a major conservation priority to save this land,” notes Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation. “During this pandemic, we’ve seen people flocking to our public open spaces underlining our need for more places to enjoy nature. Orange Hammock Ranch will be open to the public, all 5,777 acres! We are grateful for the passionate donors who pledged $300,000 in hopes that their generous challenge inspires others to make an impact forever.”

When the $1.5 million is raised, it will bring $19.5 million in Florida Forever dollars to this region, and free up $9 million for other land conservation projects that Sarasota County had reserved for Orange Hammock Ranch. This means the community’s contribution will be leveraged 19 times for land conservation.

In February, the Florida State Cabinet voted to purchase Orange Hammock Ranch contingent upon Conservation Foundation’s pledge to raise $1.5 million. Florida Forever funds will contribute $19.5 million toward the $21 million purchase.

The ranch is located north of Interstate 75 within the City of North Port. It connects RV Griffin Preserve with the Longino Preserve through about six miles of shared boundaries, and increases the 120,000-acre buffer surrounding the Myakka River and strengthens the connection between the Myakka and Peace Rivers. Immense volumes of rainfall collect on the property and feed the Snover Waterway and RV Griffin reservoirs, both of which are critical sources of North Port’s clean drinking water.

The property is also nearly pristine, with natural areas in better condition than many public lands. Over 200 wetlands are intermixed with pine flatwood, globally-imperiled dry prairie and other native habitat. Given this location and exceptional natural condition, the conservation of Orange Hammock Ranch will have sweeping benefits for regional connectivity, water quality, public recreation, and wildlife habitat. This vast land is home to quail, indigo snake and the Florida black bear. Importantly, the property is connected with 120,000 acres of protected land, making it viable habitat for Florida panther, which are now breeding in nearby Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area. 

Click to learn more.

[Board Announcements]  Art Center Sarasota Welcomes Two New Board Members

Art Center Sarasota has welcomed Susan McLeod and Michael Shelton to its board of directors. Howard Davis, ACS’s board chair, says, “Susan and Michael are terrific additions to our board. They bring decades of successful local experience, valuable expertise, and deep commitment to continuing our legacy as the region’s leading edge, community-based visual arts organization.” Susan McLeod is a Realtor with Michael Saunders and has been involved with the Sarasota arts community since moving here in 1971. She has owned a gallery, sat on many boards, and has been an exhibiting artist. Most recently, McLeod chaired Sarasota Season of Sculpture’s board of directors. Her national and international affiliations include board membership with the International Sculpture Center in New York and membership with the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals. “Thanks to Sarasota’s visual arts, our community is recognized as the heart of Florida’s arts and culture,” says McLeod. “Art Center Sarasota serves as our region’s leading visual arts advocate and it’s my pleasure to help further its cause.” Michael Shelton is a retired attorney and a driving force in many Sarasota non-profits. He is the founder and board chair of Booker Promise Foundation, Inc., which offers scholarships to all economically disadvantaged students at Booker High School. Shelton was the co-founder and board chair of Perlman Music Program Suncoast, Inc., served as the co-executive director of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, and was the managing director of the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. He was also a co-founder, board member and executive director of Embracing Our Differences. McLeod and Shelton join a board that includes Howard Davis, chair; Sam Savin, vice chair; Ramsey Frangie, treasurer; Ned Norris, secretary; and Carolyn Benedict-Drew, governance chair. 

Click for more info.

[Relief]  Goodwill Manasota Receives Face Masks from Asolo Rep

In tough times, people and organizations often turn to one another for comfort and support. One recent partnership between an area theatre and social service nonprofit proves that we are stronger together.

As business restrictions due to COVID-19 are gradually loosened and Goodwill Manasota reopens its retail stores (while observing relevant safety guidelines), the organization has implemented a comprehensive risk management preparedness and response package spelling out measures to keep team members and the community safe. Included in this document is the proper use of PPE (personal protection equipment), which have been provided to all employees, who are required to wear them while interacting with other team members, shoppers, and donors of lightly-used goods to the organization.

In mid-March, Asolo Repertory Theatre’s season – like those of all other area arts organizations – was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its 10 now-at-home costume shop workers are sewing face masks that are being distributed to organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. From cutting to completion, using extra costume fabrics and scraps from productions, each mask takes 25-30 minutes to make and CDC-approved patterns are being used to build their masks.

