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SRQ DAILY Dec 4, 2021

"My experience as district Teacher of the Year has been a gift that enriched my life personally and professionally and motivated me to bring back to the classroom and share with my students the important things I learned."

- Kari Johnson, Sarasota County teacher

[Community]  Unlocking Possibilities Through Year-End Giving
Betsy Pennewill

Imagine you want to make a difference in your community, but don’t know where to begin. As corporate counsel for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, I am fortunate to meet charitably inclined individuals on a weekly basis. I start each of my conversations with these potential donors by asking questions to gain an understanding of the causes they care most about and their motivations to give. I truly enjoy learning about their backgrounds and what brought them to our beautiful coastal community, and together we discuss how to make an impactful gift that can become their legacy plan. I believe the how and why behind charitable giving is the first step in unlocking possibilities that enable everyone to thrive in our communities.

Earlier last month, I had the chance to sit down with a donor who embodies this thoughtful process and decision-making that goes into each act of generosity. I was introduced to this individual many years ago while she and her husband were refining their estate plan, and it has been an enriching journey to build our relationship while creating a framework so that their charitable intentions can continue beyond their lifetimes. This legacy plan has been five years in the making, and will transform this donor’s dreams into reality, alongside the dreams of the many individuals they will help.

I share all this to underscore that charitable giving is just as much about the journey as it is the destination. Every step in the process – from listening to someone’s motivations to helping them discover a new perspective – is essential. With intentional planning and heartfelt guidance, everyone can be a philanthropist and better our community in profound ways.

As we close the year and consider how to map out opportunities for our community’s future, consider these year-end charitable giving tools to chart your own course for helping others realize their full potential:

  • The CARES Act | The CARES Act provides two additional charitable incentives that encourage charitable giving during the year 2021: Large Cash Gifts and Universal Charitable Deduction.
  • IRA Gifts as a Qualified Charitable Distribution | You may contribute from your IRA required minimum distribution (RMD) to a public charity, including to a scholarship fund or designated fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County or to Season of Sharing, as a qualified charitable distribution.
  • Gifting Appreciated Stock | Gifting long term appreciated stock to a donor advised fund is a way to generously support the nonprofits you care about.
  • Real Estate Gifts | Before listing real property for sale, consider gifting such real estate to a donor advised fund.
  • Business Interests | In many cases charitable planning can play a powerful role in the sale of a business.

Interested in learning more about these opportunities? You can find helpful insights and key deadlines to help guide your year-end giving strategy on our website, which I recommend you discuss with your tax advisor.

Each one of us holds a vision for a better future. How we bring about that future gives our community its unique sense of generosity. No matter how or when you give, thank you for your desire to care for others in our community so everyone can unlock their own possibilities and realize their own potential.

Betsy Pennewill is Corporate Counsel at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.  

Image courtesy Pixabay.

[Education]  Generous Giving Impacts Positive Classrooms
Kari Johnson

How appropriate it is that this year’s Teacher of the Year celebration on Dec. 9 falls between the season of giving thanks and the season of giving gifts.

Gratitude, generosity, joy and positivity are the prevailing themes that tie together these celebrations and inspire both giver and recipient.

I have been fortunate to be on the giving and receiving sides as a kindergarten teacher for 16 years and especially this past year when it was my honor, as Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, to represent my incredible fellow teachers in our schools.  

My experience as district Teacher of the Year has been a gift that enriched my life personally and professionally and motivated me to bring back to the classroom and share with my students the important things I learned.

I’m very excited to celebrate the teacher who will be recognized as the 2022 honoree and I know the overwhelming feelings of gratitude, humility, and inspiration that accompany the tribute.

For me, the award also carries a profound sense of responsibility to use the platform wisely and use my voice to advocate purposefully for meaningful issues that help elevate our teachers and advance student learning.  

I am committed to continuing advocating, and I appreciate this opportunity to share my thoughts about the value of positivity in the classroom and how the community can help us bolster it.  

The Sarasota County Teacher of the Year program is a gift to teachers. Not every school district enjoys this level of program that recognizes and supports teachers. Our celebration is made possible by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Sarasota County Schools, and the generous education supporters in the community who give their time, funds, and resources.

The importance of the community’s participation can’t be over-emphasized in light of the past two years--the toughest and most challenging that most classroom teachers can remember.

Some people who want to contribute but have limited personal resources might wonder what they can do. Here’s the beauty of having a supportive mindset: A little contribution can have a big impact when given in the spirit of generosity.

A generous, caring act by a community member sets a great precedent and shows students and teachers they are supported, lifted up, and valued by people outside their immediate families.

My students and I have been the lucky recipients of such generous supporters, and I can confirm that the boost to morale and classroom positivity is indescribable.

Those who want to provide tangible support to classrooms have several avenues, including donating funds to the Education Foundation and other organizations that provide classroom and teacher grants and student enhancement experiences.  

Volunteers who gift us with their time, skills, and caring are always welcome. I am so thankful for parents and others who have stepped up to read, via Zoom, to our students during the pandemic. They bring another voice and perspective that broaden our students’ awareness of the world and other cultures.

