Sharing Time in Service of Others

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy Community Foundation: Roxie Jerde and Nelle S. Miller

There’s an idiom in business that what you measure matters. In philanthropy, there are many measurements – outcomes, lives changed, program results, financial management and years in business. But what is hardest to gauge is the changes made in our hearts and measured gains in our character through sharing our time in ways that create community.

Time has been on my mind as this year marks my 10-year anniversary at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. In the last decade, I’ve had the privilege to shake hands and give a hug (and recently, bump elbows) with a great number of people who have never failed to lend a helping hand. As we cross into the “after” pandemic transition, and welcome many newcomers to our growing area, it seems like the right moment to celebrate the service-based philosophy that guides our area’s generosity and spirit.

The Community Foundation’s commitment to helping our community — one voice, one cause, one person at a time — is cultivated by the visionaries that serve on our Board of Directors, each representing a spectrum of generations and industries, geographies and life experiences that enrich our charitable investments and strategic decision-making. Led by the courageous Nelle Miller, it is from this group of philanthropists, business leaders and community innovators from which our “Be The One” philosophy — that anyone can make a difference, regardless of means — transforms into impact and action.

Our board empowers us to help create the community we all want to live in alongside individuals, families, and nonprofit organizations. This stood resolute even when we were faced with the dual crises that defined the last year. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were positioned to swiftly react and prepare our region for longer-term recovery through a balance of governance decisions that ensured sustainability and encouraged innovation. Our other values of compassion, integrity and inclusiveness have been constant themes in our conversations this year to expand our culture to welcome diversity of people and thoughts through community engagement. The aim of these discussions being — ultimately — making the greatest impact on disparities we can positively affect following a year of dramatic shifts globally and locally.

All these thoughtful discussions were taking place while our board members were figuring out how to pivot their own businesses and lifestyles within the confines of a Zoom screen, in addition to conducting foundation work remotely. The many hours of screen time were counted, but the measurements of how those talks will continue to make a difference in our community are still being tallied.

I share these experiences with you in hopes that you too will recognize the volunteers in our area who intentionally come together to make our lives more meaningful. If you are new to the area like I was a decade ago, I encourage you to seek opportunities to become involved with causes close to your own heart. You can begin your journey to become a volunteer or board member with one of the more than 800 nonprofit organizations with a profile in the Community Foundation’s nonprofit database, The Giving Partner, at www.thegivingpartner.org. And if you’ve already found your calling as a volunteer, I’m sending you a heartfelt thank you for advancing our community, one hour of service at a time.

How and where we give our time is an expression of who we are. Share it thoughtfully.

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

Photo courtesy Community Foundation: Roxie Jerde and Nelle S. Miller

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