Author's Note: Christina Russi is Community Fiscal Agent and Liason at the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center.
A family in need…a call for help…twenty years ago, a caring and compassionate leadership at the Community Foundation, a willing partner in the Sarasota Herald Tribune Media Group, were the catalysts that launched the Season of Sharing campaigns to follow.
January 31st marked the last official day for the 20th fund raising campaign for Season of Sharing. 20 years…the strength and longevity of this campaign is testimony to its community commitment. Season of Sharing over the past 20 years has woven it threads of service into the lives of thousands of our neighbors, friends, and relatives, strangers creating a strong fabric of giving, collaboration, concern and positive impact on our Counties of Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota.
There is recognition by Season of Sharing of the struggles and challenges of our vulnerable individuals and families. Through its support, community residents have received a hand up, encouragement, the needed leverage to overcome an emergency or urgent need. Season of Sharing may not solve all problems, but it offers space and precious time.
As I have said on a number of occasions, Season of Sharing, the entire concept is close to my heart. It is a vital component in community efforts to serve residents in need. Without these faithfully donated dollars, thousands of residents would have gone and could go unserved or underserved. How many families would be homeless? How many would be unable to get to work? How many could not pay for childcare? Do we stop to think that every day in four counties of our region someone is being assisted by Season of Sharing? Every Day!
Trust is earned over time. Season of Sharing is trusted. Organizations trust that the Community Foundation of Sarasota County will give every effort to make the campaign a success. Case managers trust that when they submit a request it will be reviewed with a fair eye and processed in a timely and efficient manner. Clients trust that their needs and concerns will be received in a compassionate and emphatic way and they will be heard and helped. Finally, donors trust that their faithfully donated dollars will be well managed and properly spent.
If I may, as a metaphor, Season of Sharing is like a house.
For me, Season of Sharing is like a house. Every house needs a solid strong, stable foundation, and for me, that is the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Then we have the walls and the roof. That would be the foundation’s Season of Sharing task force members who oversee all the moving parts of the campaign and protect its integrity. The windows and doors are the fiscal agents with a view of all requests and ability to deliver the checks to vendors. They take the steps to resolve problems. Next, we have the case managers and clients. They are the pulse, the heartbeat of the house, the very reason for Season of Sharing. Once they are in the house, we have a home.
But don’t forget, we need to turn on the lights. For me, that spark, that electricity, is every donor – friends, relatives, neighbors, visitors, and philanthropists who contribute to the success of Season of Sharing every year.
And now, of course, after twenty years, we are inspecting our home: it may need a fresh coat of paint; we may need to upgrade the appliances in the kitchen; or decide to switch out the light bulbs for LED. Season of Sharing is flexible and will withstand the critique, and our home will be stronger in it’s 21st year and beyond.
Season of Sharing is a campaign which is subtle in its request, graceful in its influence, without the glitz and glitter perhaps of other fundraisers, but it has energy, staying power, and commitment to community and dedication to mission. Season of Sharing is an action phrase. Season of Sharing resolves problems, strives to create a positive impact, to contribute to the social wellness of the community.
In closing, if I may humbly say, Season of Sharing in its subtle grace of influence past, present, and future is one of our community’s finest moments.