Guests at the grants award luncheon for the Venice Golf and Country Club Foundation on March 14 got a welcome reminder that even in times of anxiety and division, the spirit of human connection and caring remains strong. Founded in 2005 by country club residents who saw people in need “outside of our gates,” as the foundation puts it, the organization has granted nearly $475,000 to local nonprofits. An impressive 50 percent of Venice Golf and Country Club residents contribute to the fund. This year, 19 different organizations received $50,000.
Guests enjoyed postcard-perfect views of the golf course under a cloudless blue sky and a lunch capped by apple pastries with ice cream; then grants committee chair Sherry Borgsdorf welcomed representatives of each group to the podium. Each described how the grants would be spent, on initiatives that included –to name just a few—background checks for Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors, a habitat for injured wild turtles, mental health services for women in crisis, classes for literacy tutors, services for abused children, diabetic supplies for an Englewood clinic, job training for people with disabilities—and, perhaps the crowd favorite, a year’s worth of shoes, food and a new blanket for a therapy horse called “Doc” at InStride Therapy.
On the one hand, the event revealed how wide and deep need is in affluent Southwest Florida—including, as more than one speaker mentioned, in the country club itself, where their organizations have sometimes helped members and their families. But it also revealed how eager club residents are to help. “I’m guessing some of you are sitting here wishing you had the time to volunteer for all these organizations,” one speaker noted. The nods around the room indicated he was right.
The grantees: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Child Protection Center; Children’s Guardian Fund, The Haven, Englewood Community Care Clinic, Family Promise of Sarasota County, Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County, InStride Therapy, ITN Sarasota, Literacy Volunteers of South Sarasota County, Mental Health Community Centers, NeuroChallenge Foundation for Parkinson’s, Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charity, Pregnancy Solutions, Selah Freedom, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Venice Area Mobile Meals, The Wildlife Center of Venice, Women’s Resource Center.