In the two months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, donors from the community and across the country have contributed nearly $5 million to long-term recovery efforts through the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
The Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund supports long-range programs to sustain human service agencies serving Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
“Through the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund, our region has the support to improve not only the lives of those who have been devastated by Hurricane Ian, but also our important community networks for the long run,” said Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
The Community Foundation has researched best practices to develop a framework for responding to Hurricane Ian’s impacts through the fund. The full report, “Disaster Response Analysis,” is available at cfsarasota.org/Suncoast-Disaster-Recovery-Fund. Updates on grants and outreach will also be provided at this site.
Recommendations to distribute the funds are being formed by a task force of community members that include board and staff members of the Community Foundation. Board member CJ Fishman and legal counsel Chip Gaylor co-chair the task force. Kirsten Russell, VP for Community Impact, is the staff liaison who commissioned the analysis of other communities. Also participating are Cheri Coryea, a consultant with The Patterson Foundation, and Angelica Hull, Director of Community Impact with the Community Foundation.
“It is human nature to want to respond quickly to help neighbors in need, and thankfully we have other funding resources to keep people in their homes, their cars running, and children in day care. This allows our approach with the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund to be thoughtful and deliberate,” Russell said. “We will be flexible, collaborative within each community across our four-county area, and most importantly, effective.”
While deadlines for support requests have not been established, Fishman said the task force understands the need to balance strategic support alongside pressing needs. “We are not going to take years to distribute these grants,” Fishman said. “But, we want to take the time necessary to ensure the greatest needs that encompass the whole community are met.”
Significant support from near and far
Community donors quickly completed a $750,000 dollar-for-dollar match from The Patterson Foundation that was put forward days ahead of Ian’s landfall. Along with this match, The Patterson Foundation contributed a $500,000 initial gift to catalyze donations to the Fund. The Patterson Foundation is a longtime collaborator with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, strengthening efforts such as the annual Season of Sharing campaign and the Giving Challenge.
“For years, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has worked to provide the givers in our region opportunities to channel their generosity toward outsized impact,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “The Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund is a trusted resource for our region as we work to recover with resiliency.”
Nearly 1,000 donations have been made to the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund from individuals and private foundations, as well as corporate institutions and fellow community foundations from across the country. Most of the $4,857,676 in gifts were made directly from those living in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte counties; about 12% of donations came from outside Florida.