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SRQ DAILY May 15, 2021

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The brain is an organ just like the heart, liver, kidneys or lungs. Yet we don't screen for mental health like we do for physical health."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Argus]  American Rescue Plan Monies Coming to Local Governments
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The American Rescue Plan is about to send a remarkable influx of federal dollars into local governments. The US Department of Treasury came out with guidance this week for $110.7 billion headed to county and city governments around the country. This is a pivotal moment for local governments and our quality of life and well-being.

According to the National League of Cities, $53,785,898.21 will be coming to Sarasota County’s four municipalities. The National Association of Counties indicate that Sarasota County government will be receiving $84,249,299, which is more than what was received last summer under the CARES Act.

These monies will be coming straight from the Department of Treasury and will not be passed through the state governments, which will get their own allocations over and above the county and city apportionments. According to Treasury, the counties in Florida will receive half of the funds this month and then half of the funds in one year.  They will have until the end of 2024 to obligate, but not necessarily spend, the funds.

Taxpayers should pay close attention to how these funds will be spent as there is broad flexibility as to how these funds can be used. 

Governments can choose to invest in their communities by addressing the negative impacts to workers, households, small businesses, mental health, essential workers and impacted industries caused by COVID. They can also invest in certain types of important specific infrastructure such as water (including wastewater and stormwater), sewer or broadband. 

For individuals and families, the monies can be used for aid for food, housing, or job training for the unemployed. Treasury guidelines specifically mention the challenges and disproportionate impact communities of color and low-income families face.

Funding can be used for loans, grants, in-kind assistance and counseling for businesses. The Treasury department specifically singles out the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors as being eligible for support. 

Alternatively, local governments can choose to aid themselves. If they had a loss in revenue due to the pandemic, they can replace it. Or, they can choose to use the money to support government’s public health and safety obligations.

We are thankful our local governments are transparent and collaborative with our residents, businesses and non-profits in deciding where this money goes. We know it will start with a business plan. The plan will consider both the need created by, and continuing impact of, COVID-19.

We are looking forward to watching the cooperative public discussions of goals, measurables, deliverables, and outcomes of this money. This plan will most definitely lead to public confidence and a faster local economic recovery.

Christine Robinson is executive director for The Argus Foundation. 

Image from Pixabay

[Gulf Coast]  Help Remove the Stigma from Mental Health Care
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Great news arrived in my email on Thursday. The CDC formally declared that if you have been vaccinated, you may resume activities that you did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a pivotal turning point to return to a normal life for our community, workplaces, and schools.

However, for many in Sarasota and across the country, the emotional and mental health effects of the pandemic will linger until they seek help. The impact of COVID-19 has fueled a distressing rise in anxiety and depression among teenagers. A recent two-part story from Health News Florida and a May/June feature in SRQ Magazine detail this toll while shining a spotlight on resources and programs that are trying to help.

And it’s not only our youth who are struggling. Nor is it just the incidence of mental-health conditions that is on the rise. Multiple experts on a Sarasota Tiger Bay Club webinar last week reported an even more alarming increase in the acuity of mental-health cases in our region. That’s across all demographics—age, ethnicity, financial standing. Amid the dual health and economic crises in which we’ve been mired, what was a mild case is now a severe one. What was a severe case is now a crisis.

May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness month. The purpose is to raise awareness about a variety of mental illnesses and to remove the stigma associated with getting the proper treatment. Research conducted by USF through the Here4YOUth mental-health initiative noted a range of reasons why community members might not seek the help they need—from fear of bullying or being shunned by the community to parents who don’t want to admit a “problem” with their child or be “found out” for their own potential issues. As one stakeholder says in the report: “I think that stigma, coupled with a lack of knowledge of the resources out there, creates the barriers to helping more children and families in need earlier on.” And earlier on is key.

As a region, we are working to eliminate the stigma around mental health. It should be seen no differently than our physical health. Mental illnesses are treatable. Early detection can make treatment much easier and survival rates exponentially higher. The brain is an organ just like the heart, liver, kidneys or lungs. Yet we don’t screen for mental health like we do for physical health. And when someone is a “problem”—think a child in a classroom, an adult on the job—how often is the response to just cut them off, so to speak?

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Sarasota region has started coming together to provide prevention programs and treatments that address the mental-health crisis head-on. Several organizations spotlighted in the stories mentioned above are working together through Here4YOUth to transform our system of mental-health care for children through young adults. Our county commission this month took an important step toward ensuring a dedicated source of public funding for desperately needed, fiscally sound mental-health services. This progress is promising.

On that Tiger Bay videoconference last week, advocate Collen Thayer shared a wonderful origin story of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the country’s largest grassroots mental-health organization “It was a couple of moms sitting around a kitchen table, literally, who had adult children that lived with severe mental illness,” she said, “and they wanted to figure out a way to get them through that system of care and support them the best they can.” Today, NAMI has more than 600 affiliates across the country, including Thayer’s Sarasota-Manatee chapter, which does heroic and innovative work to support families struggling with mental-health challenges.

