Tag Archives: The Friendship Centers

SB2: What We Learned about Helping People

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SB2: Helping People panelists, from L to R: Erin McLeod, Sonia Santiago, SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts, Event Sponsor Jaime DiDomenico, Bob Rosinsky and Tom Waters. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

Last week, SRQ took SB2 guests on a journey into the minds, missions and hearts of some of Sarasota’s most notable charitable organizations at SB2: Helping People. Hosted at The Francis in downtown Sarasota, the discussion took a look at the big and small ways we can work together to grow a stronger community.

As the series sponsor of SB2, Bob Stanell of CS&L CPAs welcomed the crowd that gathered early on Thursday morning. As an organization, CS&L CPAs not only supports local philanthropic organizations through their accounting services, but also through partnerships with CS&L CARES, their community giving platform. “We work with some of the social service giants in our community on their finances and business decisions,” said Bob. “But when you put the people who serve in front of you, your heart will change.” Bob went on to communicate his pride in working with young people that make a difference by their desire to give back to the community.

Bob Stanell of SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs addresses attendees. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Bob Stanell of SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs addresses attendees. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Also sponsoring the event was CoolToday. The company’s fearless leader, President & CEO  Jaime DiDomenico shared the importance of taking care of people – the CoolToday 2015 initiative. Leading with a powerful video of how they do just that, Jaime moved more than a few of us to tears. “Community is a circle of life. Sometimes people use the phrase ‘pay it forward’ but really, we pay it in a circle because you never know when you’ll be the one who needs help,” said Jaime. “The way we do business is that we want our impact to be around to give back tot he community and continue the circle. The next time you’re out there and you can do a little something, you should do a little something.” He closed with a powerful image of a well-work pair of shoes belonging to a homeless member of our community and challenged everyone in the room to think differently about how we can live and give.

CoolToday President & CEO Jaime DiDomenico stressed the importance of "taking care of people." Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

CoolToday President & CEO Jaime DiDomenico stressed the importance of “taking care of people.” Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Between bites of the delicious bacon, guests heard first hand about the organizations, programs and need in our own backyard. Panelists hailed from every sector: Erin McLeod of Friendship Centers, Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota, Sonia Santiago of Sarasota YMCA and Tom Waters of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Our panelists were equally as passionate about helping each other as they were about the populations they served.

Here’s what we learned:

1. The need in our community are innumerable – but the organizations giving back are up for the challenge. Ask anyone: where are our biggest needs as a community and you will get an equal number of different answers. While a large spotlight is often shined on the issue of homelessness, it isn’t the only group that needs assistance. Of our panelists, each serves a different demographic and form of need.

Panelists answer questions during the moderated portion of SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Panelists answer questions during the moderated portion of SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Sonia Santiago of the Sarasota YMCA let us in on statistic of her organization that blew us away. Most people are familiar with the YMCA as a gym or the organization behind a multitude of youth sport programs, but they do so much more. The Sarasota YMCA one of the top performing Community Based Care organizations meeting state and federal outcomes for child welfare in the State of Florida. In our area alone, there are over 1,000 homeless children that have the same basic needs as all children–including a school to attend. Due to the transient nature of their situation, they’re often uprooted and sent to new schools with new teachers and classmates when their living arrangements change. The Sarasota YMCA has programs that ensure homeless children can stay at their current school and cultivate a sense of stability and normalcy in their lives.

Tom Waters of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida reminded us about the needs of children and adults that are differently abled. “This isn’t a group that you notice when you walk the streets of downtown,” he said, “but the need is just as great.” As children with special needs grow older and even and outlive their parents, having life skills and a safe haven are important. “Currently, we serve little ones from 6 weeks old to 87.”

Tom Waters speaks on behalf of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

Tom Waters speaks on behalf of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

2. Deciding who to help isn’t always easy.

For some organizations like Goodwill Manasota that serve numerous at-risk populations, prioritizing who to help first is not easy. When you serve multiple causes with limited resources, it takes skill and a steady sense of purpose to make the right decision.  According to Bob Rosinsky it takes a “strategic planning process that involves our team, our stakeholders and we have to prioritize.”

