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2021 A Year of Resilience

I’ve been through a lot.
But who hasn’t?
I’ve wanted to give up so many times.
But who hasn’t?
But you know what?
I haven’t given up, and I’m not going to.

– Victoria F., Harvest House client

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Reflection of Our Year

As much as we were hopeful a new year would turn the page for us, we quickly learned that the “new normal” is a myth.  Instead, we find ourselves navigating a new reality.  One truth is abundantly clear: recovery has no straight path forward.

As we look back on the year, we are reminded why Chuck and Margie believed so much in this community to establish their philanthropic legacy here.  They acknowledged there would always be people in need, but likewise they knew there would always be people strong enough to help.  The issues we are facing aren’t easy, but together we are acting to right wrongs, create hope, and lift spirits.

This year in review explores the people who have been leading our recovery.  You will also find artwork and written words from students, nonprofit clients, and community members who inspire us each day.  We are thankful to our partners, and we trust you will enjoy these highlights of hope and resilience.

Board and Staff
Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

The Education Ripple Effect

The Education Ripple Effect

Students have big goals for their lives, and they are far more likely to reach those goals if they have an effective teacher by their side. Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions. Everything we dream to achieve in the future is dependent on what teachers achieve in classrooms today.

Together with our school district and education partners, we are working to celebrate our teachers, build a strong pipeline to the profession, and ensure that teachers match the diversity of their students.

Click and drag on each image to slide through the bedtime story.

Ripple Effect Awards

While a fairytale, that wasn’t a made-up story.  It was based on Triad Alternative School teacher Brian Upholz, who was one of the inaugural Ripple Effect Teacher Award winners this year.

We launched the annual award program in honor of Chuck and Margie Barancik’s birthdays.  It recognizes 10 outstanding teachers each year who make a ripple effect not only on their students’ lives, but also on campus and among their colleagues.

Each winner receives $5,000 to spend on their classroom or on professional development opportunities.  So far, some have used it to pay off their student loans, purchase state-of-the-art robots for science class, and even taken a trip to Hawaii for an educational conference.

This is our small way of celebrating those who have a real impact on their campus and create a ripple effect.  Click to expand each photo.

If you are still not a believer of the ripple effect a teacher can have, maybe this will help.  We owe immense gratitude to so many educators who inspired our local heroes and led to their contributions in our community.

Click through the arrows to read just a few testaments.

Each day in route to the playground, my kindergarten class walked down a big hill. I was terrified I would tumble all the way down. I will never forget Mrs. Worthy holding my little hand in her warm hand each day. From my first experiences in school, I learned that an excellent teacher quickly recognizes a student’s insecurities and embraces them with empathy.

Susie BowieManatee Community Foundation

Mr. Tillett was my first African American male teacher, and I remember him being one of the first teachers to bring current day, real world issues into our classroom. It was in his class that I first heard the mantra of how, when encountering a police officer in a traffic stop, it was important to move slowly and to keep my hands visible. He saw us as more than just receptacles for learning.

Bill WoodsonNew College of Florida

In fifth grade, as a freckled-faced little girl struggling with a rough home life, I walked in to Mr. Clark's class with a history of poor grades and little confidence. With his fun teaching style and encouraging approach, for the first time, I was engaged in learning and believed, just maybe, I could do well in school. Being seen as someone who had potential lit a spark in me, and years later, I graduated from college summa cum laude.

Katrina BellemareParenting Matters

My favorite teacher was Mr. Coleman. I wrote a lot of poems and he encouraged my writing. During the school day, if I finished my work early, he’d set me up with a tape recorder and I’d narrate slide shows for the class. That tape recorder was the first time I heard the sound of my own voice. Mr. Coleman was the first teacher that helped me understand that I had the words and a voice to share ideas with others.

JoAnn UrofskyWUSF Public Media

My favorite teacher was Mr. Brown, my Marine Science teacher at Riverview High School. He nurtured my interest in marine biology and oceanography. He also opened up opportunities for me to develop this interest, by introducing me to Mote Marine Laboratory during field trips to the south tip of Siesta Key, and mentoring me during my senior year when I was doing a work-study program with Mote, studying dolphins and sharks.

