11-22-2017 People: Accomplishments + Giving

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Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Announces 2017 “Sandies” Winners

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance (LWRBA) announced the 9 winners from the annual Sandies Members’ Choice Awards at its luncheon on Friday, November 17 with more than 300 LWRBA members and guests in attendance.

The Sandies, which honor LWRBA volunteers who strive for accomplishment, community, and forging paths of leadership, were awarded to winners selected from a pool of 48 finalists across 8 categories through an online nomination and voting process.


Dianne Kopczyinski, Mauldin & Jenkins

Amanda Arnold, Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club

Lisa Kirkland, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center

Adam Miller, Keller Williams – Lakewood Ranch

Charlotte Griffin, Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

Lori Ruth, Observer Media Group

Keith Pandeloglou, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities

Fern Grave, Abacus Web Services

Violeta Huesman, Keiser University

Regional 2-1-1 Service Expands with New Provider

On December 1, 2017 call center operations for 2-1-1 Suncoast will be provided through Heart of Florida United Way 2-1-1 (HFUW 2-1-1). HFUW 2-1-1 will offer information and referral services 24/7/365 with the added ability to connect with the community through real time chat, text and email, in addition to 2-1-1 phone services.

The funders collaborative includes the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee County Government, Sarasota County Government, United Way South Sarasota and United Way Suncoast.

Veronica Brady to Receive National Literacy Leadership Award

Veronica Brady, senior vice president for philanthropy at Gulf Coast Community Foundation, will receive the 2018 Excellence in Literacy Leadership Award presented by the Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders.  The prestigious award will recognize Brady’s vital role in implementing and expanding Reading Recovery in Sarasota County Schools and promoting the successful literacy program beyond the region.

A group of school district administrators, teachers, and donors surprised Brady with the news of her selection on Friday afternoon, November 17, at Sarasota County School District headquarters.  The award will be presented in February before more than 2,000 attendees at the National Reading Recovery & K-6 Literacy Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

“Reading Recovery is changing the lives of young students in our school district, and Veronica Brady is the driving force that has made it happen,” said Laura Kingsley, assistant superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. “From rallying donors to supporting and celebrating our teachers to championing access for even more students, Veronica has been a dynamo.”

Reading Recovery is an intensive, short-term intervention for first-graders who struggle in learning to read and write. Specially trained literacy teachers provide daily, individual lessons designed to accelerate students’ progress to grade level within 20 weeks. Created in New Zealand in the 1970s and introduced to the United States in 1984 through The Ohio State University, Reading Recovery is the world’s most widely studied early reading intervention.

Brady first learned about the program a few years ago from philanthropists Keith and Linda Monda, who supported Reading Recovery through Ohio State and envisioned replicating it in Sarasota County. Believing it could play a key role in reducing the achievement gap by helping the lowest-performing first graders quickly catch up to their classmates, Brady spearheaded a partnership with Sarasota County Schools. She secured funding commitments from the Mondas and the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and with additional funds and administrative support from Gulf Coast, Reading Recovery was introduced in fall 2015 at three Title I elementary schools.

“Not only did Veronica line up the seed capital to launch Reading Recovery in our school district, but she organized and delivered hundreds of books and stacks of training materials over the last two weeks of that summer so the program was ready to go when school reopened,” recalls Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

As Reading Recovery quickly showed promise of success, Brady led the charge to expand it to all 10 of the district’s Title I elementary schools in 2016, including securing philanthropic support from several additional donors. The results in year two bore out the partners’ confidence, with 86 percent of the students who received a full complement of Reading Recovery lessons reaching average grade levels for reading and writing. The national success rate for the highly touted program is 75 percent.

Recognizing that many students in non-Title I schools also would benefit from Reading Recovery, Brady advocated for further expansion to all 23 Sarasota County elementary schools. With additional funding from the Barancik Foundation and the school district totaling more than $1 million, Reading Recovery was implemented district-wide this school year. Highly trained teachers in every school now work with Reading Recovery students throughout the morning and then assist many more students as school-based literacy experts the rest of the day.

To further leverage the extensive training received by these teachers, Brady helped create a summer-reading program that stipends district teachers to work with incoming kindergartners and first-graders at local summer camps. Piloted at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex in Newtown, the Kids READ summer program was expanded to all Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County thanks to Brady’s efforts.

