Michael Saunders talks art, perseverance, drive, passion and the Colony

Guest columnist

Real estate maven Michael Saunders shared her memories of growing up in Longboat Key when she addressed the members of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key at their December 14th meeting. S

Saunders reflected, “Longboat Key helped shape me, helped me become the person that I am today … I have sand in my shoes that I’ll never shake out!”  Saunders spoke about the strong sense of community that was so important to the early settlers of the island and which continues to be of great importance today; she cited the current work of the Rotary Club as an example of the “giving back” attitude that makes this a better place to live and work, stressing, “With heart, perseverance, drive, and a passion you can accomplish anything.”

Saunders’ ancestors came to the island in the late 1800’s, and her great uncle owned and operated the two-ship steamboat line that connected Longboat to the mainland, shipping produce up to Tampa and eventually realizing the benefits of bringing vacationers to Longboat. In the 1930’s, her parents built a modest cottage at the north end of the island; “Land’s End” is still there overlooking Longboat Pass. She reminisced about coming down to Longboat Key from Tampa almost every weekend as a girl, crossing the wooden bridge that extended over Sarasota Bay from Golden Gate Point, smelling the salty sea air as her family drove past the skeleton of Ringling’s unfinished “ghost hotel” at the south end of the island, and passing through a “cathedral of green” created by the Australian pines that lined much of the shell-covered road that we now know as Gulf of Mexico Drive. When the Longboat Pass Bridge reopened (after having been destroyed by a hurricane in the 1920’s), her father opened a marina nearby, where Michael and her siblings caught and sold bait and flipped burgers. “I can throw a cast net better than I can dance,” she joked.

Saunders urges all Longboaters to become educated about the proposed development of the Colony property, which she calls the “finest piece of land in the State of Florida.” She stressed that Longboat Key residents should “think bigger” than the traffic issues and look down the road to the island’s future. Calling the Ritz Carlton model of mixed condominium and 5-star resort an economic “game-changer” for Sarasota, she reminded her listeners about the role that the former Colony, the Holiday Inn, and the many smaller resorts of Longboat Key played in the past in attracting visitors to the island who fell in love with it and eventually purchased homes here.

Saunders was raised with the understanding that “giving back is not the exception to the rule – it is the rule!” Witnessing her parents’ small acts of kindness to others made her appreciate the tremendous difference that can be made by philanthropy. In addition to overseeing a real estate firm with 24 offices and more than 650 agents spanning the Gulf Coast region from Anna Maria to Boca Grande, Saunders has actively supported the work of Mote Marine Laboratory, The Argus Foundation, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, the John & Mable Ringling Museum, and countless others. In 2012, she and her son Drayton Saunders founded the MSC Foundation to engage agents, management, and staff of their company at every level of charitable giving to assist members of the communities served by the company who are most in need of shelter, sustenance, and a path to self-sufficiency. “Random acts of kindness make a big difference,” Saunders claims.


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2 Responses for “Michael Saunders talks art, perseverance, drive, passion and the Colony”

  1. whos on first says:

    When I first moved to Longboat, it was during an election season, and while I saw names of candidates I thought sounded familiar, I noticed a whole lot of signs for a Michael Saunders too. So I asked somebody in my new neighborhood “Who’s this Michael Saunders guy and should I vote for him – it looks like he’s got the yard sign vote locked up tight?”

    Who knew? And now it looks like every other broker on this island of hopeful real estate ladies all looking for the “big score” work for him, her, whatever.

  2. Georgie McFarland says:

    Michael Saunders has her Broker’s littering everyone’s mailbox with junk mail. Why should she care about traffic woes for all the residents of Longboat Key when all she really cares about is increased inventory for her cohorts to sell.

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