Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and a generous donor couple partnered to pay past-due utility bills for 32 families in Sarasota County. The grant, issued directly to Sarasota County Public Utilities department through the foundations’ joint COVID-19 Response Initiative, ensured that the utilities remained on at the 32 households.
“Some families in our community are just one bill away from losing their home,” said Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast’s senior vice president for community investment. “This grant allows for local families to shift focus from the stress of a past-due bill to keeping their family safe.”
Foundations in the region continue to play a critical role in supporting community members’ immediate needs during the pandemic, with this grant being one of the first of its kind in the region. Gulf Coast donors Bob and Lin Williams brought the idea to the foundations after reading a news story about local families in need. The couple made a gift through Gulf Coast to cover half of the cost of the overdue bills, and the foundations matched it.
Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said, “As our community continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the support of organizations like Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation and philanthropists like the Williamses is more important than ever. We appreciate and value their efforts to help those who need it the most.”
To date, Gulf Coast and Baranick Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Initiative has raised over $7 million to provide immediate relief for our region’s families. The initiative has provided support to over 65 different nonprofit organizations that provide critical services such as food for hungry families, child care for first responders, telemedicine, and counseling.