By Matthew Sauer
Chuck and Margery Barancik’s passing at this time of giving should be an inspiration and reminder of the reason we’re all here: to make the world a better place for all.
It’s a time of community, family and, perhaps most of all, giving.
Wealthy or not, we should all aspire to be as giving as Chuck and Margery Barancik.
It’s beyond ironic that Chuck and Margie should lose their lives just around the corner from a time of year when the work they did for a large portion of their lives resonates so much more strongly in our community.
Pull up the website of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and you’ll see the smiling faces of children, many of them poor and lacking in some of the basic experiences that so many of us take for granted: visiting the beach, seeing the environmental wonders of our region.
The Baranciks changed that fundamentally for many of these kids.
Chuck, an active and fun-loving nonagenarian, clearly loved children, and he wanted to use his significant financial resources to make sure that they had both a better footing in this world and to make the world they experienced a better place.
I can remember being at Ringling College’s Avant Garde event, sitting across from Chuck and Margie. When they found out that my wife was a first-grade teacher at a Title I school in Manatee County, they spent a good part of the evening asking her about her triumphs, her struggles and, most of all, her kids. We left with an armful of colorful Tervis tumblers and kaleidescopes that were the bling on our tables (it would turn out some of her kids had never seen such an entertaining contraption).
The Baranciks call it “Transforming the Community from Every Angle.”
Inspiring teachers and students with the tools they need; family enrichment; social wellness in the areas of physical and mental challenges; financial empowerment by supporting workforce development and programs that aim to end the cycle of poverty; fostering social engagement and cohesion through shared artistic and cultural experiences; and environmental stewardship that benefits all of us.
Consider the Baranciks’ “First 1,000 Days,” aiming to improve access to early childhood development care for families and babies. Catching children at the earliest possible juncture to improve their potential for growth and success.
Or teacher retention and recruitment. The best teachers, the stewards of our future, need to be encouraged to remain in our community through training and affordable housing. The Baranciks also sponsored a cohort of new teachers, funding the necessary training and doing so for some folks, who, like me, chase their teaching certificates while still enjoying or departing another career that brought them rich life experiences.
Or tackling the untreated mental health issues in our community among children, youth and young adults that can devastate individuals, harm their families and impact the community in broad social and financial ways. Or maybe the simplest of the Baranciks’ efforts, though resonant: the harnessing of the sun through the latest in solar technology to power the home of Girls Inc. of Sarasota County, inspiring the girls about environmental sustainability and what their roles, present and future, could be in it.
Let’s all try to take something from this tragedy that is positive: that this current divisiveness over the politics of the times is hopefully just a passing thing and that we can all aspire to live the life that Chuck and Margery Barancik did, focused on making the lives of our brothers and sisters on this tiny blue orb better, teaching our children their value and their importance in the world regardless of their origins, reminding teachers of their importance in shaping our future generations for decades and centuries to come. \
Chuck Barancik — humble but always knowing his direction and what he wanted to do with his life and resources — and Margery — never enjoying the spotlight but her love of children ever-present — leave us with a sterling and tangible example of how we should all be living, in service, in kindness, in cooperation, in respect, and with an eye to what we want our world to be.
“We can’t change the world,” Chuck and Margie have said, “but we can change little pieces of it and hope for a ripple effect.”
At this time of community, family and giving, let’s all take a page from Chuck and Margie’s lives and fan those ripples and try to make some significant ones of our own. Matthew Sauer is the executive editor and general manager of the Herald-Tribune.