SRQ Magazine | In Conversation with Non Profit Leaders July 2021

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In

SUMMER 2021 EDITION

Conversation

ARTHUR LERMAN, PRESIDENT, CEO, JFCS OF THE SUNCOAST

DEBBIE MASON, CFRE PRESIDENT, TIDEWELL FOUNDATIONM, SVP EMPATH-STRATUM/ TIDEWELL HOSPICE

CHERYL MENDELSON, CEO VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION/ SARASOTA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FOUNDATION

BILL SADLO, PRESIDENT & CEO, BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA AND DESOTO COUNTIES

KRISTIE SKOGLUND, CEO THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD

PHILIP TAVILL, PRESIDENT & CEO CHILDREN FIRST

VERONICA THAMES, COO GULF COAST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

RICK YOCUM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HUMANE SOCIETY OF MANATEE COUNTY

IN CONVERSATION WITH NONPROFIT LEADERS ON TAPPING INTO CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION TO TRANSFORM THROUGH THE PANDEMIC. INTERVIEW BY WES ROBERTS

SHARE WITH OUR READERS A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR ORGANIZATION AND HOW IT HAS CHANGED TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF OUR SOCIETY MID-PANDEMIC. BILL SADLO, BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA AND DESOTO

COUNTIES: We’re the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. We serve children six through eighteen years old and we focus on children that need us most. I am proud to say that during the pandemic we continued to serve children that

need us most and we were able to really focus on that and hone in on the most vulnerable during the pandemic. We pivoted and put a virtual platform together. And then we opened for in-person on April 8 to serve the families of first responders and essential medical

personnel. So there wasn’t a long downtime for us for in-person. DEBBIE MASON, TIDEWELL FOUNDATION: I serve as president of the Tidewell Foundation and an officer with Tidewell Hospice. We exist to provide perpetual support to

ENGAGING READERS THROUGH STORYTELLING.


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ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS ARTHUR LERMAN, PRESIDENT,CEO OF JFCS OF THE SUNCOAST Arthur Lerman serves as the President/CEO of JFCS of the Suncoast with over twenty-five years of experience in non-profit management. He has extensive experience in providing senior services and supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities. He has over twenty years serving in an executive director role and worked for a national management consulting firm assisting states on their long-term care and behavioral health programs. In addition, Arthur served two terms in Maine House of Representatives and received a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. DEBBIE MASON, CFRE, PRESIDENT, TIDWELL FOUNDATION, SVP EMPATH-STRATUM/TIDEWELL HOSPICE Debbie Mason, CFRE serves as President of the Tidewell Foundation and EVP of Empath-Stratum Health/Tidewell Hospice. The Tidewell Foundation is dedicated to the purpose of brightening lives each day through the perpetual support of Tidewell Hospice. By matching donor passions to the charitable needs of Tidewell Hospice, the team ensures that millions of dollars of charity care can be given each year to patients, families and residents of the region. Celebrating its 41st year, Tidewell is now the largest not-for-profit hospice and home health system in the nation.

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Tidewell Hospice and our home health agencies and the other health services in our not for profit health system and so it’s a real joy to be able to support the mission of what we do and we did not shut down obviously during COVID because we’re frontline healthcare providers so between our hospice organization and our home health organization, we’re in about 3,500 patient homes a day throughout the six county area. Most people don’t know that out of those 3,500 patients a day, we’re going to them, so we’re in their homes, in retirement homes, in longterm care facilities, in nursing homes, sometimes even in hospitals we’re going to them. So there was fear initially and so some organizations did for a few days or weeks say, “Whoa, we don’t want you coming in our facility.” Even some patients were like “Should I let you come into my home?,” but gradually as the education came out about personal protective equipment, people were more and more comfortable letting us back in to do the things we do. It was a different world for sure, but we persisted. ARTHUR LERMAN, JEWISH FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S SERVICES OF THE SUNCOAST: I’m the CEO of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Suncoast, otherwise known as JFCS of the Suncoast. Our mission is to address people within the community who have needs that are not met otherwise. We provide services on a non-denominational basis to a wide range of individuals from youth, to families, to seniors, to veterans, and to folks who are homeless. We’re guided by the Jewish principle of providing assistance to all people. Our primary service area is Manatee and Sarasota counties, although we do provide services particularly to veterans from Manatee all the way down to

