Photo: Matthew Sauer, executive editor and general manager of the Herald-Tribune

Coronavirus Florida: An opportunity for greatness

Posted on March 22, 2020 by Matthew Sauer, Herald-Tribune Media Group

Editor's Note: This article is repurposed with permission from the Herald-Tribune and is crafted by Matthew Sauer, executive editor and general manager of the Herald-Tribune.

Season of Sharing provides an outlet for people who want to help their neighbors.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." — Abraham Lincoln

"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity." — John F. Kennedy

It's a time like no other in our lifetimes.

The danger is deep, of that, there is no doubt, but opportunity abounds. Opportunity to forget the things that divide us and to band together to support one another — to remember: The things that bind us are much greater than that which divides us.

This is a time to help your neighbors. This is a time to help folks living on the edge who just lost their jobs at the local hotel. This is a time to help the server who just lost his or her livelihood because the restaurant where they work is closed to help prevent the spread of the virus. This is a time to help the Southwest Florida workers employed in our critical tourism industry hammered by the lack of business and visitors sparked by this virus.

There's a way you can make a difference immediately. Many of you already have. There's a way you can make a difference that is time-tested and true. It's already touched 35,000 people in its 20-year history, and it's inspiring that some of the very people who have been helped, have paid it forward to others in hopes of changing lives.

It's a closely guarded brand, one of the strongest in local philanthropy. Re-activating it after a short respite from the 2019–20 season is not something my partners and I do lightly. But the necessity is immediate, and this is an opportunity sparked by a need for greatness.

Season of Sharing — a joint effort between the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Herald-Tribune Media Group and other non-profit agencies — is once again open for business, ready to accept new donations that will help local individuals and families with immediate needs such as utilities, child care, and rent payments.

Big thanks go to the real brain trust of this effort: Debra Jacobs, CEO of The Patterson Foundation, and Roxie Jerde, CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and CFSC's board of directors, on which I have the honor of serving.

The Patterson Foundation has committed up to $1 million to bolster Season of Sharing. The commitment includes an immediate $500,000 contribution, along with an additional dollar-for-dollar match up to $500,000. If the community contributes $500,000, that would mean $1.5 million would be available for people in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties most affected by the fallout of the virus.

This crisis has these two foundations thinking about this initial move and others around the region thinking about what they can do, too.

I'm bringing you this truth and asking you to meet this crisis. Yes, we face danger, but there is an opportunity for greatness, perhaps one that hasn't existed since the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Greatest Generation.

Please come with us on this journey. Please join your fellow Southwest Floridians. Please, in this time of isolation, don't forget your neighbors.

How to help

The Season of Sharing fund was created in 2000 as a partnership between the Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The goal is to get emergency funds to individuals and families on the brink of homelessness in  Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Every dollar donated goes to people in need. There are no administrative fees and no red tape. Funds may be used for rental assistance, utility bills, child care and other expenses needed to help families get back on their feet.

Donations to the Season of Sharing fund may be made online at cfsarasota.org/season-of-sharing, or by sending a check (payable to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) to Attn. Season of Sharing, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. Contact the foundation at 941-556-3000 for more information or to request a credit card form. All donations are tax-deductible. To read stories about families helped by Season of Sharing, go to heraldtribune.com/seasonofsharing.


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