In late April, Asolo Rep’s assistant company manager, Cameron Thorp, approached Goodwill to see if they had a need and Goodwill enthusiastically replied in the affirmative. At this time, Asolo Rep is planning to produce 200 masks, to be provided to the partners of Goodwill employees. These are being delivered in weekly batches of 50 through the month of May; the first delivery was made to Goodwill’s Mecca store on May 4 by Thorp.

So far, about 750 masks have been produced and distributed to organizations including: Goodwill Manasota, Senior Friendship Center, Safe Children Coalition, Meals on Wheels of Sarasota, Visible Men Academy, Girls Inc. of Sarasota, and ALSO Youth. Local organizations in need of masks are asked to email Cameron_Thorp@asolo.org. 

For more on Goodwill Manasota.

[Scholarships]  Sarasota Academy Seniors Receive Scholarships, Inaugural Award from Military Foundation

Three seniors at Sarasota Military Academy, cadets Juliana Rendle, Noah Fischer and Aeryn Sachs, were recently selected to receive scholarships from the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation (SMOF). Fischer will receive the $2,000 JROTC Scholarship; Rendle will receive the $2,000 Merit Scholarship and Sachs will receive the prestigious Kay Blythe Tracy Award in the amount of $2,000.

The Sarasota Military Officers Foundation awards JROTC and merit-based scholarships to qualified, high-achieving high school seniors in the Greater Sarasota area. In 2020, the Foundation awarded eleven scholarships; of the eleven, SMOF awarded three JROTC scholarships and eight Merit scholarships throughout the entire county. Additionally, an SMA cadet was selected to receive the inaugural Kay Blythe Tracy Award, established after Tracy’s passing in 2019.

“We are always positively overwhelmed by the quality of applicants who participate in our scholarship program. Although we are not able to host our annual banquet to recognize the incredible cadets receiving scholarships this year, we want to congratulate them for their hard work and successes,” said Claire Power, Director and Chair of the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation Scholarship Committee.

“Kay Tracy and her husband George volunteered as advocates with Guardian Ad Litem in Sarasota. Kay was a retired university professor, an incredible volunteer, a remarkable woman and a member of the scholarship committee for many years. Giving back to the community and creating opportunities for the next generation was one of her passions,” said Power. “After Kay’s passing in 2019, the Board authorized the creation of this scholarship. We looked for an extraordinary applicant for this award, and found it in Aeryn Sachs. Congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients, we look forward to watching you continue to succeed and positively impact the world around you.”

In addition to creating scholarship opportunities for high school seniors and cadets in the community, the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation also donates to the State College of Florida Veterans program, the University of South Florida Veterans program and the Manatee Technical College East & West campuses Veterans programs. 

Pictured: Sarasota Military Academy seniors: Cadets Juliana Rendle, Noah Fischer and Aeryn Sachs

Click for more about the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation.

[Best of SRQ]  Celebrating the Best Local Contractor of 2020

Who do you call when you need some work done on your home? Our readers recommend many of the region’s top builders when it comes to contract service. Reader fave JOSH WYNNE CONSTRUCTION laid a foundation of support to secure the Best of SRQ Local 2020 Platinum award. VOIGT BROTHERS CONSTRUCTION built its way to the Gold win, while the NAUTILUS HOMES bid secured a Silver. JOHN CANNON HOMES had enough references from our readers to land a Bronze-winning contract.


Read more from the Best of SRQ 2020 Competition HERE

[Relief]  With CARES Act Assistance, FST Brings Back 30 Furloughed Staff Members

Last month, Florida Studio Theatre (FST) announced that it was cancelling the remainder of its 2019-2020 Winter Season due to the COVID-19 health crisis. As a result of these cancellations, FST projects a loss of over $1 million in revenue to date this season alone. Due to these losses, FST was forced to furlough 30 employees—which accounts for 60% of its full-time staff.
With the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), FST has obtained financial assistance that will help Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre continue to operate. Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FST brought back 30 full-time employees for the next eight weeks. During this time, returning employees will be tackling projects spanning FST’s artistic, production, facilities, and education departments.

“FST has not hesitated to make the difficult—but necessary—choices that will insure our survival for the future,” said Rebecca Hopkins, FST’s Managing Director. “On March 16, we furloughed 30 full-time employees and laid off 90 artists and front-of-house workers. Funding from the Payroll Protection Program has allowed us to bring back these furloughed staff members and employ many out of work artists.”

