Foundations and couple partner to pay past-due county utility bills for 32 families

Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Bob and Lin Williams provide the funding

Image courtesy of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, “and a generous donor couple partnered to pay past-due utility bills for 32 families in Sarasota County,” the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has announced.

The grant, issued directly to the Sarasota County Public Utilities Department through the foundations’ joint COVID-19 Response Initiative, “ensured that the utilities remained on at the 32 households,” a news release points out.

“Some families in our community are just one bill away from losing their home,” said Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast’s senior vice president for community investment, said in the release. “This grant allows for local families to shift focus from the stress of a past-due bill to keeping their family safe,” he added in the release.

“Foundations in the region continue to play a critical role in supporting community members’ immediate needs during the pandemic, with this grant being one of the first of its kind in the region,” the release points out. “Gulf Coast donors Bob and Lin Williams brought the idea to the foundations after reading a news story about local families in need,” the release explains. The couple made a gift through Gulf Coast to cover half the cost of the overdue bills, and the foundations matched it, the release adds.

“As our community continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the support of organizations like Gulf Coast and Barancik Foundation and philanthropists like the Williamses is more important than ever,” Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said in the release. “We appreciate and value their efforts to help those who need it the most.”

To date, the Gulf Coast and Barancik foundations’ COVID-19 Response Initiative has raised more than $7 million “to provide immediate relief for our region’s families,” the release adds. The initiative has provided support to more than 65 different nonprofit organizations “that provide critical services such as food for hungry families, child care for first responders, telemedicine, and counseling,” the release points out.