While the storm itself is now in the rearview mirror, the damage unleashed by Hurricane Ian is very much with us now and will be felt for many years in the future. Our neighbors in the Suncoast region have been hit hard, and it may take years to fully recover. As I think of the scale of devastation, it feels monumental and overwhelming.
Still, the outpouring of support that has followed is extraordinary, with acts of heroism that are truly inspiring and uplifting. It is heartening to see the efforts already in place to help respond to immediate needs.
Disasters, as we have learned, have life cycles, with many needs that will unveil themselves in the coming weeks and months. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County will be focusing on the vital disaster recovery—the process of improving individual, family and community resiliency, ensuring individuals and families can rebound from their staggering losses and sustain their well-being on many levels: economic, social, spiritual, emotional.
We have created the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund, which aims to restore the quality of life for our neighbors whose lives have been turned upside down.
Thanks to our partnership with The Patterson Foundation, they have seeded the fund with $500,000 and a pledge to match donations dollar for dollar, up to $750,000. This allows donors to leverage the match to stretch the good they can do and have the critical funding needed to address the long-term needs our community will face long after the water recedes. There will be no fees so you can be assured that 100 percent of contributions will go toward restoration of lives and our community.
While we don’t know yet the full impact of the disaster, we will work with our partner human services agencies, local government, and school districts to assess how the trauma of Ian will radiate and how we can strategically work to create sustainable recovery.
The storm has brought into sharp focus the mission of our Community Foundation to support the Suncoast counties, Charlotte, DeSoto, Sarasota and Manatee. As I have reflected over the past few days on our tagline, “Be the one,” I cannot help but feel that now is the time for each person to make a real difference in our community. In this moment, each of us has the power to write the next chapters of our collective history, bending the plotline into something affirming, uplifting, and one that brings a ray of hope to so many in need.