Sarasota-Manatee philanthropists recognized for their community contribution

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

by Staff Report for

Association of Fundraising Professionals and guests honor dozens of local benefactors.

Nonprofits in Sarasota and Manatee counties — a region remarkable for its concentration of well-heeled and generous residents — celebrated National Philanthropy Day by recognizing dozens of benefactors who have made a difference in the community.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals gathered Tuesday with guests at Michael’s On East to celebrate a community that had 40,000 donors and raised $13 million in the last Giving Challenge and that has gathered $17 million since 2000 through the Season of Sharing partnership between the Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, providing a safety net for more than 15,000 families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

Keynote speaker Diane McFarlin, the former Herald-Tribune publisher who helped found Season of Sharing and who is now is dean of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, called the region an “epicenter of community philanthropy,” perhaps delivering more charitable giving pound for pound than any place in the nation.

Philanthropy is a “highfalutin” term that really embraces a host of Southwest Florida residents, said McFarlin, who said she developed a love for giving while traveling with her grandmother around her hometown of Lake Wales to deliver food and clothing in return for recipients’ agreement to attend her grandmother’s prayer meetings (“This was bait and switch, I admit it,” the journalism dean joked).

“Everyone can be a philanthropist,” McFarlin said. “Everyone can give back, whether it’s 50 cents or $50 million or your time.”

For McFarlin — who said she is responsible for raising $40 million of UF’s recently announced $3 billion capital campaign — her grandmother’s efforts hooked her on philanthropy, and, in part, for selfish reasons: “It simply makes me feel good.”

Honored at Thursday’s event:

  • Gerri Aaron, by Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s.
  • Ali Bahaj, by the Ringling College Library Association.
  • Marilyn Bezner, by the Salvation Army.
  • Taber and Celeste Chadwick, by Forty Carrots Family Center.
  • The late Even T. Collinsworth Jr., by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
  • Eleanor Merritt-Darlington, by The Ringling.
  • Les Fishman, by InStride Therapy Inc.
  • Gene Fogarty, by the Manatee Community Foundation.
  • Larry and Jennifer Fox, by The Child Protection Center.
  • Sharon and Herman Frankel, by The Asolo Repertory Theatre.
  • Richard “Rick” Gans, by Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest FL.
  • The late Alfred E. Goldstein, by Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
  • Jean Weidner Goldstein, by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
  • Drs. Patricia and Robert Gussin, by The Library Foundation of Sarasota County.
  • Mattison and Emma Harllee of Anna Maria and Hayes and Janie Chatham of Bradenton, by Carter Global.
  • Larry and Debbie Haspel, by The Asolo Repertory Theatre.
  • Paul Hoenle, by South Florida Museum.
  • Charlie Huisking, by WUSF Public Media.
  • Jeff Jackson, PGT Innovations, by Children First.
  • Sue Jacobson, by New College Foundation.
  • Karen Koblenz, by The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Inc.
  • Phil and Nancy Kotler, by Warren and Margot Coville, The Ringling.
  • Elena McCormack, by South Florida Museum.
  • John McIntyre and MES General Contractors Inc., by Education Foundation of Sarasota County.
  • Joe McKenna, by WUSF Public Media.
  • John and Mary Ann Meyer, by Ringling College of Art and Design.
  • Joseph and Barbara Najmy, by Easterseals of Southwest Florida.
  • Sies Ravestijn, by Key Chorale.
  • Sam and Norma Savin, by Coastal Behavioral Healthcare Inc., Compeer.
  • Felice Schulaner and Dennis Rees, by Planned Parenthood Southwest and Central Florida.
  • Charles Slater, by Manatee Community Foundation.
  • Barry and Phil Starr, by Plymouth Harbor Foundation.
  • Lois Stulberg, Ringling College of Art and Design.

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