Van Wezel Foundation Donor Spotlight Merrill Bonder
“If a child lacks confidence or struggles to learn, it’s amazing what can happen when you share your passion and desire to see them improve.”
For years, Merrill Bonder has been a champion of the arts. She and her late husband, Seth, were members of the Foundation’s Friends Society and enjoyed many performances at the Hall. Seth was an Operations Engineer who was a critical advocate for his profession.
To continue Seth’s legacy, the Seth Bonder Foundation was created after Seth’s passing. The Foundation champions cultural opportunities for young children and provides scholarships for advancement in learning opportunities for students.
Merrill has increased her giving beyond the Friends Society. Her contributions to the Foundation bring award winning STEAM-based programming to the Van Wezel stage for Schooltime Performances. Each show ties the performing arts to lessons in science and engineering, serving over 3,000 students each year. The Seth Bonder Foundation also supports the Van Wezel’s Family Literacy and Science Nights, a two-generational approach for children and their families to learn in-person as a team and continue to learn at home. The Foundation also provides books for children to extend their learning beyond Schooltime Performances.
Merrill has always been a champion of education and children’s causes. Early on, she volunteered with Ronald McDonald House Charities and currently supports many organizations including Faces of Accomplishment, a high school mentoring program in Sarasota. She also encourages students who receive scholarships from the Seth Bonder Foundation to pay it forward and mentor other students. Merrill strongly believes that even if you don’t have money to contribute, donating your time and talents to inspire others is what giving is all about. “If a child lacks confidence or struggles to learn, it’s amazing what can happen when you share your passion and desire to see them improve. That’s why I support arts education – you have an opportunity to give back and provide a greater future for someone. And, the giving is two-fold. Not only will children benefit, but you will also get so much more out of the experience you helped create.”
Merrill encourages everyone to follow their passions and create life-altering experiences for children and their families. We are grateful to Merrill for honoring Seth’s legacy and being a champion of arts education in our community.