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SRQ DAILY Dec 17, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Commencement day is one of my favorites throughout the year and it reminds me of how privileged I am to serve as SCF’s president."

- Dr. Carol Probstfeld, President of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

[Dialogue]  About the SRQ DAILY | Perspectives Edition

SRQ Daily: The Perspectives Edition features analysis, commentary and insight on current events in Sarasota and Manatee counties from regular columnists, local leaders and guest contributors. Readers are invited to submit letters that respectfully share their perspective on a local community topic or issue to: letters@srqme.com. Submissions received before Thursday of each week will be considered for the immediate Saturday edition. Editors reserve the right to fact-check and edit. SRQ MEDIA does not house an editorial board and as such does not publish editorials or endorsements of candidates. The opinions and analysis of columns and letters shared in this edition are those of the writer who submitted them. The Perspectives Edition serves as a respectful and thoughtful space for readers to share their voices on topics that are important to them.

[Gulf Coast]  Looking Back at an Impactful, Transformative Year
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

As we near the end of 2022, I reflect back on a productive year filled with transformative change for our region. I am encouraged to see the impactful work Gulf Coast Community Foundation has provided to our communities. This year was filled with highs and lows from opening our new, Downtown Sarasota Philanthropy Center to assisting 50-plus nonprofit organizations with funding after Hurricane Ian ravaged our Gulf Coast.

Gulf Coast, together with its donors, surpassed $500 million in grants since our founding in 1995. We thank our generous donors whose desire is to make our world a better place than they found it.  Our donors also helped us achieve a record year for new gifts. It is a privilege to work with generous and thoughtful people who want to leave a lasting impact on our community for generations to come. You can learn more about philanthropy at Gulf Coast here.

In the days following the second most costly storm to hit the United States, Gulf Coast Community Foundation provided over $2 million in immediate relief to families and businesses devastated by Hurricane Ian. Our grants provided rapid, life-sustaining support to families and community members who were left with uninhabitable homes, no food and just the clothes on their backs. We continue to provide relief to those in Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties and beyond. Our generous donors stepped up to help meet this need. To learn more, visit our Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief Fund website. 

In September, we happily announced the opening of The Sarasota Philanthropy Center on State Street. The state-of-the-art space serves as a convening collaborative for our nonprofit partners to further their mission through meetings, retreats and workshops. Our donor families now enjoy ease of access to their Gulf Coast team not only in our Venice headquarters, but also the heart of Downtown Sarasota. The space was made possible by our generous Board, donors and the partnership of Willis Smith Construction and Plunkett Raysich Architects. Haven’t been to our new space? Take a look inside and learn how to reserve a room here.

We also experienced several environmental and public space wins for our region. Our Board of Directors approved a $60,000 grant from the Venice Endowment Fund to support field renovations at Wellfield Park in Venice. This partnership between Venice, Sarasota County government and Gulf Coast allowed for the restoration of Soccer Field #2 and the Letson Stadium Football Field. We heard fantastic feedback on our work to improve this park for hundreds of families and children in youth sports. 

We also celebrated the grand opening of The Bay. We have instrumentally supported The Bay since its inception in 2013. The implementation of a long-term master plan for 53-acres of city-owned land along Sarasota Bay that will establish a cultural and economic legacy for the region is transformative. 

In February, we thanked Governor DeSantis for his veto of anti-solar House Bill 741 – legislation that would have negatively impacted the fast-growing solar industry in the Sunshine State. Our Water Quality Playbook continues to impact governments, agencies and communities across Florida.  Earlier this month, a poster abstract on The Community Playbook for Healthy Waterways was presented at Restore America’s Estuaries 2022 Coastal & Estuarine Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This past July, I announced my plans to retire in 2023 as President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. I joined Gulf Coast in 2008 as Vice President of Community Investment and subsequently was selected President and CEO in 2015. My work at Gulf Coast has truly been some of the most rewarding work of my lifetime.

When I look back, I am so proud of our accomplishments achieved by our spirited board, talented team, generous donors, and dedicated community partners. I am honored to say Gulf Coast is a national, high-performing community foundation. From our fast-growing donor base to participation in community-wide achievements like The Bay, The Legacy Trail, our COVID Response Initiative with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and our Hurricane Ian Recovery Relief efforts, Gulf Coast has been on the forefront of transformational impact.

