Stories from the Front

As we close out the year, we are more grateful than ever for our donors, our partner organizations, and our kind, giving community.

Their response to this year’s needs enabled us to share wonderful stories of caring, collaboration, and resilience in this space. But there are many more untold stories of equally inspiring leadership, innovation, and giving. We are fortunate to see these firsthand, every single day.

For our final blog of 2020, we asked some members of our Gulf Coast team to share a favorite moment of philanthropy from this year that other might not have seen...

Gulf Coast Staff

“I had an awesome conversation with a donor after a presentation by Sheriff Tom Knight about the Sheriff’s new Re-entry Navigator Program. After learning about it, she was inspired to do her research to learn how she could use philanthropy to help those who are trying to rebuild their lives after incarceration. She even went as far as to reach out to the Sheriff to thank him for his work on this program and for his time. It was amazing to see one of our donors be so inspired to get involved with something so different from her normal interest areas.” –Kelly Borgia, Philanthropic Administrator


“One of my favorite moments this year was in early March, right before everything shut down. As a part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we unveiled 10 bronze shark sculptures installed throughout downtown Venice and the accompanying ‘Venice Shark Spotting’ contest. Immediately after the unveiling event, families began to search for the sharks! It brought so much joy seeing kids ooh and aah over the sharks while also learning about the different native species. It was exciting to be a part of something that will be a part of the City for years to come.” –Kelsey Kern, Communications Associate


“The quick pivot we did between March 13 and starting Gulf Coast’s joint COVID-19 Response Initiative with the Barancik Foundation. We shut down normal, in-office operations on the 13th, and by the 24th we had set up an entire initiative, funded it with well over a million dollars with our partners and donors, and even given out our first grant! It gave me goosebumps at the time to see our team respond like that. We awarded $101,150 in grants in the first week and over $900,000 in the first month.” –Hollie Mowry, Community Investment Associate


“In my role on the Finance team, I’m fortunate to interact with our kind, generous donors every day. Just a couple of weeks ago, while on an unrelated, routine call with a donor, he insisted that he wanted to make some additional grants from his fund this year. He’s already a significant contributor who has made a huge impact—but he felt like he could do more. He’s so gracious and genuine, and he thanked me as if I was the one doing the favor for him!” –Michelle Stout, Philanthropic Accounting Coordinator


“In our new virtual work environment, we have been able to personally connect with our partners in a way we haven't before. Recently, in a video meeting, we heard directly from one of our grant recipients about the impact of our partnership. It brought me so much closer to our mission. Erin Minor, from Harvest House, shared a real time example of how their services were supporting a family in need. It brought tears to my eyes, and joy to my heart.” –Karla Detert, HR Generalist


“I was inspired by how quickly our team shifted from planning our signature Better Together event to creating our joint COVID-19 Response Initiative. We did that at lightning speed. It didn’t take us weeks, we didn’t have an off-the-shelf program. We got things done very quickly. One of our Board members challenged the rest of the Board to contribute to the initiative, and we had 100% participation. I was so proud to see that leadership trickle down to our staff team, 100% of whom also contributed! That was a wonderful moment when we all truly lived our values.–Mark Pritchett, President/CEO


As we wrote this blog, Kelly Borgia called us to say "I just had a WOW moment, I have to share it! Can I share two stories that inspired me this year?"  We couldn't say no!

"We have a long time donor who just made a significant contribution to their Donor Advised Fund. He shared that he is opening some additional Donor Advised Fund's for his grandchildren, so I decided to look at his Donor Dashboard report. This donor granted out $184,500 to 55 organizations in one day! The grants ranged in size from $1,000-$15,000. They will support a wide range of organizations including the arts, health care facilities, libraries, national parks and more. I just had one of those "wow" moments - this family is giving so much in their lifetime, while also creating a legacy of giving for their children and grandchildren. I am inspired by our donors time and time again."–Kelly Borgia, Philanthropic Administrator


Celebrating the Arts

Published: Thanks in large to philanthropy, arts organizations have been able to continue to inspire our community in unique ways despite cancellations and complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local arts organizations have risen to the challenge and continue to amaze, with creative solutions, innovation, and inspiration.

A Different Kind of Season

Published: The following guest column by Gulf Coast President|CEO Mark Pritchett appeared in the February 20 edition of SRQ Daily. He highlights the creativity and resiliency of our region's vibrant arts community.

Critical Legal Housing Services for Those Hit Hardest by Pandemic

Published: A recent grant from the joint COVID-19 Response Initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation is helping Gulfcoast Legal Services to provide community members the legal housing support they need.