Collier County. The end of March, last year, we closed our office down because of the pandemic. We quickly needed to adjust to provide services remotely. That in itself was no small task. We were helped greatly along the way by a grant from the Selby Foundation. Also, one of things that distinguishes JFCS is anticipating needs and being nimble enough to be able to address emerging needs of the community. It was real clear that in addition to supporting people in living their lives differently from what they were used to, there also was the issue of social isolation and loneliness that showed up over time across all ages. Also there was a huge number of people who were significantly impacted financially. And so we went to our donor base and were able to raise over a half a million dollars outside of Season of Sharing funds to be able to develop our own what we call COVID Emergency Needs Relief program, to compliment Season of Sharing. And we gave out over $500,000 to over 350 families to help with rent and mortgage relief, utilities, transportation issues, and food. KRISTIE SKOGLUND, THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD: I’m Kristie Scoglund, CEO of The Florida Center for Early Childhood and we serve children and families prenatally through elementary school. We do a lot of work with children who have vulnerabilities, disabilities, and provide a lot of prevention and early intervention services for those families as it relates to their development, their behavior, and we do a lot of supportive services for children and families in their home. We did close briefly, but then reopened our Starfish Academy in May for first responders and essential workers as well. Our preschool continues to operate at about 50% capacity at this point. We had to furlough a few staff briefly. We did

move fast and furiously to a virtual platform for many of our services so we had to figure out how to provide therapies virtually. Before COVID, telehealth was on our radar, but only in the far future. Instead we did it all in a very short period of time and it’s pretty crazy what you can do when you have to. PHILIP TAVILL, CHILDREN FIRST: Our service population is defined by families with very young children living in difficult economic circumstances, primarily defined by the federal poverty level. So an example of that is a family of three making under about $21,500.00 a year. We work with pregnant families through the age of five at 15 sites throughout Sarasota County. We began our remote services on March 23rd with our 17 case managers and family advocates who work with the families to help them really develop goals and achieve those goals. I think 20 million people lost work in a matter of 30 days. People in poverty are the first to get hurt, they’re hurt the worst, and they’re the last to recover. Int he first 45 days, 107 of our families lost their work and another 68 had greatly reduced hours. Everyone here worked together too. We worked very closely with Kristie and her awesome staff at The Florida Center, in the areas of behavioral health and mental healthcare, and we worked very closely with Bill Sadlo and his awesome team at Boys and Girls Club. We set up weekly food and hygiene kit distributions, all drive through, all socially distanced, masked up. RICK YOCUM, HUMANE SOCIETY OF MANATEE COUNTY: I’m the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Manatee County. We weren’t sure what we were going to be facing either but we did activate our emergency management plan the last week of March last year which puts some very strict COVID-19 protocols in



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CHERYL MENDELSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, VAN WEZEL/SARASOTA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FOUNDATION Cheryl Mendelson became the CEO of the Van Wezel/ Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation in 2019, bringing over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit executive at renowned organizations in arts and culture, education, and healthcare. Mendelson previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Mendelson was named to the top ten list of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of Year in 2016. She is a member of the Gulf Coast CEO Forum and sits on the Advisory Board of Sarasota’s Arts Advocates. 941-366-5578. General Inquiries: aholcomb@vwfoundation.org BILL SADLO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA AND DESOTO COUNTIES Before he became President/CEO, Bill Sadlo was a proud member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties as a child. Bill graduated from Sarasota High School and acquired his Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education from University of South Florida. Since then, Bill has devoted his career to the organization that enabled him to succeed. In 2017, Boys & Girls Clubs of America presented Bill with the National Professional Service Award to honor his 30 years of dedication to the movement. KRISITE SKOGLUND, ED.D. LMHC, IMH-E©, CEO, THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD Dr. Kristie Skoglund is the Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Center for Early Childhood. With a Master’s

