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SRQ DAILY Jun 3, 2020

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"It's certainly been a challenge remaining open. But we feel incredibly fortunate we were considered essential during this time."

- Stanley Kinnett, owner of Metal Supermarkets Sarasota

[Business]  Local Business Provides Metal for Home Repairs and Protective Equipment During Pandemic
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

Whether it’s a result of having significantly more available time on their hands, or a desire to be productive and stay busy while out of a job, many homeowners reported finally being able to undertake a list of much-needed home repairs and house projects while sheltering during the pandemic. 

With home improvement stores able to remain open during major shutdowns—being designated as essential retailers—supply stores like Metal Supermarkets reported the noticeable influx in business. Carrying a myriad of metal shapes, precision cuts, shears or punches to customer’s exact specifications, in all different rare/exotic metals, Metal Supermarkets also saw hobbyists seeking parts for DIY projects such as artwork, furniture design, fence building, or automotive restoration such as repairing race cars, trailers, bikes and boats. According to store owner Stanley Kinnett, many customers were already professional welders, building contractors and engineers in various industries including marina and restaurant, and have found themselves, like many, laid off when the pandemic hit at the local level.  They purchased metal materials and supplies so they could continue to build and sell things on their own—such as smokers, grills and welding tables to make money while being out of their job.  

Throughout this time, the supply store has also been providing 24/7 service to customers requiring metal for frontline and emergency services. If a company or individual needed metal to produce critical items such as personal protective equipment, ventilators or other forms of frontline support, the Kinnetts were available round-the-clock to help. So far, they’ve supplied metal to many essential businesses including hospitals, fire departments, police stations, other hardware stores and Costco. Additionally, Metal Supermarkets—normally used to preparing large slabs/sheets of metal for big projects—were challenged with the prospect of providing a tiny nose piece for protective face shields (3 inches long and about a half-inch wide) on its 10-ft wide sheer machine. Operations Manager, Nick Kinnett, cut each one individuallyat least 1,000 or moreto supply Sarasota-Manatee COVID Response Team the metal piece to make face shields for frontline workers in the two counties.  

According to Stanley, Metal Supermarkets Sarasota experienced a 98 percent increase in sales in March and April this year, over the same period in 2019. He runs the local supply store with his wife and son Nick, but the family of metal masters recently had to hire additional staff members to accommodate the extra business they are experiencing. “It’s certainly been a challenge remaining open,” said Stanley. “But we feel incredibly fortunate we were considered essential during this time to stay open.” 

Pictured: Stanley and Nick Kinnett.

Metal Supermarkets, 1195 Tallevast Rd., Sarasota, 941-313-2590.

[Hunger]  Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee to Conduct a Massive Food Distribution and Collection on June 6 at Ellenton Premium Outlets

Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee is conducting a food distribution on Saturday, June 6th at Ellenton Premium Outlets for up to 1,000 families. During this event, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee will also be collecting food to help meet the continued needs in our community for those impacted by COVID-19.

This drive-through food distribution and food collection event will involve limited-contact with volunteers and staff to maintain social distancing.  Any non-perishable food items will be accepted for the food collection. For safety, the collected items will remain in quarantine for seventy-two hours before being wiped down and distributed back out into the community via The Food Bank of Manatee’s partner agencies. Those in need of food will be able to receive a box of food to feed a family of five breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days.  Food for 1,000 families will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Hosting this event on June 6 is so poignant as it is designated as ‘National Hunger Awareness Day,’ a day to bring awareness of food insecurity and help to those who have fallen on hard times,” said Maribeth Phillips, President & CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus.  “We are sincerely grateful to those who have come forward to help their neighbors in need during the challenging times the pandemic has presented.  Today’s event is made possible through the generosity of our sponsors which include Bradenton Kiwanis, Manatee Community Foundation, Carl Reynolds Law, MySuncoast-ABC7, Metz Culinary Management, and the Ellenton Premium Outlets,” stated Phillips. 

[Giving Back]  $296,635 Awarded From Manatee County COVID-19 Community Response Fund

Manatee Community Foundation has approved an additional 18 grants totaling $296,635 from the Manatee County COVID19 Community Response Fund. In total– together with funds from donor advisors and additional funds– Manatee Community Foundation has awarded $1.83 million in grants since March 1, 2020.