Randy WellsSarasota Dolphin Research Program

My K-5 music teacher was Miss Ryan, and she literally changed my life. Her enthusiasm and passion inspired me to explore opera by going to a performance. My life has centered around opera ever since, and I would not be where I am now if she had not introduced me to opera.

Richard RussellSarasota Opera

Miss Bigge at Groves High School in Birmingham, Michigan. My school was transitioning from a junior/senior high to all high school, and I was initially too young to join the drama club. But she allowed me to regardless, and it was an momentous experience. I learned so much that I carried through the rest of my theatre education.

Linda DiGabrieleAsolo Repertory Theatre

My favorite childhood teacher was my art teacher, Gordon Langeneger, a.k.a. "Mr. L". He was one of the first adults that I sensed could see me as a full spectrum person as opposed to simply a "student". He always encouraged me to follow my heart, even when it wasn't the easy path. His kindness, mentorship and honesty were a safety net at a time in life that I needed it most, and I am forever grateful.

Tracie TroxlerSunshine Community Compost

My high school English teacher, Mr. Johnson, pushed me to dig deep, dream big, and write from my soul. He ripped papers apart, and lovingly helped me put them back together…even better than I could have imagined. He wanted me to write, and so I chose public relations and journalism as an outlet for all those words.

Erin McLeodSenior Friendship Centers

I credit my 10th grade biology teacher, Bill Wimbish, for turning me around. Mr. Wimbish perceived my passion for treating trouble as a competitive sport and introduced me to the concept of advocating to protecting our environment. That was 1973, and I’m still doing it today.

Jon ThaxtonGulf Coast Community Foundation

My family did not know how to get me to college, however they knew that I needed to get there. Miss Fabrizio, a Biology teacher at my high school, met my mom and took an interest in me. I would meet with her weekly to talk about college and life. She was my mentor before I ever knew the word, and for the last twenty-one years it has been my mission to find Miss Fabrizios for all of our Take Stock Sarasota students.

Lisa BechtoldTake Stock in Children Sarasota County

My favorite teacher was Ms. Irma. She loved that I was an avid reader and enjoyed talking with me about all the books that I read ahead of the class. She was kind and patient and affirmed my thirst for learning.

Luz CorcueraUnidosNow

My favorite teacher was Mrs. Bliss at Riverview High. She was the Journalism teacher and I took her class as a freshman and ended up taking Journalism all 4 years. What I think she really helped me with was my writing skills, which continues to be a benefit to this day. I didn’t end up working in journalism but think it translates into public relations which I have done for many years now.

Colleen ThayerNAMI Sarasota and Manatee

Dr. Malinsky taught chemistry in a way that recognized everyone’s different comfort levels with science. She made the complex topic relatable and her caring, patient approach provided a judgement free zone for all. For me, she went beyond her subject expertise as a mentor and class sponsor, and has continued to inspire in retirement, becoming a talented artist in many different media.

Lee Hayes ByronUF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County
Click on the titles above to read further.

Expanding Educational Opportunities

Research demonstrates students involved in both arts and science programming develop critical skills that improve their lifelong ability to read, write, and communicate effectively.  Participation as a youngster even improves the likelihood the child will go to college and get a good job.

Despite numerous efforts, students of color are underrepresented in extracurriculars that nurture their development.  We’ve partnered with cultural and science organizations to help expand opportunities for children who have historically been excluded from the arts and STEM-based programming.

Click on the titles above to read further.

Aliens and Mustard

We’ve got a question for you. If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens, who would you pick, and why? Or, have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought it, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.

These are actual college application essay questions students are asked to answer. A powerful, well-written essay can make all the difference in whether a student gets accepted into a college.  Yet many students lack a mentor who is able to guide them through this potentially overwhelming component of their college application.

Starting in 2021, any local high school student who wishes to learn the ins and outs of writing a college essay can now do so, thanks to a partnership with New College of Florida and Barancik Foundation.

