Kirsten Martino ’17 doesn’t seem to have missed a beat adjusting to the changes COVID-19 has forced on her life! Between helping three children embark on “distance-learning” from home, owning and operating a business affected by quarantine orders, and connecting others to nonprofits serving on the frontlines of the pandemic, Kirsten found time to connect with Caroline Brinton ’10 for this month’s Weaver Philanthropic Initiative Interview. Take a moment to read Kirsten’s thoughtful, family-focused interview.
Q: What do you do in your daily life?
A: My family is the most important focus of my daily life. My husband, Josh, and I have three amazing daughters – Ella (age 13), Chase (age 10) and Mae (age 7). When they are busy at school, and I’m not shuttling them around town from school to activities, I am busy with my business. I own and operate the local Drybar franchise. It’s a fun outlet for my entrepreneurial spirit!
Q: Who are your role models for giving?
A: My parents are my role models for giving. Growing up, they modeled consistent giving through our church, and they continue to give their time and treasures to their church. I saw at a young age that what my parents got back in return in fellowship and community was much greater than what they gave. They taught me that giving is about relationships.
Q: Currently, what issues are you putting your philanthropic resources toward?
A: I serve on the board of trustees for Jacksonville Country Day School (JCDS). Our oldest daughter graduated from JCDS, and our younger girls are still students there. The school holds a very special place in my heart because it has had such an impact on all of our children. For that reason, I put a lot of my resources into supporting the strategic goals of the school.
Personally, the Women’s Giving Alliance at The Community Foundation and the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center are dear to my heart. These organizations provide opportunities to support women and children, which I discovered during my WPI class is my philanthropic passion or “lane.” As a family, we support Feeding Northeast Florida and Tiger Academy. Both of those organizations provide opportunities to volunteer as a family. It has been essential for Josh and me to share our love of giving with our girls.
Q: What experiences in your life would you like to make available to others?
A: It is simple, but I would love for all families to make nightly dinner a priority. My husband and I both grew up in families that sat down for dinner every night, and we have continued that tradition with our daughters. Some nights are not as organized, and dinner may be as simple as soup and a sandwich, but it’s not about a pretty table setting or an elaborate meal. It’s about being together and staying connected. We ask our daughters to share their “highs and lows,” and everyone has their chance to talk about their day. My kids know how much we care, and this little window of time at the dinner table is a constant in their lives. I wish more children (and parents) had that daily intentional time for connection.
Q: What do you like most about living in Northeast Florida?
A: I’m a Jacksonville native, so I’m biased. Besides my four college years in Nashville and a quick stint in Manhattan after college, Jacksonville has always been home. First and foremost, I love the sunshine. Our blue skies are such a gift of living here! Also, I love the beach. As life has gotten busier, time at the beach is my pause button. Whether it’s searching for sharks’ teeth (Josh is SO much better than me!) or just sitting in a beach chair for hours, the beach grounds and refreshes me.
Q: What challenges concern you most about Northeast Florida?
A: The leadership of our city concerns me. I celebrated when the HRO finally passed, but it worries me that it took years to happen. The recent challenges with JEA reinforce the lapse of judgment in our leaders. I would love to see new, dynamic leaders emerge that commit to a long-term vision for our city.
Q: Have you and your family found new ways to connect with and support your favorite nonprofits during this time of COVID-19?
A: It’s been very rewarding that we have been able to continue our support for our favorite organizations during this pandemic. Since our community knows that we support Feeding Northeast Florida, friends and neighbors have reached out asking how they can help. Being the conduit for others to get involved with the food bank is meaningful for us, given how dire basic needs are for so many people right now. At home, the kids and I have sent “Care Mail” to Mayo, and our oldest daughter, Ella, reached out to our friends and family to collect shoes for a Sole4Souls shoe drive organized by Episcopal School of Jacksonville. We are still supporting our favorite nonprofits while social-distancing!