Helping hearts will give when there's a need

Guest Correspondence

SRQ: How is The Patterson Foundation helping ensure the success and effectiveness of the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund?

Debra Jacobs: There’s an immediate downstroke of going in with $500,000. Then it's a dollar-for-dollar match for up to an additional 750,000. If the match gets made, there will be $2 million to help. Why did we do the match component? Many times, those with helping hearts want to do something, and when they get a chance to double their money and their impact, they're happy heart feels even better. it's a way to help encourage people to give now. When a disaster hits, the media is shining a light on it. That would be called immediate relief. People right now need water and shelter. People are compelled to pay attention, and we encourage people to donate to organizations like the Red Cross because they have feet on the street. But the reality is, when a disaster hits, it’s the recovery and the rebuild that takes years. This fund will be for the intermediate needs, so when the press moves on to a different disaster, there will still be money to help people and organizations recover. Our hope is they will recover with resiliency.

SRQ: What drives the generosity to provide for this type of fund?

DJ: When we hear about the level of devastation that people are living through, it moves those of us who are blessed to still have working internet and be in a house that did not fall down. I hear from real people like Rick Yocum, the CEO of the Humane Society in Manatee County. He and his wife slept with critters at the animal shelter to be there for them during the storm. Then he went home to his house and it wasn’t there. That’s going to take recovery. The person who lives in rural Venice and their house is under eight feet of water, the damage is unconscionable in terms of recovery. Some people, we're very fortunate that our trash is going to be picked up and we're going to have power this week. There are others that it's going to take months, if not years, to get stable again. But communities who approach recovery well actually come into good innovation. It's that thoughtful process that can happen, and we want to make sure that we're helping with that.

SRQ: What makes this community so giving?

DJ: It's part of the culture. Every time there's a Season of Sharing campaign, or the Giving Challenge, nobody in the country does what we do. People want to make a difference. People often come to philanthropy for tax reasons, but they stay and enjoy the feast when they see the difference they can make. It’s an endorphin thing. Givers have to give. It's part of who they are. But they want to give smartly. They want to give with purpose. They want to give with impact. 

Debra Jacobs is president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation.

Learn more about the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund.

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