Photo: A name tag that says, "Hello, I am someone who can help."

Season of Sharing: Lasting for a Long Time

Posted on February 06, 2020 by Christina Russi, community fiscal agent and liaison for Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center
Editor's Note: This article was originally published by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and is written by Christina Russi, community fiscal agent and liaison at the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center.

A family in need and a call for help twenty years ago + caring and compassionate leadership at the Community Foundation + a willing partner in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Media Group = the catalysts that launched the Season of Sharing campaigns to follow.

January 31st marked the last official day for the 20th fundraising campaign for Season of Sharing. Twenty years is a testimony to the strength and longevity of this campaign and our community's commitment. Season of Sharing over the past 20 years has woven its threads of service into the lives of thousands of our neighbors, friends, and relatives, and strangers, creating a strong fabric of giving, collaboration, concern, and positive impact on Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

There is recognition by Season of Sharing of the struggles and challenges of our vulnerable individuals and families. Through its support, community residents have received a hand up, encouragement, and the needed leverage to overcome an emergency or urgent need. Season of Sharing may not solve all problems, but it offers space and precious time.

As I have said on several occasions, the entire concept of Season of Sharing is close to my heart. It is a vital component in community efforts to serve residents in need. Without these faithfully donated dollars, thousands of residents would have gone unserved or underserved. How many families would be homeless? How many would be unable to get to work? How many could not pay for childcare? Do we stop to think that every day in our four-county region, someone is being assisted by Season of Sharing? Every Day!

Trust is earned over time. Season of Sharing is trusted. Organizations trust that the Community Foundation of Sarasota County will give every effort to make the campaign a success. Case managers trust that when they submit a request, it will be reviewed with a fair eye and processed in a timely and efficient manner. Clients trust that their needs and concerns will be received compassionately and emphatically, and they will be heard and helped. Finally, donors trust that their faithfully donated dollars will be well managed and properly spent.

Season of Sharing is like a house. Every house needs a solid, strong, stable foundation, and for me, that is the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Then we have the walls and the roof. That would be the foundation's Season of Sharing task force members who oversee all the moving parts of the campaign and protect its integrity.

The windows and doors are the fiscal agents with a view of all requests and the ability to deliver the checks to vendors — they take steps to resolve problems.

Next, we have the case managers and clients. They are the pulse, the heartbeat of the house, the very reason for Season of Sharing. Once they are in the house, we have a home.

But don't forget, we need to turn on the lights. That spark, that electricity is every donor — friends, relatives, neighbors, visitors, and philanthropists — who contributes to the success of Season of Sharing every year.

And now, of course, after twenty years, we are inspecting our home: it may need a fresh coat of paint; we may need to upgrade the appliances in the kitchen; or decide to switch out the light bulbs for LED. Season of Sharing is flexible and will withstand the critique, and our home will be stronger in its 21st year and beyond.

Season of Sharing is a campaign that is subtle in its request, graceful in its influence, without the glitz and glitter perhaps of other fundraisers. Still, it has energy, staying power, and commitment to community and dedication to mission. Season of Sharing is an action phrase. Season of Sharing resolves problems, strives to create a positive impact, and contributes to the social wellness of the community.

In closing, if I may humbly say, Season of Sharing in its subtle grace of influence past, present, and future is one of our community's finest moments.

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