Plymouth Harbor is proud to announce Stephanie Leathers as our new Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care. Stephanie joined the Plymouth Harbor team in July 2017.

In her new role as Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, Stephanie is charged with helping to open our new Assisted Living and Memory Care residences in the Northwest Garden Building as well as planning, organizing, developing, and coordinating overall operations. Stephanie will also help to establish policies and procedures, but most importantly, she will be instrumental in the development and implementation of our premier programming in the new residences.

Prior to joining Plymouth Harbor, Stephanie served as Administrator at Mount View Assisted Living in Lockport, New York, where she was responsible for the daily operations of the 150-bed facility with an internal certified Home Health Care Agency. In her time at Mount View Assisted Living, she was instrumental in the establishment and opening of a 118-bed sister facility in a nearby county, and managed a staff of over 80 employees. Before that, Stephanie served in several different capacities at Elderwood Senior Care in Williamsville, New York. Her positions there included Administrator, Resident Care Manager, Assistant Director of Nursing, and Unit Manager.

A Registered Nurse, Stephanie attended Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, New York, where she received her Associate in Applied Science degree with a major in nursing. While there, Stephanie received the Elena T. Perone Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Plymouth Harbor is thrilled to have Stephanie as a part of our team, and we look forward to seeing her personal touch on the opening of our new Assisted Living and Memory Care residences.

 

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is among the largest public health systems in the state of Florida, offering specialties in heart, vascular, neuroscience, and cancer services, in addition to a far-reaching network of outpatient, long-term care, and rehabilitation centers and programs. That said, it is also one of Sarasota County’s largest employers, with over 5,000 employees, 900 physicians, and 600 volunteers.

There are many facets to Sarasota Memorial, which was founded in 1925 and is governed by a nine-member elected Sarasota County Public Hospital Board. This is one of the only politically-elected public boards where members serve on a volunteer basis, at no cost, weighing in on major issues such as overall hospital function, its operations and challenges, real estate acquisitions and expansions, and more. Plymouth Harbor residents have served as members on this board, including John de Jongh and Tom Towler. Tom served on the board for more than nine years and resigned in January 2016. John, who has been actively involved with Sarasota Memorial and Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc., for many years, was appointed to fill Tom’s vacant at-large seat and served for one year. 

Sarasota Memorial also depends on its hospital volunteers, who are given a variety of assignments, usually once per week on a four-hour shift basis. Resident Nancy Lyon has been a volunteer for nearly 20 years in many different capacities, alongside Tom Towler who volunteered from 1991 up until last year. Additionally, Alida de Jongh became involved several years ago, formerly working in the gift shop and now serving in the dispatch office. “We’re assigned jobs throughout the hospital, so we’re walking a lot,” Alida says. “But we’re so glad to help because it frees up the nurses for the more important jobs they need to be doing.”

Another element, mentioned previously, is the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation. Established in 1976 as an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Foundation was formed to help raise and distribute funds to improve programs, education, and technological advancements. As such, the Healthcare Foundation may receive gifts, grants, and bequests for restricted or unrestricted funds, and expends those funds for equipment, clinical studies, research, training, education programs, and capital improvements. Resident Bill Stanford has worked with the Healthcare Foundation for close to 20 years. He currently sits on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees as Vice-Chair and formerly served as Treasurer and Chair. John de Jongh now serves on the Healthcare Foundation’s marketing and development committee, and Tom Towler also served on the board of the Foundation for nine years.

Furthermore, Sarasota Memorial’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for the ongoing review of research conducted at the hospital and protecting the rights of those who volunteer to participate in that research. It is guided by the principles set forth in the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research report, and IRB members are appointed by the President/CEO of Sarasota Memorial. Members include physicians, pharmacists, nurses, community members, legal counsel, and hospital employees. Residents Tom Towler and Barbara Balaban have served as community representatives of the IRB.

To learn more about the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, you may visit www.smh.com.

 

Plymouth Harbor recently participated in CareerSource Suncoast’s Career Academy program, running from June 12th through July 20th. In its third year, the Career Academy is a five-week program that provides high school students the opportunity to learn about careers in a variety of fields. These fields, or “career tracks,” include: Foundations, Healthcare, Information Technology, Manufacturing & Construction, and Business/Entrepreneurship.