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place. We were an essential business, so we were operating throughout the entire pandemic. We were not closed for one day providing low to moderate cost high quality medical care for the animals in the community and also caring for the animals in our Second Chance adoption program. We reduced our capacity as per our emergency management plan down to 50% the last week of March and we’ve slowly built that back up to about 95% capacity as of last week and we reduced our capacity in our shelter by getting animals into foster homes. I actually have five additional staff members now versus when the pandemic started, so we’ve increased our staffing levels here to be able to provide the services with our protocols in place. CHERYL MENDELSON, VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION: I’m the CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation and the Van Wezel Foundation was established in 1987 as a separate non-profit of the Van Wezel Hall to help support arts education and the mission-driven work that happens through the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. But in addition to that, since the master plan of the Bayfront Park was approved in 2018, the Van Wezel Foundation is also leading the vision to build the new performing arts center on the bay. When the pandemic first really hit, obviously the arts were incredibly impacted and the doors were shut. We pivoted very quickly to establish a taskforce of arts education and integration leaders in the community, including the Van Wezel Hall’s Arts Education Program and working with the public school system as well as other organizations that rely on arts education to help teachers who obviously had to pivot to virtual, to help families who all of a sudden were becoming teachers in their homes. We were able to quickly work with the

teachers to be able to create a library of resources for them that we called Artworks Anywhere. Then we were able to expand that to have access for families. We also saw the need to move to bilingual programming and now through the support of philanthropy we are able to do virtual programming both in Spanish as well as English. We all understand you can’t replace live performance, but I think what we realized during the pandemic, as a society, how important the arts are to the quality of your life. The arts were a catalyst for people’s hope, for their faith, for their inspiration, and we’re really proud to be able to play an enormous role in being a part of that kind of access and really proud to say that as of today, we’ve actually reached over 40,000 students, teachers and their families in this year alone. The numbers are really incredible. VERONICA THAMES, GULF COAST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: At the Gulf Coat Community Foundation, our mission is broad, it’s all-encompassing, and it’s regional. We were able to work with donors who gave more than ever from their donor-advised funds as we launched Gulf Coast COVID-19 initiative. We had over 100 donors, 100% of our board, 100% of our staff engaged to leverage our commitment and to date we’re just south of seven million dollars deployed to support our community. We focussed on specific and purposeful affinity group conversations around key topics relevant to our donors from race relations to the state of the arts, criminal justice reform, mental health, the Bay, the rapid rehousing homelessness initiative, and now water quality, in light of the Piney Point events. We have seen our non-profits emerge victorious from a reliance on events to deepening those philanthropic relationships with donors that

better align with the mission specifically of that organization and have been grateful to be able to fuel that relationship. Internally, we were already on a trajectory to implement a lot of technology and improve our reach, but the pandemic accelerated that. We have worked very hard on team engagement and cohesiveness. A recent survey resulted in our 17th placement on the top 50 list of Time Magazine’s best non-profits to work for, and I share my top 50 spot with a couple other people on this call. We focused on making up for the lost organic conversation that fuels a lot of our ideas and innovation and initiatives through technology and we had to revamp our grant process. For example we implemented a new grant cycle for our large grants, those over $10,000.00 from biannual to a weekly process ensuring a really thorough review, multilayer approval and collaboration with other non-profits in the area but reaching those in need a lot faster. So we’re committed to continuing not only this COVID-19 initiative but all the others we currently run.

THE PANDEMIC WILL CAST A LONG SHADOW IN TERMS OF NON-ILLNESS RELATED REPERCUSSIONS—ESPECIALLY ON MENTAL HEATLH, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE AREAS OF NEED? MASON: We established early on that people were not being able to process grief in a normal way and that grief was expanded to many other topics beyond death. It was loss of routine, loss of connectivity, loss of normalcy, and so we very quickly established a 24/7 bilingual community helpline so that our trained therapists could work with people who were feeling alone or isolated or whatever they might be feeling. We also realized that people wanted ways to continue to



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degree in Counseling and Psychology, and a Doctorate degree in Counseling, Kristie has expertise in infant/young children’s mental health, trauma informed care practices and developmental disorders. She has been in the field for over 20 years and recently received state endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Clinical Mentor. She is a 2019 graduate of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute and currently serves on the board of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health. PHILIP TAVILL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CHILDREN FIRST Philip Tavill has been President & CEO of Children First, Sarasota County’s exclusive Head Start provider, since 1996. After obtaining a baccalaureate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 1989, Mr. Tavill has worked in the human services field both in direct service and management capacities. He returned to Sarasota in 1990 and was appointed Executive Director of the Loveland Center in 1991. At Case Western Reserve University, he earned a Master of Nonprofit Organizations from the Weatherhead School of Management and Master of Science in Social Administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. VERONICA THAMES, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GULF COAST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION As COO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Veronica Thames plays a critical role in translating strategic goals into an operational plan for one of the country’s fastest-growing community foundations. She also supports our region’s entire nonprofit community as leader

