I shall be leaving the office of President as of the Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers on March 17, 2017. I was appointed to the Friends board by Pete Esthus before his death. Upon losing a great person like Pete, I agreed to take on the leadership of the FOSCHC. There were a number of early crises but we stayed afloat.
In 2014, the Friends learned that the Sarasota County Visitors Center was vacating the Historic Chidsey Building. Built in 1941, this was the first public library in the City of Sarasota. It had a number of permanent historical exhibits, and after much discussion, I wrote a letter on behalf of the Friends to the Chairperson of the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners, indicating interest by FOSCHC in becoming custodians in order to keep it open to the public. We contacted Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of Libraries & Historical Resources, and this led to numerous meetings with county staff to work out a sublease on the property. The one year sub-lease became a reality in July 2015 and was renewed in 2016.
What has the small Board of the Friends achieved in this time frame? I am proud to list the following:
• Paid for a Historical Exhibits & Education Center sign in front of Chidsey
• Initiated having a speaker in conjunction with Annual Meetings
• Obtained volunteers from the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County
• Received a generous donation of $10,000 from Arnold Berns to be used for exhibits
• Received a generous donation from Nat McCulloch for a new Microphone system at Chidsey Building
• Began “Saturdays at Chidsey” programs which brought in speakers from the Florida Public Archaeological Network, as well as from other historic groups
• Wrote and received a grant for $5,000 from Florida Humanities Council for a 2017 four-part lecture series
• Hired a Manager for the Chidsey Building to help relieve our Board and coordinate volunteers, etc.
• Started a “Neighborhood Get-Together” with Sarasota Garden Club, Sarasota Art Center, Exhibition Hall, Lawn Bowlers Association and FOSCHC
• Production of a new 2017 Membership brochure
• Held three fundraisers and participated in the “Giving Challenge” set up by the Community Foundation
• Installed exhibits: “Paul Rudolph & the Florida Houses” “John Nolen: City Planner” and the current one, “Florida’s Lost Tribes” by artist Theodore Morris
• Set up a Florida Studies Room with the help of the county library system and a “Book Nook”
• Expanded the Gift Shop at the Historic Chidsey Building
All of the above was achieved by the tenacity and energy of past and present Friends Board. I salute current Board members who have worked diligently. A huge salute to: Margaret Borrows, Cindy Eley, Tom Jones, Cathy McGuire and Ruthmary Williams. What was achieved was a true team effort! I wish all the best of luck to incoming President, Margaret Borrows and her Board! Special thanks to George and Nancy Potter and Betty Nugent for your support at Historic Chidsey Exhibits and Education Center. I wish to thank Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of the Sarasota County
Libraries & Historical Resources and Jennifer Perry of the same department. Thank you to Rob Bendus and his staff at the Sarasota County Historical Resources for their guidance and support. Also to Frank Cassell, Chair of the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County and a big thank you to all Coalition members who supported the Friends with volunteers and continue to do so.
Finally, I want to thank the Friends members for your support and hope you will think about joining your Board in their worthwhile endeavors. It has been a privilege to serve all of you but at age 79, it is time for me to take care of my health and enjoy my family and those beautiful Florida sunsets!
All the very best,