If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens, who would you pick? Seriously, we want to know.

Click on the titles above to read further.

Syllabus of Color

The Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative—which promotes using the unifying power of the arts to nurture inclusion across the regional cultural landscape—launched its three-year “Syllabus of Color” initiative, a comprehensive effort to tackle systemic disparities by engaging families, schools, and community partners in arts education grounded in the principles of diversity and inclusion.

This year the first tier of the project began with students in fifth through ninth grades at Booker Middle School and Booker High School.  The program has also created opportunities for local college students to volunteer as mentors.

Building an Artist by Khai Thompson, Embracing Our Differences
Mood by Le’Asha B., Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties

Click on the titles above to read further.

Rockets and Robots

Science class is not like how it was 30 years ago.  At the Suncoast Science Center, students are not just learning about science from textbooks, they are making it come to life. Access to state-of-the-art equipment in the Fab Lab allows student instructors to tinker and teach through hands on classes in robotics, engineering, chemistry, coding, art and design and more.

This year Barancik Foundation funding helped the organization expand to recruit high school students from low-income communities. Funds were also used to provide scholarships for those who cannot afford classes or camp fees.

Embracing Our Differences

We also support Embracing Our Differences’ Education Ambassadors, Art Teacher Intensive, and the Unity Day Program. These programs empower educators to deliver messages of diversity, inclusion, respect, and integrity into their classrooms. This professional development not only provides students with more creative opportunities, it affords teachers a chance to express themselves and expand relationships with their colleagues.

Have Some Fun

Draw your creative masterpieces, share words of encouragement, and collaborate with others on our live and public doodle board.  Others can see what you create, but don’t be shy!

Head and Heart

Head and Heart

We are witnessing a historic transformation in the nature of work, systems of care, and humanity.  But systems are complex and rewiring them around equity requires observation, patience, and boldness.  Our partners are putting in the hard work to change the root causes of inequality. These are just some ways we are paving a future of prosperity for all.

“In the Same Sea” by Francesco Dabbicco  |  Embracing Our Differences 2022 Exhibit

Coordinating Care and Accountability

A human services network is only as effective as the connections that hold it together.  Over the last few years, a collaborative effort has been underway to tighten our social safety net.

Originally brought to the region through First 1,000 Days Suncoast, a referral technology called Unite Us is revolutionizing the way organizations coordinate care for clients.   Partners in the network connect through the shared platform to send and receive electronic referrals, address people’s needs, and improve health across communities.

We can now scale this network, track outcomes together, identify service gaps for at-risk populations, and help our neighbors take greater ownership of their well-being.  This technology is also being implemented throughout our school district and the mental health system of care.

Mental Health and Wellness

Mental health issues are a leading obstacle inhibiting opportunities for a number of young people.  For three years, we have been working in tandem with Gulf Coast Community Foundation and a cohort of human-service organizations to create a coordinated system for our youth and their families to receive the support they deserve.

This year, we reached a milestone as our elected Sarasota County leaders responded to the need by approving a mental health taxing district. We also strengthened existing infrastructure, supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness Sarasota/Manatee as they take ownership of localized drop-in centers, and expanded capacity at First Step so they can help more children.

Click on the image to watch the video: The Here4YOUth Shine a Spotlight program is designed to recognize outstanding programs in our community helping youth under age 25 and their families to thrive.

Childhood Development and Learning

In 2020, everyone became deeply aware of childcare’s relationship to the labor market.  You can’t reopen the economy without early learning centers.

It was an opportune time for Barancik Foundation to begin exploring the system of early learning.  We already knew that even the most connected parents struggle to find childcare options.  Now, a pandemic has intensified the issue.

Barancik Foundation is researching Sarasota County’s system of early learning to understand how best to invest in this vital sector.  Early learning centers are the converging point of many of our society’s biggest challenges and greatest opportunities.  They hold promise to stimulate intergenerational cycles of opportunity.  We have convened our partners and will be working together to address this.