Tom Waters taught us a new expression in addressing this issue: Mission over Margin. Similar to understanding the best return on investment of a business decision, Easter Seals of Southwest Florida takes the idea of early intervention very seriously when allocating their funds. “For every $1.00 spent with children with special needs, it saves over $8.00 in future services for that child. That is why we invest heavily in The Lily School,” said Tom of Easter Seals’ early childhood intervention program for children who are differently abled. He went on to explain that often decisions on funding are made where the impact is great and the longterm success is evident.

Erin McLeod asks for a show of hands when addressing a major area of need in our community. Photo credit:  Wyatt Kostygan

Erin McLeod asks for a show of hands when addressing a major area of need in our community. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

3. All of us can give back. Whether we are a big business or a person looking to get involved, there’s room for more people dedicated to doing good.

When discussing the ways that we can get involved, Erin McLeod shared her experience with serving as a corporate partner years ago, “Sponsorships get old after a while. We know that. At Friendship Centers recognize the need for exposure to social responsibility–exposure to the audience we serve.” Encouraging volunteerism and undertaking projects acts as an emotional and physical connector to the people being served. Erin encouraged the audience to explore the organizations supported by their companies and get involved on a personal level.

Sonia Santiago of the Sarasota YMCA reminded us that we can be in the business of creating opportunities, “Give area teens internships and give them information out about vocations and jobs. When college is emphasized, some kids get defeated,” she said. “We focus so much on academics that sometimes we fail to point out the vocational opportunities that are out there.” At the Sarasota YMCA, various programs are in place that recognize children’s talents and interest and connect them to teachers or organizations to hone their talents.

SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts directs a question to Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts directs a question to Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Young professionals are often the most enthused group when it comes to serving the community, but a lot of organizations don’t have events that support their busy and growing schedules. “We recently hosted an event and had a lot of young professionals in attendance. They found out about it through Facebook,” said Tom Waters.  We need to provide more episodic events that work with their schedules if we want to attract advocates that are dynamic, intelligent and look at things differently.”

4. Two mission-minded heads are better than one. 

The needs are great in our community and one organization alone cannot provide all of the solutions. New and emerging programs spanning multiple organizations will hopefully deliver a maximum amount of assistance using fewer resources by each group involved. “We recently worked on a grant for fall prevention with The Pines and Sarasota Memorial,” said Erin McLeod. The idea of pooling efforts ensures that everyone wins. As Erin said, “When another organization represented on the panel wins, we all win.”

Goodwill Manasota recently held an event in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, mentioned Bob Rosinsky. The “Little Black Dress” luncheon was the perfect partnership – drawing on the strength of a Goodwill Manasota event, the Girl Scouts were able to promote their mission and organization to a fresh audience. “This type of partnership is perfect to spread our Youth Ambassador Program and bring in the next generation of Goodwill supporters,” said Bob.

Representatives of CS&L CPAs at SB2 on July 23, 2015. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Representatives of CS&L CPAs at SB2 on July 23, 2015. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It is safe to say that we couldn’t have learned the incredible things about helping people without the sponsorship of CS&L CPAs and CoolToday. Thank you for your support of SB2, but most importantly, thank you for the ways you give back and help people in our community each and every day. Your example inspires us.

Jaime DiDomenico, center, with his guests from Easter Seals of Southwest Florida and Heritage House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jaime DiDomenico, center, with his guests from Easter Seals of Southwest Florida and Heritage House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Special thanks to our panelists for graciously agreeing to participate in the discussion, and for taking an active role in leading the movement of service in Sarasota and beyond.

A gallery of images from SB2: Helping People is available online. The next SB2: Financial Forecast will be held on September 24, 2015 at The Francis. Special keynote speaker Jesse Panuccio will deliver a presentation on the current economic state of Florida. For tickets and more information, visit SRQSB2.com.

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Why You Should Be at the July 23rd SB2: Helping People

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If you’ve ever been to an SB2 event about philanthropy, you already know how much we value giving back. In fact, we can’t think of a truer way to live local than to give local—to organizations with boots on the ground in our own backyard to make it a better place.