The largest grant from the COVID19 Community Response Fund, $44,000, will support Genesis Health Services, a nonprofit community health care clinic located in Palmetto providing medical and dental services to underserved populations. The grant will allow the Center to transition a portion of its medical care to telehealth and tele-dentistry, giving low-income clients access to services while minimizing exposure and travel needs.

In the area of food security, grants included $25,000 to Meals on Wheels PLUS to support a large-scale community food distribution event; $10,000 to Feeding Empty Little Tummies (FELD) for homeless and vulnerable children; $7,000 to Salvation Army of Manatee County for one month of food; $7,000 to New College of Florida for summer food needs for homeless students; $5,000 to State College of Florida for its student food pantry; and $10,000 to Parrish United Methodist Church to support increased food needs for residents of East Manatee County.

Education and child welfare investments are addressing basic needs and equity in learning, including $25,000 to Manatee County School District to ensure that vulnerable third grade students have free wi-fi to access summer learning; $5,000 to Just for Girls for deep cleaning services for student safety; $11,500 to AMI Kids to ensure children and families are connected to available services for basic needs; and $17,800 to Safe Children’s Coalition to support relative and non-relative caregiver families with children who have been removed from their homes.

Health Care grants include: $44,000 to Genesis Health Services for telemedicine; $37,000 to Multicultural Health Institute for COVID19 health supports in African American neighborhoods; $18,635 to Turning Points for telemedicine; $27,000 to Centerstone to provide IT support for patients with mental illness accessing teletherapy; $10,000 to MCR Health Services for additional COVID-19 test kits; and $7,150 for First Step to support low-income patients in recovery with teletherapy.

Additional grants included: $4,550 to Myakka Giving Alliance for the Manatee County Unified Command to purchase seven decontamination machines for PPE; $15,000 to Goodwill Manasota to assist employees in finding new jobs; and $10,000 to MCR Health Services for child care at United Community Centers for essential workers.

The Manatee County COVID-19 Community Response Fund was established by an anonymous donor and accepts tax-deductible contributions from the community for the purpose of supporting health and human service organizations impacted by the coronavirus. Manatee Community Foundation has distributed a total of $419,295 from the fund for basic needs, food security, housing, health care and therapy, needs of vulnerable students, protective equipment, and hospice care. The Foundation continues to accept donations to the Fund, which will help organizations throughout the recovery period. 

Click for more info.

[Home Sales]  Babcock Ranch Surpasses 700 Homes Sold Milestone

Kitson & Partners, developers of Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31, has reported 700 new home contracts through the end of May. Babcock Ranch began marketing new homes in 2017, with the first residents moving into the town in January 2018. Today, Babcock Ranch offers homes from nine homebuilders in seven neighborhoods.  “Now more than ever, homebuyers are attracted to the vision behind Babcock Ranch – a return to a true hometown lifestyle, where everything you need to stay active, healthy and connected is right within reach,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners. “Our trails, parks and open spaces welcome residents to enjoy the outdoors, and distance learning and working from home is seamless with our one gig-per second connection.” Babcock Ranch was created by Kitson & Partners with respect for the natural environment and the philosophy that smart growth and sustainability work hand in hand. Half of the town’s 18,000-acre footprint is set aside as greenways, parks and expansive lakes, providing recreation and scenic backdrops for Babcock Ranch’s homes and the Founder’s Square downtown district. Babcock Ranch homebuilders offer more than 50 home designs for nearly every lifestyle, from condominiums to villas to single-family estates ranging from 1,120 to more than 4,000 square feet. Homes appeal to young millennials, families, empty nesters and retirees alike, with prices ranging from the low $200s to over $1.5 million. Built to Florida Green Building Coalition standards, homes emphasize energy and water conservation and offer a full gigabyte of fiber-optic connectivity. Babcock National brings golf to Babcock Ranch with a newly opened 18-hole Gordon Lewis-designed course as the centerpiece of Lennar’s new lifestyle community. 

Click for more info.

