SRQ Daily: Reflecting on Moments of Impact

SRQ Daily: Reflecting on Moments of Impact

The following guest column by Phillip P. Lanham appeared in the Saturday, January 20, 2024 edition of SRQ Daily:

I want to reflect on some of the top moments from an outstanding 2023 at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Thanks to readers like you, Gulf Coast is off to a great start in 2024 and we want to recognize the importance of reflecting on moments of impact, together.

Community foundations invest each year in improving the communities they serve, and we are passionate about helping donors achieve their philanthropic goals through the causes that matter most to them. We serve the region through grantmaking opportunities to support our nonprofits and work with our donors to ensure their philanthropy has the maximum impact. Our Gulf Coast team works every day on opportunities that can transform lives. We do it all for the greater good of our Gulf Coast region. 

Working for a community foundation is a team sport, and each team member plays an important role. Much like rowers on a boat, every part of the organization must work together to steer the boat in the right direction in order for Gulf Coast to thrive in our mission. I was inspired to write this column after hearing accolades from colleagues and community members about our incredible team and Board of Directors who drive our mission every day.

two men and one woman stand with shovels in the dirt
Gulf Coast’s Veterans Housing Groundbreaking

Here are shining examples of team Gulf Coast working for the greater good of our community.

Serving the needs of the region as a partner in philanthropy and leader in community initiatives, Gulf Coast has surpassed granting $536 million in the areas of: health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment, marking a significant moment in our history. Kudos to our donors, board and team for making this momentous milestone happen.

In October 2023, in partnership with generous philanthropists and government, we broke ground on our Veterans Housing Project which will create ten rental units in the City of Sarasota for veterans, providing long-awaited, affordable housing for our country’s heroes.

I commend Gulf Coast team members Jon Thaxton and C.J. Bannister, and philanthropists Peter and Elsa Soderberg, Skip and Gail Sack and Bob and Lin Williams for bringing this imperative project to life. William Sterbinsky, co-founder of SRQ Vets and a veteran himself shared, “I pray it brings veterans together. They start seeing that comradery or that cohesion again. They start understanding that their unique issues are not an isolated issue, that we all suffer from the same.”

Gulf Coast has invested over $7 million into creating systems to end homelessness and provide affordable housing for our neighbors who are most in need. With partners, a supportive community and local government, Gulf Coast is transforming housing in our region. We won’t stop until we see positive change.

Thanks to generous donor contributions, our Board of Directors and our dedicated team, Gulf Coast’s Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative realized over 200 grants totaling $3.5 million in relief. The stories of hope and perseverance that we have received from our Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative have been nothing short of life changing.

We shared the good news in August 2023 that Gulf Coast’s Invest In Incredible (I3) initiative had an uptick in capacity building workshops with a 65% growth in participation. We doubled our capacity by offering workshops at our Venice Headquarters and downtown Sarasota Philanthropy Center, meeting nonprofits where they are and reducing travel time. For 10 years, I3 has been transforming the journeys of area nonprofits across the Gulf Coast. A nonprofit participant of I3 shared, “Invest In Incredible has been invaluable in giving us solid guidance in nonprofit best practices.”

Everything we accomplish at Gulf Coast is for you, our donors, nonprofit partners, and the entire community. It is our privilege to work together to create thriving, vibrant communities with opportunities for all. Thanks for taking this look back with us.

Phillip P. Lanham is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.