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Summer 2021Vol. 1

Message From The Board Chair
Victoria Kasdan, RN, MPHVictoria Kasdan, Board Chair of Making an Impact

When bad things happen we have two choices, stand still and just let them happen, or spring into action. During the last 18 months, we have witnessed bad things happening to good people as COVID19 wreaked havoc on loved ones, friends and neighbors, and the community. Establishing a nonprofit organization in the midst of the chaos wrought by the pandemic might have seemed counterintuitive to some but we saw the writing on the wall! 

Making An Impact, Inc. (MAI) was incorporated in 2020. Our mission: reduce disparities and address unmet needs for disadvantaged people in our community.  

Challenges faced by those already in need were being exacerbated by the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic—widespread unemployment, school closings, limited access, and lack of information regarding resources—resulted in growing numbers of people in need. Many people were experiencing financial hardship, food shortages, mental health challenges, and other crises for the first time.

Stress and challenges associated with any crisis can quickly deplete financial, physical, and social resources, leaving individuals and families more vulnerable to separation, abuse, anxiety, and other mental health issues. We recognized the urgent need to ensure individuals and families could quickly identify and connect with organizations providing services to address their needs.


Making an Impact Community Connections Guide

The Community Connections Resource Guide was created to fill the gap—our proactive approach to ensuring members of our community had the information they needed at their fingertips. The guide was compiled by people from our community to assist people in our community. Equitable access to vital resources results in longer, healthier, and happier lives.

The guide contains information on more than 200 organizations, giving nonprofit and social service agencies immediate access to information for their clients. It is color-coded by location, enabling users to quickly identify resources in their area, and organized into 17 categories from addiction treatment, education, food pantries and immigration, to mental health, utility assistance, and Veteran’s services.

We have distributed more than 1,000 copies of the guide in line with our vision to facilitate equitable access to resources. A community is only as strong as the people who live in it. Providing equitable access to resources strengthens our community—a win-win for all! 

We recently added an online version of the Community Connections Resource Guide to our website to ensure even greater access. The website is also a bountiful resource for information on everything!

Sarasota/Manatee residents and visitors alike will find the website useful with downloadable guides and fact sheets on Medicaid and Medicare, temporary cash assistance, securing low-cost long-term prescriptions, food pantries, and links to government and civic organizations including the Florida Department of Health, Social Security Administration, Chambers of Commerce, and local points of interest. 
Resource Guide

Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)

Multicultural Health Institute logo
The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) was created to level the healthcare playing field by promoting, educating, and ensuring equal healthcare access and treatment for underserved communities and individuals who are traditionally uninsured and receive a less than adequate quality of care. 

Founded in 1995 by Lisa Merritt, MD, MHI is a non-profit organization focusing on health disparities, their effect on our nation's citizens, and the positive economic impact of health education, nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The organization supports programs that educate, identify, and test for diseases and other health issues affecting underrepresented communities. As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, MHI provides a holistic, full-circle-of-life approach to healing and wellness by focusing on the participation, education, and training of adults as well as offering hands-on enrichment experiences to aspiring and promising young people in the community. 

Working alongside partner organizations like MHI enables MAI to expand our reach and further our efforts to eliminate health and other disparities in our community. Thank you MHI for all you do for the health and well-being of this community! For more information about MHI please visit their website at

Making An Impact receives grant from MCF Unrestricted Fund 

On behalf of MAI and the communities, we serve we would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to The Unrestricted Fund of Manatee Community Foundation. Your grant is helping us fulfill our mission of providing those in need with information and access to vital, life-altering, sometimes lifesaving information.

 Agencies Across the Region Adopt the Community Connections Resource Guide

More than 1,000 Community Connections Resource Guides have been distributed to law enforcement, public safety, disaster relief, healthcare, children’s services, and other organizations throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. These organizations are embracing the guide as an enhancement to their ability to serve the community. Feedback about the guide bolsters our belief that having this vital information readily and widely available is making a difference in the lives of people in our community.

Caseworkers with the American Red Cross report that they have used the guide as a referral source in the aftermath of residential fires, floods, and other disasters. The eighty-seven men and women of the Sarasota Police Department’s patrol unit  are now utilizing the guide, which Police Chief Jim Rieser describes as “. . . an excellent resource for Sarasota Police Officers to have to be able to share with anyone in our community.”

Community Connections Resource Guides have been placed throughout Longboat Key’s Public Safety Complex Administrative offices,

Pictured L-R: SRQ Police Chief Jim Rieser, Linda M. Hoy, MAI Treasurer, Victoria Kasdan, MAI Board Chair, MAI Vice President Shauniece O. Lee,  SRQ Deputy Chief Rex Troche, and Officer Bryant Singley.
and in all 18 of the town’s fire and rescue trucks, and police battalion vehicles. The town has also incorporated the resource guide into its Community Paramedicine Program—CARE (Community, Assistance, Resource, and Education).

“As we have contact with a person in need,  whether it be a resident or visitor to our island, we are now able to access this guide as an extra tool from our toolbox to provide and recommend additional assistance,” said Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi.       
Others using the guide include Tidewell Hospice, the Multicultural Institute, Turning Points, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, and many other organizations.

To access the guide online or make a donation to support our mission please visit our website at Follow us on Facebook.

Pictured L-R: Longboat Key Interim Police Chief George Turner, Fire Chief Paul Dezzi and Town Manager Tom Harmer meet with MAI Board Chair Victoria Kasdan. 


Making An Impact’s leadership team brings together a diverse group of individuals recognized for their expertise and decades of experience in the fields of healthcare, social services, pharmaceuticals, and finance. Combined, this wealth of knowledge enables us to better understand the challenges facing our constituents, and effectively break down the barriers that stand between them and access to vital services. 

Pictured starting top left: Board Chair Victoria P. Kasdan, RN, BSN, MPH, MAI Vice President Shauniece O. Lee, LPN, CHLPN, CDP, BS, Treasurer Linda M. Hoy, BA, CPA, Secretary John M. Sperrazza, BA, and members-at-large, Yolanda J. Green-Rogers, BS, MSW, Michael A. Robinson, BS, R.Ph and Kimberly M. Williams, BC, MSPH


We are working to expand the distribution of the print version of the Community Connections Resource Guide throughout Sarasota and Manatee and spread the word about the easy-to-use electronic version. Additionally, to extend our reach and ensure we are able to help as many people as possible, we want to make the guide available in Spanish. 

We need your help! We are an all-volunteer organization — every dollar spent goes to further our mission to reduce disparities and address unmet needs for disadvantaged people in our community.

Please consider underwriting the English-to-Spanish translation of the guide, making a grant or annual, semi-annual, bi-monthly, or one-time gift to help us help others in our community live longer, fuller, healthier lives! 


Our Vision
Equitable access to community resources, for longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Our Mission
To reduce disparities and address unmet needs for disadvantaged people in our community. Equitable access to community resources, for longer, healthier, and happier lives.
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