While fine art graces the walls of Sally Yanowitz’s sun-filled downtown condo, family photos of her three daughters and two granddaughters hold equally as important real estate. Community activist Yanowitz is involved with organizations whose missions she believes in, and thinks she has found the fountain of youth in volunteerism.
My husband, Irwin, and I lived in Sharon, Penn. for 49 years. It’s a small town and we had a very happy life there. We started renting a place on Longboat Key for a month, and my husband would only stay for a week and a weekend. He didn’t want to move here, and I used to say, ‘If I lived in a place that everyone thought I was Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t want to move away, either.’ He was so kind and charming.
It has been 12 years since he died — the year after, I sold my home and moved to Sarasota and have been here about 11 years. My heart still beats faster when I see the sun glistening. What a gift to have found a community like Sarasota.
Irv was and always will be the biggest influence in my life — he was a true gentleman. Philanthropy and community service was always a part of his life and became a part of our life together.
In 45 years of being married, I learned many things, but the most important was a love of Judaism, its culture and its value system.
My parents came to this country from Hungary as teenagers. They had to learn a new language, make a living and build a life. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the values they taught me by example — hard work, dedication to family and generosity to others.
Everyone has to find her own way and do as much as you can. There is no shortage for worthwhile causes here — I have found the fountain of youth and it is volunteerism.
When you take the two concepts of tzedakah (giving of yourself) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) and add to them your personal passion, it can make a huge difference. People tease me that I am so passionate and that I get so excited about things, but having passion for a project can really contribute to its success.
Several years ago, I went to Debra Jacobs with an idea that came from an Anna Quindlen article, and from there I was directed to Dennis Stover, and before we knew it, Make a Difference Day was born. This day of volunteering on 9/11 grows each year. That’s what happens when you put tzedakah and tikkun olam together.
I am involved with organizations whose missions I believe in, such as National Council of Jewish Women, JFCS, Embracing our Differences, Planned Parenthood, Sarasota Ballet and Jewish Housing Council Foundation.
I love art. If there aren’t enough walls for my artwork, I don’t want the place. My best friend, Lois Stulberg, is on the board of Ringling — between the two of us we have the town covered.
In my free time, I like to go to the theaters and lectures. My problem is I like everything. There is so much to do here and so many fabulous people to do it with. The way to meet people here is through volunteering. I have the most wonderful friends, and I have met them all through being involved.
I think the view and the water here are the least of what makes Sarasota so special — they are spectacular, but nothing can come near to the city of Sarasota and living here.