The longtime foundation is finally an independent organization.
The Longboat Key Foundation, after years under the umbrella of other community nonprofits, can now stand on its own as an independent 501(c)3 organization. Members plan to celebrate the organization’s independence with a golf tournament April 18 at the Longboat Key Club to raise money for the benefit of the island community.
“The foundation is in its infancy, and we have an opportunity to do our own thing,” said Jim Brown, the chairman of the board. “This is our first venture on our own.”
The organization began with the recognition of late Commissioner and Mayor Hal Lenobel, and the original Longboat Key Foundation fundraiser was also a golf tournament. After that, Tom Aposporos, the late Vice Mayor Dave Brenner and former Mayor Brown got together to get it started. It took three years to get the foundation up and running.
“I didn’t want it to go through the town,” Brown said. “I wanted to do it for the community.”
In 2013, it became part of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and has been raising money for island projects since. In 2019, the foundation held an inaugural golf tournament fundraiser and raised about $10,000. The independent organization is currently so young that there’s no official logo for the foundation, and its website, LBKFoundation.org, is about a week old.
But as longtime members of the community, the board members are more than ready to dive in where it counts.
“We care about this wonderful island, its environment and the people who make it wonderful, including staff and the government employees, the [firefighters], the [police officers], the restaurant people,” Board Member Warren Simonds said. “We look forward to better being able to define our mission statement as need arrives. We just need to find a mission.”
Board members met Feb. 18 to begin hashing out the details for the golf tournament, including refreshments, prizes and sponsors. In total, they will have 144 players (36 teams of four), 18 tee sponsors and as many community sponsors as they can get.
The board is selected from the community, and although the new board is in the process of setting up term limits, it will likely be three-year terms staggered, so there’s some turnover most years, board members said.
As of now, there’s no official destination for the money to be raised at the event. The members just want to start building a nest egg to support the Key for years to come.
Potential projects include establishing a medical center on Longboat Key, working with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to curtail microplastics in local waters and creating a privately funded arts, cultural and education center.
“We’re still there ready to do that,” Brown said of the arts center.
The foundation has raised millions of dollars so far even without standing on its own, and the board members are confident that they can continue to bring in money to impact the island and its future.
“We’re really proud to announce we’ve got a great board of directors and a group that’s been around for a long time, but we’ve made a big stride this year, getting that 501(c)3 established,” Brown said.