Human Interest

Human Interest

Powering a culturally inclusive future requires building a strong foundation for equitable actions as much as it needs us to reconcile our history. We must speak with action, build hope, and meet denial with truth.

We are privileged to work with partners who embody the values and guidance Chuck and Margie left us to explore how all children and families have the opportunities to lead a prosperous life.  This year we have made progress in the areas of health equity, education, and workforce development.

 “The hardest conversation is the one you don’t have. Once people start talking and communicating, that changes. People find their unique voice – and then they find their power.” – Cedric Hameed, poet and educator

Click on the image to watch the video: Embracing Our Differences launched “The Oneness of Art,” a powerful yearlong initiative created by the noted poet and teaching artist Cedric Hameed to unite the community through the power of creative expression.

Opportunities For All

At the close of 2020, we awarded a grant to the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce to create the Opportunities For All initiative. A two-part program, the effort serves as a navigator for small and minority-owned businesses to help them grow as well as assist with pairing interns with local companies in the region.

2021 was a banner year for the initiative. More than 150 businesses have been served, and 38 of those were awarded stimulus money through the Business Assistance Funds program. OFA interns are building their professional portfolio.  Some even helped produce a nationally-syndicated podcast in Spanish to encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s education.


The pandemic exposed strengths in our healthcare system, one of them being the courage and talent of nurses.  But it has also led to the acceleration of many people’s departure from the field.  This year, Barancik Foundation focused on taking care of those who take care of us.

In partnership with Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, we are creating a stronger nursing pipeline through the University of South Florida.  Included in these efforts are funds to provide mental wellness and work/life balance training to prevent burnout.

Click on the image to watch the video: Barancik funds also helped State College of Florida expand its nursing program into nights and weekend courses, allowing greater enrollment and flexibility for students who are working and raising families.

Providing Second Chances

As we experience a labor shortage and companies compete for talent, local employers are beginning to embrace second-chance hiring—employing people with criminal history.

Believing in second chances, Barancik Foundation helped Harvest House launch the Purpose Works program to help their clients find employment at local businesses. Tervis Tumbler is the inaugural partner in this effort and now hires staff with non-violent felonies.

For those on parole, one of the great challenges is maintaining a job with the regular requirement  to report to a probation officer. Working with the Florida Department of Corrections, we launched a new mobile supervision unit to go directly to job sites, reducing the potential for probation violations, increasing productivity for the employee and employer, and eliminating the loss of hourly income.

Andrew and Mike are well on their way exploring new career paths through Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s jail workforce training program. This pair serves caffeinated brews as baristas manning the Sheriff’s coffee shop.

Stewarding Our Planet

Stewarding Our Planet

We need to get honest about what we’re willing to do for the sustainability of our planet.  Climate change is a global problem, but vital agents of change can happen even at the smallest, local level.

Our environmental strategy involves revitalizing the natural systems, support the adoption of sustainable practices along with energy and water efficiencies. We also do this work with an eye on building the next generation of conservationists.  For the Gulf Coast, this makes good economic sense.  Our quality of life here will only sustain as long as the natural resources that make our region so special remain healthy.

Click on the image to watch a short video by one of our area's bright stars, who notes "What Sustainability Means to Me," from the 16th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop.
Sarasota County Student

Partnering for a Greener Future

Launched in 2019, the initial notion for Partners for Green Places was to scope out potential projects to increase water and energy efficiency at environmental and human-service organizations.  The savings on utility bills could then be redirected into their missions.  All the while, they’d be demonstrating the benefits of relatively easy-to-make changes for their visitors and clients.

The initiative is a public-private partnership involving nonprofits, government and for-profit companies.  This year, we were thrilled to expand the efforts to higher-quality projects and celebrated some successes as we flipped the switch on solar installations at Children First, Harvest House, Forty Carrots Family Centers, All Faiths Food Bank, and Project 180.

Community Composting

Bugs, dirt, and food scraps can be gross, but they’re also vital to the fertility of soil.  The environmental benefits of composting are numerous—it reduces landfill waste, manages nutrient run-off, and improves the quality of agriculture grown in the harvested soil.  It’s a tangible tool to fight the climate crisis.