Over the next eight weeks, FST’s artistic staff is focused on the lifeblood of the theatre: New Play Development. They are working with local and national playwrights, including Larry Parr (Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow, Hi-Hat-Hattie) and Thomas Gibbons (Bee-luther-hatchee, Permanent Collection), to develop new work that complements FST’s mission to produce theatre that “challenges with as much gusto as it entertains.” The playwrights will also participate in discussions and workshops as part of FST’s online programming—more details are forthcoming.

FST’s artistic team will also use this time to create Cabarets to be programmed into future Winter Cabaret Seasons. In addition, they will continue to collaborate with Jacqueline Goldfinger, Sandy Rustin, Mark St. Germain, and Rachel Lynett—four playwrights FST commissioned to write new plays inspired by the women’s suffrage movement as part of its Suffragist Project.

“We are planning for the future—a future when we can come back together,” continued Hopkins. “A future where FST returns to telling ambitious, exciting, and dynamic human stories. By taking advantage of the assistance available to us with programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, and with the strong support of our local funders and our audience, we will weather this storm.”

Starting the week of May 11, virtual classes in playwriting, sketch comedy, acting, solo performance, musical theatre, and improvisation will be available for youth, teens, and adults. Through The FST School: Online, students ages 7 and up will be able to envision and work toward their own creative goals. Classes will span four weeks and be conducted over the Zoom app. For more information or to enroll, contact Pam Smith, Education Administrator, at 941.366.1350 or psmith@floridastudiotheatre.org.

Due to COVID-19, in-person FST Improv performances have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, but FST’s improvisation program continues to reach Sarasota audiences and beyond. Last week, FST’s Director of Improv Will Luera taught a workshop to students throughout Europe as part of Impro Fest Online, the world’s first fully digital improv festival. FST Improv will also perform short-form improv games live on the group’s social media platforms on select Friday and Saturday evenings.

In addition, FST is using the next eight weeks to undertake projects that aren’t possible to complete when the theatre is in “peak season”—November through March. Some of these projects include, but are not limited to, a complete renovation of the kitchen in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret, and refurbishing the theatre’s six commercial and 18 residential facilities. Meanwhile, FST’s resident designers are preparing designs for upcoming FST productions. They are also organizing and updating the theatre’s lighting, sound, projection, and scene shop equipment.

Finally, FST is using the next eight weeks to undertake projects that aren’t possible to complete when the theatre is in “peak season”—November through March. Some of these projects include, but are not limited to, a complete renovation of the kitchen in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret, organizing and updating the theatre’s lighting, sound, projection, and scene shop equipment, and refurbishing the theatre’s six commercial and 18 residential facilities. Meanwhile, FST’s resident designers continue to prepare designs for planned upcoming FST productions. 

Click to support FST.

[Giving Back]  Latest Grants from Foundations’ COVID-19 Response Fund Target Mental-Health Needs, Childcare for First Responders, Financial Assistance for Displaced Workers, and More

Together with its donors and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded over $2.7 million in direct grants to nonprofit organizations for COVID-19 relief.

That total includes more than $1.1 million funded from the COVID-19 Response Initiative, a joint initiative of Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation to support immediate and long-term needs in the region arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Grants awarded in the past two weeks through the initiative are funding services including virtual mental-health counseling for children and for veterans, childcare for first responders, and food and financial assistance for displaced hospitality workers, foster families, and others.

“This fast and flexible process has quickly filled gaps to ensure people have the social services they need,” said Teri A Hansen, President | CEO of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. “As our partners begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, our focus will move from relief to recovery.”

Many families are experiencing a level of stress and hardship unlike any other time—especially those already struggling with poverty, mental-health issues, or other challenges. A $25,000 grant to The Florida Center for Early Childhood is funding much-needed mental-health resources for children and their families who are not fully covered by Medicaid or other insurance. “These funds will ensure that vulnerable families with young children can receive the professional support they need to cope with the isolation, unemployment, and food insecurity they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19,” said Kathryn Shea, President and CEO of The Florida Center. “Many were already facing stressors like poverty, domestic violence, and physical or mental health challenges, so our goal is to provide them with positive strategies to manage their emotions and ultimately avoid child abuse or neglect.”

