Club donates $112,000 from annual wine festival proceeds.
Shauna English and her yellow labrador, P.J., live each day with the motto “Get up. Dress up. Show up.”
So when the pair leaves its home each morning, P.J. wears her guide-dog harness, as well as a flower attached to her collar. English, a graduate of Southeastern Guide Dogs, a nonprofit that provides guide dogs to the visually impaired at no cost, said having a guide dog since October 2015 has restored her hope, her independence and her fullness of life after losing her vision suddenly in 2014.
“I call her (P.J.) my heartbeat because she she brought my heartbeat back to me,” English shared with an audience April 20, at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.
The Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch awarded $112,000 — proceeds from its 2016 Suncoast Food and Wine Festival fundraiser — collectively to 31 nonprofit organizations, including Southeastern Guide Dogs, and Rotary Club programs during a special luncheon. English spoke on behalf of Southeastern.
Since starting the festival 15 years ago, the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch has given out nearly $1.5 million to local charities. Food and Wine Festival Chairman Preston Olinger called the luncheon the “highlight” of all the hard work that goes into producing the festival. He also thanked sponsors, without whom the grants would not be possible.
Grant recipients included: Rotary Gift of Life, Lakewood Ranch Clean Water Matching Grant, Lakewood Ranch Rotary Youth Service, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Rotary Books for Kids, The Children’s Guardian Fund, Foundation for Dreams, Sarasota-Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, Easter Seals of Southwest Florida, Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, Feeding Empty Little Tummies, The Payton Wright Foundation, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Family Network on Disabilities, ITN Sarasota, Children First, The Childrens Dream Fund, Community Coalition on Homelessness, Manasota BUDS (Bringing Up Down Syndrome), Mothers Helping Mothers, The Children’s Healthy Pantry, The Haven, Teen Court of Sarasota, Stillpoint House of Prayer, Tidewell Hospice, Shelterbox USA, Manatee Technical College, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast, Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, Natures Academy and Search and Rescue Manatee County.