A lot of us who bike or run or walk like to track our distances and the paths we travel. Some ambitious people event create "GPS art" with their exercise routines (yes, it's a thing).
When I have a free Sunday afternoon, my husband Mike and I take our bikes on the Legacy Trail and head south through Osprey, crossing Dona Bay into Nokomis before making a loop around the island of Venice along the Venetian Waterway Park. I pass through Casperson Beach Park at the southernmost point before returning home to southern Sarasota. Altogether, that 40-mile ride takes me about three hours. On a map the route is neat and direct.
This is quite different than the lines on a map that would be drawn if you followed me the rest of the week. Traveling to meet different people and organizations who have both so much to give and so many needs, these lines seem only loosely connected by anything other than geography. The varied work of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County puts me in touch with some of our neediest schoolchildren and their families, internationally-recognized geo-political scientists, amazing artists and performers, local judges and former criminals and so many, many more people who all have the same hope: a better community for everyone who lives here.
I've been asked if the variety of people I meet is overwhelming, but truly I find these connections motivating. That is because when I take that linear, logical bike ride on Sundays, I can clear my mind and see how the seemingly detached visits I made the week prior are actually quite interrelated. The "GPS art" that our Community Foundation is creating is a beautiful web of connections. The examples are endless, but I'm moved to share with you one recent instance that drives this point home.
We proudly fund a relatively new program called "Scholars and Collars." The program brings together three organizations that hadn't worked together before: The Florida Center for Early Childhood, Humane Society of Sarasota County and Gocio Elementary, a Sarasota County School. The pilot program is part of a larger initiative to better promote mental health awareness in schools. Through "Scholars and Collars" students learn how to recognize their feelings and deal with emotions through companion animals. The students are identified by the school, the Florida Center provides the licensed clinical social worker assigned to the school, and the Humane Society provides the animals and weekly lessons led by their staff.
My favorite part about this collaboration is each organization worked together, leading with each of their own strengths to create a solution that never existed before to achieve a larger goal. This speaks to why your community foundation exists - we are here to help connect the lines between sectors and entities on a map that is still being drawn.
These lines help coordinate impactful ways for all of us to create the community we want to live in. As always, I'd like to hear from you - what connections do you see that could make a difference in our community?