I will miss working with our stellar team, and am grateful for the meaningful friendships I have formed over the years with board members, donors, nonprofit partners, foundation leaders, community leaders and elected officials. 

The power of philanthropy never ceases to amaze me. We live in a special community where people are invested in the power to change the world for the better. It is my honor to lead this great ship at Gulf Coast and show how catalytic philanthropy can provide solutions to some of our most entrenched issues. Happy Holidays everyone and much love to you and your families.

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

[Argus]  Partnerships are Important for Quality of Life
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

One of the most important recurring referendums in the county is the renewal of the Sarasota County surtax.  The partnerships and unification of our community behind this important revenue source was incredible and a bright light in our community, which can be divided on many other issues. 

This referendum passed with 78% of the electorate voting to support it.  Unification of this nature does not receive a lot of attention or news coverage, so we believed it was important to highlight the coalescing of the community and the partnerships that made this happen.

This referendum assembled business associations, unions, governments, non-profits and the community behind a transparent and collaborative local tax to fund our infrastructure.  This tax funds our quality of life and makes living in Sarasota County so incredibly special. 

The extra penny on taxable goods up to $5,000 funds law enforcement and first responder equipment and vehicles, water quality and environment infrastructure, classroom technology, road maintenance, parks, libraries and road resurfacing, among other important capital items. The best part is that over 20% of this tax is paid for by visitors to Sarasota County.

It took two years to put together the past and present surtax project lists, education materials, websites and local campaign. This referendum was guided by a committee of leaders from north county to south county, and of varying political views, to whom we all owe our gratitude.  It was led by Justin Taylor, Chair of the County Citizen’s Tax Oversight Committee, former City of Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell and former County CommissioneCarolyn Mason, Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, Jennifer Vigne, CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and Gina Taylor, former School Board Member and Chair of the 2007 Surtax Campaign.

Due to a new state law implemented on July 1 of this year, governments can no longer spend money to educate voters on the reasons for the referendum or how the referendum has performed in the past. That burden fell upon the community. Our business associations, non-profits, unions and business leaders stepped up to the plate to educate with money, time and advocacy.  They united to make sure everyone understood the importance of this referendum.

Don’t let this solid win fool you; this referendum was not a given that it would pass. There were eight surtax referendums around the state of Florida according to the local campaign, and half of those failed, with three of them failing very hard. Out of the remaining four that passed, Sarasota County was the clear leader in the state. The next referendum closest to us, in Pasco County, won with a passage rate 13 percentage points less than in our county.  

The Argus Foundation was proud to be a part of this partnership and investment in our community. The Argus Foundation’s mission statement is to “Apply Business Leadership to Important Community Issues.” That is why the Surtax referendum was our top priority for Argus for the past two years. We are so grateful that this endeavor was a collaboration with other leading organizations, without whom, this would not have passed. We are looking forward to the benefits of this tax and the projects that will be funded from the county borrow that was also approved to fast forward projects. Congratulations to everyone who had a part of the continuation of surtax. You are the reason we live in such a great place.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  At SCF, We Meet Our Graduates Where They Are
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

SCF’s Winter 2022 commencement held on Dec. 9 celebrated the successful graduation of more than 1,000 students. Degrees and certificates were awarded to students who completed their credentials in the Summer and Fall terms, including 530 associate in arts degrees, 163 associate in science degrees, 115 bachelor’s degrees, and 198 workforce certificates. We also pinned 84 nursing students who received an Associate in Science in Nursing and celebrated 62 registered nurses who completed their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Our total number of graduates now exceeds 58,000, with nearly 25,000 remaining within our local workforce. 

The services were extra special for us. After 10 years of hosting our commencements offsite, three ceremonies at SCF Bradenton reminded faculty, staff and students how much they love being on campus. Furthermore, we took the opportunity to recognize our 65th Anniversary, including a guest appearance by SCF’s fourth and designated President Emeritus, Dr. Sarah H. Pappas. 

There is nothing more representative of the diverse group of individuals we serve than our graduation ceremony. SCF proudly embraces students of different ages, races and nationalities that come to us from around the region, state, nation and world.  We like to say, “at SCF, we meet you where you are. We’re everyone’s college.”