However, it’s not necessary to have a child or grandchild to volunteer in a classroom. Whenever I think of volunteers, a special person springs to my mind.

She didn’t have a relative or neighbor or other “natural” connection to our students, but she formed a connection with her generous outreach and was a regular volunteer in my classroom for many years until pandemic restrictions limited on-campus visitors.

A Canadian citizen, she faithfully came to my classroom every week when she wintered in Sarasota. She brought in pictures of winter in Canada and leaves and items that showed students what that part of the world was like in changing seasons. She told stories and read to and listened to my students read.

By generously sharing her world with us, she made an impact on me and my students and brightened our days. Every week she left with a happy heart and always insisted that she received more from the interaction than she contributed.   

That is the message and encouragement I want to leave with our community: With a collective effort and generous, joyful spirits, we can contribute to making the positive impact we want to see mirrored in our classrooms.

And, if you are having a stressful time and need to brighten your mood, reach out and engage with a classroom full of students. You can’t help but feel lighter as you leave with a smile.

Kari Johnson is Sarasota County’s 2021 Teacher of the Year and a Top 5 state finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year. 

Photo courtesy Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County: 67th Annual Christmas Tree Lot , November 26 – December 25, Varies.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County will be hosting their 67th Annual Christmas Tree Lot at the Westgate Shopping Center (Publix), 3913 Manattee Ave. W. Bradenton beginning on Friday, November 26 from 9am to 7pm and will be open Saturday, November 27 from 9am to 7pm. It will be closed Mondays - Wednesdays, open Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm to 9pm, Saturdays from 9am to 6pm and Sundays from 12pm to 7pm.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: St. Armands Circle: Holiday Soiree 2021 , November 27 – December 19, Varies.

St. Armands Circle has announced the event dates for its upcoming 2021 Holiday Soirée. Experience life on the circle and visit an assortment of some of the best merchants in the region. Holiday Soirée, a joint effort by the St. Armands Circle Association and St. Armands Business Improvement District, invites locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves and enjoy weekly events happening throughout the month of December. The Holiday Soirée will start Saturday, November 27. Is there a better place to spend the holiday season than on the Circle? Let it snow somewhere else. Come join an incredible series of holiday events presented by the St. Armands Circle Association. There will be six different events throughout the next month, the first starting on Saturday, November 27 as the circle kicks off the holiday season with the Let’s Go Shop Small event. Visitors can support local businesses on the Circle and get a head start on all their holiday shopping. The following week on Friday, December 3, features the Holiday Night of Lights. Beginning at 5:30pm, come enjoy the ceremonial tree lighting, sing along with carolers and witness Santa arrive on the Circle. Kids will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Santa from 6:30pm – 8pm. The final two weeks of the Holiday Soirée features two weekly events. Starting on Thursday, December 9 from 6pm to 9pm, enjoy the sweet sounds of the season by coming to Songs on the Circle. Stroll, shop and dine while you listen to this live music event. Then on Saturday, December 11, come see Porsches in the Park. Experience a day filled with beautiful automobiles and perfect weather. St. Armands Circle Association finishes its Holiday Soirée with its final two events on the week before Christmas. Ladies Night, which will be held on Thursday, December 16 from 6pm to 8:30pm, includes promotions from participating merchants for ladies. Shop and dine out on the Circle with a festive atmosphere that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. The final event will conclude on Sunday, December 19. From 11am to 1pm, the Circle encourages you to enjoy a special holiday-themed mid-day soirée at its St. Armands Family Day.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Bradenton Blues Fest 10 Year Anniversary , December 3 – December 5, 4pm-7:45pm, 11am-7:30pm, 11am-2pm

Realize Bradenton is thrilled to announce the all-star lineup for the 10th anniversary of the Bradenton Blues Festival. Friday, December 3, 2021 will feature Cece Teneal and Soul Kamotion, Johnny Rawls, and Doug MacLeod from 4pm to 7:45pm. Saturday, December 4, 2021 will feature Terrie Odabi, Jimmy Carpenter, James Armstrong, Dawn Tyler Watson, Bernard Allison and Bobby Rush from 11am to 7:30pm. Sunday, December 5, 2021 will feature Ariella from 11am to 2pm. The Bradenton Blues Festival Weekend will take place December 3 - 5, 2021. The Friday and Saturday concerts will be held at LECOM Park and the Sunday Blues Brunch at Mattison's Riverwalk Grille. Tickets go on sale May 1, 2021. 

