You changed my Life
The assignment was straightforward: Send a quick S.O.S. to area nonprofits asking for examples from them or their clients of how they’re changing lives in our community.
The e-mails started pouring in.
"When my husband, Bud Carson, was told he had six months to live, TideWell Hospice took the horror out of his dying. TideWell transformed our lives by helping Bud show his family how to die with dignity, strength, love and faith," ABC7 news anchor Linda Carson told us.
"For the past eight years, the Boys & Girls Club has opened doors and provided opportunities for me," wrote Brittney Cannon, 19, a Booker High grad who will be attending Valencia Community College this fall. "I have learned so much about leadership, responsibility and family. I believe that people who are not blood-related but who care for you can be family. When I walk into this positive place for kids, I feel as if I am surrounded by a gigantic, loving and supportive family."
And, from Lutheran Services Florida, a trinity of client stories, painful in their specifics: Robert, a 69-year-old man with a history of brain injury, extremely childlike in his abilities and his behavior, living alone in a trailer that was falling down around him; James, a 44-year-old male with developmental disabilities who suffers from mental retardation, whose modest inheritance that was to last a lifetime was exploited by his alcoholic brother; Shirley, a 72-year-old woman diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, hospitalized as a result of severe neglect—despite living with her grandson, his girlfriend and their 11 pit bulls. In all three cases, Lutheran Services has been made legal representative and has worked to provide medical and social services in order to turn their lives around.
The many charities in our community are indeed making a difference in the lives of those in need. And there’s no sugar-coating it; tough times in our community, in our state and across the nation are creating unprecedented need. With endowments of America’s biggest charities and foundations down by more than $46 billion since 2007, and 62 percent of foundations across the nation reducing their giving this year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, we must—all of us, every one—step up to do our share, both through volunteerism and with whatever monetary donations we can afford.
Many in our community are doing exactly that. The Community Foundation last May founded the Community Connections Forum, linking 60 members of the Sarasota Young Professionals Group and Leadership Sarasota with seven area nonprofits that had very specific eight- to 10-hour projects involving business, leadership, event planning and marketing. The local American Red Cross chapter was one of them, asking for help to establish a social media network for local young professionals via Facebook and other online techniques. Beth Bush, director of preparedness, health and safety for the local chapter, says, "The people who chose to work with us are so impressive. They have great ideas and are already working hard on our behalf. We are so excited to see what this group accomplishes."
Only by working together can we hope to accomplish anything meaningful. Sarasota Magazine realizes that, and it’s why we’re proud to partner once more with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to produce the annual Charity Register—our area’s definitive guide to the nonprofits hard at work here in our community and a treasury of information about their goals, needs and dreams. We hope you find it enlightening, entertaining and, most of all, inspiring.