Photo: Season of Sharing

Season of Sharing: Celebrating Twenty Years of Community Generosity

Posted on November 04, 2019 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation
While we each face our share of the unexpected on a daily basis, we can find sanctuary and comfort in our home. Having a place to call home is essential to our individual wellbeing, affording us peace of mind, a sense of security, and neighbors who can be friends. For many people living paycheck to paycheck or facing unforeseen expenses, maintaining that comfort is a matter of juggling the essential hospital bill or overdue electric bill — something that can be difficult among the sea of unexpecteds we continually navigate.

When people find themselves in times of need, the best of our humanity shines through. Friends turn to friends, neighbors turn to neighbors — each inspired to reach out and help the person next to them thrive. When we look to bigger, more complex aspirations, that same humanity can be activated to strengthen our entire community. No matter how grand the opportunity or the scope of its impact, it all begins with people coming together, helping their friends and neighbors.

Every year, the collective impact and philanthropic heartbeat of our region is affirmed through Season of Sharing, which acts as a vital safety net for individuals and families on the verge of losing the security of their homes. For 20 years, Season of Sharing has helped strengthen people in our community and secure their sense of safety, dignity, and comfort.

Knowing that a community cares about those who are most vulnerable, former publisher and president of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Diane McFarlin partnered with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to establish Season of Sharing in 2000. Since its inception, our community’s willingness and generosity have helped restore stability and hope to thousands of our fellow residents and neighbors.

Research has repeatedly shown that the best way to help others maintain housing security and stability is to strengthen their hold on that home. For every dollar spent on helping a family remain in their home, it costs $8 to help them settle into a new one. The funds raised through Season of Sharing help provide financial assistance for critical needs like medical bills, transportation, childcare, and rent — expenses that can make all the difference for families and individuals focused on making ends meet.

The Patterson Foundation has contributed $4.2 million to Season of Sharing since 2010. Beyond the annual campaign, The Patterson Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County partnered to establish the Diane McFarlin Endowment Fund in recognition of Diane’s legacy and efforts for those in need. To strengthen Season of Sharing’s long-term legacy, The Patterson Foundation matched $250,000 for the fund, which is used to support the campaign each year and is now valued at more than $1 million.

With a desire to add value beyond the check and motivate the community toward action, The Patterson Foundation has proudly supported this community-driven movement as a catalyst through funding and contribution match opportunities toward Season of Sharing. Throughout its decade-long support for the campaign, the foundation has witnessed the evolution of Season of Sharing’s impact across the region, as well as the community’s understanding of this critical need for so many residents.

Much like The Patterson Foundation’s approach to philanthropy, the acts of connecting, learning, sharing, evolving, and strengthening are fundamental to the campaign’s continued success. The foundation recognizes that philanthropy is stronger when it combines the collective efforts of people to accelerate progress toward shared aspirations. Season of Sharing’s model exemplifies this ideology by pulling together community sectors and connecting donors to a broader movement. By donating directly to Season of Sharing, each donor is assured that their contribution is going to a holistic effort that is strengthened by a variety of service organizations versed in the most effective ways to apply the funds for those in need.

Connecting the resources and talents of Season of Sharing’s media partners creates stories of those strengthened by the campaign and the new realities that emerge through our collective action. Lending identity and authenticity to an issue that is often faceless, the stories of the individuals at the heart of this effort touch our humanity, reminding us of what’s possible when we each chip in to strengthen those in need. With each story shared, the community is sparked toward supporting families and individuals throughout our region through Season of Sharing — solidifying Diane McFarlin’s guiding ideology that when we come together to help those who are most vulnerable, the community as a whole is strengthened.

The impact of Season of Sharing endures well beyond the holiday season in which it begins. Through our community’s collective action, Season of Sharing strengthens people for the long term. Of the individuals and families who receive assistance from Season of Sharing, only 15 percent require further assistance the following year. The generous spirit of our community is what makes Season of Sharing thrive. Each year, the Herald-Tribune Media Group, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and numerous media partners and nonprofits donate their time and resources to ensure that 100 percent of the funds raised through Season of Sharing goes toward serving those in need.

Twenty years on, Season of Sharing continues to exemplify the best of our collective efforts and our region’s philanthropic DNA. The Patterson Foundation is proud of this milestone and Season of Sharing’s legacy in our community. Through our shared action, we can continue our innovative approach to strengthening futures for Sarasota’s residents for years to come.

  • TAGS: Outputs to Outcomes
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