The Career Academy grew out of a state grant to create annual programs targeted at low-income teens facing a barrier in one way or another. Forty students (juniors or seniors in high school) were admitted into this year’s program – 20 from Sarasota County and 20 from Manatee County. Each week, students visit various organizations in the community pertaining to that week’s career track to increase leadership skills, network with industry professionals, and learn a variety of skills.

In addition to receiving $1,000, each student earns college credit through State College of Florida for participating. Students are assigned a program mentor, with whom they meet each Monday and Wednesday; and on Tuesdays, they take a “field trip” to two different participating organizations. Additionally, throughout the program, they are invited to attend networking events at Manatee Technical College and Suncoast Technical College.

On Tuesday, June 20th, the Career Academy’s Sarasota County students visited Plymouth Harbor as part of the Healthcare career track. While introducing students to the healthcare field within a Life Plan Community was a top priority, our overall goal was to introduce students to the many different career paths available within an organization like Plymouth Harbor.

After receiving a general overview of Plymouth Harbor by President/CEO Harry Hobson, students were given a tour of the campus and introduced to the following career tracks and opportunities within our organization: Health Services, Wellness, Security/Concierge/Transportation, Sales/Marketing, Maintenance/Grounds, Communications, and more. The students ended their tour with a meal and presentation by Dining Services, Accounting, and Resident Programming.

We are proud to be part of this exciting partnership within the community, helping students to identify, at a young age, careers and opportunities that are available to them right here in their backyard. We hope to continue to partner with CareerSource on similar initiatives in the future.

 

With its iconic architecture and exceptional performance lineup, the city-owned Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is known far-and-wide as Southwest Florida’s premier performing arts hall. In fact, in 2017 it was ranked the No. 1 Performing Arts Hall in North America in the 2000-seat category of “top spots” for the sixth time in Venues Today magazine.
 
The Van Wezel offers Broadway musicals, popular comedians, world-class symphony orchestras, top international performers, and classical, ethnic, and modern dance. With over 100 of these events per season, the Hall also hosts close to 50 events presented by the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Concert Association, and the Ringling Library Town Hall Lecture Series. In addition, what many may not realize is that the Van Wezel runs an educational program that brings over 30,000 of our youth (K–12) to the Hall for special performances, and sends visiting artists into our local schools and community. Through a partnership with the Sarasota County School Board and the John F. Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, teachers also have the ability to participate in development workshops, learning to teach through and about the arts.
 
Like so many organizations in the Sarasota community, the Van Wezel depends on volunteers to assist in offering the finest performing arts experience. Resident Don Fosselman was introduced to the Van Wezel by friends shortly after he moved here. Today, he has been volunteering as an usher for nearly 15 years. His love of the arts and the Hall’s variety of performances has kept him there.
 
In 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation was formed to support the overall mission of the Hall. Established as a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation operates independently, but as a partner, of the city-owned and-operated Hall. Since then, the Foundation has directed millions of dollars in support of the Hall’s capital improvements, programs, and ongoing educational efforts, like the initiatives described above. Resident Karl Newkirk has been a member of the Van Wezel Foundation Board since 2007.

According to Karl, an important focus of the Foundation Board today is the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 initiative first started by Michael Klauber, the restaurateur, some three years ago. This is an independent group working to plan the future of 42 acres of mostly open, city-owned Bayfront land. The vision is to support the creation of a long-term master plan for the Bayfront area that will establish a cultural and economic legacy for the region, while ensuring open, public access to the Bayfront.

There are over 50 community stakeholder organizations involved in Sarasota Bayfront 20:20, including Plymouth Harbor. In 2016, based upon the recommendation of Bayfront 20:20, the City Commissioners formed the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, an independent, privately funded, 501(c)(4) organization with a nine-member board, whose objective is to ensure the delivery of a professionally-prepared master plan to the City. Representatives of the Van Wezel Foundation Board regularly attend the organization’s meetings, providing input as requested and advocating for the Hall’s needs, which include a vision of a brand new, state-of-the-art iconic facility replacing the nearly 50-year-old Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Karl stresses, however, that this does not mean the Hall’s beloved purple building would be torn down, but rather more likely repurposed. That said, decisions are yet to be made and planning is expected to continue over the next year.
 
