- September 4, 2019
Making an Impact, a Lakewood Ranch nonprofit, is trying to fill a void with its Community Connections Resource Guide.
The guide is distributed free to local organizations that help residents in Manatee and Sarasota counties find the services they need. It includes background and contact information on more than 200 local agencies organized into 17 categories of service. It is also color-coded to indicate the general location of each agency.
Making an Impact was started in April 2020 by board chair and registered nurse Victoria Kasdan for the purpose of creating the guide — with more projects, such as a pharmaceutical guide, to follow later. The idea for the guide was being formulated for a later release, but Kasdan said the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for it.
“We figured with the shutdown, and so many people going to need access to community resources, that it was a good time for us to start the nonprofit,” Kasdan said.
The guide evolved from a similar project board member Linda Hoy had previously created for herself while doing volunteer work. When people would ask Hoy, who had moved from New York, where they could get help for various issues, she had to look up the answer herself because she wasn’t familiar with the area. So she started recording information about each organization she contacted.
At the same time, Kasdan was calling around, searching for a resource guide specific to the local area. Finally, a contact told Kasdan she had seen Hoy with a little, homemade guide. Kasdan called Hoy, who sent her a copy.
“I said, ‘I think you're on to something,’” Kasdan recalled. “She said, ‘I can't get funding. I can't get anybody to believe in this.’ I said, ‘I've run a nonprofit (We Care Manatee) before. I know how to do a nonprofit startup.’”
Hoy did much of the work compiling the guide’s content, Kasdan started the nonprofit, created a board and found a printer. The Community Connections Resource Guide was born.
One example of an organization that uses the guide is Resilient Retreat, a Sarasota-based nonprofit that serves people who have experienced trauma and abuse. Resilient Retreat founder and board chair Sidney Turner has three staff members who are not from the area. She said the guide has been “so instrumental to them in getting a pulse on all of the services that are available in our community.”
Resilient Retreat has used the guide to find financial assistance and free counseling to trauma and abuse survivors and to reach out to organizations in underserved communities who might serve survivors themselves.
Bayside Community Church is another organization that has used the guide to help people in the community.
"The Making an Impact resource guide is an amazing tool and is used by our Care department on a daily basis," said Veronica Seleska, the Care director at Bayside's East Bradenton Campus. "Bayside not only uses this guide to help augment the services we are providing as a church but also uses this guide as a tool to direct people to additional resources in the community. This guide has been an invaluable resource for so many people in our community."
An online version, pocket-sized version and Spanish-language version are all in the works.