[Recognition]  Kerkering, Barberio & Co. Named a Best Public Accounting Firm for Equity Leadership

Kerkering, Barberio & Co., Certified Public Accountants, is pleased to announce that the Firm has been selected as one of the Best Public Accounting Firms for Equity Leadership as determined by the 2020 Accounting MOVE Project, which recognizes the Best Public Accounting Firms for Women. Equity Leadership firms are those where women comprise a minimum of 30% of partners and principals. For over 20 years, Kerkering, Barberio & Co. has worked with employees to design both alternative career paths and flexible work arrangements. Those efforts have paid off with 60% women partners. The Firm also earns its spot on the Equity Leadership list with 71% of all employees being women. “We are very proud of the people and the culture at Kerkering, Barberio & Co. It is the combination of the two that make this distinguished honor possible," said Rob Lane, Managing Shareholder. 

Click for more info.

[Panel Discussion]  Strategies and Tactics for Communication During a Pandemic

The Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (CWC-FPRA) is hosting their monthly professional networking session virtually with a panel presentation by Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s PR/Communication Team. Moderator, Jennifer Wilson, APR, CPRC, Senior Service Line Marketing Specialist will present along with panelists Kim Savage, PR Manager and Public Information Officer, Ellen Simon, APR, Corporate Communications and Government Relations Manager, Allison Warren, Multi-Media PR Specialist and Ann Key, Digital Communications Specialist.

When the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the local area, the SMH PR and Communications team mobilized to provide timely, though ever-changing, information to its staff, physicians, patients and community. Learn more about the strategies and tactics employed to communicate vital health and operational information to our audiences.

The event will be held on Wednesday, June 17, at 12pm via Zoom with the specifics provided once guests register. Tickets for the program are free for FPRA members, $10/guests. 

Click to register.

[Giving Back]  The Florida Center for Early Childhood Provides Mobile Graduation Ceremony to VPK Students

Students enrolled in The Florida Center for Early Childhood's Starfish Academy Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program received a surprise graduation visit from their teachers and principal over the weekend. Traditionally, the school hosts a graduation ceremony where VPK students receive their diplomas and teachers get a chance to wish them well before they progress to kindergarten. However, due to Covid-19, the event could not take place. Instead, the preschool’s two VPK teachers, Rashalla Davenport and Gina Furey along with Principal Susan Carney, visited 14 students at their homes and presented each of them with a red balloon, portfolio of school work and diploma. Students posed in a “Class of 2020” photo frame and traditional graduation cap.

“We made 14 stops from Palmetto to Venice but it was totally worth it,” said Carney. “Many of these students have disabilities and/or developmental delays and worked really hard to make it through the program. We wanted to do something special for their tremendous efforts.” Starfish Academy, with campuses in Sarasota and North Port, operates an inclusion program in which typically developing students learn alongside those with special needs. The program encourages all students to reach their full potential. While the final weeks of the school year were challenging, the students remained connected through classroom chat sessions, educational YouTube videos, and one-on-one virtual sessions with teachers.

“It was a very sweet reunion as most of the children had not seen their teachers in person in over two months,” Carney added. “For them to come to their houses and say goodbye meant a lot.” Students attending Starfish Academy in North Port had a “drive through graduation” where parents and students pulled up in vehicles to say goodbye while teachers distributed diplomas and goody bags. "They are academically and socially-emotionally prepared for the big move, thanks to the instruction of dedicated teachers and therapists," said Tanya Ruiz, principal of Starfish Academy in North Port. We couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishment." 

Pictured, left to right: Jace Lehman received his diploma and swag bag from teachers while seated in his car seat during a drive-through graduation at Starfish Academy in North Port. Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) teachers Gina Furey and Rashalla Davenp

[Housing ]  Public Support Helps Harvest House Stay Resilient During Wave of Need

Even in the best of times, Harvest House’s service-enriched housing model for those who find themselves without a roof over their head has a waiting list. But the organization hasn’t missed a beat in addressing the escalating needs of the community throughout the pandemic and economic fallout. Since statewide stay-at-home orders, Harvest House clients are experiencing record high unemployment and underemployment. Families are finding it especially difficult to return to work without viable childcare options, especially when most households are headed by single parents.

To relieve dozens of families of the burden of rent and program fees, the organization has waived costs to its clients and provided additional support like food supplies, technology assistance, and mental health counseling. The organization is also serving more than 1,500 people through its drive-through food pantry each week.

