Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance puts focus on philanthropy

Article by Lesley Dwyer, Observer, December 14, 2023

Business and philanthropy mingled at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, held at the Grove in Lakewood Ranch.

“We’ve got about 40 nonprofits that are showcasing their services, and the topic is philanthropy in the region,” LWRBA President Brittany Lamont said. 

The guest speakers were Adrienne Bookhamer, the executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund; Roxie Jerde, the president of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Phillip Lanham, the president of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation; and Veronica Thames, the executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation.

About 200 people attended the luncheon and tthe panel discussed why the region is such a hotspot for philanthropy, along with covering the trending needs in the community and the role between nonprofits and foundations.

Bookhamer credited much of the success of the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund to operating in the heart of the community.

“We’re able to address issues before they even arise because we hear what the issues are from our nonprofit partners,” she said, “So we’re able to then go to residents and say, ‘This is the need in our community. Do you want to help?’ And I think we’re a very giving community.” 

Lakewood Ranch Community Fund President Mark Clark said people assume there aren’t needs in Lakewood Ranch, but he said there is a need for affordable housing and childcare. There are also needs that transcend socio economic boundaries, such as the lack of special needs facilities in Lakewood Ranch.

“You’ve got to leave the Ranch to get to them, and that’s something we’re passionate about,” Clark said. “There’s so many organizations providing those services. We’re working on how we can partner with them to bring those here to the Ranch.”

Out-of-Door Academy senior Amy Kwakya-Amoah, 17, attended the event with her family because she received the Youth Humanitarian of the Year award for her volunteer work with Healthy Teens, a community education program that provides teens with peer mentors.

Kwakya-Amoah said the program is successful because of its relatability. The teen volunteers complete a six-week training to learn how to be mentors. They related to other teens simply because they are peers.

“I think stress and anxiety are the major issues teens are facing today,” Kwakya-Amoah said. “You have social media. You have substance abuse. They’re trying to disassociate from the problems they’re facing.”

Kwakya-Amoah’s dad Daniel Amoah said he was extremely proud of her hard work and dedication.

“To be able to add value to other people at this age, I think that is awesome.” 

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