The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 24 - March 28, 2012

reel time

Take the challenge – make a donation

I really appreciate the opportunity I've had to spend a significant portion of my life on an island, enjoying the bounties of our local waters. When I first arrived here over 30 years ago, I was sure the environment was going downhill fast. The depletion of fish stocks, rampant building and the loss of natural habitat seemed insurmountable.

As I got to know the area better, I was surprised at the resilience of the natural world. Watching the cycles with a perspective of two, then three decades, really changed my perception. Actions by municipalities to eliminate sewage discharge, to purchase and protect sensitive lands and to address storm water run-off and excess fertilizer use have had a positive effect on local waters.

Citizen groups including Save Our Bays, The Sister Keys Conservancy, the Coastal Conservation Association, Save Our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Watch and others have worked to protect habitat and species. In addition the work of organizations like the Sarasota National Estuary Program, and Mote Marine Laboratory have put science and policy in effect that have had a huge impact on the health of the estuarine environment.

Over the years it's become clear that while these natural treasures are resilient, we must continue to give them care and attention if future generations are to have the same opportunities that we've had.

On March 27 and 28, we have a unique opportunity to double the difference we can make by donating to local non-profits through The Giving Partner Challenge, a fundraising event that guarantees to double all contributions to 106 vetted organizations until the Partners give away a total of $1,000,000.

This challenge is a philanthropic effort created as a collaboration between the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Manatee Community Foundation and the Patterson Foundation.

It also coincides with the kickoff of the Giving Partner, a new website created by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County that provides full disclosure on area nonprofits and also provides an easy philanthropic portal.

One of the organizations that will benefit from this challenge is Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW), a grass-roots, non-profit, citizen-based organization dedicated to preserving and restoring Sarasota Bay's ecosystem through education and citizen participation.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Executive Director Andy Mele and the assistance of consultant Ronda Ryan, Sarasota Bay Watch has been established as a local environmental organization that is both transparent in its efforts and finances, thus allowing SBW to be eligible to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to raise funding necessary to sustain and grow the dynamic organization.

Having established their credentials, it will be up to the members of the SBW community that appreciate the importance of the bay to help us get the word out on this unique opportunity.

You can double the impact of your donation to SBW, as well as to other worthy organizations, by being one of the first go to on March 27 to make a contribution. This website will be open as early as 6 a.m. to start this great giving opportunity. The funds will go fast so it's important to make your donation early.

Please tell your friends and help us spread the word through your social media network. You and members like you are the key to the success of this fund raising opportunity. Show up for the challenge, post this opportunity to Twitter and Facebook and tell your friends.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper