Main Street in Lakewood Ranch a gateway to helping nonprofits

nwilliams@bradenton.comJuly 25, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- On Lakewood Ranch's Main Street, visitors can enjoy shopping at various boutiques, eat at fine restaurants and watch the latest Hollywood movie.

In addition, those who turn out for Music on Main the first Friday night of each month are aiding local charities.

Since January, $400,000 in donations have been raised for nonprofits from the concerts and special events held on Main Street.

Thousands of people converge on the street for the monthly concerts and vendors give 10 percent of their earnings to a selected charity, which changes every month. All beer and wine sales at the concert benefit a charity as well.

The shopping and entertainment district has been involved with helping charities for the past six years.

A few of the organizations to hold events on Main Street or that have benefitted from the concerts are the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Center for Autism Resources and Education, Take Stock in Children, The Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch and Community Haven.

"It's a great venue," said

Julia DeCastro, property manager for Main Street. "It's the only one of its kind around here."

The next installment of Music on Main, 6-9 p.m. on Aug. 3, will benefit HOPE Family Services, a nonprofit group that provides help to victims and survivors of domestic violence. The Billy Rice Band will be the featured artist.

"Anytime we get something like this, to help people, its a great thing," said Laurel Lynch, executive director and CEO of HOPE Family Services.

Lynch said many nonprofits are in dire need of funds during a struggling economy. HOPE serves dozens of people in Manatee and over the last two years, has seen a record number of clients in need of help.

"It gives us a unique way to reach people in an untraditional way," Lynch said.

Through communication with other charities that have benefited from the concert, Lynch said HOPE can receive thousands in donations.

"But it's as much about awareness," she said. "Getting our name out is just as important."

"It's helping the local community," DeCastro said.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter: @_1NickWilliams

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