For example, our Winter 2022 outstanding graduate, María Camila Medina Almaguer, an established pianist since age seven, immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba with her family shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. She graduated with her Associate in Arts degree and a 4.0 GPA. Medina plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music, concentrating on composition and media scoring, and secondary degrees in business and entrepreneurship to understand the full scope of the music industry. Medina noted of her experience at SCF, “I was venturing into a new country where everything I truly knew about higher education – music especially – was that it was very expensive. SCF offered me affordable opportunities to develop my musicianship, and today, I feel very lucky and honored to become one of its alumni.”

Outstanding graduate award finalist Victoria Lauren Flounders, a former beauty and a wellness professional who worked as an esthetician and massage therapist, graduated with her Associate in Arts degree with a 3.75 GPA. Initially hesitant to re-enroll in college, Flounders resumed her education after her three young children began school. She strives to teach them the value of education and set an example of hard work and perseverance. “Nothing motivates me more than imagining their faces glowing with pride as I walk in my cap and gown. That is what I picture each day I enter SCF,” said Flounders.

Lastly, OGA finalist Nikki Francisco graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Supervision & Management, concentrating in Technology Management. Though her educational journey has been unconventional, she has not let her disability hinder her success. She has made the President’s List since 2020 and holds a part-time job with the SCF Foundation. Francisco was an engaged student and active volunteer. She started her non-profit organization by raising nearly $5,000 for Philippine typhoon relief and providing 750 families with food and clean water. She is also involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Bridge Church. Francisco has learned to find her strengths in unconventional places and strives to help others do the same. When asked how we have made a difference in her life, Francisco shared, “SCF has given me the confidence that I can be a contributing member of society and that I am more than my disability.”

Our ability to serve so many is why a part of my commencement address will never change, and it is that, ‘The constant factor for more than half a century – whether as MJC, MCC or SCF – continues to be the impact of our exceptional administration, faculty and staff, and their unwavering commitment to our outstanding students.’ As well as a reflection that ‘our collective accomplishments reflect a deep synergy with the college’s administration, faculty, staff and our students. These relationships are among the college’s greatest competitive advantages.’ Commencement day is one of my favorites throughout the year and it reminds me of how privileged I am to serve as SCF’s president.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[SOON]  BUSINESS: The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime: Limelight Market , April 23 – December 17, 10am-3pm

Every 3rd Saturday from 10-3 The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime opens their outdoor space for guest vendors, dog rescues, and live music. Check out the 40 local creators and curators inside The Bazaar every Thursday - Saturday. Enjoy a delicious lunch and support local. Free, until you buy something amazing! 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch , January 2 – December 25, 10am-2pm

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is home to more than 90 curated vendors of the region’s best food and flavors, located at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at Waterside Place. It’s your weekend destination for organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, pasta, juices and prepared foods. Stay up to date on vendors and events by visiting TheMarketLWR.com.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Cabaret , November 16 – December 31, Varied

Willkommen to Kander and Ebb’s iconic CABARET, which transports us to 1939 Berlin and the dynamic and pleasure-filled Kit Kat Klub. As a dark shadow falls over the city and the power of the Third Reich begins to mount, the Klub’s performers and patrons must decide if they’ll wake up to the evil on their doorsteps or continue to escape to the alluring fantasy world of the cabaret. Since its debut in 1967, this classic musical has won countless awards, including the Tony Awards® for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Revival of a Musical. Packed with vibrant and beloved songs like “Willkommen,” “Maybe This Time,” “Money,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” and, of course, “Cabaret,” this timely masterwork will burst to life on stage under the direction of Broadway and Asolo Rep favorite Josh Rhodes. 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Wellen Park Announces Schedule of Holiday Events to Celebrate the Most Wonderful Time of the Year , December 3 – December 17

Wellen Park is lighting up the holiday season in its own signature style with a Bright Bike parade, lessons in mixology, the spirit of giving, a visit from Santa, and so much more. Throughout December, Wellen Park is hosting family-friendly and age-restricted events at its Welcome Center, which are complemented by CoolToday Park’s annual Braves Jingle Jam and Tomahawk 5K. “The holidays really capture the essence of Wellen Park and its emphasis on joy, heartfelt connections and community,” said Christine Masney, vice president of marketing of Wellen Park. “We have planned many fun, meaningful experiences that are unique to Wellen Park for families to create memories they will cherish for years to come.” The upcoming events take place in the Welcome Center, 12275 Mercado Drive, Venice, overlooking Downtown Wellen, where the first phase of the region’s newest gathering hub is nearing completion. From the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, now through Dec. 4, to a fun-filled weekend of festivities, Dec. 16-17, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays at Wellen Park.December’s fun-filled calendar reflects the vibrant spirit of Wellen Park and foreshadows a full winter season of activities and events beginning in mid-January 2023 with the opening of Downtown Wellen’s outdoor amenities. Most activities are free and open to the public, with advance registration required for some events. For more information or to register, visit wellenpark.com/events.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Festive Food and Drink at the Ritz Carlton , December 31 – January 1

