Living in the Suncoast region of Florida helps you to become accustomed (or so I have been told as a native of Kentucky) to the dangers of hurricanes and the preparation necessary to keep a community safe. While I am not sure I can quite believe that, I have learned that living in this region makes you resilient. When I experienced my first hurricane this past fall, I could not help but wonder how one region can be expected to thrive when it sustains such widespread damage again and again. While I was not here when Hurricane Ian made landfall last year, I have still seen the estimated $50 million devastation it caused, and I know that recovery is still far from over.

The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian was in October. At the same time the community was looking back on the destruction, the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund (SDRF) was looking forward to next steps in addressing the long-term recovery of our community. The SDRF was established in the fall of 2022 and gives donors the opportunity to support long-term, long-range programs to sustain human service agencies serving people in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties as they recover from Ian's impact. Disaster response often focuses on immediate needs, but history shows that recovery takes years. This is where the SDRF's focus on long-term recovery comes into play.

This fall, the fund called for a second round of grant applications for organizations impacted by Hurricane Ian in our four-county area. Through my work with The Patterson Foundation in the space of long-term recovery and resilience, I was invited to participate in the grantmaking process as a grant reviewer. This experience provided insight into everything that goes into the grantmaking process and the ongoing challenges community organizations face one year later. Reading applications and learning about the services rendered to community members by these organizations and the impact that Hurricane Ian had on their capacity to do good was both insightful and troubling.

This experience showed me just how extensive the community's need is and the importance of funding long-term recovery efforts. $625,000 was granted in this most recent cycle to eight organizations throughout the four-county area. More than half of the $5 million donated to the SDRF has been disbursed to organizations to aid in their efforts toward recovery in these two grantmaking cycles, but we know the path to long-term recovery is arduous.

The SDRF exists to support organizations and communities on the path to recovery. You can learn more about the SDRF, organizations that have received funds, and the next grant application period at Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund.


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