Your Transformative Gift Can Redefine the Future

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy Photography by The Bay

There are many words that come to mind when I explore The Bay Park – community connection, environmental restoration, family fun, transformation, access for all and mental and physical wellness. But there is one word – more than any other – that resonates the most for me when I visit The Bay: tranquility.

At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we believe it is essential to support The Bay in transforming a 53-acre parking lot into a thriving blue-and-green oasis. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’d like to share about how connecting green space to mental wellness benefits our community, while also sharing how to participate in our match by becoming a Friend of The Bay. Together we can uplift mental wellness resources and support this beneficial landmark for decades to come.

We have an exciting opportunity for you to be a part of restoring, preserving and activating a world-class park in the heart of downtown Sarasota. Our Board of Directors recently approved a $1-million challenge match that has been doubled by generous Gulf Coast donors, to make a $2 million matching pool available through the end of the year. You can double your impact now through December by visiting The Bay’s website to become a Friend of The Bay.Together, we can show the power of common goals and strategic focus, leadership and innovation by supporting The Bay – One Park for All.

The Bay needs community members like you to join together in partnership to ensure the continuous growth and activation of “One Park for All.” By supporting this transformational project, you are partnering with local government, businesses and philanthropists to solidify your support for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in our community. You can help create a park that will be a resource for our children and our children’s children.

In thinking about our signature public park and the word tranquility, did you know that there is substantial research on the benefits of green space to mental wellness, particularly having it close to where you live? Spending time outside can increase feelings of well-being and relaxation which can be very helpful particularly post-pandemic. The United States Surgeon General identified the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country. Strengthening social infrastructure including access to parks, playgrounds, trails, and programming that brings people together can reduce isolation by creating social connections that benefit our entire community. From cozy nooks, an ADA-accessible kayak launch, walking paths, a living shoreline, a fountain garden and generous acres of inviting green space, The Bay Park creates many possibilities for social connection and connection to mother nature.

Join us in celebrating all that The Bay offers during May, Mental Health Awareness Month. Together we can inspire a healthier, happier community. Be well, friends.

Phillip P. Lanham is President and  CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Photo courtesy Photography by The Bay

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