Jonathan and Michelle Mitchell
Jonathan and Michelle Mitchell aren’t native to Sarasota. Michelle spent many of her early years in Carmel, California, while Jonathan was born and raised in Los Angeles. The couple relocated to Sarasota five years ago. They fell in love with the area’s climate and water vista, its art, culture, quaint shopping districts and friendly people.
An essential factor in making the move was Sarasota’s “great hospital,” says Jonathan. “We wanted to make sure that we were going to stay healthy and enjoy our lives to the fullest.”
The couple has a personal stake in protecting the family’s health. Michelle’s father, who was the former CEO of a major hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, died of a heart attack at age 47. “I’ve had access to great medical care my whole life. I’ve known how important that is,” Michelle says. “I was gratified to find out that Sarasota Memorial Hospital has such a fabulous heart center.”
Jonathan had a close call about 10 years ago when his appendix ruptured. “I was hospitalized for six weeks in California. The quality of care I was given at the hospital out there was less than adequate in many respects, resulting in an extended in-patient experience. Jonathan adds, “Shortly after taking residency in Florida, I had a medical condition necessitating my hospitalization at Sarasota Memorial. I was thrilled at how well I was treated medically and totally stunned by the genuine, warm attention I was afforded by the nurses and other staff members.”
When it came time to focus on philanthropic endeavors in their adopted community, Jonathan explains, “The choice was easy. I definitely wanted to devote time and money to Sarasota Memorial and am only too pleased that Michelle and I have been able to do both.” Jonathan now serves on the Healthcare Foundation board.
Raised on Philanthropy Philanthropy runs in Jonathan’s family. His grandfather, Edward (then, age three), came with his parents to this country from Eastern Europe in the late 1800’s. They were so poor that Edward and his siblings peddled shoelaces and day-old newspapers on the streets of New York’s Lower East Side. When Edward came home and handed his mother the pennies he earned, she always set aside some of them to give to those even less fortunate. That lesson of charity was handed down to the generations that followed.
Giving has also been a central tenet in Michelle’s life. As a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, she was Deputy Director for the Middle East Partnership Initiative, and awarded grants to support political, educational, economic and women’s reform in developing countries.
Helping the Community The Mitchells regularly contribute to the arts, communal programs, education, science and other causes but Sarasota Memorial is especially close to their heart. “Out of all the places we give, I think the hospital is the most important to me,” Michelle says. “We’re helping everyone in the community.”
Jonathan is a big believer in medical research. “Without it, there is no future,” he explains. “What’s derived from the research of today will change the world tomorrow.”
They say supporting SMH has been well worth it. “In this time of COVID,” Michelle states, “the hospital has given us a great level of comfort. It’s sure nice knowing that it’s here.”
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