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process grief so we expanded the number of groups that we work with in the community and started obviously doing those electronically via Zoom. We’ve been the community’s grief service provider for 40 years for free for everything, whether people have a miscarriage or a car wreck or whatever travesty comes to them and their family and so we were able to really expand our free services to people and also where appropriate, we’re still doing in-person services safely, distanced and masked and all of those things. We’ve also realized that there’s this collective grief and so in May we’re actually doing two free community collective grief ceremonies, one in Sarasota County, one in Manatee County, and then we’ll be doing Charlotte and DeSoto County in June. People outside, socially distanced, with chairs and masks, and just to collectively have a sense of peace followed by a meditation walk. Of course we also have our Blue Butterfly program for children. It is the only evidence-based program that offers free services to children and their family when they’ve lost an immediate family member. So the demand for that exploded and fortunately we were able to have some grantors that helped us expand our offerings of those throughout the four county region so there are lots of partners doing lots of good work and that’s just an example of Tidewell’s work in that area. Schools call us in, employers call us in, every time there’s a community disaster, our mental health leaders are there and provide continuity to families. TAVILL: I can speak to direct experience with Tidewell. I am celebrating my 25th anniversary of Children First this year and over that 25 years, Tidewell has been in when we have lost staff members, when we’ve lost parents from our families, most tragically when we’ve lost children and

they’ve done incredible work. In terms of impact and lasting effects, pretty much everything has changed. In the past, families would come into the classroom and they’d bring the kids in the morning, they’d pick them up in the afternoon, there was this wonderful opportunity for an exchange between the family member and the teacher and even if it’s just a few minutes, it’s 10 times a week. It’s a really very intimate way of communicating and what we’ve moved to is drop-off and pickup in the parking lot. It’s the loss of a really intimate communication time. Also, our families are being impacted so terribly economically. They don’t have the resources that many other folks have, separate and apart from COVID. There’s a phrase that’s called the toxic stressors of poverty that our families have been living under for years and years and years that cause very high levels of stress. Add to this a global pandemic, then the loss of jobs, reduced hours, it’s kind of mind-boggling to think about how difficult it is for families living in poverty, particularly with very young children, to address that. Also, of course, our staff, because of the work that we do, are in no way, shape or form exempt from this. I was talking with one of our staff members whose grandmother at 102 years of age died of COVID and just before she died, the eighth generation of that family was born. A remarkable story and while she’s happy that it was 102 years, COVID doesn’t feel like natural causes. Particularly now that we have access to vaccines. YOCUM: Those of us in animal welfare have known for a long time the value that companion animals provide aid to people when it comes to mental health. It is now much more well-understood by the general public the value of animal companionship in

a family and with the children and the impact that those animals have on people. To put it in perspective, if you go into an area that’s just been hit by a tragic storm and people’s homes are destroyed, you don’t see people sifting through rubble looking for their wall safe, you see people sifting through the rubble trying to find their companion animal. That’s why we were continuing to adopt out animals and also provide the care for those companion animals because people were afraid they won’t be able to get the services they need to keep their four-legged kids healthy. MENDELSON: The arts programs are also focused of course on mental health and the issues that many families are facing, but at the Van Wezel Foundation we decided it was important to take a little bit of another direction in terms of what was happening in our society. There was a lot of anger and a lot of fear and there was a lot of issues related to racism and inclusivity and divisiveness that was really happening across the country that was showing up in social media and people didn’t have an outlet. We were getting feedback, particularly from the teachers, that this was a challenge in the classroom; how do you start to talk about these difficult issues and historically the arts have always been a place to express yourself. We started a program through the support of a generous board member and donor who recognized that this is a really important and passionate place for them to be able to create support, and we started a program called IDEA, which stands for inclusivity, diversity, equity and access. We were really fortunate because of our ability to be able to do things virtually. We were able to work with the Kennedy Center and for the first time we had a virtual resident teaching artist who is a