At past philanthropy SB2 symposiums, we’ve learned that the greater Sarasota area is known for being a population with a charitable heart, and that the act of giving doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or a world-conquering maneuver—or even done singlehandedly. Corporate giving structures and organizations that build up our community have a critical impact on the philanthropic climate in our own backyard. We can’t wait to learn about the organizations that inspire change through action and service at our July SB2 symposium, Helping People: Growing a Stronger Community Together.

Join us on July 23rd at 7:30AM at The Francis in downtown Sarasota for breakfast and a panel discussion featuring some of Southwest Florida’s most giving organizations.

Meet The Panelists
Our excellent lineup of panelists represents the some region’s most impactful organizations with a focus on assisting a range of needs:

  • Tom Waters: President & CEO
    Easter Seals of Southwest Florida
  • Bob Rosinsky: President and CEO
    Goodwill Manasota
  • Sonia Santiago: Vice President of Youth and Family Services
    YMCA
  • Kameron Hodgens: CEO
    Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center
  • Erin McLeod: Senior Vice President
    The Friendship Centers

What We’ll Cover
With the extensive experience in philanthropy represented on the panel, you can expect great insights on how our region assists at-risk groups and those in need. Once you’ve been inspired by people and organizations creating change, learn how you and your business can do get involved in changing lives. One organization doing just that is CoolToday, Helping People’s event sponsor. President Jaime DiDomenico will kick off the event by sharing his thoughts on the importance of giving back and how CoolToday is dedicated to helping people.

We’ll also hear from CS&L CPAs, the SB2 Sarasota Series sponsor. Giving back is at the heart of their mission and the driving force behind CS&L CAREs, a platform for employees to get involved in the community.

This SB2 is one you’re not going to want to miss! To purchase tickets and find out more information about our panelists, visit SRQSB2.com.

Bring your questions (and bring your friends). Let’s grow a stronger community together.

See you there,
The SRQ Team

SB2: What We Learned About Retirement, Our Aging Community and Workateering

Panelists with Moderator Wes Roberts. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Erin McLeod, Wes Roberts, Kathy Black, Robert Karnick, Aubrey Lynch and Tim Hearon.

Panelists with Moderator Wes Roberts. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Erin McLeod, Wes Roberts, Kathy Black, Robert Karnick, Aubrey Lynch and Tim Hearon. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

At SB2 last week, a crowd gathered early to get an answer to a big question: is retirement still retirement? We, too, were curious. In fact, we were so curious that we assembled some of the most knowledgeable people we know in their respective fields to get their perspective. We had a lot of ground to cover – from financial and estate planning to employment opportunities for the aging, life expectancies and even universal design. But with the help of our esteemed panelists, we got some answers and feel better prepared to navigate the road ahead.

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs served as the opening presenter. Specializing in estate planning, Aubrey provided the perfect introduction for the symposium. Florida is an attractive state for relocation – and retirees in particular, due to the state’s friendly tax environment. In serving families that have lost a loved one, or a surviving spouse, Aubrey reminded those in attendance that when planning for the future proper communication is the most valuable preparation anyone can provide.

Panelist Robert Karnick answers a question during the panel discussion.

Panelist Robert Karnick answers a question during the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

Of all the ground our panelists covered, the most important ideas for our region can be boiled down to this:

1. If you can, work longer.

  • People are living longer. It’s a fact. And the longer we live, the more expenses we incur. If the age of retirement remains constant at 65 without taking into account the increasing life expectancy, retirees could find themselves in unexpected financial hardship. Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company recommends an exercise in expectation in order to plan realistically. “First, you need to determine what is your desired quality of life.” Meeting with a planning professional can help you set attainable goals for the future and can bring perspective to your planning. “If you can, work longer. If you can work part-time in retirement, you should.”
  • Echoing that sentiment, Kathy Black, Ph.D Professor of Social Work and Gerontology, University of South Florida at Sarasota/Manatee shared news from a recent study. “Work as long as you can. Save as long as you can.”
  • Programs and organizations like Boomerswork, operated by panelist Tim Hearon are working to change the way employers think about hiring boomers. “Our mission is to help employers think in a different paradigm by embracing hourly, monthly an even flexible payment scenarios.” 

