There is real comfort in knowing. Knowing when our next paycheck will be delivered, where our next meal will come from, what the next step in our lives will bring us. Knowledge and certainty give us confidence and ground our decision-making, but only when they're available. For nearly a year life hasn’t been certain. Each of us has been trying to regain some comfort in knowing, to add consistency while we repair the shattered rhythms of our daily lives. Amid all the unpredictability, it’s truer than ever that how we overcome and persevere is perhaps more important than what we have accomplished.
That’s where we find ourselves right now, both as the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and as members of this community we all love and hold dear. As I sat down to write this year in reflection, I realized that all of us are still in a moment of great vulnerability and of great opportunity. This is a time to gaze through the looking glass and be seen for all we can become, even if it appears distant or nearly impossible.
It’s a complicated task, balancing the past, present, and future in the palm of crisis. And yet, I believe philanthropy – driven to innovate, informed by data, and powered through equity – will help us get there.
As philanthropists, citizens, and neighbors we have questions to answer. Of course, we were always asking them, but now the approaching post-pandemic moment calls us to create a better space to not just ask questions, but also develop and evolve ourselves as part of “what comes next.” Ask yourself: What do you want to build? What possibilities beckon you? Are we listening, growing, and innovating? What can you become? What can our community become?
If philanthropy creates the space to ponder these questions, trust allows us to take their concerns and give them serious consideration. In the past year of reacting, responding, and recovering, we’ve experienced this firsthand in the connections and conversations we’ve shared with our remarkable donors and nonprofit partners. Be it 24-hour give days or months-long campaigns, the profound generosity and care for others shows that only through trust can we adapt, innovate, and protect this new looking glass — a more inclusive vision for the future –that we’ve forged.
It is important to remember, though, glass is pliable as it is fragile, as are the countless decisions we encounter each day. And in a year of learning how to survive an unknown way of life without the help of a crystal ball, we should feel comfortable admitting we didn’t get everything right, that recognizing our failures is often difficult and uncomfortable. We cannot and should not expect perfection but we should strive for it.
We all see through different prisms, yet ours isn’t the only view. If we learn to live with difference, we can still care for one another even if we don’t understand one another. As we close a year that limited our connections, please remember that we have limitless capacity for healing and embracing change.
As always, I’m here to listen. Connection means everything, so I invite you to speak with a close friend or relative not about what they believe, but what brought them to that belief? Who are the people that inspired and impacted them? Send me a personal message about what you discover. I hope you’ll realize, as I did, that we can all learn a thing or two by listening to another’s story.
And remember: Be patient with yourself. Change doesn’t it happen overnight, but it begins one idea, one conversation, one person at a time.