“All of us are proud of, and value, Sarasota’s recognition as the arts and culture center of Southwest Florida. The Van Wezel is clearly the centerpiece for that Brand,” Karl says. “Fully developing the 42 acres for use by the community at-large is a once in a generation opportunity and I cannot stress how important this will be in maintaining Sarasota’s leadership and commitment to that Brand.”
 
To learn more about the Van Wezel, visit www.VanWezel.org/support/ or call 941-955-7676. You may also place a note in Karl’s mailbox (T-25A) and he will be glad to get in touch with you.

 

“A true American fairytale”— that’s how Barbara “Bobi” Sanderson describes her life.

In the 1600s, both sides of Bobi’s family traveled from England to settle in the early North American colonies. Before that, her father’s side of the family relocated from France to England. In fact, after continually being referred to as the “French family,” they legally changed their last name to “French” (Bobi’s maiden name).

Bobi’s oldest-known relative was buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1691, and was recognized as the building project director for Harvard University. Years later, when the government began offering land grants to those willing to farm and improve land in the western region, her father’s side of the family loaded up their wagons and moved west.

On the other hand, Bobi largely knows her mother’s side of the family as river and canal engineers, who worked on canals ranging from Canada to the Chicago area. In the 1800s, they eventually settled in Ottawa, Illinois, where the Illinois River and the Fox River meet. Later, her father’s family was also drawn to this small town, becoming bankers, judges, and other central figures of the community.

Many years later, Bobi herself grew up in Ottawa, with her parents and one brother. With a population of roughly 15,000 people at the time, she was related to many members of
the community. “I thought everyone grew up this way, in a small town, where you knew most people,” Bobi remembers. “Everyone was part of the community – as a doctor, barber, grocer, or by helping set up civic organizations. It wasn’t thought of as ‘volunteering,’ but rather helping your neighbor.”

After high school, Bobi wanted to experience other parts of the world. She left Ottawa to attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; however, after World War II began, she transferred to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to be closer to family.

During her time at Northwestern, Bobi went on a blind date with a lawyer by the name of Edward “Sandy” Sanderson. After a few months, the two were engaged, and were married by the end of Bobi’s junior year in college. They settled in Sandy’s hometown of Evanston and had two children together, a daughter and son. Today, they have blessed Bobi with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

In 1972, after the children were grown and Sandy retired, the couple visited with friends on Siesta Key. They fell in love with the area and, before leaving, put an offer on a piece of land on Longboat Key. They used it as a vacation home for two years before they relocated to Sarasota full-time. Coincidentally, it turned out that a number of people they had known in the Chicago area had moved to Sarasota as well. “It was like having our own little Chicago community right here,” she laughs.

In 1992, Sandy passed away, and at the urging of her children, Bobi decided it was time to get back to traveling. They signed her up for a trip around the world on the Holland-America Rotterdam cruise ship. It left in January of 1993 and didn’t return until April, 103 days later.

“That trip changed my life,” Bobi says. “I realized I had a lot of living left to do.” While Sarasota remained her permanent residence, she made a point to continue her travels.

Later, in 1999, Bobi was introduced to Dr. Jim Griffith. They “met” over the telephone and, ironically, the two had both signed up to live at Plymouth Harbor before meeting. They remain together to this day, enjoying art, music, and traveling. In July, the two are setting off on a three-week cruise to Norway.

Throughout her life, Bobi has always been involved in the community in one way or another. In Evanston, she served as a tutor for local grade schools, worked with the YMCA, the garden club, local government, and much more.

In Sarasota, Bobi boasts a 23-year volunteer career with Mote Aquarium. Junior League of Sarasota, the Sarasota Garden Club, and the Longboat Key Chapel Board of Governors have also benefited from her service. When it comes to Plymouth Harbor, Bobi says she couldn’t be happier. “Moving in here was one of the best decisions we ever made,” she says. “There are so many fascinating people. It’s like living on a cruise ship, but you always have your friends with you.”

 

Thousands of boys and girls have walked through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County (BGCSC) since they first opened in 1970. The mission of the BGCSC is to enable all young people, especially those who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.

With a goal of having all members on track to graduate high school with a plan for the future, the BGCSC provides after-school and summer programs for more than 5,000 children and youth, ages six to 18. Through its five Clubs – three in Sarasota, one in Venice, and one in North Port – the organization offers educational programming/classes, outdoor activities, art, culinary lessons, and more. In addition, “satellite Clubs” are offered in schools throughout the county, which are administered by teachers and available to children who are out of reach of their local Club. While there are several full- and part-time staff members, the BGCSC operates with the help of its many volunteers.