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of Invest in Incredible, Gulf Coast’s initiative to strengthen the governance and effectiveness of area nonprofits. Prior to Gulf Coast, Veronica served as vice president of human resources at Blake Medical Center, with responsibility for key operations and personnel management of a 1,300-employee organization. Veronica brought extensive community involvement to her new role in philanthropy as a longtime member and former chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative, a board member and volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations, and a graduate of Leadership Manatee. RICK YOCUM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMANE SOCIETY OF MANATEE COUNTY Rick has served in his current position as Executive Director of the Humane Society of Manatee County since March 14, 2016. Rick comes to the position with extensive animal welfare, public and private experience. He served as President of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for seven years. In addition, he was a Certified Humane Law Enforcement Officer who trained other officers and investigated animal cruelty cases. Humane Society of Manatee County has received a Four-Star Rating for five consecutive years from Charity Navigator and in 2018 was selected as the Manatee Chamber Small Business of the Year Non-Profit. Rick was the recipient of the Manatee County Tiger Bay Club Pat Glass Non Profit Leadership award in 2019. Rick and his wife, Susan have three grown children Melissa, Courtney and Christopher and two granddaughters, Brooklyn 6 and Gianna 3. Their active outdoor lifestyle includes kayaking and hiking.

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hip-hop artist named Olmeca who has been spending a year virtually with us, working with the administration, principals, teachers, and also doing sessions directly with students regarding socially responsive behavior and how to handle and deal with that in the classroom and in your life. We’re really thrilled that it looks like because of the success of people being able to travel now and more people being vaccinated that Olmeca is actually going to come to Sarasota and do some programming here for the community, with families and we’re going to do some live performances and also do some workshopping. This concept of IDEA, is something that we’re going to continue and we’re very committed to integrating it into all our programs now moving forward. LERMAN: There is a need for support for folks on the mental health side and it has a variety of faces. There are over half a million people who have died as a result of COVID. I don’t remember offhand what the numbers are here in Sarasota County, but there was a significant number of folks who actually passed away, and for whom people are grieving. And it was even magnified by the fact, in many cases, people weren’t able to actually complete their relationship. They weren’t able to be with their loved one at the time that they passed. So there are different dimensions to grieving that emerged out of COVID. There are lots of mental health manifestations. The preliminary numbers indicate an increase in domestic violence and child abuse as a result of people being captive in a home environment or wherever they live. We certainly know the cost of social isolation and loneliness, that we typically see in older people, but it really has shown up across the board from youth who really didn’t have the benefit of being in contact with

their friends, at school or otherwise, to just everybody was hunkered down in their homes and really disconnected from their natural supports. We actually serve a number of homeless folks, they have needs, as do our veterans. We actually just got a grant to extend our counseling services to veterans who don’t have access to mental health services through their VA benefits. The pressures that are put on regular folks, regular family members, regular adults, shouldn’t be underestimated. COVID will bring along with it new and additional mental health challenges as we adjust to getting back out into the community, reestablishing relationships, in the case of younger people, dealing with what they missed in terms of graduations, in terms of the rites of passage for different age groups. And how we can best support that is certainly very much on our minds. We are looking to expand our capacity. We’re getting a number of requests for additional counseling support, that is one of our core services. And we think that that is not going to go away.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE COMPLETELY NEW SERVICES THAT YOU’RE OFFERING, AS A RESULT OF PANDEMIC RESPONSE THAT WILL STICK. MASON: We’re partnering to provide vaccines to underserved populations. In April and May we’ve got 10 different clinics going on around the region. For example, this afternoon we’re working with the Salvation Army to vaccinate homeless populations. We know that a lot of people are transportation-challenged or leery, so we’re actually in the minority communities, where trust is lower, and unfortunately the virus rates are higher. Now we’re trying to take that a little further upstream to say all of these issues around nutrition matter, so as we’re helping

people with grief services, how do we help them also focus on health and wellness. So it has really expanded the reach of our services in different ways that we would not have anticipated pre-pandemic. THAMES: Remarkable was the change we experienced when we worked closer together. We intentionally created a tighter-knit circle with the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Patterson Foundation and United Way where we set up bi-weekly calls where the foundations got together and analyzed the needs of the community in a proactive manner and together decided to ensure that the requests or the needs of each organization were fully covered. So we expect that that will be something we continue so that we can be more proactive and resilient and support the organizations in those areas of need. SADLO: On this topic, we did forge some new things but what really happened was enhancing what we were already doing and enhancing partnerships. Philip mentioned before about the food distribution sites, we did that with Girls Inc. and Children First but it was with a standing partnership with All Faiths Food Bank. Now our partnership is strengthened by adding food pantries into our clubs so parents can come and pick up food when they pick up their children. Same thing with Sarasota County Schools. We’ve always had teachers in our clubs helping but now we’ve really been more intentional about that now with the pandemic and with the learning loss. We had six teachers over the two county area last summer, now we have 22 and six school social workers. We were shocked to see the numbers when our teachers did pre-tests and post-tests. 86% of our children in our program last summer made gains in reading and language