[SOON]  HEALTH: Royal Glow Meditation Retreat , December 2 – December 5

Explore how you already have the power within to live a prosperous, healthy, peaceful, and happy life. The Royal Glow Meditation Retreat is a 4-day immersive deep-dive experience that teaches participants methods of self-transformation that are simple enough to start and practical enough to sustain from December 2-5. Hosted in tropical southwest Florida at The Westin, this retreat presents an extraordinary opportunity for you to detach from the ordinary pressures of daily responsibilities, routines, and environments that habitually create the reality you currently live in. Explore who you are beyond the identity that people in your life know you as, or the changing roles you play in the world, what you truly desire, and who you will become. Step into this unique space free from stimulating daily modern technologies and distractions so you can develop a deeper relationship with yourself. This space is intentionally cultivated for you to experience the infinite, Higher consciousness using your mind, your body, and your breath. In this safe container, you'll learn the tools and modalities to bring forth your deepest desires and Highest expression.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Palmetto's Christmas in the Park , December 3 – December 4

Celebrate the holiday season with the return of Palmetto’s Christmas in the Park on December 3 and 4 at the Palmetto Historical Park & Manatee County Agricultural Museum. Reservations will be required and visitors have the choice of two different experiences when registering. The address is 515 10th Ave. West, Palmetto. To make reservations, visit www.manateecountyagmuseum.com beginning November 15. Option 1 – Visit with Santa & Palmetto Historical Park Tour: Start your time with a visit with Santa in the Chapel where kids young and old will be able to tell Santa their Christmas wishes. Parents, don’t forget your cameras! Feel free to bring a letter for Santa and either place it in the mailbox or hand it to him to read later. After your visit with Santa you will go on a guided tour of the Palmetto Historical Park’s decorated historic buildings and learn about the history of Palmetto. The Manatee County Agricultural Museum will also be open for a self-guided tour and there will be several activities on the park grounds including reindeer games and crafts. This tour is approximately 45 minutes. Option 2- Visit with Santa Only: Visit with Santa in the Chapel where kids young and old will be able to tell Santa their Christmas wishes. Parents don’t forget your cameras! Feel free to bring a letter for Santa and either place it in the mailbox or hand it to him to read later. When you leave Santa you are encouraged to enjoy the Palmetto Historical Park grounds where there will be several activities including reindeer games and crafts. The Manatee County Agricultural Museum will also be open for a self-guided tour. 

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Siesta Beach Seafood & Music Festival , December 3 – December 5, 12pm-6pm, 11am-9pm and 11am-6pm

Come share in the festivities of the 5th Annual Siesta Beach Seafood & Music Festival in Siesta Beach, FL. The event sets up on the Siesta Key Pavilion and runs December 3-5, 2021 and is graciously hosted by Sarasota County. The event begins Friday December 3 with hours noon-9pm and continues Saturday 11am-9pm and Sunday 11am-6pm. Bring family and friends to enjoy fresh seafood and outstanding live musical performances. This event will offer a variety of seafood, cooked fresh on site. Seafood dishes are prepared using fresh, local and sustainable ocean resources from the Florida Gulf Coast. Select from meat and vegetarian offerings and a diverse menu of side dishes and desserts. Alcoholic, non-alcoholic and fruit drinks are available. While savoring your meal, relax to some of Florida’s top musical groups from genres. Friday, December 3rd: 2:30 - 4:30pm Shaw Davis & The Black Ties, 4:30 - 6pm Frank Bank, 6:30 - 8:30pm Gas House Gorilla. Saturday, December 4th: 12:30-2pm Prodigal Sons, 2:30 - 4pm Shaw Davis & The Black Ties, 4:30 - 6pm Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio, 6:30 - 8pm Have Gun Will Travel, 8:30 - 10pm Damon Fowler Band. Sunday, December 5th: 12:30 - 2pm The Whole Band, 4:30-6pm Billy Rice Band, 4:30 - 6pm 22N. On the breaks between performances, enjoy shopping in a marketplace of fine arts, crafts, and select fine products and food items. So much to see and do. We will lay the table, all you need do is come and partake in the feast.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Christmas 2021: Hugh Too , December 3 – December 5, 3pm and 7pm

Hugh Too will take place from December 3 to 5, 2021 at Sarasota Baptist Church, 7091 Proctor Road, at 3pm and 7pm, 3pm show on Saturday and Sunday only. This year, Sarasota Christmas's Broadway-style production return with "Hugh Too", a funny, entertaining and meaningful stage production!  Our production team, includes adults, students, and children, joining together to help you kick-off your Christmas season. Tickets are required and will be available soon. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Riverview Performing Arts Center: Broadway Boys , December 4, 7pm-9pm

The Broadway Boys is a collection of Broadway's finest male singers. By adding elements of pop/funk/gospel/jazz to traditional show tunes, The Broadway Boys have redefined the musical theater genre. They will perform at the Riverview Performing Arts Center on Dec 4, 2021 from 7pm to 9pm. The Broadway Boys represent such shows as THE BOOK OF MORMON, WICKED, KINKY BOOTS, MOTOWN, RENT, JERSEY BOYS, MAMMA MIA, MARY POPPINS, HAIR, ALTAR BOYZ, ROCK OF AGES, HAIRSPRAY, ONCE, and many more. The Broadway Boys have toured the country, playing venues large and small, and have performed at many corporate events and on many radio shows as well. They have performed on America's Got Talent and The TODAY Show. The Broadway Boys' album, "Lullaby of Broadway," debuted at #6 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart.

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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