Resident Susan Mauntel has consistently worked with children in after-school programs, so when she relocated to Sarasota, the BGCSC seemed like the perfect fit. Today, Susan volunteers once a week as a tutor, helping grade school students with their homework. Resident Harriet Josenhanss began working with the organization in the late 1990s. She served as a member of the Foundation Board, and became a member of the “Heritage Club” after including the BGCSC in her estate plan. Today, Harriet serves as an as-needed volunteer, helping with mailings and bringing groups by – particularly from Plymouth Harbor – for outreach and tours of the campus. “It’s a great organization. I can’t say enough about it,” she says. “It’s an emotional experience when you enter the facility and see all the positive activities taking place.”

Lee DeLieto, Sr., a member of both the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. and the Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees, began working with the BGCSC in 1996. A friend and BGCSC board member invited him to attend a Christmas event and, as Lee puts it, “That was it. I was hooked.” Since then, he has served as a board member, Chair, Secretary, and now Treasurer for the organization. “Working with these kids is one of my greatest pleasures in life,” he says. “There are so many stories of how the Boys & Girls Club changed, and in many cases, saved their lives.”

Additionally, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board member Lee Bryon spent years as a fundraiser for Community Youth Development (CYD) before the agency merged its youth leadership and service programs with the BGCSC in August 2016 – specifically STAR Leadership Training and SRQVolunteen. She has helped raise money for the organization’s teen programming and annual Leadership Breakfast – an event that Plymouth Harbor is proud to participate in each year.

Many lives have benefitted from the hard work and dedication of the BGCSC. To learn more, visit bgcsarasota.com or call 941-366-3911.

 

Plymouth Harbor recently participated in the State of Talent Conference hosted by CareerSource Suncoast in partnership with the Patterson Foundation. This is the first year for the State of Talent Conference, which was held on Friday, May 19th, at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The conference was aimed at Human Resources and Operations Executives, and its purpose was to bring together employers from Sarasota and Manatee counties who wish to learn how better to recruit, train, and retain talent.

Plymouth Harbor was the sponsor for the Age-Friendly Workplace Panel discussion. Harry Hobson, our President/CEO, was joined on the panel by Kathy Black, Ph.D. (gerontologist and professor at USF), and Mike Jeffries (owner and operator of Mader Electric, Inc.). Laurey Strkyer of the Patterson Foundation moderated the discussion. The topics discussed included demographics of the current workforce, how companies like Plymouth Harbor and Mader Electric recruit and retain employees of all ages, and some of the highlights of each generation.

Harry Hobson kicked off the session by introducing Plymouth Harbor, as an employment leader in Sarasota for over 50 years. He cited the challenges we face in recruiting staff for the new Northwest Garden Building, especially our new level of care in the memory care residence, with the increasing demand in Sarasota for hospitality talent. He also stated the importance of Plymouth Harbor and other Life Plan Communities in Sarasota to make themselves known as an industry where individuals can build their careers in nearly every field, such as accounting, marketing, culinary, healthcare, trades, philanthropy, and hospitality.

“At a recent meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, it was surprising for us to learn that when naming industries that exist in our state, the Life Plan Community industry was not even recognized,” said Harry. “It was an eye-opener to us and we decided to take some action and get involved to introduce our industry to the budding and existing workforce.”

Other organizations participating in the sessions included Department of Economic Opportunity, Dr. Rick Goodman, the Herald-Tribune, Intern Bridge, Game On Nation, FCCI Insurance, PGT Industries, Design Concepts Marine Concepts, and Anna Maria Oyster Bar. The conference was sold out, with approximately 150 participants.

 

In recent months, Plymouth Harbor engaged in a competitive graduate student project with architectural students from the University of Florida’s CityLab-Sarasota campus. We worked with six students enrolled in a master’s seminar under the instruction of adjunct professor and celebrated local architect, Guy Peterson.

Through this partnership, the major project for the seminar was decided to be the porte cochère on the ground level entrance of our new Northwest Garden Building. As the main point of entry to the new building, the porte cochère’s design served as an important, hands-on project for the students. The students worked in pairs, forming three teams. From there, each team was given a period of three months to outline their design and a stipend of $1,000 for any materials needed for their involvement in the project.

