The Patterson Foundation strives to demonstrate excellence. As a recent arrival (only one month in) and TPF's fourth fellow, I am learning excellence truly is interwoven into every aspect. Whether that is ensuring TPFers turn outward (a community-centric approach to putting the community's aspirations at the forefront.), creating digestible content which is presented clearly and spelled correctly, or ensuring a positive and robust visit for our guests, excellence is always at the forefront. What makes TPF unique is that its aspirations for excellence center around the desire to strengthen people, organizations, and communities. I have observed altruism when TPF strives for excellence, which sets the stage for others in the community to thrive.

One of my first assignments as a TPFer was to help co-create an itinerary for an out-of-town guest. I merely assumed we would write some meeting times down and call it a day, but I quickly learned the depth of TPF's pursuit of excellence.

Instead, what was created was an all-encompassing document spanning from when our guest landed to when he took off. Even before the foundation's guest arrived, we sent details on the closest hotels, made sure to get his contact information, and even asked what dietary restrictions or preferences he had so that his meals were excellent! The icing on the cake was a custom 'feel-the-luv' gift basket waiting for him at his hotel for a warm Sarasota welcome.

In the creation of our guest's itinerary, we included maps with walking distances to certain attractions; a compilation of TPFers favorite restaurants and coffee houses; in-depth bios/roles of each individual participating in meetings; background information on how the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) was formed, and what its aspirations are moving forward.

I quickly learned that the excellence demonstrated by TPF with a visitor is not just for the sake of being excellent. Rather, each detail is designed to make guests feel at ease, at home, and welcomed into the TPF family to ensure they have the most productive time.

Recently, TPF hosted (in pandemic safe fashion) Jymil Thompson from the John & Janice Wyatt Foundation (J2W) in Virginia. The J2W foundation is exploring creating a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in their community and is interested in interacting with other communities that have also created campaigns.

Enter Beth Duda and the SCGLR Engagement Team. The SCGLR team created the most intentional span of meetings throughout the weekend. These meetings were structured to give a 30,000-foot view of SCGLR and allow Mr. Thompson to interact with as many passionaries as possible.

The first day gatherings included:

On day two, Mr. Thompson interacted with TPF's lead partners:
  • Angie Matthiessen shared the ways Charlotte County created community consensus about starting a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
  • TPF hosted a luncheon with Bronwyn Beightol, Cheri Coryea, Nicole Light, and Ashley Coone as they shared high points from their respective areas as well as the "orchids" and "onions" they encountered along the way
  • Dr. Sheila Halpin, Title 1 Specialist and Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Coordinator for Manatee County Schools, and Beth Mueller, Associate Director of Child Development and Education for the Early Learning Coalition of Florida's Heartland, focused on the importance of early learning and school readiness

On the final day, TPF hosted a meeting with SCGLR members Kelli Karen Smith, Donna Puhalovich, and Carolina Franco to discuss how SCGLR puts theory into practice.

Woven throughout Mr. Thompson's visit were TPF's values. Connecting, Learning, Sharing, Evolving, and Strengthening were on full display. Mr. Thompson, the SCGLR team, TPFers, and lead partners from around the region spent four days strengthening one another by connecting to, learning from, and sharing lived experiences to evolve an ever-changing narrative. By living in these spaces, SCGLR and TPF demonstrate continued excellence in changing outcomes and finding ways to engage people to create the future.

I feel so blessed to find myself in a space where every individual is valued and welcomed. This experience allowed me to see how excellence plays a role from day one into every interaction down the road. I hope to continue evolving and strengthening excellence in my own work over my tenure with TPF. There is no better place to do just that than the Suncoast region.

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