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SRQ DAILY Jul 5, 2023

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"By just stepping forward and maybe making a call or two a week, just being a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, you can make such a difference in the life of a senior."

- Erin McLeod, CEO, Senior Friendship Centers.

[Seniors]  Friendship at Home Provides a Helping Hand to Senior Population
Barbie Heit, barbie.heit@srqme.com

Friendship at home, a volunteer-based program run by Senior Friendship Centers (SFC) started over 20 years ago in 1999. In its early days, it really just involved a friendly visit to a senior who was living alone, or a phone call of reassurance. “Once somebody stops driving, their world starts to get very, very small and so Friendship at Home was really about taking the socialization piece of what we do on our campuses and bringing it into the home,” shares Erin McLeod, CEO of Senior Friendship Centers. “It was basically a friendly outreach.”

After the downturn in the economy in 2008, SFC started to get calls from people who were not in a socialization crisis, which is really what Friendship at Home was meant to address, but in a financial and food crisis instead. Fast forward to today, after destructive hurricanes and a global pandemic, the program has grown into a community-wide effort to ensure the safety and well-being of seniors.

“During the pandemic, our meal program really ramped up. We went from serving 10,000 meals a month to just under 60,000,” McLeod says. “Now it's about 33,000 meals a month but it's still three times what we were doing before.” Part of the increase is due to additional federal funding but also, the sense of dignity and pride that might prevent someone from asking for help was removed during the pandemic, when everyone seemed to need help of some sort. Friendship at Home is now a three component program: a phone call, a friendly visit, and crisis intervention, where the program assists with rent, utility bills or an emergency food bag.

As we enter another hurricane season, SFC is urging the community to get involved to ensure that seniors have the necessary support and resources to stay safe. "Seniors were disproportionately affected by Hurricane Ian due to their limited mobility, isolation, and the challenges of evacuating,” says McCleod. “By just stepping forward and maybe making a call or two a week, just being a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, you can make such a difference in a senior’s life and it can be the thing that you can do from wherever you are.”

Thanks to a grant last year from Impact 100 SRQ who funded the expansion of the program, SFC was able to recruit more volunteers, make more matches, help more people, and connect more seniors to necessary resources. They are now able to serve more seniors and their goal over the next year or so is to serve a thousand more people with Friendship at Home and the support of the community.

In addition to the ongoing efforts of the Friendship at Home program, Senior Friendship Centers has organized a series of upcoming events to empower the community with knowledge, resources, and practical guidance in preparation for hurricane season. These events will take place at the Sarasota Campus at 1888 Brother Geenen Way, and the Venice Campus at 2350 Scenic Drive, Venice.

For more information about events, Friendship at Home program, or other services, or to become a volunteer, call (941) 955-2122 or visit www.friendshipcenters.org.


Pictured: A friendly visit can help to protect the vulnerable senior population. Photo courtesy of SFC.

[Grant]  Grant to Support Mental Health Post-Hurricane Ian Awarded to Samaritan Counseling Services

On June 9, 2023, Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast was awarded $20,000 by the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. This grant will support mental health counseling for individuals and families affected by the impacts of Hurricane Ian. “We are grateful to receive this funding to continue helping our local community rebound from Hurricane Ian. Beyond emergency relief are long-lasting impacts that require a collaborative effort.” said Richard O. Howell, Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling. One example is when a counselor met with a family the week following the hurricane. Sessions centered on processing the trauma of the event, building a united response, and reducing reactive behaviors. Through counseling, the family has built resiliency and strength. Now totaling 30 counselors in 11 locations throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, Samaritan Counseling is on track to provide a combined 17,000 hours to over 2,000 individuals in 2023. This generous investment will continue to instill hope and transform lives in our community. 

[Grant]  Embracing Our Differences is Awarded an Elizabeth Lindsay Arts in Education Grant from The Exchange

Embracing Our Differences received a $10,000 grant from The Exchange’s new Elizabeth Lindsay Arts in Education initiative during a grant ceremony on June 8. The $10,000 grant will provide funds for the organization’s free Make-A-Day of It! field trip program, which provides bus transportation and docent-led tours for thousands of students and teachers to visit EOD’s annual outdoor exhibits. Classes who visit the exhibits are also provided the opportunity to continue their experience at one of EOD’s community partners, including Florida Studio Theatre, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Mote Marine Laboratory, The Ringling, and Sarasota Art Museum. 

Pictured: Field Trip, Being Different Gives the World Color. Photo courtesy of EOD.

