Joe St. Onge not only gives solid advice, he leads by example
By John Morton
Q: Joe, you are a financial advisor with Edward Jones who has an office in the Village. For starters, please share your history with Siesta Key.
A: I’ve been coming out to Siesta Key since I was a kid, especially in high school. We would come out every weekend, grab a sandwich from the old Siesta Market – now Morton’s — and go play beach volleyball all day. I still grab sandwiches from Morton’s, but now I work all day.
Two of my best friends live in southwest Florida, so when a third comes into town we go play 2-on-2 beach volleyball — now 30-plus years later, although not quite the six-hour marathons anymore.
Q: Why did you choose to establish your business here?
A: When I moved my then 17-year-old practice over to Edward Jones, 10-plus years ago, I was trying to determine the best spot in Sarasota. The Edward Jones business model typically has one advisor and office administrator in a single location. That’s why you’ll see 10-plus Edward Jones offices around town. We want our relationships to be intimate, trusting and tailored for each client.
Fortunately, the timing worked out perfectly for me as the previous advisor on Siesta Key was moving. Our home office wanted some stability out here, as I would be the fourth advisor in three years. With my background and experience, they felt I would be the best advisor to serve the community for 25-plus years and we are well on our way.
Q: About a year ago you moved down the road a bit to 5011 Ocean Blvd. How has the new office been an improvement?
A: It has been amazing! We doubled our space and designed the layout, so we couldn’t be happier. My personal office has a 20-foot floor-to-ceiling window where I can look out and see blue skies and palm trees. It’s truly a dream come true — 25 years of hard work paying off.
We also have a unique client meeting room, with really comfortable chairs and a big screen TV just a few feet away. Clients absolutely love being comfortable and relaxed while we can easily see/review their investments, goals and strategies.
As for location, it’s great to still be in the Siesta Key Village, but I appreciate the peaceful aspect of being on the north end, away from the congestion. I have a golf cart with Edward Jones signage, so we take that to frequent our favorite restaurants and enjoy the businesses, just in smaller doses.
Oh, and the parking situation is so much better.
Q: You are the girls varsity soccer coach at Riverview High School, your alma mater. How did that come into play?
A: I played soccer my whole life, ultimately getting a full scholarship to play at Division 1 Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
When my kids started playing, I got licensed to coach their competitive travel teams at FC Sarasota and did so for 6 years, “retiring” in 2019. Riverview let their girls varsity coach go in the summer of 2021 and the athletic director said my name kept coming up in conversations with families who had daughters there, ironically as I had coached their younger siblings. I told the AD I couldn’t practice right after school like traditional programs, so he let our team practice from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and it works perfectly for my work schedule.
It’s been a wonderful first two seasons, with winning records, playoff wins and even bigger wins “off the field” with a great group of young women and a tremendous coaching staff.
Riverview is the only high school I would have considered and I love being able to give back to the community, especially to Ram Nation!
Q: You also established a foundation in memory of a friend. Can you please tell us about that?
A: Twenty years ago, one of my best friends was killed in an auto collision. His wife, Melissa, was nine months pregnant with their first child.
Melissa wanted to raise money to help local kids that had to deal with grief, just like their daughter Madisyn. I lost my mom when I was 2 years old, also because of an auto accident, so it was a no-brainer for me to hop on with Melissa and a few others to establish the Mark Wandall Foundation.
Melissa’s long-term goal was to eventually have a camp for kids to go to and share their experiences with others who understood. Six or seven years ago, she connected the foundation to a national organization — Comfort Zone Camps — and we have been doing three-day grief camps ever since. These weekends are so incredible for the kids, but with kids on waiting lists our goal is to raise enough money to have two camps per year. Unfortunately, it costs $60,000 to have these three-day camps for 50 to 55 children. We have an annual golf event each fall, which is our primary funding.
Q: Do you participate in any other community endeavors?
A: I am a mentor for two high school students through an amazing not-for-profit program called Take Stock in Children. It offers mentoring, college success services, and the opportunity to earn a college scholarship for underserved students. I have been with the boys since 2019 and plan on staying with them through graduation in 2025 from Suncoast Polytechnical and Sarasota High School.
I take them lunch once a month and communicate with them regularly, to help guide them as needed. Take Stock in Children is always looking for volunteers.