The foundations also awarded grants to Operation Warrior Resolution ($3,200) to provide telehealth counseling to Sarasota-area veterans, and to the Family Network on Disabilities ($5,000) to provide virtual respite care for caregivers of children with disabilities.

Another ongoing need amid the pandemic is childcare for essential personnel who must continue to work outside their homes while schools are closed. To provide relief, the foundations awarded a second installment of funding to SKY Family YMCA ($75,000) and Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County ($80,000) for their respective programs that offer childcare for essential safety and healthcare workers. “We are honored to continue providing free care for children of first responders,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs. “We’re proud to do our part in keeping our local heroes’ children safe while they keep our community safe.”

While Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation have funded dozens of grants over the past six weeks for immediate COVID-19 relief, they also are preparing for significant new challenges as communities begin the process of recovery and eventual rebuilding from the pandemic. Generous donors have contributed an additional $1.1 million in support of what the foundations anticipate will be a multiyear effort. “As phased ‘reopening’ begins in our state and our region, we will focus on helping nonprofits increase their capacity to serve people who are struggling with lost wages over the long term,” said Mark Pritchett, President | CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “The recovery will demand innovation by our strongest nonprofit partners, and we’re confident they will continue to deliver on their missions.”

Other recent funding from Gulf Coast for COVID-19 relief includes $470,000 awarded to arts organizations that have lost revenue from canceled performances and events, and over $1 million in grants recommended from donor funds at the foundation to a wide range of nonprofit organizations.

Basic needs

UnidosNow – $10,000 to provide culturally competent case management to Spanish-speaking individuals and families who need critical services and resources

Laurel Civic Association – $10,000 to aid displaced, low-income workers and their families through rental/mortgage assistance, utility assistance, and supplemental access to food

All Faiths Food Bank – $7,000 to distribute meals to furloughed restaurant workers

The TWIG Cares – $2,500 to provide “TwigBoxes” filled with personal-care items, gift cards, and other support for young adults who have aged out of foster care

Health care and mental health

Florida Center for Early Childhood $25,000 to provide much-needed mental health resources for vulnerable young children and their families not fully covered by Medicaid or other insurance providers

Tri-County Counseling and Life Skills Center $15,000 to cover fees for mental-health and substance-abuse counseling for low-income clients in North Port

Tidewell Hospice $10,000 for medical supplies and additional staffing to serve the surge of patients in the region

Family Network on Disabilities $5,000 to provide relief for caregivers of children with disabilities through virtual respite care

Good Samaritan Pharmacy & Health Services $4,000 to meet increased demand for prescription medications while adhering to CDC guideline 

Operation Warrior Resolution $3,200 to provide telehealth counseling to Sarasota-area veterans and their families


Jobs and financial security

Women’s Resource Center $5,000 to assist hospitality-industry workers who have lost jobs or wages

The Salvation Army of Sarasota – $20,000 to reemploy furloughed staff so the agency can meet increased demand for its services across Sarasota County

First responders

SKY Family YMCA – $75,000 to continue offering childcare services and educational programs for children of essential employees, first responders, and healthcare providers

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County – $80,000 to provide childcare for essential healthcare and emergency response workers

Youth services

Safe Children Coalition – $17,800 to help provide every foster family in the 12th Judicial Circuit with a $100 gift card to assist with unplanned needs 

[Support]  Testing, Treating, Offering Dakin Dairy Milk

An update from CenterPlace Health in Sarasota County—

CenterPlace Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center. Our population is largely low-income, often uninsured. Though we accept many forms of insurance, we also offer a sliding fee scale for patients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford health services. Without Health Centers like CenterPlace, many would go without needed medical care, or they might go to the ER instead, which is very costly. We have three sites in Sarasota County.  

We are testing and treating for COVID-19. We’re an especially good option for people that don’t already have a provider or may be uninsured. The first positive patient we tested for COVID-19 was so grateful that we were able to provide treatment and appropriate follow-up. (We’re able to provide her contact information if you’d like).  We’re working with the DOH and City of Sarasota and will be do community testing in the next few weeks (dates TBD). 