[Grants]  Foundations Award Grants to PLANit Sarasota

PLANit Sarasota, the local college access network (LCAN) for Sarasota County, is partnering with State College of Florida and nearby LCANs Complete Tampa Bay and Reach Manatee to help support “stop-outs” (students who have attended college but have not attained their degree and are no longer enrolled) and “summer melts” (students who graduated high school and were accepted to college but never enrolled). Building on the successful work of Complete Tampa Bay, this regional initiative will provide free individualized coaching for Sarasota County and Manatee County students who have encountered challenges that have led them to stop attending college or to not complete enrollment. This two-year pilot initiative will focus on students who have attended or who have been accepted to State College of Florida. A completion coach will identify and work with stop-out and summer-melt students to find ways for them to resume or to begin their studies and go on to earn a college degree. In addition to one-on-one coaching, this project creates the Student Assistance Fund to help students cover expenses that hinder their abilities to continue with their education. At the heart of this initiative is removing barriers so that more students across the region can achieve their dreams of completing postsecondary education. Upon the completion of the pilot, PLANit Sarasota hopes to expand this important work to include Ringling College of Art and Design, New College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Suncoast Technical College, and Manatee Technical College. Three of our generous local philanthropic organizations have made this work possible: Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Their financial support will help ensure that more students who most need extra help can reach their full potential. A college degree or high-value certification can dramatically alter the trajectory of a student and that student’s family for generations to come. This exciting initiative aims to do just that. 

[New Director]  Manatee Community Foundation Names Veronica Thames Executive Director

Manatee Community Foundation’s board of directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Veronica Thames as executive director. In her new role, Thames will lead the organization in creating and executing transformative initiatives built to have a positive and lasting impact in Manatee County and beyond. Thames comes to Manatee Community Foundation after serving as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, where she helped translate the Foundation’s vision and goals into action. Since 2018, Thames played a key role in the expansion of operations, including the opening of the Sarasota Philanthropy Center. As a woman who emigrated from Argentina in her college years, Thames saw her share of suffering and unaddressed human needs. It was then that she decided her professional life’s mission would be to help heal and create opportunities for all, as a way to return the favor for the blessings she was afforded in pursuit of the American dream. Prior to Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Thames served as vice president of human resources at Blake Medical Center Healthcare Corporation of America. She was responsible for key operations and personnel management for the 1,300-employee organization. Her accomplishments included creating the top-ranked childcare facility in Manatee County and developing the largest community health and wellness program within the HCA hospital system nationwide. Thames has extensive board and governance experience, currently serving on the board for the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School Parents Association. She is also the chair of the board at HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital and was a longtime member and former chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative. Thames is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Manatee and was instrumental in securing the coveted Best Nonprofit to Work For nation-wide award for her organization several times. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as home remodeling, kayaking, and big gatherings. Thames has lived and worked across the United States, from Boca Raton, Florida, to Los Angeles, before planting her roots in Manatee County. 

[Grant]  Grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Helps Art Center Sarasota Upgrade its Donor Management

Art Center Sarasota received a $6,033.20 grant from the John and Tana Sandefur Foundation and the Gus Lobenwein Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The funds were used to purchase Donor Perfect, a leading donor management system used by many nonprofits across the country. Kinsey Robb, Art Center Sarasota’s executive director, explains that a donor management system is a critical tool for engaging with members and supporters in meaningful ways. 

To learn more, visit

[SOON]  MUSEUM: She Engineers at the Bishop , January 24 – July 30, During museum hours

SHE ENGINEERS is a bilingual (English and Spanish) poster exhibition highlighting eight women in various engineering fields. In their own words, the women share their passion and what inspired them to become engineers. If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.

[SOON]  FOOD: Hound Happy Hour at Hamlet's Eatery , October 6 – December 29, 5 to 8 p.m.
Hound Happy Hour returns with Nates Honor Rescue. Adoptable dogs will be here and guest vendors. Plus, live music by Capt John, great food and dog friendly. Hamlet’s Eatery, 821 Apricot Ave., Sarasota. hamletseatery.com.
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Cars and Coffee at University Town Center , March 11 – December 9, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

This monthly gathering of car enthusiasts brings together automobile lovers from every walk of life, not to mention a wide array of spectacular cars. Bring your own vehicle (all makes and models are welcome) to show off, or check out the hundreds of cars on display. Each month, the event sponsors a different charity, and attendees are encouraged to donate $10 to benefit the charity. The event, occuring on the second Sunday of each month, will feature live music, complimentary coffee and more. To learn more, visit facebook.com/carsandcoffee941. Sarasota Cars and Coffee, The West District at University Town Center near Ford’s Garage, 295 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art at Ringling Museum , March 29 – September 4, Museum hours

Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art group exhibition will mark The Ringling’s first presentation of contemporary art by Native American artists with ancestral, historical, and present-day connections to Florida. An imperative step toward establishing a meaningful relationship with the Native American artistic community, Reclaiming Home will highlight the breadth and depth of the artwork by Seminole, Miccosukee, and mixed-heritage artists from Florida with the important work by internationally-recognized artists. The exhibition will expand the conceptual framework of Native American art made in Florida today and provide a fuller understanding of the complexities of issues within the art of the Seminole diaspora. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Eco Engineers , April 12 – September 3, During museum hours

Eco Engineers are plants and animals that profoundly impact their ecosystem. Through their presence or behavior, eco engineers create microhabitats, or unique areas within an ecosystem. Other species have taken notice of these microhabitats and decided to move in! In this exhibition, explore nine of Florida’s eco engineers and discover why our landscape wouldn’t be the same without them. Eco Engineers is a bilingual (English and Spanish) special exhibition created by our own Museum curators. Included with museum admission. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: From the Chambers Honoring John Sims at Ringling Museum , May 6 – August 6, Museum hours