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arts. Zero slid behind, 14% stayed the same. That’s what we can do when we all come together like this. LERMAN: We want to be prepared and are prepared to actually provide support to people regardless of their age or circumstance, because we recognize that those needs exist across the board in our community. Something that was a pre COVID issue, but just magnified by COVID, is that many, many people within our community struggle to get by financially. They’re still a paycheck away from being on the street, from not being able to feed their kids. They could be working a couple of jobs and still can’t feed their family three meals a day. When the CARES funding ran out not that long ago, we restarted our COVID emergency relief fund. We were concerned about getting overwhelmed, so we just started passing the word. Literally within a week, we had 300 applications for financial support. We’re looking at developing programs that will support people to become more financially stable and really improve their financial lot on a permanent basis. These are folks who don’t want a hand out, they don’t want $1,500 to help pay two months rent now. They want something that’s more permanent so that they can be self-sufficient financially and not have to depend on any programs to be able to live a fulfilling life and to meet the basic needs of their families.

WHAT ARE THINGS WE’VE DONE RIGHT LOCALLY AND WHAT ARE THINGS ABOUT WHICH OUR GREATER COMMUNITY HAS SHOWN WISDOM? SKOGLUND: I would like to chime in on that on both fronts. I would like to highlight how our community has come together. There are so many non-profit leaders that I knew of but did not know well

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and now because of COVID we are on work groups together or attend the COVID convening calls. It felt very collaborative and as Veronica mentioned, the funders, the foundations and their wisdom and just caring about the non-profits in the community just feels amazing. I just had my 24th year anniversary at the Florida Center and I started as a mental health clinician as my profession. I can tell you when I started here the mental health needs are nowhere near what they are now and what we are hearing and what we are seeing. Our mental health team is probably one of the largest programs we have here at the Florida Center, and the stories that we’re hearing are crazy and the stress that our staff are feeling as a result of managing those kinds of issues are beyond words and so as an organization. We have created enhanced systems to support our team and the workers because otherwise people are going to burn out and quit, or just stress themselves until they have health issues. We also answered the call to the community when there was a need for preschool teachers and directors to have the same kind of group because preschool directors and preschool staff, they feel it and they’re dealing with it and all of the extra safety protocols they have to put into place. We have established reflective groups to serve these needs. Those kinds of things are amazing-coming together to support each other, and just working as a large community team really and not just being in our own little world of our own non-profit. MENDELSON: We are still looking to the future. We are planning on building a new performing arts center in a vibrant park and the concept that what we’re building is a civic asset to serve the whole community and the region. We are thinking more about the health and safety measures that would go

into the design and the building of a new state of the art world-class performing arts center. It impacts how we look at and think about architecture, how we think about coming together, what our spaces look like. We took the opportunity during COVID to do a. Lot of online surveying because people were available. People really want the performing arts center in the park to be a cultural gateway where people can connect. They can connect in their lives, they can connect with their families, and they more importantly can connect their aspirations and their hopes for a better world together. That’s some of the positive beautiful learning that we’re going to take with us and help guide as we look to building this incredible legacy for the community for generations to come. SADLO: Our community is so blessed with the leaders we have on this call and the ones that aren’t here too. We take some things for granted. I’ve heard stories across the Boys and Girls Club movement and other not for profits not in our community, who have lost their way because of the pandemic. Institutions that couldn’t stay true to their mission, that had to go to fee-based programs or other changes. It’s just a testament to our community that all of us have been able not to fall into that trap and stay true to our mission and I know that’s been true to all the agencies that I’ve interacted with here in our community. I think we should celebrate that. YOCUM: The economic impact is going to be here for a long time. As Philip stated before, for financially challenged families, is an even a larger obstacle to overcome. The non-profits here in our community, in Manatee and Sarasota County, are really needed as the safety net for a year, two years, and three years as that segment of our population is going to take a lot longer to rebound. One of the

