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SRQ DAILY Jul 10, 2019

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

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Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"There's a different perspective that people don't see unless they allow the spirit to enter them."

- Harold Littlebird, artist

[Gallery]  New Exhibition, Incoming Gallery Celebrate Native American Artistry
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

Native American art and artists take the spotlight at Art Ovation Hotel this week, with both the opening of a new exhibition celebrating the work of the late Navajo artist Rex A. Begaye and the arrival of Harold Littlebird and Felix Duenas as artists-in-residence for the week. And it all comes as precursor to and reveal of the October arrival of First Feather Gallery, an art gallery opening on Sarasota’s Central Avenue with a focus on Begaye and contemporary Native American artists.

With 40 pieces on display throughout the Crescendo Gallery at Art Ovation, In Beauty and Harmony May You Walk celebrates the life and legacy of Begaye through a retrospective that spans two and a half decades and several media, including giclee, acrylic on canvas, pen and ink and pencil. Traditional Native American patterns and stories take center stage in every piece, manifest in striking color. Many present in a collage of visual poetry, with native faces and totemic beasts like bison and bald eagles, wolves and mountain cats, all superimposed across a great astral plain of stars and shadowed planets. Looming behind it all, the vast majesty of the natural world and the enormity of its interconnectedness.

For more information on the creation stories, histories and environmental import behind the work, guided tours with Barbara Huntoon, founder of First Feather Gallery and wife of the late Begaye, will be offered every day this week, and by popular demand throughout the exhibition’s run.

“There’s a different perspective that people don’t see unless they allow the spirit to enter them,” says Littlebird, a Native American stoneware artist from Laguna and Kewa Pueblos in New Mexico. “That’s what Rex had, and it baffles the imagination.” Littlebird met Begaye only once and briefly, he says, but it’s an encounter he’ll always remember.

Visitors can ask Littlebird about that and more this week, as the artist serves as one of Art Ovation’s artists-in-residence, setting up in the lobby studio with his stoneware and stories, ready to share. Working in stoneware for 53 years, Littlebird makes every piece by hand using slab construction—no potter’s wheel—and hand-details a distinct picture and pattern on each one with underglaze pencils, meaning no two come out alike and each one represents a considerable time investment. Each also has its own story, most stemming from Native American mythology, traditional stories and cosmology, but also from his own life experience, which is how dolphins and manatees made their way into the symbolic mix.

And while Littlebird knows that most won’t understand the full story from a single image or artifact, they can appreciate the importance that stories themselves hold for a people and the reverence for the natural world on display. “I hope they notice that Native People pay attention to every little detail,” he says.

Joining Littlebird as an artist-in-residence at Art Ovation this week is Felix Duenas, a painter with Incan roots and rock-and-roll influence. Both will be available through Sunday and in attendance at an opening reception at Art Ovation Hotel tonight from 5pm to 7pm. 

Pictured: 'Blessing for Rain' by Rex A. Begaye. Image courtesy of First Feather Gallery.

[Philanthropy]  First Step of Sarasota, Coastal Behavioral Healthcare Announce Unification

The two nonprofit agencies First Step of Sarasota and Coastal Behavioral Healthcare have announced a strategic unification of resources to better serve the community. The nonprofits share a similar focus of providing addiction recovery programs and behavioral health services in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. A new combined organization will offer a regional and collaborative approach, and staff from both organizations will integrate to form one larger organization with an aim to ensure a better continuum of care for its clients.

As part of this collaborative effort, both organizations are currently undergoing a nine-month process to strategize the allocation of resources and combine to create one larger organization to consolidate, provide more comprehensive services and improve efficiency. When staff and resources are integrated, the organization will become the largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare agency in Sarasota County with a long-term goal of collaborating even further with varied local private and public entities to help combat and treat individuals suffering with addiction and mental health challenges. 