In December 2022, the innovative artist, activist, writer, and filmmaker John Sims passed away suddenly at his studio in Sarasota. The tragic loss of Sims left a deep impact on the art world. His art, informed by mathematics, design, sacred symbols, and poetic text, boldly confronted white supremacy, the Confederate flag, and the deep disparities and division within our society. The Ringling is honored to have had the opportunity to work closely with Sims, who was their artist in residence in 2020. The exhibition From the Chambers, Honoring John Sims brings those two works together, on view publicly for the first time, in conjunction with John Chamberlain’s sculpture Added Pleasure. The exhibition serves as just one part of the significant legacy the artist leaves behind, in Sarasota and beyond. On view May 6 through August 6, 2023 in the Searing East galleries. Ringling Musuem, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org

[SOON]  GALLERY: Lake Club of Lakewood Ranch Art Exhibition , May 8 – July 31, 9 am-5 pm
ComCenter Lakewood Ranch hosts local art groups to exhibit in the main lobby area of the building. The exhibits are open to the public to view Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, and the majority of the art is for sale. The artists are usually treated to a welcome reception by ComCenter as well. The exhibits continually change about every four to six months so there is always something new to see and our ComCenter clients and their clients enjoy the ever-changing exhibits. The next group, The Lake Club of Lakewood Ranch, will be exhibiting for the first time at ComCenter from May 8 through July 31. ComCenter Lakewood Ranch, 9040 Town Center Pkwy, Lakewood Ranch, comcenters.net.
[SOON]  GALLERY: Identity, Exploring the Human Condition , June 1 – August 5, Gallery hours

The 2023 exhibition season continues with Identity, Exploring the Human Condition, which highlights the diverse talents of artists from across the southeast region of the United States and will be on display in all four gallery spaces. On view from June 1-August 5, the opening reception is Thursday, June 1, 6-8 p.m. The juror is Christy Paris, an art professor and PhD candidate in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. A Juror’s Critique, with Paris, will take place on Tuesday, June 6. Art Center Sarasota is located at 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For information, visit www.artsarasota.org or call 941-365-2032.

[SOON]  FILM: Cinema at The Bay ON PAUSE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE , July 20 – December 31, 8pm

Join us for a free screening of Everything Everywhere All At Once at The Bay Park at 8 pm on Thursday, July 20. Bring your blankets, chairs, family, and friends to enjoy a wonderful evening under the stars. Enjoy tasty food from Nakos Tacos Food Truck and refreshing beverages from The Nest. The Bay Park, The Oval at The Bay, 1055 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota, thebaysarasota.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Summer Circus Spectacular , June 9 – August 12, Various times

Circus fans of all ages, from near and far, can beat the heat this summer at reasonable prices while experiencing the best of the circus arts, thanks to the continued partnership of The Circus Arts Academy and The Ringling. The Summer Circus Spectacular returns this year, with exciting acts signed on for the one-hour, action-packed show. The 2023 Summer Circus Spectacular, which has become a seasonal highlight for locals, visitors, families and groups alike, takes place from June 9 through August 12. Tickets are $20 for adults, $13 for children 12 and under, and tickets for the 7 p.m. opening night performance and celebration on Friday, June 9, which includes a gala reception with the artists, are $50. To complete their circus experience, Summer Circus Spectacular patrons can enjoy access to the Circus Museum on the day they attend a show for an additional $5. Visit Ringling.org or call the Box Office at 941-360-7399 to purchase tickets and learn more. The Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: The Mantle , July 7 – July 9, Various times

The Players Centre is happy to produce the 2020 winner of The Players New Play Festival, The Mantle by Jalex Scott. Directed by Amanda Schlachter, this production will take place in The Players new black box theatre in the Rosemary District, Space is limited, and there will be a talkback after each performance led by Artistic Director Steven Butler. On the anniversary of the most traumatic experience of his life, Benny Craft records a suicide note and sets it up to post on social media at midnight. Armed with a to-do list and pursued by a handsome, pushy stranger, he sets off on his last day to visit his therapist and the two most important women in his life. But is Benny really looking to say goodbye or desperately searching for a reason to not have to? 1400 Blvd. of the Arts, Suite 200 (Second Floor), Sarasota, theplayers.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sculputure Anatomy Classes with Stephen Perkins , July 3 – July 17, 2 to 5 pm

Solid anatomy study should be the foundation for all figurative art. But have you ever studied anatomy from a round or 3-D perspective? This way of learning is a game-changer for bringing your understanding of anatomy back into your drawing and painting. Whether you choose to explore this class in charcoal or clay, you’ll benefit from Stephen’s in-depth guidance of the subtleties of the beautiful and suggestive gestures and anatomy of the hands and feet. Stephen Perkins is recommended by some of the top sculpture organizations in the world including the National Sculpture Society, The Posey Foundation, and the American Numismatic Society. To learn more and enroll, visit mianoacademy.org.

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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