We’ve adapted in the face of the epidemic.  We’ve set up triage stations outside our buildings to check temperatures and assess symptoms, limiting visitors and enforcing social distancing in our patient spaces. We’ve implemented AM/PM scheduling: Morning visits for well-patients, afternoon visits for those who are sick, with good sanitation of all patient spaces in-between. We’ve introduced telehealth – making it easier for our patients to safely connect with our providers via ‘virtual’ visits.

We’ve also expanded partnerships. In response to Dakin Dairy’s problem of surplus milk, we’ve been able to secure donations through a local church to provide milk for our patients. The milk doesn’t go to waste, and our patients are benefiting. There are literally now fridges with milk in our lobby space and it’s such a hit. 

Click for more info.

[Grant]  Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe receives emergency Arts Appreciation Grant

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the only professional black theater company on Florida's West Coast and one of only three in Florida, was thrilled to receive an emergency Arts Appreciation Grant of $30,000 from Gulf Coast Community Foundation. WBTT was one of 10 of this region's signature arts organizations to receive funding totaling $470,000 in April, to assist arts and cultural organizations hit the hardest due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is providing much-needed cash flow for WBTT as well as helping WBTT shift its operations – with regard to keeping its education and mentorship efforts strong and available through virtual means – until a return to a traditional live format is possible and safe. WBTT is proud that, even with the significant financial hit the organization has suffered in the wake of the cancellation of the majority of its 2019-2020 performance season, it has kept its entire staff on the payroll.

“While our prior fiscal health has put us in a less dire situation than it could be, this emergency funding will have a significant impact on the long-term survival of our company,” said Julie Leach. “We are currently working to figure out how we can transition our operations in order to continue our impact and reach throughout the community. Recent influxes of cash – including the emergency Arts Appreciation Grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation – are helping us to get through this crisis as well as affirming our value to the community.”

WBTT applied – and was approved – for a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loan, and has also applied for a recently-announced NEA grant program to assist arts organizations impacted by COVID-19. WBTT was also elated to have raised more than $190,000 during the recent 2020 Giving Challenge, coming in seventh out of nearly 700 participating nonprofit organizations.

Gulf Coast typically awards its Arts Appreciation Grants once a year to key arts and cultural partners. With minimal paperwork and wide flexibility for how the funding is used, the grants are designed to let the organizations focus on what they do best: advancing their artistic missions. Gulf Coast awarded the same amount to WBTT earlier in Gulf Coast's 2019-2020 fiscal year, in October of 2019. 

Pictured: Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director of WBTT, Julie Leach, executive director of WBTT, and Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Photo taken in October 2019.

[Webinar]  Women’s Resource Center Offers a Free “Who is Hiring?” Webinar on May 20

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted employment across multiple industries, many local companies are still hiring. The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is helping individuals connect to these in-demand occupations through “Who is Hiring?” a free, one-hour webinar on May 20, noon-1 p.m. WRC is hosting this special information session as part of its popular “Career Connections” monthly program which focuses on helping women explore quality job openings and funded training programs in the area. The webinar, moderated by Lori Gentile, director of client services, will offer information about hiring organizations, open positions, and average wages, and explain ways that WRC can assist individuals with their job search process, resume development and interview preparation through one-on-one Career Coaching services.

“WRC continues to serve a critical role in the community as a connector to help women find the jobs, services, education and other resources they need during transitional and disruptive times such as this current crisis,” explains WRC CEO Ashley Brown.

WRC also has created a dedicated COVID-19 resource page on its website (https://www.mywrc.org ) to provide up-to-date information on variety of topics, including employment. Webinar participants will be shown how to navigate the site to find direct links to career pages of organizations that are hiring during the pandemic, as well as other information to assist them in accessing essential resources. 

Register for the webinar.

[Testing]  DOH Sarasota Continues Community Based COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Throughout the Sarasota County

DOH Sarasota is scheduled to host three by appointment only COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites throughout Sarasota County next week. This community based COVID-19 testing is for anyone who is currently experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell) or who works in a health care setting.

To date, DOH Sarasota has tested more than 1500 community members for COVID-19 during our community-based testing events.

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.

Additionally, while these are primarily drive-thru sites, DOH Sarasota can accommodate walk-ups, and people on bicycles.

North Sarasota: Tuesday, May 12, 8 a.m. to noon - R.L. Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th Street, Sarasota

South County: Wednesday, May 13, 8 a.m. to noon - Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd, North Port

Mid-County: Thursday, May 14, 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 more info.

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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