Over the past year, the Lakewood Ranch-based homebuilder Lee Wetherington Homes has given $130,000 to several worthy local causes through the Lee Wetherington Foundation, an endowed organization that has been part of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County since 2002. The money has gone to support the vital work of a number of nonprofits, including Harvest House, the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the Library Foundation for Sarasota County and many others.
The $130,000 total donated over the last 12 months averages out to roughly $3,500 per home sold by the company during that stretch. Lee Wetherington Homes has also given $7,500 to the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund. Overall, since 2002, the Lee Wetherington Foundation has awarded more than $1.27 million in grant money to local organizations.
In recent years, the foundation has supported the construction of Harvest House transitional housing, environmental education by the Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park, cancer studies by the V Foundation for Cancer Research and children’s literacy projects by the Library Foundation. The foundation has also donated to produce shows by the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and is an annual supporter of Season of Sharing, a Community Foundation project that raises money every year to prevent homelessness.
Giving has long been a priority at Lee Wetherington Homes. Company founder and president Lee Wetherington is an active member of several local boards and has been repeatedly honored for his generous donations and fundraising. In addition to supporting the Wetherington Foundation, the company gives to the Forty Carrots Family Center, the Sarasota Salvation Army, United Way Suncoast and many others.
“For more than 40 years, Lee Wetherington has made it a mission for the company he founded to give back, and we try hard to continually live up to the example he set,” says CEO Bill Hager. “With every home we sell, we’re able to give just a little bit more than we could the day before, and it’s an honor to work with so many superb local organizations that are out there improving people’s lives every day.”
The Lee Wetherington Foundation is led by its board of directors, made up of Wetherington and Hager and former Sarasota Herald-Tribune Publisher Diane McFarlin, as well as the Community Foundation’s Roxie Jerde and John Annis. The board reviews requests and makes grant recommendations. In addition to the Foundation’s work, the Wetherington Scholarship Fund housed at the Community Foundation grants scholarships to promising local students in need.