Over the last year and a half, we supported Sunshine Community Compost’s vision to build a regional composting movement.  The organization launched a community program that collects food scraps from homeowners and businesses, turns it into compost, and reintroduces it back into our ecosystem.

The effort inspired programs at organizations such as Girls Inc. of Sarasota County and The Haven to help students and residents learn about the benefits of composting and conservation.

Dig deeper by clicking on the image to watch a profile on Sunshine Community Compost.

Reducing inputs (like herbicides, fertilizer, plant and lawn clippings, and domestic animal fecal matter) can help restore the pond to a natural balance.
Building up natural defenses (like native plants and fish) will help reduce the amount of nitrogen in the water.
A low-maintenance buffer around the perimeter of a pond can secure the bank and allow additional removal of nutrients and other pollution before entering the pond.
Stormwater ponds need to be cleaned out periodically (about every 25 years) to keep them functioning properly. Aeration may also be beneficial.

Healthy Ponds Collaborative

Believe it or not, Sarasota County has zero lakes made by mother nature.  They are all manmade during residential development to manage stormwater runoff.  The result of this distortion of nature is a failure to effectively filter nutrients. When nutrients build-up they pollute the bay and Gulf.

Together with Solutions to Avoid Red Tide and UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, we launched a first-of-its-kind collaborative aimed at providing support to Sarasota County neighborhoods to revitalize the health of stormwater ponds and native aquatic plants.  Armed with scientific expertise, community relationships, professional capacity, and philanthropic resources, we will make meaningful change on this critical issue.

Heroes and Hopefuls

Heroes and Hopefuls

Although the pandemic has been wrought with challenges, it has also been a time for many to act boldly, flex their abilities, and shine their heart on our region. As we close out our Year in Review, this section highlights just some of the heroes and hopefuls who have created their own ripple effect and spread hope far and wide.

People Power

As we set our eyes towards recovery, champions in our community are not just repairing the safeholds that take care of us.  They are reinventing them.  Click on each profile to read more about six of our trusted partners who are doing just that.

“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’  Look what happens with a love like that.  It lights the whole sky.” – Hafiz

Luz Corcuera


Few know the art of community building better than Luz Corcuera. She has spent a lifetime building connections and working to open opportunities to all people, especially those on the fringes of society.

As an immigrant woman, Luz knows firsthand the challenges of integrating into a new community and sees education as the path out of poverty—values that she instilled in her own children from a very early age. Throughout the pandemic she has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of UnidosNow students and families who rely on the agency as a lifeline.

Intentional with her actions and heart, Luz is a steadfast champion for others. In her own words: “We have an obligation to serve people. It’s not what I think. It’s important what they need, what they want, what they are willing to give as well.”

Melissa Parker

CenterPlace Health

Collaboration is a word thrown around regularly, but no one truly understands the culture of collaboration better than Melissa Parker.  Melissa has been at the helm of CenterPlace Health since they took over the status of being Sarasota County’s only federally qualified health care provider. Since then, the organization has transformed what people expect from public health clinics.

Under her leadership, the organization gave its clinics a makeover, doubled down on providing a high level of customer service, and branched out like a banyan tree to create deeply rooted partnerships in the community. Throughout the pandemic, CenterPlace has been a cooperative partner in vaccine outreach and building more health equity in the region.

Melissa is an unwavering leader who holds a high level of expectation and accountability from her staff, and the results of her work are evident in our community.

Dr. Manuel Gordillo

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

For many, Dr. Gordillo has been a source of comfort.  Admittedly, while his assessments on the state of the pandemic can be nerve-wracking, his calm rational approach is a welcomed harbor amid the COVID storm.

As fate would have it, Dr. Gordillo diagnosed one of the country’s early Covid-19 cases and since then has given countless hours of time to share information widely via social media and public meetings.  He was instrumental in helping our nonprofit partners develop safe operating protocols when so much was unknown about how the virus spread and disinformation was aplenty.