First Step of Sarasota

[Philanthropy]  Lakewood Ranch Community Fund Creates Separate Fund for Brain Health Initiative

The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund has created a separate fund, the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund Brain Health Initiative, to facilitate donations to the Brain Health Initiative, a three-phase, large-scale effort designed to uncover the factors that affect brain health and performance, as well as develop and test interventions aimed at optimizing brain health. The Board of Advisors has approved a grant of $15,000 per phase to the new fund. In addition to the grant approved by the Board of Advisors, the new fund already has facilitated more than $105,000 in donations from supporters throughout the region.

Over eight months, the Brain Health Initiative team will build from insights gained during the Phase 1 surveys that were conducted last year. Throughout Phase 2, researchers will conduct focus groups across the region and use the findings to create strategies for the pilot study, as well as develop the brain health baseline survey to be implemented in Phase 3. Launch of the Pilot Study (Phase 3) will begin in Spring of 2020. 

Lakewood Ranch Community Fund

[Philanthropy]  Women's Resource Center Gives $28k in Scholarships for Higher Education

The Women’s Resource Center offers annual educational scholarships to recognize, reward, and encourage female students who are pursuing a higher level of education to reach a realistic goal in preparation for employment, self-sufficiency, and advancement in the community. This year, $28,000 in scholarships were awarded with each of 28 recipients receiving a $1,000 award.

Of the WRC scholarship recipients, 64% have dependent children living at home; 93% are single, divorced or widowed; and 89% are below the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) level. Of that, 39% live in Manatee County, 64% live in Sarasota County, and 61% are seeking a degree in health care. Those selected demonstrated a high level of commitment and determination to their educational goals.  These women have also agreed to participate in The Women’s Resource Center’s mentorship program, a new initiative to encourage engagement with WRC programs and services throughout these students’ journey to empowerment through education. 

Women's Resource Center

[Philanthropy]  Conservation Foundation Receives $20k Grant for Threatened Scrub Jays

Cornell Lab of Ornithology awarded a $20,000 grant to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to conserve and restore habitat for the threatened Florida scrub jay. The restoration will occur on Conservation Foundation’s recently protected 38-acre Tatum Sawgrass Scrub Preserve in eastern Manatee County, a critical wildlife corridor that is experiencing rapid development. In a partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Conservation Foundation will restore this land to create scrub jay habitat, creating an essential stepping-stone between Sarasota County and Manatee County scrub jay populations. Trails will also be created for guided tours.

The acquisition and restoration of this property fits within a larger effort, as the Florida scrub jay is nearing local extinction within Sarasota County, due to isolation and inbreeding. Only by maintaining connections to other populations, and periodically receiving “new blood” will the birds survive. Local partners are forming a plan to protect and restore “stepping stone” properties linking South Venice Lemon Bay Preserve to Oscar Scherer State Park, and Oscar Scherer State Park to Duette Preserve in Manatee County. Cornell Lab has generously provided a lead gift in the effort. 

Conservation Foundation of Sarasota County

[Philanthropy]  Goodwill Manasota, Manatee Technical College Partnership Yields First GED

A partnership between Goodwill Manasota and Manatee Technical College has yielded its first success, as a local student, Kashani Abnar, was able to earn her GED and take the next step toward her future.

Abnar left high school in 11th grade, enrolling and excelling in an alternative school program, going from six to 18 credit hours in just one year. But when she turned 18, she was no longer eligible for the program. She began working at Goodwill in April 2017, and began meeting with a GoodPartner Coach shortly after. The first goal Abnar identified was to earn her GED and, at that time, Manatee Technical College was providing a GED class at her work location. Her leadership team was flexible, enabling her to work toward her diploma while both on and off the clock, and Goodwill covered the cost of the vouchers needed to take her GED Ready tests. After that, she passed all four of her GED test subjects. Abnar walked the stage at the end of May, with two Goodwill GoodPartner Coaches in attendance.

Abnar will now pursue her paralegal certification, beginning classes in January 2020. Her certification is being funded by Goodwill’s Rick and Coni Fawley Scholarship Fund. 

