There are a few words in the English language that have some cautionary meanings associated with them. “Pride” is one of those words. Beginning in childhood, we are encouraged to somewhat restrain the emotion of pride, so we are not viewed as being overly boastful.
However, I take pride in the amazing results we witness through our work at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. While some of our larger initiatives like Season of Sharing and the Giving Challenge receive a lot of the spotlight, it is our ongoing support of the community, thanks to our generous and caring donors, where our pride points really shine due to impactful grantmaking.
In recent months, our Community Impact Grant program has gone above and beyond to demonstrate and fulfill this commitment. The program was revamped last August to focus more on emerging needs and new opportunities that can unexpectedly be sparked through great ideas and great generosity. Since last summer this program – which can provide up to $10,000 for requests – has been a catalyst for 17 nonprofits in our four-county region with close to $150,000 in grants. While the mission and cause behind each of these grants has a story unto its own, I’d like to share a few that have touched my heart and I’m certain will touch yours too.
- The Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) created “Warriors in Transition,” a program to support local veterans that provides monthly, full-day horse-related workshops that provide clarity, connection, and life-changing experiences. While this program began in early 2014, an unanticipated partnership with the therapists at Bay Pines VA Healthcare Services presented an opportunity for greater participation and additional programming to support our cherished veterans.
- Aligned with their mission to empower young women with life skills, self-esteem, and the importance of self-care, Sisters Sowing Seeds has launched a pilot mentoring program to address the mental health and wellness of teenage girls in our community. Through partnerships with Margwine Organization Inc. and local therapists, the Sisters Mentoring Program will provide a positive outlet for 70 participants in Sarasota County by engaging girls in Haiti through pen pal exchanges and by attending service learning experiences, one-on-one and group therapy, and monthly workshops.
- Another story comes from the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota in collaboration with The Ringling Museum. These two arts organizations invited area students to The Chicago Children’s Theater production, “X Marks the Spot,” providing an interactive, multi-sensory experience for all audiences, including the visually impaired. Following the performance, students participated in an art tour specifically created for the blind and those with low vision, combining touchable objects, oral descriptions, and raised diagrams. Students without vision impairments were encouraged to wear blindfolds to gain a greater understanding of those with special needs and foster empathy as a lifelong skill.
Behind the success of the work of all these nonprofits you can find unconquerable pride in their work, pride in their relationships, and pride in their community.
While these stories are reason enough to be proud of all the good we are accomplishing together, the greatest pride point of all is and will always be the trust you have put in us. As always, I want to hear your thoughts. What are your pride points and how have they inspired your work in our community? Let me know. We’re listening.