In addition to maintaining and expanding the high standards of Reading Recovery locally, recipients of the Literacy Leadership Award are also recognized for “significant contributions to implementation beyond the local level.” To that end, Brady is developing a “playbook” to help other school districts that are considering Reading Recovery learn from Sarasota County’s experience. She also presented a session at the statewide Florida Reading Conference earlier this month. Sarasota County is currently the only school district in Florida to offer Reading Recovery.

“This is a program worth investing in, and Veronica shares that message everywhere she goes,” said Keith Monda. “We see the difference Reading Recovery is making for Sarasota County students, and we would love more communities throughout Florida to achieve that same success for their children.”

On Friday, Nov 3rd, the Evelyn & Arthur store in Downtown Sarasota hosted a Pop Up Shop for women in the program at Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), Sarasota’s local charity that shelters, councils and helps battered and abused women.

Eight women were treated to fashion consultations and fittings from E&A’s stylists along with a complete outfit with accessories. In addition, lunch and refreshments were served and the ladies got to hear the inspiring story of Weissman’s journey as a female business leader.

Adrianne Weissman, president of E&A drove over from Palm Beach County for the event to show her support for such an amazing cause.

Hospital Board Installs 2017-2018 Officers

The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, which governs Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, elected its new officers for 2017-2018. 

Made up of nine citizens elected by Sarasota County voters to four-year terms, the hospital board oversees the hospital’s finances and quality improvement efforts and meets regularly to set the strategic direction for the system. Each November, the board appoints a new slate of officers from its members.

The new chairman of the board is Joseph J. DeVirgilio, Jr., who has represented Seat 2 in the Central District since 2013.  DeVirgilio is president of Suncoast Management Consultants and a senior consultant with River Consulting Group. Previously, he held a series of executive positions for the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation in Poughkeepsie, NY, and also served 12 years on a hospital board and foundation there before retiring and relocating to Venice, Fla. He currently serves as a volunteer for the AARP, helping seniors in Venice with their taxes. 

The other new Sarasota County Public Hospital Board officers are:

First Vice Chairman:  William Noonan

Second Vice Chairman: James Meister

Treasurer: Sharon Wetzler DePeters

Secretary: Tramm Hudson

Assistant Secretary: Susan Tucker

Assistant Treasurer:  Darryl Henry

The Board recognized Greg Carter, who was elected to the Hospital Board in 2002 and represents the southern district, for his outstanding leadership and guidance as chairman the past two years. Carter also served as chairman 2009-2010. During his most recent tenure, Sarasota Memorial welcomed its first class of physician Internal Medicine residents and launched the Newtown Internal Medicine Practice, received official designation as a Level II Trauma Center, earned preliminary state approval to establish a new hospital on Laurel Road Hospital and opened SMH’s new Rehabilitation Pavilion and St. Armands Urgent Care Center.  

Evelyn & Arthur Sarasota Location to Support Children’s Healthy Pantry

Store will hold a holiday food drive for kids’ charity
Continuing its dedication to philanthropy and helping those in less fortunate situations, Evelyn & Arthur, will be collecting healthy snack food items and bottled water for kids on behalf of the Children’s Healthy Pantry from December 1 to 15. Supporters can drop off items and pick up holiday gifts at the same time! The food will be distributed to local Title 1 schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“We know amazing things happen when a community joins forces to help children,” said Adrianne Weissman, president of Evelyn & Arthur. “The healthy snacks and bottled water provided by Children’s Healthy Pantry not only help satisfy kids’ hunger afterschool, but they also help with behavior and learning during school hours since students are better able to focus on their studies when their brains have healthy fuel.”

In addition to the food drive, Evelyn & Arthur will be fully stocked with holiday merchandise to not only help you feel festive, but to help you get some of that holiday shopping done while doing your good deed. As special thanks, shoppers who donate food will receive 10 percent off one item priced $75 or higher.

The Children’s Healthy Pantry holiday food collection will take place at Evelyn & Arthur, 1480 Main Street in downtown Sarasota. The store is open Monday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information call (941) 365-2210. 

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