Goodwill Manasota

[Philanthropy]  SWIM Initiative Turns Students into Strong Swimmers

This summer, nearly 4,000 children in the region have the knowledge and ability to remain safe around water thanks to swimming lessons funded through philanthropy. The Monda Kids SWIM (Safe Water Instruction Matters) initiative offered every second-grade student in Sarasota County Schools a week’s worth of free swimming lessons during school hours last spring, and nearly 2,800 students at 24 participating schools were transported to one of five area YMCA branches or Girls Inc. for an hour of daily group swimming lessons with certified aquatics instructors over the course of a school-week. Monda Kids SWIM was created by philanthropists Keith and Linda Monda and Gulf Coast Community Foundation in 2013, and several more donors have since contributed funding to the initiative. Support from the Gould Family Foundation helped Gulf Coast expand Kids SWIM to Charlotte County a few years ago, and this spring nearly 1,000 Charlotte County Public Schools second-graders participated. 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Philanthropy]  Mote Announces New Board of Trustees Officers

Mote Marine Laboratory’s Board of Trustees has announced the election of Dr. Howard Seider as chairman of the board, Maurice Cunniffe as vice-chairman, Scott Collins as treasurer and Sandi Stuart, who will continue as secretary. Dr. Michael P. Crosby will continue as president and Robert Essner will continue his trustee service, now as immediate past-chairman. Hobart Swan joins as a new trustee.

Mote's Board of Trustees supports the Lab in its mission of advancing marine science, education and outreach. In that regard, the board has also announced financial commitment from 100% of its members in support of Mote’s campaign, Oceans for All: Improving Access to Marine Science & Technology. This campaign reinforces the Lab’s Vision & Strategic Plan for the rebirth of Mote’s public outreach aquarium as the new Mote Science Education Aquarium, to be located at Nathan Benderson Park. 

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

[ITB]  Nominations Are Open for the SRQ Good Hero Philanthropic Awards

Do you know someone who's making a real difference? Someone whose passion for giving back has had a positive impact on our community? Nominate them for the SRQ Local Hero Award. It could be an engaged staff member, volunteer, board member or donor patron who went above and beyond this past year to make our region a better place to live, work and play.

The winner will be announced at the SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards Luncheon on Wednesday November 6 at The Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Panelists will explore the organizations and individuals who are changing the face of the nonprofit world through innovative approaches, strategic alliances and groundbreaking initiatives that foster and employ engagement to make a difference.

Thank you to SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards event sponsor JFCS of the Suncoast and to the 2019-2020 SB2 Series sponsors: Merrill Lynch Mariash Lowther Wealth Management, JFCS of the Suncoast, The Hyatt Regency Sarasota and PSAV. Photos from the 2018 SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards Program are available on CLICK SRQ

Click Here to Nominate a Local Hero

[TODAY]  MUSEUM: Natasha Mazurka: Order Systems , March 17 – September 29

Mazurka’s work reflects the communicative potential of pattern by combining visual references to architecture, biology, data analytics and instructional code. From her intense research into pattern languages, Mazurka presents an art exhibition that flatters and disturbs concepts of certainty and stability residing within pattern systems existing all-around us.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota

[TODAY]  THEATER: Come Together: When the 60s met the 70s , June 11 – July 21

With music made famous by Cher, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and more, this rockin’ revue explores the changing musical landscape from 1965-1975. Come Together explores the musical soundtrack of one of the most exciting, controversial, and impactful decades our country has ever seen. Featuring hits like “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Come Together,” and “Killing Me Softly.”

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N Palm Ave., Sarasota

[TODAY]  THEATER: Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow , June 26 – August 10

This powerful musical biography celebrates the life of actress and singer Ethel Waters. From abject poverty to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, Ethel Waters crossed racial barriers to become a legend. No matter what challenges she faced, music gave Waters strength, solace, and success. 