2. As you age, utilize the resources available to maintain a high quality of life. 

  • With the rapid advancements in technology, we can expect that new and emerging products will make daily life much more accommodating for the aging. Robert Karnick of ROBRADY Designs clued us in on what we can expect. “With home heath care, we will see a convergence of medical devices and consumer products.” The takeaway here is that it will become increasingly easier for individuals to take responsibility of their health with the introduction of new technology. We were particularly interested in his mention of consumer products that would assist in monitoring the health and wellness of the elderly-transforming the role of the caretaker. “These technologies would give you peace of mind as we care for aging parents.”
  • Take advantage of programming that will keep you engaged, social and involved. Erin McLeod of The Friendship Centers touched on the importance of caring for seniors on both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. “The Rubin Center for Healthy Aging serves low income seniors over the age of 50. Serving them are retired doctors and health care professionals. In the parking lot is everything from bicycles to Lexuses.” Erin also introduced us to a new word, “workateering” – she has met many senior volunteers throughout the years with storied careers that need an outlet. They are committed to keeping themselves sharp and active by working or volunteering in their field for a small amount of pay.

3. Have a plan.

  • Though it may be uncomfortable, make your wishes known. It is never too early. All too often, surviving family members spend the time immediately following the death of a loved one engaged in a legal battle over assets. “Get your plans done so that the legacy you leave is not that your kids don’t speak to each other” says Kelly Caldwell.
  • Communicate” says Aubrey Lynch. Surviving spouses are left in a precarious situation and can feel helpless. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable situation to have, but it is important to think about.”

4. Get ready, we’re about to be front and center. 

  • It is no secret that we live in the midst of an aging population. According to Erin McLeod, 40% of our local population is over the age of 60. And since the entire population of the US is aging, all eyes will be on our area to see care for and accommodate a large elderly population. Her advice, “start cultivating best practices now. We have 125,000 seniors in our community and only 5,000 nursing home beds.” Tim Hearon of Boomerswork acknowledges the situation ahead of us when it comes to the way we are preparing for high amounts of caregiving, “We should be the flagship for the whole country.”
Members of the audience listen to the panel discussion.

Members of the audience listen to the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

The bottom line is that there are an incredible amount of resources in our community for the elderly and aging to get involved, to work, to volunteer and to effectively plan for the road ahead.

Special thanks to CS&L CPAs for sponsoring this event and recognizing the importance of this topic in our community. To view photos of the event, click here.

Reinvent Retirement: Gather Insight This January 22, 2015 at SB2

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Times they are a-changin’. For a large majority of baby boomers, the idea of full-time retirement at age 65 is more folklore than reality. With recent economic changes and an evolving concept of the span of work, more and more boomers are redefining what it actually means to retire.

On January 22, 2015 SRQ | The Magazine will host “Reinvent Retirement: Boomers & Caregivers”, a symposium dedicated to changing trends as our workforce ages, financial planning for the future, navigating the difficulties of serving as a caregiver for aging parents and tax considerations.

January’s panelists include:

  • Kelly Caldwell: CEO and President, Caldwell Trust Company
  • Erin McLeod: Senior Vice President, The Friendship Centers
  • Kathy Black, Ph.D.: Professor of Social Work and Gerontology, University of South Florida at Sarasota/Manatee
  • Robert Karnick: ROBRADY Design
  • Tim Hearon: Chief Executive Officer, Boomerswork
The monthly SB2 Symposiums were born out of the desire to present regionally relevant topics and foster a dialogue on ways to strengthen the Sarasota and Bradenton community. To purchase tickets, please visit www.SRQSB2.com
Reinvent Retirement: Boomers & Caretakers
Breakfast Symposium: Thursday, January 22, 2015
7:30- 9 am
The Francis (1289 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida)