There is nothing quite like the energy-filled roar of thousands of fans cheering on in unison their favorite football team. I had my first taste of fall football season this past weekend in New York City when my husband Mike and I were visiting our nephew, Trent Jerde. We found ourselves huddled in a crowded Manhattan bar filled to the brink with Iowa fans watching the Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Miami University RedHawks. The Hawkeyes won, which of course I enjoyed, but watching the game thousands of miles from Iowa City with a group of fellow Iowa supporters gave me the feeling of belonging and of being “home”: a sense of comradery, and that reminded me so much of our Sarasota community. In that moment, I was welcomed by a group all connected to a common passion. Belonging really is where and what you make of it.
When each of us travels or moves to a new town, there is one essential item we all proudly carry that doesn’t fit neatly in carry-on luggage: that precious feeling of being home.
Over my many years of trips and moves, I have found that one’s home is not always a tangible place or location, rather it is a shared feeling of belonging that follows you wherever your path may lead you.
In our home community, there is certainly a lot to be proud of recently. Thanks to the continuous support and generosity of our donors, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County was able to approve nearly $10 million in grants this past month, with more than $1 million dedicated to supporting access for families to needed services and cultural amenities in honor of the foundation's upcoming 40th Anniversary. With these gifts acting as a catalyst for connection, our thoughtful partnerships with more than 60 nonprofit organizations, local schools, and universities has created opportunities for people of all ages to uplift and improve their lives through greater access to needed services, as well as educational and cultural programs.
From participating in STEM experiential learning to supporting mental health, these programs bridge ingenuity and diversity to dive deeper and address emerging opportunities. Through strategic grantmaking, our aim is to ignite dialogue between people and across organizations to advance our network of community-wide care and impact. Other areas impacted by these programs include animals and the environment, arts education and enrichment, family togetherness, and women’s empowerment.
These contributions made on behalf of our donors, along with ongoing community wide support of major regional initiatives such as Season of Sharing, EdExploreSRQ, and next year’s 2020 Giving Challenge, demonstrate how in our growing community, all of our new friends and neighbors are bringing their unique vision of “home” with them and give their gifts to make our region an even better place for all of us.
Much like how universities forge alliances and team spirit and gather people around a common cause or sports team, I’m proud that our Community Foundation can create allegiances and connections to add to our area’s welcoming hometown feeling that can fit in anyone’s carry-on regardless of what city they departed.
No matter how many suitcases you have packed in your lifetime, one truth holds true: home is where your heart is. And mine is right here with our generous community.