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Longboat Key Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 7 months ago

Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key kicks off 2022 with first meeting

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The club heard from the chair of the Longboat Key Foundation.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key started 2022 with the assurance that although Town Center Green will undergoing many changes in the near future, the Lawn Party will still have a home there. 

At the Jan. 6 meeting, the club heard from Longboat Key Foundation Chair Jim Brown about the history and future of the organization, which will be heavily involved in the development of Town Center Green. The foundation started back in 2009 but only gained independence as a 501(c)(3) in late 2019. 

“The only purpose of the foundation is to raise funds for improving Longboat Key,” Brown said. “We started a medical center, even though that didn't work out the first time, residents of Longboat Key are extremely generous. In many cases, we haven't even had to ask.”

Brown, a former mayor, was part of the foundation’s founding group. Originally, it was started to appreciate Hal Lenobel, who served on the commission for more than 13 years and was considered by many to be the unofficial ambassador of Longboat Key. Brown got several people together to organize a golf outing and dinner, and they raised money for the Key in Lenobel’s name. 

“It became pretty elaborate,” Brown said. “All of a sudden one night I woke up and said, ‘I don't know anything about how you put together a charity.’ I wanted to make sure we didn't screw it up. So I asked a couple of people and they suggested I go to the Sarasota County Community Foundation, and they very generously offered us all the financial and legal and all the other advice we needed to know.”

The director suggested to Brown that he start a similar community foundation on the Key. Of the more than $270 million the SCCF brought in, more than 70% came from Longboat Key. So Brown went to Dave Brenner, another icon of Longboat Key, and the pair began the foundation. 

Now their eyes are on the future, specifically on Town Center Green. Before the Karon family stepped up and donated the money for the stage, the foundation had raised $500,000 for the project. Brown said the foundation and its funds will be involved in much that goes on there, from a potential county library site to an arts and cultural center to potential shade structures for the sunny area. Nothing is finalized yet, but the foundation will be there. And there will even still be room for Kiwanis to host the Lawn Party, of course. 

“We're fortunate that people come to us, without us even asking, when we raise money,” Brown said. “When the people gave us the $500,000 recently, since then, I've had additional (money) given and it was for that purpose for the stage. When I told them we already had the money for the stage, they said,’Well, just put it into the other facilities.’” 

As for other Kiwanis matters, the final tally from the Salvation Army bell ringing will come within the next week. Last year, Longboat Key’s efforts were outpaced by the St. Armands Circle bell ringers, but the two both vie for the area’s top spot annually. 

Winner, winner 

The meeting also served as the official recognition of the Lawn Party’s grand raffle prize winner, Monica Verinder, after Lynn Larson moved to accept Verinder as the winner. A Realtor, longtime Sarasotan and recent Longboater, Verinder had always wanted to go to the Lawn Party and got her chance thanks to a ticket from Platinum Sponsor St. Regis. She bought her five raffle tickets at the front door. 

“It was a great day and I was not paying attention (during the raffle),” Verinder said. “I was talking to another Realtor friend of mine at the table and my husband heard them trying to say my hard-to-pronounce name. He said, ‘I think they’re calling you,’ and I was just talking away.” 

Verinder’s take-home was $22,500, about $2,500 less than the original estimate at the Lawn Party, thanks to some missing raffle tickets that threw off the calculation. However, Garey said Verinder graciously accepted the adjusted total.

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