Guy Peterson, George McGonagill (Plymouth Harbor’s Vice President of Facilities), and Lorraine Enwright (THW Architects), worked with the students to identify the scope of the project, budget, structural parameters, and a materials list that was consistent with that of the building. Becky Pazkowski (Plymouth Harbor’s Senior Vice President of Philanthropy) served as Program Advisor, while George served in the role of Construction Advisor.

At the completion of the project, students were asked to present their designs for consideration for a first, second, or third prize. The first place pair received a $5,000 prize, second received $3,000, and third received $1,000, each to be split between the two team members. The first place award was supported by residents Marie and Tom Belcher, and the second and third place awards were supported by resident Charles Gehrie.

On Friday, May 5, the students presented their respective projects to Plymouth Harbor’s selection committee, and were called back to Plymouth Harbor on Monday, May 8, for the award announcements.

Each design was impressive, and one stood out among the rest. Offering a sophisticated, modern design, the first place winner met the requirements for the scope of the project above all others (rendering pictured on page 1. Please note: this is only a rendering, not an actual depiction of the final product). In the coming months, we will incorporate much of this design into the final plans for the Northwest Garden.

Plymouth Harbor was proud to collaborate with these talented students, four of whom are now graduates with their Master of Architecture degrees.

Below are the student teams, by prize:

1st Prize: Gabriella Ebbesson & Miranda Crowe
2nd Prize: Elena Nonino & Olivia Ellsworth
3rd Prize: Brittany Perez & Francia Salazar

 
 

True of most scientists, Charles Miller knew what he wanted to do from a young age. “It goes back to when I was a boy, wiring light bulbs with my father and putting extension cords in the house,” he remembers. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Charles didn’t experience the glamour most associate with the city. “It’s like any other city – it has the persona of Hollywood over it, but underneath there’s a city of ordinary people doing ordinary things.”

Far from ordinary, Charles went on to earn both his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. In his senior year of college in 1952, Charles met his first wife. “I met her as I met both of my wives – on the telephone,” he laughs. His friend was on the phone with a girl, Anne-Marie, and handed it to Charles. They ended up hitting it off, Charles invited her to a party, and the rest was history when they married a year and a half later.

In his last semester of graduate school, Charles’ professor asked if he would be interested in a one-year teaching position at Amherst College. Charles accepted, and when his term came to a close, he ended up enjoying the experience so much that he looked for a similar opportunity nearby. He landed at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he stayed for the next 35 years. His wife, who was also a teacher, taught education at Central Connecticut State University. Charles and his wife had two daughters — and it comes as no surprise that their daughters are both teachers today.

In contrast, Cynthia Lichtenstein was born and raised on the East Coast in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She studied at Radcliffe College of Harvard University in Massachusetts and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Russian History and Literature. “With my degree, my choices were to get a Ph.D. and teach, or to work for the government.”

During her final semester of college in 1955, Cynthia decided to take the exam to work for the U.S. State Department. She did well enough that she was given an oral exam, but that was as far as she would get. “One of the examiners was kind enough to say, ‘Don’t feel badly when you do not pass this. We do not take women,’” she remembers. Despite the setback, Cynthia was not discouraged. She had a friend who was studying at Harvard Law School, and when she began arguing a case with him, he suggested that she go to law school. Without too much consideration, she took the LSAT, scored in the top percentile, and applied.

Cynthia’s parents, however, did not want her to attend law school. Instead, they gave her a trip to Paris for graduation, and when she returned, the only job she could find was as a secretary. “I was dreadful at it,” she laughs. “I couldn’t do two things at once. But at the time, it wasn’t usual for young women to go to law school.” After she was let go from her job as a secretary, Cynthia followed her instincts, borrowed the money from an uncle, and attended Yale Law School.
 
Cynthia met her first husband when in Paris, and after graduation from Yale, went to work as an associate at a Wall Street firm. She worked full-time for two years before they began their family. While pregnant with her first child, Cynthia began a two-year program through the Ford Foundation, which was offering scholarships to study civil law for one year at the University of Chicago and a second year internship abroad. After Chicago, Cynthia’s husband got a job at the Economist in London, while she began her internship at the European Economic Community (EEC) in Brussels, where she worked on EEC African projects.