changes that we have made here is we have expanded some of our revenue-based programs at our clinic in order to be able to provide more no-cost services for the financially challenged community. THE FLORIDA ECONOMY IS GENERALLY IN A MUCH BETTER STATE THAN MUCH OF THE REST OF THE NATION. I’M THINKING ABOUT PLACES WHERE THEIR REGIONAL ECONOMIES ARE MUCH HARDER HIT THAN OURS AND I WONDER HOW FUNDING AND FUNDRAISING IS GOING TO BE AFFECTED NATIONALLY. MASON: I moved here from Sonoma County a year ago. I ran a healthcare foundation when I was out there. The fires of 2017, the fires of 2019, the fires of 2020 had already created tremendous stress in that beautiful Northern California wine country region and the whole state. And then when COVID came, a lot of non-profits that lived on the margin just couldn’t make it. We’ve been so fortunate here that our foundations stepped up and did even more. The people on this call were fortunate because we have been around a long time and have core donor populations that responded. But imagine if you’re in a community or even if you’re in this community and you’re a new or smaller fledgling non-profit, that’s a very, very different landscape. TAVILL: We know that there are few communities of our size that have such a depth of wealth. I think ther are even even fewer that step up to this level. I know that our messaging with donors included the fact that we wanted to keep our staff intact. We have a complement of about 200 staff members and what we made sure there was a role for every single one of them in our virtual remote effort. It was critical that it was all hands on deck. We also knew we needed to have an infrastructure in place for when



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we begin reopening our doors and phasing kids back in. In all times, recruitment and retention is a major focus. And, we don’t want our families, meaning our staff’s families, falling off a financial cliff. One of the things that the state of Florida did through the VPK programming was Childcare Connections funding that supplements support for families who need it. The state said, “even if you don’t have those kids on site, we’re going to keep that money coming to you so you can keep your infrastructure intact.” Most people wouldn’t think that Florida is a state that might do something like that but they did. They made that decision very quickly to benefit the children and families and as a benefit to the organizations that carry out these very, very important missions. SKOGLUND: The state also lifted Medicaid restraints. That’s huge. TAVILL: I say that, “the portion of our budget that represents is exactly the staff we didn’t have to lay off.” We’re one of 1,800 Head Start grantees in the country, and there’s a lot of communication from the National Head Start Association, from the Administration for Children and Families and it gives us an insight into what’s happening in other communities. There’s some heroic innovative work going on. It gives us a measure, and the leaders in this community taking these things on from a community-wide perspective versus silos, is something we should be very, very proud of. LERMAN: I think there’s no question that people really were generous. Human beings are remarkable in many ways. And in times of need, people’s best sides seem to come out. I think the community’s response, in terms of being sensitive to the needs of people, was really outstanding. You hear numerous stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Some of it occurred within the

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structure, whether it was local or County government, some of it existed through non-profits like JFCS of the Suncoast, but some of it was also just people reaching out and helping other people. It has been inspiring in many ways to see how people responded and supported each other through these difficult times. MENDELSON: We had a large increase in board recruitment. I think that’s because a lot of people right now are looking at their values and their priorities and what is important in their own philanthropic giving, in their own family and their lives and their experiences. So many of the philanthropists here in this community, they give to everything. There’s no question about it. But there’s only a limited amount of time that they actually have to devote their own service to and so I think that was a really interesting positive area of growth during the pandemic. We have so many talented people to sit on boards that live and reside in this community with enormous experience, career experience, who are here to give us the ability to draw from and bring their expertise to our own organizations. One of the things that sets this community apart is the ability to attract that kind of board talent to your organizations to help guide our jobs and make them richer and deeper. THAMES: As a non-profit community, we didn’t stop working on our initiatives, we added to them. Our non-profits needed their staff and then some to execute on the transition to virtual and on the new programmatic needs of the community especially around mental health, resilience, and now readiness to handle the re-entry into the workplace and what’s going to happen to our families when the moratorium is lifted and their living quarters are in jeopardy. We built a strategy around donor affinity groups: identifying donors’

