We’re thrilled to announce the Friendship Centers has received a match challenge of up to $50,000 from The Patterson Foundation to expand our Caregiving Services through the foundation’s Margin & Mission Ignition initiative, designed to boost nonprofit entrepreneurial capacity, revenue and mission impact. The initiative gives nonprofits in the region the opportunity to explore new possibilities and implement earned-income strategies to increase their capacity to serve the community.

The two key components to our Expanded Caregiving Services business plan are a first-time marketing effort to grow awareness and educate the community on the benefits of our Adult Day Service and Caregiving Services in Sarasota County; and improved operational efficiencies to allow for expanded evening and weekend hours and value-added services such as personal care. The plan is being divided into phases over a three-year period.

“Thanks to The Patterson Foundation, we have spent the last several months researching and planning for this new business venture,” said Erin McLeod, president and CEO of the Friendship Centers. “We want to make the most of this generous offer of match funding. And everyone loves to see their gift doubled!”

McLeod added that “the clock is ticking,” as the Friendship Centers must raise these funds by Jan. 31, 2017, in order to be eligible for the match from The Patterson Foundation.

According to Paula Falk, Director of Caregiving Services, there is a true need for these services in our community.

“Too often, caregivers don’t see themselves as a caregiver, which causes them to delay seeking help,” explained Falk. “They don’t know where to turn for help, let alone what services and resources are available. And often, taking care of themselves during this journey is not even a consideration.”

“At the Friendship Centers, we have a solution in the form of affordable Adult Day Service and supportive programs for caregivers. In the first phase of our plan, we will increase community awareness of what we offer and grow our client base. Moving forward, we are excited about expanding hours and services.”

According to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 2.67 million caregivers in Florida whose average age is 72. Nearly 60 percent of them report that respite is the most needed service for them to continue providing care, and 53 percent experience stress or health problems affecting quality of care. “We have a beautiful program for caregivers and their loved ones, and we want more people to know about it,” concluded Erin McLeod.