Fostering a More Humane Community, One Paw at a Time

Guest Correspondence


Whether they bark, meow, neigh or squawk, animals are inseparable members of our families. My own family would be incomplete without our three Labradors, J.J. (Jogger Jerde), a chocolate lab and our twin sisters who followed her, yellow labs Sadie and Sophie. They gave my husband, Mike and I such companionship over the years. Memories of them resting their heads on our laps while reading or nudging us out of the house for a well-needed walk remind me of how their love brought all of us closer together.

Like many households this past year, we examined opportunities to focus our time helping others, including animals. We’re looking forward to sharing our home again with new companions as a host family for a local nonprofit organization. These relationships – no matter how long – sustain us and undoubtedly leave a pawprint impression on our hearts for years to come.

Promoting the wellbeing of all animals is a cause that has found a loving home with many of the charitable individuals and families who partner with us at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Personal connections with their own lifelong companions have inspired our donors to adopt an encompassing definition of care. From rehabilitative treatment to food and shelter, each donor’s vision – paired with nonprofit programs and initiatives – brings us one step closer to a more a humane community.

Animal Welfare Grants help foster this vision across Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Created with the generosity of the Helen C. Schwieder Fund, Robert Parker Fund and other significant funds, this annual competitive grant cycle recently awarded $203,000 to 14 local nonprofit organizations to serve animals in need. Many of this year’s supported programs focused primarily on providing veterinary care, covering expenses such as veterinarian visits, medicines and emergency medical services, which provide help to animals as well as their caretakers who may be facing financial hardship. Additional capacity building strategies to assist organizations in the development of volunteer and foster programs also resonated with the committee of community volunteers, staff and local animal welfare experts who were part of the evaluation process.

These services help people connect and heal emotionally alongside our animal friends. For example, Prospect Riding Center is strengthening its therapeutic horseback activities, as is Easterseals Southwest Florida through its partnership with InStride Therapy serving children and veterans in Sarasota County. Through its Partners for Pets program, Vintage Paws Sanctuary is collaborating with Senior Friendship Centers to provide seniors struggling financially by providing pet food and other supplies to sustain their companionship.

These and other programs show clearly how animals bring about our very human capacity to nurture others, while also accepting care. I cannot wait to get that knowing nudge again to head out on a walk that will put both person and companion on better figurative footing.

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

Photo courtesy Community Foundation: Roxie's yellow labs.

« View The Saturday May 1, 2021 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

American Rescue Plan Monies Coming to Local Governments

American Rescue Plan Monies Coming to Local Governments

Christine Robinson | May 15, 2021

Help Remove the Stigma from Mental Health Care

Help Remove the Stigma from Mental Health Care

Mark Pritchett | May 15, 2021

New College Scores High at Ethics Invitational

New College scores high among Florida universities at CFA Ethics Invitational

Donal O'Shea | May 8, 2021

A Complicated Puzzle Ahead

A Complicated Puzzle Ahead

Jacob Ogles | May 8, 2021