Above his intelligence and generous spirit, Dr. Gordillo’s humility and humanity always shines. As shared in a recent Sarasota Herald Tribune article, “Life is delicate, like a house built on stilts, and the foundation isn’t terribly sturdy,” he said. “But the view still feels worth it.”

Sandra Frank

All Faiths Food Bank

Cracking the code on food insecurity is hard enough. But when the pandemic brought a slew of new challenges including supply shortages, operating difficulties, and a surge in demand, Sandra Frank knew it was the moment she’d prepared her entire career for.

Throughout the pandemic All Faiths Food Bank has led the charge in getting families the undeniably most important need one could have. From coordinating food distributions with our School District to navigating warehouse management absent of its normal army of volunteers, AFFB stepped up in major ways. The pandemic made the food bank adapt its business model in preparation for sustained response and growth.

Sandra grew up knowing she wanted to fight the good fight, and she has done just that. With collaboration always top of mind, she continues to work towards what she describes as “transforming All Faiths Food Bank from ‘feeding the line’ to ‘ending the line.’”

Erin Minor

Harvest House

One day during a Barancik Foundation staff meeting, our phone rang. It was a member of our community who had learned of a veteran who had lost his home and had nowhere to turn. Beds are in short supply, but we knew who could help. By the end of that same meeting, Erin Minor had organized a place for him to live, transportation, and provisions to get him back on his feet—all without question.

As Executive Director of Harvest House, Erin has been at the center of countless stories like this one. Erin connects families with housing support, addiction recovery, and workforce development. The ripple effect of her work has touched the lives of teens transitioning out of foster care, victims of domestic violence, veterans who’ve fallen on hard times, and brave souls who are breaking from addiction.

When the pandemic struck, instead of giving up, Erin doubled down. She has secured new resources and partnerships to make sure no one was turned away from their doors. Despite challenges, she performs her work with grace—always with love and without judgement. In our work, we invest in champions. Erin is one of them.

Gene Jones

YMCA of Southwest Florida

Gene Jones is one of the newest, yet most experienced, heroes on the block. Gene brings 30 years of experience running youth-serving organizations to our area.  In his short time here, he has transformed the Sky Family YMCA into the YMCA of Southwest Florida, operating campuses from the Skyway Bridge all the way down to the Everglades.

Gene is special in that he came up through the ranks, starting his career as a summer camp counselor while in college and then working in almost every YMCA position throughout his career. His track record probably explains why he has a special ability to connect with children, parents, and community partners alike.

Leading with his infectious smile and visionary expertise, we are excited for the many good things that will come out of the organization. As Gene describes it, “I realize that the Y is not just a job but a movement.”

Of course, there is a sea of countless heroes

You’d be hard-pressed to narrow down a top-10 list of heroes in our community. They are far too abundant.  While we couldn’t highlight every single one, we wanted to have some fun by acknowledging a few.  Click and drag on the photos to view them. 

Our Hopefuls

A community also needs a strong pipeline of up-and-coming heroes.  These are what we dub our hopefuls—young people with bright dreams representing what we can accomplish moving forward.  There are more than 100 Barancik Scholars shared between UnidosNow, Take Stock in Children Sarasota/Manatee, New College of Florida, and Ringling College of Art & Design. Like proud parents, we like to show them off.  Click and drag to read about some of our shining stars.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for

For our playlist this year, we explore songs that have helped our heroes and hopefuls get through the year or other difficult times.  These are the jams that keep local teachers, nurses, and students comforted, inspired, or ready to take over the world.  Enjoy.

Background video: Ringling College of Art & Design’s 2021 Motion Design Program Highlight Reel

In Closing

Thank you for reading our Year in Review.  We hope these stories of impact and the people making it happen have inspired you, or at least given you a welcomed break in your day.  As we look toward another year of changemaking, we are grateful to our partners who share the vision Chuck and Margie held on to so tightly.

As you move on with your day, we wanted to share mantras and words of motivation that our heroes and hopefuls shared with us throughout the year.

John Annis said he’d rather be raised by dinosaurs.

Press Spacebar to start the game and make Dino-John jump to avoid danger.