Children First among five human service agencies honored in Sarasota County with 2022 Change Agent Philanthropic Award

Presentation made by ‘SRQ Magazine’

Image from the Children First website

Children First was one of five human service agencies recently honored with the 2022 Change Agent Philanthropic Award presented by SRQ Magazine.

The awards were presented at a luncheon held at the Hyatt-Regency Sarasota, as part of SRQ’s SB2 symposia series, a news release notes.

The award was given to organizations that have “proven their grit, determination and capacity to transform in the face of change,” said SRQ Media Executive Publisher Wes Roberts, the release adds.

“My team and I are incredibly honored to receive this award,” said Children First CEO Philip Tavill in the release. “Being recognized as a change agent, in these times of constant change, is a tribute to both our staff and our supporters.”

Following lunch, guests heard from keynote speaker Sabeen Perwaiz, president and CEO of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, the release notes.

“We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the pandemic,” she pointed out. “March 13, 2020 changed all of our lives in many ways. … We saw the resiliency of nonprofits over the last two years. They found a way to survive and support those in need in our communities, often at greater expense and with fewer human resources,” Perwaiz continued. “We know that nonprofits remain trusted, as funders came together and asked what was the need, and how they could help. I hope that trend [for greater flexibility and support] continues,” she added.

Perwaiz then discussed the fact that nonprofits continue to be challenged by a variety of issues, including changing technologies, staffing, training for current employees, cyber-security and finding new forms of funding, the release notes. “What we learned is that we need to be ready and need to be prepared for all of these challenges,” she said.

Following her presentation, the release continues, representatives of various organizations came to the stage: Sandra Frank, CEO of All Faiths Food Bank; Tavill of Children First; Jennifer Vigne, CEO and president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County; Sara Grivetti, CEO of Neuro Challenge Foundation; and Lisa Intagliata, executive director of Resilient Retreat. Roberts led them in a discussion of a variety of issues facing nonprofits, the release adds.

Tavill noted that in 2016, Children First concluded its Raise Your Hand campaign, which allowed Children First to bring onto its staff mental health specialists, not only for its children and families, but for staff as well, the release points out. “Little did we know that in just a few years, demand for those services from staff would be so great and would become so critically important,” he said.

“This is a marathon,” Tavill told the audience, “but we have had to ask everyone to sprint through the marathon.”

Staff support has enabled Children First to adapt during these extraordinarily demanding times, he said.

“For me, the most important tool in my toolkit is an unrelenting focus on our mission,” Tavill continued. “No matter what comes up, no matter what stresses we are facing, it is all about mission, mission, mission. This is so important, so we don’t become distracted by the next shiny object. Even when great change or transformation is called for, we always look at it through the lens of our mission,” Tavill said.