BeyondMe is a new platform for good from JFCS aimed at encouraging young people to get involved.
Laura McManus-Mesia wants the younger generation of Sarasota to redefine its concept of philanthropy through BeyondMe, a new initiative from Jewish Family and Children's Services of the Suncoast. BeyondMe is a program that hopes to engage people ages 21 to 45 to become changemakers in their community by broadening their awareness of Sarasota’s numerous charities and volunteer opportunities.
McManus-Mesia, chief development officer of JFCS, said the creation of BeyondMe was inspired by Sarasota’s charitable spirit. She spearheaded the initiative along with Stephen Fancher, JFCS vice president of major gifts and planned giving. Both McManus-Mesia and Fancher are new to JFCS, and they both wanted to build a bridge between the younger population and the philanthropic community.
“I’ve never known such generosity and innovative philanthropy in my career than here in this community,” said McManus-Mesia. “We really felt there was a need for a platform to get a new generation involved.”
She described BeyondMe as a “hub concept” where young people new to the area or new to philanthropy can get to know the various nonprofits and foundations that have partnered with the program, such as All Faiths Food Bank, Selah Freedom and The Patterson Foundation.
“We are bringing nonprofits to you, so you can get to know them on a personal level and then decide whether that organization fits with your philosophy in life,” said McManus-Mesia. “It’s not about opening your wallets, but about find your passion.”
About 300 people filled Michael's Wine Cellar to capacity on July 16 for the BeyondMe launch party, which McManus-Mesia said was a testament that philanthropy is alive in the younger generation.
“I wanted people to walk away thinking, ‘I can be a philanthropist,’” she said. “Really, the definition of philanthropy is love of mankind, and I want people to walk away feeling that if they have love for mankind then that categorizes us a philanthropist."