“From the onset, we never wanted clients to have to choose between rent and their next meal,” says Erin Minor, Executive Director of Harvest House. “We expect more waves of families to come looking for help in the next few months, and we’ve readied our infrastructure to be as prepared as we can be.” More than 33% of the organization’s funds come from programs fees and rent, but a $200,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation has allowed Harvest House to allow the waived costs to stay sustainable in the coming months.

“Harvest House is a longtime partner doing impactful work in our community,” says Teri A Hansen, President | CEO of Barancik Foundation. “Our Board recognized an opportunity to keep a critical part of our social safety net for families strong and resilient. We hope others will make similar investments.” 

(941) 953-3154 || info@harvesthousecenters.com

[Moving Company]  College HUNKS Moving Company Offering Free Moving Services To Anyone Fleeing Domestic Violence

Rapidly accumulating data is showing a disturbing trend during COVID-19 quarantine life—an uptick in domestic violence incidents. With families sheltering in place, it’s become increasingly difficult for domestic violence victims to escape from their situations and seek help. As such, College HUNKS Moving Company (HUNKS) is offering free moving services to anyone fleeing domestic violence. HUNKS is now a resource on the national domestic violence hotline and is working with safe houses and counselors and domestic violence shelters directly in the 130 markets where they have franchises.

“Home isolation, however vital to the fight against the pandemic, is giving still more power to the abuser,” said Dr. Marianne Hester, a sociologist who studies abusive relationships. People fleeing an abusive domestic situation need to remove themselves from the home they’ve been living in and either take up residence elsewhere or go to a shelter."

“As a Purpose-Driven, Socially-Conscious national moving and junk removal company, we want to help our communities and neighbors during these unique times, while also staying in business as an essential service,” "We saw the national news reports that domestic violence is significantly increasing due to the economic pressures and the stay-at-home orders,” said Nick Friedman. “We wanted to do our part to help alleviate an unintended consequence.”

A certified domestic violence shelter needs to approve any victims requesting a free move to ensure that the victim is supported throughout the transition as well as for the safety of the moving team and victim. Anyone in a domestic violence situation should first contact the police or a domestic violence shelter immediately. The shelter will contact HUNKS at NationalAccounts@CHHJ.com and the movers will make themselves available and help coordinate. 

For more information, please visit https://www.collegehunkshaulingjunk.com/

[Brain Health]  Neal Communities Contributes $50,000 to the Brain Health Initiative for Florida, Suncoast Region

Neal Communities, Southwest Florida’s premier, private homebuilder, has contributed $50,000 to help fund the Brain Health Initiative (BHI). The contribution is the second of three installments, for a total pledge of $150,000.

“The benefit this initiative can bring to improve brain health and reduce the risk of brain illness among those in our own region and state is inspiring. It’s a mission that Neal Communities is happy to support for the long-term health of those in our community,” said Pat Neal, Founder and Chairman, Neal Communities.

The Brain Health Initiative is a cutting-edge, new approach to protecting brain health and fighting brain illness across the lifespan. Working collaboratively with Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, and the Academy for Brain Health and Performance BHI is dedicated to building brain healthy communities through education, research, innovation and action.

Since its launch, BHI researchers have been working tirelessly to establish the research institute and promote brain health in the community. Recent actions include the spring launch of the Brain Health Longitudinal Pilot study, investigating brain health risk and protective factors in adults.

The pilot study involves randomly selected residents of Lakewood Ranch and examines the ways they function mentally, socially, cognitively, and overall, as well as the factors in their lives that present risk or promote resilience in brain health and performance. Community participation in the confidential, online questionnaire is a critical component of the study and the BHI encourages those residents who receive a recruitment letter to participate in the study and help inform the science that is essential to promoting and protecting brain health and fighting brain illness. 

Dr. Stephanie Peabody, Founder and Executive Director of the BHI shares that “The overall research program will follow residents, young and older, from throughout the Suncoast region, for decades to identify brain health protective and risk factors, as well as clinical trials, that focus on prevention, early detection, evidence-based intervention and performance optimization across the lifespan. The Brain Health Innovation Lab seeks to attract global brain health innovators with state-of-the-art solutions to validate and test the feasibility of solutions, like neurotechnology and lifestyle interventions to enhance brain health. The Brain Health Innovation Lab will be launching its first clinical trial, My Healthy Brain, in late 2020.” 

For more information or to support project funding, visit www.brainhealthiniative.org.

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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