Across our community, there are thousands of moms and dads and other loved ones sitting around their kitchen tables who deserve better than they have now. They deserve to speak shame-free and be embraced freely. They deserve their own hope, and they deserve our community’s help. Please learn more at Here4YOUth.org.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[SOON]  HEALTH: Olala Events: Girls Night Out x Paint, Nail Bar , May 22, 5:30pm-8:30pm

It's time to treat yourself. Come and mingle with us at Paint Nail studio on May 22 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at PAINT, Nail Bar, 1417 1st Street, Sarasota for the last Olala Events of the season. Your favorite vendors will be here, Botox demonstration, Eyebrow shaping, floral arrangements and more. Come, Relax and Sip a flute of Champagne while taking care of yourself. Go home with your own made Floral Arrangement. Erika from the Roaming Petal will give you the best tips to make yourself a beautiful bouquet. Do not wait places are really limited.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: Astronomy Day at the Museum , May 15, 10am-2pm

Join us at the Museum where space will take center stage on Astronomy Day on Saturday, May 15 from 10am to 2pm. We're planning a special live star talk in The Planetarium, a scavenger hunt throughout the Museum, a crater-making experiment and fun space-related activities in the Mosaic Backyard Universe. You’ll even be able to talk to an expert from Celestron about your telescope questions. Everything is included with admission, so come get spaced out. The cost is included in admission. After you talk with our telescope expert, why not enjoy spacing out with your own 'scope? We have the Celestron StarSense Explorer available now in the Museum Store. It's perfect for beginners.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: Seeing Stars at Robinson Preserve , May 15, 8:30pm-10:30pm

Join us on Saturday, May 15 from 8:30pm to 10:30pm at Robinson Preserve, 9 in the Expansion, 10299 9th Avenue NW, Bradenton for our last Seeing Stars program of the astronomy viewing season. You’ll enjoy a beautiful night sky overlooking the bay at Robinson Preserve, thanks to our partners at Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Weather permitting, Mercury, Venus, and the waxing crescent moon are expected to be spectacular sights. We provide the telescopes and the expertise; you enjoy the wonders of our universe. The program is free, but advance tickets are required. We are limiting audience size to allow for social distancing. Masks are required for staff, volunteers, and guests.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Children's World: Book Readings about Overcoming Bullying , May 15, 10am-2pm

Former Sarasota resident, Noelia Voigt wrote an anti-bullying children’s book called “Maddie the BRAVE” while holding the title of Miss Alabama Collegiate America 2020. Maddie, the main character in the book, sadly lost her life to bullying in 2018. This is a happy book that will help children practice self-love and positive self-affirmations, help them to identify what bullying may look like, and how to go about handling those situations. The book readings will take place on the hour from 10am to 2pm at Children’s World, 4525 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, on Saturday, May 15. After each reading Ms. Voigt will speak to each child individually to further inspire them, and autograph individual books. Ms. Voigt is also part of an anti-bullying non-profit called Tiny Be Mighty that has recently released a one-of-a-kind anti-bullying app called, Bullying Buddy. Noelia is now an ambassador for Tiny Be Mighty and Bullying Buddy, and will be working with state representatives, governors, and other local and state government officials to help get this app integrated into school systems. She will have information about this app for parents as well.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center: Job Skills Boot Camp , May 15, 10am-2pm

Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center will host a Job Skills Boot Camp in partnership with Manatee and Sarasota Counties’ Gator Clubs. The Job Skills Boot Camp will be attended by high school students and adults affected by vision loss on Saturday, May 15 from 10am to 2pm, in the parking lot, at the Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center, 7318 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Members of the Sarasota and Manatee Counties Gator Clubs will use their professional knowledge and skills to provide topics and specialized training to Lighthouse clients including: Cover Letters, Resumes, Soft vs Hard Skills, Scholarships, Interview Skills, Job Search & Applications, Career Goals, Appearance & Expectations, Communication & Time Management and Finances & Tax Forms. Individuals participating in the Job Skills Boot Camp are clients in our Transition and Vocational Rehabilitation Programs who are seeking employment. Teens from our Transition Program are preparing for Lighthouse's Work-Based Learning Experience, working at local businesses in an array of job fields during the month of July. To learn more about the Job Skills Boot Camp, please contact Nicole Mobley at Nicole.Mobley@LighthouseEducationCenter.org and to learn more about the programs and services offered by the Lighthouse at NO COST to individuals affected by vision loss, please visit www.LighthouseEducationCenter.org. Social distancing will be maintained with masks and hand sanitizer available throughout the event.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Limelight Market , May 15, 10am-3pm

The Limelight Pop Up market happens outside every 3rd Saturday with different guest vendors, live music, and food. Support Locals from 10am to 3pm this Saturday, May 15. Located at the courtyard of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, 821 Apricot Avenue, Sarasota. May 15 guests include: Animal Network, Myakka’s Gold Apiary, The Sugar Board, Marla Katz Pottery, Copper & Sage, Siesta Key Sea Bee Dee, Pour It On Creations, and Aquarius Collection. Live music by Sean Adam Walsh. Hamlet's Eatery will be open, as well as the 25+ vendors inside The Bazaar
For more information visit www.BazaaronApricotandlime.com.

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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