VENICE, FL (September 19, 2023) – Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast) is recognizing the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian with a reflection on impact and the ongoing rebuilding and recovery.
On September 28, 2022, southwest Florida was struck by Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit our state. Gulf Coast’s Board of Directors approved funding within 24 hours of the storm’s impact and generous donors locally and from across the country matched it quickly. Gulf Coast provided dozens of grants to nonprofit organizations just days following the storm with a focus on health and human service needs in southern Sarasota County. Now, one year later, thanks to generous donor contributions, Gulf Coast’s Board of Directors, and dedicated team, Gulf Coast’s Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative has realized over 200 grants totaling $3.5 million in relief. “The very definition of philanthropy was demonstrated by Gulf Coast’s donors, foundations, and generous individuals across the country who came together immediately after Hurricane Ian struck to support the greatest needs of our nonprofit communities,” said Gulf Coast’s President | CEO Phillip P. Lanham. “The stories of hope and perseverance that we have received from our Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative have been nothing short of life changing.”
Gulf Coast provided Venice Theatre with multiple grants totaling $640,000 to support their staff and the rebuilding of the Jervey Theatre. The theater has maintained its staff and is working diligently on redesign and rebuilding efforts.
A funding commitment of $1 million over three years to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties was approved by Gulf Coast’s Board of Directors to rebuild the Gene Matthews Club in North Port that was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Prior to the storm, the Club provided over 450 children and teens with award-winning programs that empower them to become great leaders.
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda took a direct hit from Hurricane Ian and received $20,000 from Gulf Coast’s Hurricane Recovery Initiative to assist them in re-opening to the public. Tanna Horner, executive director, recently shared, “We lost 250 trees and 80% of our plant life. I reached out to Gulf Coast for help and the speed and efficiency they gave was incredible. The grant allowed me to keep every staff member employed.”
Children First, the Sarasota Head Start provider, received a $50,000 grant from Gulf Coast and reflected, “At Children First, we had families and staff that were in essence, immediately homeless. Prior to the hurricane, the families we serve are in the position of being the most economically vulnerable. We are so deeply enmeshed with our families and staff, and we were able to provide this tremendous support because of Gulf Coast’s immediate, responsive humanitarian support. That also allowed us to begin addressing their emotional well-being almost as immediately as we were addressing physical well-being.”
Gulf Coast heard from Ashley Coone, Links2Success co-founder and executive director in DeSoto County who received $15,000 from Gulf Coast, “Thanks to the funding from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Links2Success is now able to address the post-secondary planning needs of students affected by recent disruptions. This support has enabled the implementation of measures that will have a lasting impact on students in DeSoto County for years to come.”
Mental health services were a critical need following the storm. Tri-County Counseling received a $15,000 grant to support services in their North Port Office, and Dr. Charlton Cerbone, CEO and clinical director, attributes the grant to a necessary expansion in services. “Our mental health and substance abuse grants have made a transformative impact within our community. By providing crucial funding to local organizations, we’ve significantly expanded access to vital mental health services and substance abuse treatment. Together, we’re breaking barriers, offering hope, and fostering a stronger, more compassionate community.”
This snapshot of the Hurricane Ian Relief Fund impact sheds light on the resilient and strong nonprofit community who work tirelessly to support our region in times of need. Together, with the generosity of the community, transformative Hurricane Ian recovery has provided strength for rebuilding and future storm preparedness.
To learn more, visit https://www.gulfcoastcf.org/hurricane-ian-relief-grants.
About Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Headquartered in Venice, Fla. and with a second office in downtown Sarasota, Fla., Gulf Coast Community Foundation has transformed the region through bold and proactive philanthropy for over 25 years. Serving the needs of the region as a partner in philanthropy and leader in community initiatives, Gulf Coast has surpassed granting $510 million in the areas of: health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Gulf Coast was named one of the “Best Nonprofits To Work For” nationally by The NonProfit Times in 2010, 2011, 2017, 2020, 2021, and 2023. To learn more visit GulfCoastCF.org and follow us on Facebook at @GulfCoastCommFnd.