Katherine’s Walk: Day 12, April 19

We’ve developed our own special vocabulary of terms for affiliate milestones, and one of them is First Rides. It refers to the day when an ITN affiliate is ready for business, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That day has come for ITNSarasota, so I traveled to Florida for the special event. Executive Director Donna Dunio and her First Rides Chair Sophia La Russo did a superb job of bringing the community together. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, without whose support ITNSarasota would never have happened and Jewish Family and Children’s Services which incubated the young non-profit, were there to thank and be thanked. But the community highlight for me, I have to confess, was seeing Linda Abromson.

Linda lives part of the year in Portland, Maine where I first met her as a member of the Portland City Council and as former Mayor. Many years ago, when ITN was first starting here in Portland, Linda was one of our famous drivers, in an ITN program called Look Who’s Driving Now. She loved driving, so when ITN started in Sarasota, she joined the Board. Because ITN is a national system, she can now volunteer in either city, and if she saves her volunteer credits, she can use the service when the time comes, in either city, or in any city where there is an ITN affiliate. ITN volunteers receive credits for miles they drive, and they can store those credits for their own future use, through a program we call Transportation Social Security™. Or, they can donate those credits to the Road Scholarship Program™ for people who cannot afford their share of the fare. Here’s a picture of Linda and me at the ITNSarasota First Rides reception.

Donna and Phil Dunio graciously hosted me, and I walked early in the morning, with a giant flashlight in my hand, before the sun was up. I saw my first armadillo, running along a wooden fence, and disappearing beneath it, flashing his pointy armored tale and haunches at me. (1 mile, 25 miles total)

View the image gallery.
Sophia LaRusso, ITNSarasota First Rides Chair; Stewart Stearns, President of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Donna K. Dunio, Executive Director ITNSarasota
Katherine Freund, founder and CEO of ITNAmerica speaking at the ITNSarasota First Rides Event
Great group shot of event

David Shukovsky, Linda Abromson, Phil Gorelick
Donna Dunnio, Sophia LaRusso and three members-riders
Guest, County Commissioner Nora Patterson and Sophia LaRusso
Sophia LaRusso and Judi Gallagher ABC 7 Culinary Director and local Celebrity Chef