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N Palm Ave., Sarasota

[TODAY]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Deer Prairie Creek to North Port , July 10, 9am–11:30am

Join John Sarkozy, get outside and enjoy nature on this kayaking trip from Deer Prairie Creek to North Port. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

Deer Prairie Creek

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Shakett Creek to Dona Bay , July 12, 8:30am–11:30am

Join John Sarkozy and have a relaxing time paddling on Shakett Creek and Dona Bay. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Grab an opportunity to go outside and get to know nature again. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

[SOON]  THEATER: Sophisticated Lady: Songbook of Natalie Cole , July 13, 8:00pm

Cole’s career spanned decades and genres, from R&B to pop. Her greatest success was “Unforgettable… with Love,” made popular by her father, which sold over seven million copies. In this concert, Katt Hefner pays musical homage to Cole and her music. Hefner’s extensive credits include off-Broadway musicals, television, movies, jazz festivals and much more.


Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Avenue West, Bradenton.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Family Saturdays: Circus Costumes , July 13, 10am

Explore the Circus at Ringling through a creative project: costume making! Work in the Education Building classrooms and explore the Museum with a special handout to help locate and learn more about the objects and places that inspired the project.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Ringling Reflections , July 14, 10:30am

Embark on a relaxed, conversation-based gallery tour designed specifically for people with memory loss and their care partners at the Museum of Art. Listening devices, including induction loops for t-coil hearing aids, will be provided. Wheelchairs and portable stools will be available free-of-charge for all participants. The tours are free but advance registration is required and space is limited.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Little Sarasota Bay to Palmer Point Beach , July 14, 8:30am–11:30am

Join John Sarkozy as he shows off the natural beauty of Little Sarasota Bay. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Take a break on the "crown jewel" of our local beaches and take a swim, walk or do some birding before we paddle back to the mainland. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Museum of Art Mondays: Colorful Venus , July 15, 10am

Join the Ringling staff in the Education Building for a Colorful Venus art-making project, bridging active creation with artwork in the Museum. Then visit the galleries to find each day’s featured artwork and learn more about it from a docent!

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Myakka River from Snook Haven , July 16, 8:30am-11:30am

Join John Sarkozy, get outside and take a kayak trip on the wild and scenic Myakka River. This trip will travel the portion of the river that is downstream from Snook Haven. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

[SOON]  MUSIC: Van Wezel Friday Fest featuring Rebel Heart , July 19

Join us for The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s FREE outdoor summertime concert series! The events run from 5-9pm and are located on the Bayside Lawn of the Van Wezel. Each of the four events will feature food trucks, beverage vendors and more – it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a summer sunset over Sarasota Bay.


Rebel Heart returns to Friday Fest at the Van Wezel with some of today's most popular country songs, mixed with a healthy dose of hits from pop, rock, dance and the blues! The 5-piece band puts on a high-energy, powerful and melodic country rock act that you won’t want to miss

Van Wezel

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Christmas in July , July 19 – July 20

Forget your stresses and get in the spirit at the Downtown Venice “Christmas in July” event. Catch Santa and Mrs. Claus riding the trolley and visiting the shops, ride the trolley from 11am to 4pm or participate in a raffle for four large gift baskets. Pick up your free raffle tickets at many of the participating downtown businesses and experience holiday magic like never before.

Historic Downtown Venice , 101 West Venice Ave. #23

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Family Saturdays: Terracotta molds , July 20, 10am

Explore Ca d'Zan through a creative project: sculpting terracotta molds! Work in the Education Building classrooms and explore the grounds with a special handout to help locate and learn more about the objects and places that inspired the project.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Kayak Trip: Caspersen Beach to Lemon Bay , July 20, 8:30am-11:30am

Enjoy quiet water and open-seated kayaking from Caspersen Beach to Lemon Bay with John Sarkozy. All kayak equipment will be supplied and is included in the cost of the trip. Call John for additional information, exact launch location and required reservations. 

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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