Season of Sharing and the stories we write together

Categories: COMMUNITY CARE: Placemaking: Housing, Transportation & Economic Support, Season of Sharing,

If you've ever experienced the joy of reading a book with a child or making up a story with them, then you know how the guidelines we rely on as adults - like every action has an equal and opposite reaction - are immediately suspended during story time. Imagination takes over and new possibilities emerge. Season of Sharing is a bit like that.

Herald-Tribune reporter Saundra Amrhein has delivered another collection of tales during this year's Season of Sharing campaign that invites us into the stories of the adults and families who have been supported by this time-tested and trusted resource in times of need. Their stories are important in helping us understand how plans can change shape due to unexpected difficulties and, very often, circumstances beyond people's control such as hurricanes, fires, health troubles, or car accidents.

However our neighbors arrive at the point where this critical assistance is needed, the possibility of what comes next thanks to that assistance is what moves so many to give. Amrhein's skillful and dignified reporting highlights that all who are offered support are striving for success, connection, and to know and be recognized for their intrinsic value.

This is the most exciting part of seeing how Season of Sharing is changing our community for the better, year after year. Thanks to more than 2,650 supporters, new stories are being imagined by those who allow us a glimpse into their hopes and dreams that still yearn to be written despite - or because of - their challenges.

This campaign year, Season of Sharing raised $4,210,146 to assist with housing, childcare, transportation and utilities for people at moments when their lives need to take a different direction. This includes seven $100,000 matches from The Patterson Foundation to recognize community contributions each time a $500,000 threshold was surpassed. These vital dollars will be put to effective use throughout the next 12 months for those who likely never imagined that a need to call for help would be part of their storylines.

This year we have been moved by people like Kimberly Jackson, a metal worker skilled at welding gates and fixtures, who now is shaping a new life after addiction; the Wedig family in Englewood, who have battled hurricane and fire and continue to build a life as young parents; and the Ramirez couple, whose retirement has been deeply affected by today's rising cost of living. Thanks to Season of Sharing, we can change circumstances and outlooks for these people and thousands like them, so they can turn the page.

Each gift that is made has the power to rewrite the next few chapters of lives, and we are so grateful to live in a community where neighbors truly look after neighbors with generosity that contains transformative abilities. The work of our nonprofit partners and individual caseworkers continues those charitable intentions forward, directly impacting those in need.

Season of Sharing certainly gives hope to those who can have the assurance of a safe place to live, or a safe place for their children to be while they work; however, the biggest gift is given to our greater community, and we are thankful for everyone who is part of our community's history. Together, we are writing the story of a place to live where neighbors help neighbors find success and possibility.

Roxie Jerde is the CEO of Community Foundation of Sarasota County.