In an effort to become better community citizens, a group within the Sarasota Yacht Club is organizing.
About a year ago, SYC Cares formed as a special committee to take the philanthropic efforts of various members and put them under one umbrella.
The group wanted to do more in the community and thought a committee to spearhead the philanthropic push would be the best way forward, said SYC Cares Committee Co-chairwoman Kimberly Bleach.
“While we knew that we had myriad members here at the club that are philanthropic in nature, what we wanted to do was harness that ... and celebrate what they do for the community and also help the community know who we are,” said Jane Hutchins, the yacht club’s commodore.
The SYC Cares board decided to partner with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The money SYC Cares raises is put in a fund at the Community Foundation. Once SYC Cares is in a position to award grants, it will work with foundation to get the money to organizations.
“It’s not complicated,” Hutchins said. “It’s just coming together to celebrate other kids and people in our community, and we’re interested in all aspects of our community.”
Marlo Turner, senior vice president of donor engagement at the Community Foundation, said she thinks more groups are using philanthropy as a way to get to know people that have like interests.
“I think that it will bring awareness of different nonprofits to members of the yacht club because as a donor, you have a passion for a specific area, but you might not always realize a certain nonprofit does a piece of what you like,” Turner said.
She added that it will pave the way to introductions to nonprofits and allow members of the club to be collective donors. That way, the amount of money collected will have a bigger impact.
“We’re all philanthropic in our own ways, but if we all combine some force, we’re a stronger force,” Bleach said. “Just think, if every $100 a member (gives), we can put it together, we can have some great impact in community.”
For its first year, SYC Cares members decided education would be their focus because it reached a broad spectrum of people. The arts, environment and even health care can fit into education, Hutchins said.
This summer, the group is focusing on drafting a grants policy and application and will work with the Community Foundation to give members a way to find nonprofits with which to work.
Already, the club has donated $15,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, which members raised through their inaugural fundraising event in April.
Through that grant, SYC Cares was able to help improve the club’s teen room with the addition of murals and iPads. SYC Cares also awarded scholarships.
SYC Cares continues to work with other organizations as well, including the Pines of Sarasota, JFCS and All Faiths Food Bank. It also hosts a breast cancer awareness month event.