OPINION: Recovery Fund will help the Suncoast heal - and rebuild

Categories: Stories of Impact, COMMUNITY CARE: Emergency Needs & Disaster Relief,

The scope of damage caused by Hurricane Ian is still being revealed to our community and will continue for some time as devastation continues to unfold. It’s likely that we will be rebuilding for years to come, and while we certainly can predict some challenges that will come in the storm’s significant wake, we know many more will become apparent in the months ahead.

One thing is certain: a focused, collaborative effort will be essential in rebuilding this community that we call home, and we will need to harness the kindness of those who are able to give support to those who have lost much – if not everything. We are fortunate to live in a community with generous donors who consistently rise to the challenge of making the Suncoast a better place for all who live here.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation have created a fund to best leverage the resources needed to reconstruct our communities. The Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund will support long-term, sustainable recovery efforts in Charlotte, DeSoto, Sarasota and Manatee counties. The Patterson Foundation seeded the fund with a $500,000 initial investment, and it is offering donors the opportunity to double their impact through a dollar-for-dollar match up to an additional $750,000.

This fund will focus on vital disaster recovery efforts such as improving individual, family and community resiliency – and ensuring individuals and families can rebound from their staggering losses and sustain their well-being on economic, social, spiritual, emotional and other levels.

Collaboration can generate the greatest impact, and The Patterson Foundation and Community Foundation have a longstanding partnership as demonstrated through several Giving Challenges, whereby donor dollars have been amplified through The Patterson Foundation's matching funds. This is a smart way to leverage the power of foundations to magnify the potential impact of donor dollars.

Once again, The Patterson Foundation elects to work with the Community Foundation because of the Foundation’s longstanding knowledge of the community and trusted relationships. The Community Foundation plays a convening role in the strong network of local nonprofit organizations – nearly 700 across the Suncoast area in The Giving Partner database – along with a deep relationship with local government agencies and school districts.

These entities work directly with those in need and can help ensure that dollars are distributed to achieve the greatest impact – whether that’s in the realm of human services, cultural and environmental institutions, mental health support or other areas that we can’t predict at this time. The Community Foundation has earned a reputation as a listener, and it will continue that practice as it works with partner agencies to evaluate areas of great need and develop strategies to address them.

The Community Foundation has been a trusted resource with a long philanthropic history since its inception in 1979. One example is the Community Foundation’s time-tested deployment of Season of Sharing funds over the past 23 years; this reputation provides assurance that donations will be disbursed with conscientious stewardship. And to be clear, Season of Sharing funds will still be available for families dealing with unstable housing, utilities, child care and transportation challenges (whether Ian-related or not).

Please consider helping neighbors in need by donating to the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund, with the assurance that it will offer the most significant impact through matching funds – and through its ability to connect with those nonprofits that are most in tune with need.

The Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund is an opportunity for every helping heart to know they are making a difference while also ensuring we recover with resiliency.

Debra Jacobs is the CEO of The Patterson Foundation. Roxie Jerde is the CEO of Community Foundation of Sarasota County.