main priorities and drive and helping them hone in and focus on those missions that spoke the most to them. A stronger focus on legacy planning and planned giving which is the key to longterm sustainability of the organizations in a region. We are so blessed and so lucky to be in this incredible region, with over 5,000 non-profits conducting incredible missions that meet the community need. Those needs emerge and grow, so all hands on deck, more help, more dollars needed, and the honing in of our donors’ philanthropic journey for greater footprint and greater impact has been incredible to watch and something that we expect will continue and make us an even greater region. WHAT ADVANCES, IMPROVEMENTS AND SUCCESSES WILL WE BE PROUD TO HAVE ACHIEVED DURING THIS TIME? MENDELSON: Our organization is in the process of doing a five year strategic plan so we’re very focused what the future looks like. Our greatest goal is that we will have built a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you and that’s our message to the community as we lean forward. SADLO: We’re in a growth mode. We’re building buildings and we’re doing that in Arcadia, we’re going to be doing that in Newtown and hopefully expanding in the growing community of North Port. It’s an amazing spirit of partnership but we need to align with the experts in the fields that we have to improve on. We will build more partnerships, such as how with the special needs community as we align with Easter Seals and Loveland. We do what we need to enhance the programs for our youth. MASON: Well the Tidewell Foundation is newly formed last year so are looking at dramatic growth in the next few years. We have many hospice houses in all

of the four counties we serve and in the six counties we serve for home health. We’re always happy to open doors to our facilities, to bring vaccines. We want to share because the families our peers on this call serve serve are the families we serve as well. We’ve been able to expand our Blue Butterfly program, we’re launching a new program, targeting a new town, we’re opening a family grief center in Ellenton, we have plans to open one in Downtown Sarasota and then in North Port-Port Charlotte region so we’ve got a lot of plans to expand services and resources and communities because our area is growing and the need for our services are growing as well. We’re very excited about the future. SKOGLUND: We are hoping to see some semblance of normalcy by Fall, and that influences our plans for our preschool and other services. Telehealth is here to stay, we’re going to probably use it forever in some shape, form or fashion. We have a lot of expertise within our organization as it relates to early childhood matters and those sorts of things and we are very passionate about spreading the word of the unique needs that young children have. We’re having a symposium soon and we are going to do everything we can to get the word out to educate the community about the unique needs of young children. TAVILL: We’ve seen, in our employees, a developed sense of resilience. We will parlay that resilience to really doing everything that we can to help the families that come to us in need. As I had said earlier, they’re really the first to get hurt, they get hurt the worst and they’re the last to recover. We’re also celebrating our 60th anniversary and we made a decision not to postpone celebrating it, because celebration, like need is always there. We still have infants and toddlers whose families are income-



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qualified and we’re always finding ways through our efforts and our partnerships to address that unmet need. One aspect of our vision for this community is that every child that is eligible for our services will be served. YOCUM: I see a very optimistic bright and brilliant future for our community as we come out from this past year. Last April we purchased the property next to our veterinary clinic and expanded our campus by 30% and our building square footage by 30%. We’re expanding into dermatology services in September, basic orthopedic surgery is up next. We’ve been mission-focused over this past year, but also building for the future. I’m so optimistic for the future of our community and for the futures of the animals we care for. LERMAN: There are many significant challenges that exist within our society, COVID notwithstanding. As long as we are creative and are able to marshal the resources necessary to make a difference in people’s lives, we have fulfilled our mission as an organization. Fundamentally, we’re just here to serve the needs of the community. This is not about people fitting into our squares or circles. This is about us being nimble and flexible to really meet people where it works best for them and we’re eager to face the new challenges that exist within our community. MENDELSON: Our plans for the future are bold. We plan on building a new world-class performing arts center to serve the community and through that process we’re going to deepen our arts education programming and continue to collaborate with partners. We have an opportunity to create a national model in a new performing arts center post-pandemic and it’s a really exciting opportunity to continue to confirm that Sarasota and the region is the cultural coast. THAMES: We envision thriving communities with opportunities for all. We will continue to fund initiatives like mental health, rapid rehousing for the chronic homeless, criminal justice reform, the environment, invest in support so our non-profits can execute on those strategic plans. We are committed to boldly transforming our region and staying ahead of the trends by proactively identifying those emerging needs and addressing them with our team, with the non-profits in our community, and our incredible donors. We will continue to take a leadership role and be the catalyst of change, and make our region the greatest region there is. SRQ