Festive Food & Drink This year, the resort will be bringing back its lavish Grand Ballroom festive dining experiences – a guest and local favorite. The experiences will kick off with a Christmas Day Brunch featuring a traditional feast curated by the resort’s master chefs. Followed by an exquisite Christmas Grand Ballroom Brunch featuring chef-attended action stations. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners are also available for guest reservations at Jack Dusty and Ridley’s Porch, both serving seasonally themed menus. In the lobby, overnight guests can indulge in daily surprise and delight experiences including culinary creations from the resort’s talented chefs, après-sun hand-shaved ice-cold snow cones, decadent holiday-inspired shooters, morning fresh squeezed juices, and more. Club Lounge guests will enjoy exclusive culinary programming and offerings like Autumn Sangria, cookie decorating and hot cocoa, twelve-days of Christmas champagne pairings, and more.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Golf Tournament Raises Funds for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors , January 16 – February 16, 11:00 AM

Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) is hosting its annual golf tournament, Scramble for SPARCC, at the Laurel Oak Country Club on Monday, January 16, 2023. With the support of sponsors, community donations and golfers, this tournament raises funds to help provide life-saving, free and confidential programs and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Entry fee is $185.00 per person and includes green fees, individual carts, happy hour light bites, beverages (cash bar available) and player awards. Registration opens at 11:00 AM with a shotgun start at 12:30 PM to kick off the 18-hole scramble. In addition to the golf tournament, there is also a closet to the pin contest, closest to the line contest, golf ball launcher, 50/50 chance drawing, and awards celebration. Co-Chairs for this event are Sandy Fulkerson and Bonnie VanOverbeke.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Players Centre: Always... Patsy Cline , February 2 – February 12, Varied

Always… Patsy Cline created and originally directed by Ted Swindley
Always…Patsy Cline is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer who died tragically at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963. The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961, and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death. The musical play, complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and Walking After Midnight – 27 songs in all. Feb 2-12, 2023. For tickets visit theplayers.org, Ph. 941-365-2494, email BoxOffice@ThePlayers.org

The Players Centre For Performing Arts, Performance Venue & Box Office The Crossings at Siesta Key 3501 South Tamiami Trail, Suite 1130 Sarasota, FL 34239

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Thunder by the Bay Music & Motorcycle Festival , February 17 – February 19

The 25th Annual Thunder By The Bay Music & Motorcycle Festival. The iconic three-day Festival, organized by and benefitting Suncoast Charities for Children, is scheduled for February 17-19 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Continuous live music will be featured throughout the weekend, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for outdoor seating in front of the stage. The Festival plans to feature over 100 vendors, a 17-class bike show, a motorcycle stereo sound off competition, motorcycle freestyle demonstrations, a tented full bar area with seating, a “little riders” kid zone, a food court, “Thunder Alley” inside Robarts Arena and so much more!  For tickets, vendor information, sponsorship opportunities, and a complete listing of all Festival events visit: THUNDERBYTHEBAY.ORG | (941) 487-7904. 

Sarasota Fairgrounds

[SOON]  : The Ringling - A Decade of Collecting , October 22 – January 22, Varied

A Decade of Collecting brings together a survey of artworks acquired for the permanent collection over the past eleven years. As the State Art Museum of Florida and a division of Florida State University, The Ringling’s collections are constantly expanding to provide our state and local community with access to current contemporary works in all media and thoughtful additions to our historic collections. Though the core of the collection has always been the works acquired by John and Mable Ringling, the museum’s holdings have been expanding ever since the State of Florida took full possession of the bequest in 1946. In the early years, these additions were mainly in pre-1800 European art and circus-related material, but over the second half of the 20th century, directors and curators also began acquiring works by modern and contemporary artists. A Decade of Collecting presents a unique snapshot of how The Ringling’s collection continues to evolve, allowing us to tell new stories of the past, present, and future. Visit ringling.org to plan your visit.

Museum of Art Searing Galleries

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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