In 1963, Cynthia returned part-time to her firm in New York. But in 1971, she decided to explore a different career path. By this time, she was raising three children, her husband was in Boston working at MIT, and because she couldn’t commit to working full-time, her firm would not make her a partner. A friend recommended her for a teaching position at Boston College Law School, and she accepted — as their second female professor.

While Cynthia had a newfound love for teaching, she had her work cut out for her with 140 students in one class and 90 in another. Balancing work and home life, she taught corporate finance (including securities law) and contracts. She was also the second in the country to teach a course in international economic law at a law school. After five years in Boston, Cynthia and her husband divorced.

In 1984, Cynthia met Charles — who had been widowed two years before — over the phone. A mutual friend set them up, and Cynthia invited Charles to Boston for dinner. When he showed up with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, Cynthia fell in love. A year and a half later they were married.

After several years of a commuter marriage, Cynthia convinced Charles to take early retirement. He taught half the year for five years and then made the move. Cynthia retired from Boston College in 2001, but worked as a visiting professor at George Washington University Law School for four falls after that. The couple spent winters on their boat in Fort Myers, before coming to Sarasota and looking into Plymouth Harbor at the suggestion of friends.

Today, Charles and Cynthia spend half their time here and the other half at their home in Stonington, Connecticut. In his spare time, Charles reads with the Shakespeare Group and enjoys the Physics Club he co-founded nearly 10 years ago. Cynthia keeps busy with several law organizations. She is a panelist for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Chapter 19, and is occasionally appointed to hear cases. Up until the last year, she was a Vice Chair of the Executive Council of the International Law Association, which meets every six months in London.

Additionally, Cynthia worked with the International Law Students Association, which puts on the annual Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Today, she serves as a coach for Booker High School’s mock trial and appellate cases. This program works with students interested in law and allows them to compete in Florida-wide mock trials and appeals that go all the way up to Florida’s mock Supreme Court.

With a passion for life and a continued commitment to their work, there is surely more to come from Charles Miller and Cynthia Lichtenstein.

Located on Orange Avenue in downtown Sarasota, the Woman’s Exchange is a consignment store like no other. It began in 1962 with the idea to create a business means of supporting local arts in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The Woman’s Exchange was formed as a result, offering affordably priced treasures like Tiffany silver, Gucci handbags, fine jewelry, women’s clothing, high-end furniture, oriental rugs, and more. In fact, Lara Spencer of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” even lists the Woman’s Exchange as one of her favorite places to shop in her book, I Brake for Yard Sales

Along with a staff of nearly 20 employees, the 12,000 square foot store has over 230 dedicated volunteers who ensure that the ever-changing inventory is filled to the brim. Individuals are able to designate specific participating charities to receive their consignor profits, which is 65 percent of sale price. Additionally, any unsold clothing, furniture, and household items are typically donated to other local non-profit organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Pines of Sarasota.

Through its consignment operation, the Woman’s Exchange has awarded more than $7.8 million in grants and scholarships to support the arts of Sarasota and Manatee, such as the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theatre, Sarasota Opera, student scholarships, and more.

Resident Barbara MacLean became involved with the Woman’s Exchange nearly 26 years ago. At the suggestion of a friend, Barbara began as a seasonal volunteer when she and her husband spent their winters on Longboat Key, and continued her involvement when they moved to Sarasota full-time. Barbara works at the front desk, helping to check out customers and package their items. “The fun part is getting to know the customers,” she says. “People come from all over — New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, and some even drive up from Venice and Naples.”

Residents Mary Allyn and Weta Cannon began volunteering at the Woman’s Exchange five years ago. The two were instrumental in establishing the Encore! & More Consignment Shop, which benefited the Women’s Resource Center, and when it closed its doors, they decided to focus their efforts on the Woman’s Exchange. Once a week, they volunteer together doing pricing and computer input. “We think the world of the Woman’s Exchange team,” Mary says. Weta adds, “It’s an amazing organization in terms of its financial and moral support of the arts in our community. They really do a wonderful job.”

In addition to volunteering, numerous Plymouth Harbor residents support the mission of the Woman’s Exchange by both consigning and donating. To learn more, you may visit their website at www.SarasotaWEX.com.