Florida Weekly Column

Stay Curious My Friends

Stay Curious My Friends

Are you a student of wonder?

One of the 5 values that guides our team’s work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is encouraging curiosity and exploration to promote learning and development from the inside out.

One of the risks of value statements is they are created, written down but not actively lived out in the culture of the organization.

At the Foundation, we understand that as we pursue cultivating regional change for the common good, our mission, we must be relentless students of wonder.  We must strive to be curious.

A big part of our work is our connection to others.  Donors, non-profits, community advocates, and our neighbors.  We can’t wait for partners to seek us out, instead we must be actively curious about the work, challenges and opportunities in our region.

Curiosity leads to exploration, conversations and in some cases solutions.

Our team must commit to listen well, ask questions and respond when it is helpful.  I hope you have seen us out and about involved in the community through our work with grantees, donors, civic leaders or engaged in conversations, events, meetings or gatherings.

Once a quarter we host “Caffeinated Conversations” in which nonprofits come to our Community Hub and share their work with our team.  Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of 6 leaders of nonprofits were at the table and 3 were new organizations that we learned about for the first time.

Later that same week I found myself in several conversations with donors and colleagues and shared what I had heard, which in turn sparked their interest.  That’s one of the great things about curiosity, it’s contagious when cultivated.

I would love to hear what you are curious about in our region.  I might not have the answers but our team is willing to find out.  Your input will guide some exploration expeditions across the region next year and we will invite you to come along! You can contact me at [email protected]

Let’s stay curious together.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Recently there has been quite a bit of talk about bridge building in our nation and in our communities. Not the literal infrastructure kind of construction but rather symbolic scaffolding to connect people and ideas.

Whenever and wherever there are choppy waters of change, someone suggests building a proverbial bridge.

Just last week during a presentation on inspiring more registered women to vote in the 2020 election, the speaker fielded a number of questions on women’s issues that can cause divisiveness. She urged and encouraged the audience to find common ground and coalitions that encourage bridge building and collective thinking to reach a common goal of getting women to the polls to express their own unique views.

Her comments on bridge building grew applause and affirmative head shaking all around the room and it reminded me of how many times I had heard the term in conversation over the past several months.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we find ourselves in settings that require connecting diverse views on a regular basis. When you are working alongside passionate advocates and donors you are bound to hear a wide range of views on topics like education, health care, civic engagement, economic development, animals, poverty and arts.

We have found the best opportunities and innovations come out of conversations with a wide range of world views, but that does take some bridge building.

There are organizations, trailblazers, philanthropists, and leaders in our community who are willing to step up to build bridges across regional boundaries, cause areas and social, economic and cultural barriers.

Sometimes the bridge building is a lonely task while other times it gains a great deal of energy and support. Either way the bridge is built; coalitions are established; organizations are formed; and unifying conversations are started.

I see a lot of bridges all over our region. But what I am eager to see next is people willing to walk over them.

We can build goodwill and a framework to navigate some of our most difficult topics but if we as individuals we are not willing to take a step across the infrastructure that has been built nothing can really change.

Take a few minutes to look around and find a bridge that deserves your time and attention and start the journey. And if you want some guidance, reach out to me at [email protected]

Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

I think one of the greatest technological advancements in my lifetime is the pause feature on machines of all sorts and electronic devices.

Whether it is the ability to throw one or two more items into a wash load or dishwasher at the last minute or my all-time favorite of stopping a television show or sporting event mid action and then coming back to it (sometimes in a totally different room) when I am ready- the thrill has never worn off.

Growing up the closest thing that came to the pause feature was a game of freeze tag in the back yard, but now nearly everything can be stopped and restarted.  We are used to a fast-paced life that requires an occasional break in the action, mainly to multi-task and then come back to our original focus.  Pausing devices allows us to do more, faster.

When it comes to this non-human pausing everything stops frozen in time.  And as cool as I find this feature I have recently discovered human pausing is where the real magic lies.  This type of pause slows us down and allows us to reflect.

Recently I came across a quote from Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, which advises global businesses on ethics and leadership.  In Thomas L. Friedman’s new book Thank You for Being Late, Seidman shares, “When you press a pause button on a machine it stops, but when you press the pause button on human beings they start.  You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible, and most importantly you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs.  Once you have done that, you can begin to imagine a better path.”

But he doesn’t leave it there, he stresses “what matters most is what you do in the pause.”

This concept is the basis of Friedman’s book and he shares a compelling story of taking a pause to connect with a parking attendant, when all he really wanted to do was get on with his day.  That pause launched a relationship that was beneficial to both and without the pause he would have missed meeting an Ethiopian blogger who was trying to change the world.  This encounter led him to bigger questions that shaped his book.

When we work with individual and corporate donors on their charitable and philanthropic strategies we urge them to pause and reflect.  Many of them have been giving to the same organizations and causes for many years but have not stopped to consider how they can best impact their favorite nonprofits.

Recently we heard from a donor who was attending a community event and paused to speak with a couple they had never met who had recently started a nonprofit organization.

The donor reached out to us to contribute to the organization from the donor’s fund at the foundation the next week.  He said he would have never learned of the nonprofit’s work if he hadn’t made the point to meet the couple and start up an unexpected conversation.

Some of the best ideas come when end-users, donors and nonprofit leaders come together to pause and reflect on what the next best step is for their partnership.

Taking the time to step away, or slow down can seem counter intuitive in today’s fast paced world, but making the most of a pause can send us on a better path.

If you are looking for a pause moment to consider your values and interests in charitable giving, I would love to hear from you and help you make the most of a pause.  Reach out at [email protected]

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

CAUSE & EFFECT: Pushing the Tube Up the Mountain Together

CAUSE & EFFECT: Pushing the Tube Up the Mountain Together

If people watching were an official sport, I am fairly certain I could be a contender for the Olympic team or championship game.

Wherever I go I look for opportunities to observe people and their behaviors.  I often say I am listening, but many times I am watching to see what I can learn about others.

Most recently my people watching training took me out of state to a land full of mountains and snow.

One of my favorite people watching moments in these wintery conditions is taking in a couple hours of snow-tubing.  This entails tubers of all ages pushing an inflated rubber tube up a snowy hill to the top and then riding it full speed to the bottom.

Pushing the tube up the mountain is nothing short of a monumental task. Your feet slip, it’s cold, and a tube big enough to ride is just awkward to maneuver.

Kids are the best to watch because the tube is about twice their size, but they are relentless in getting that chariot up the slope because they know the joy of the exhilarating ride to the bottom.

In an afternoon of tubing, the riders will repeat this ritual over and over. But I have noticed some people are more willing to push the tube up the hill than others.

It seems to be some sort of return on investment proposition based on the satisfaction of the ride down.  In my casual observations tenacity is increased when others are there to help or share in the journey.  Groups tubing together will help fellow travelers when the tube gets too cumbersome, and in some cases they will work together to get one tube up the hill and then ride down together.

In every case, the journey is never easy.

A few weeks ago when I was feeling a bit discouraged about a tough journey of my own and was worried about keeping our Southwest Florida Community Foundation team engaged and energized a colleague shared a story she sometimes conveys to her team.

This woman is a trailblazer who I admire and she has successfully launched several community projects that many thought impossible, so I knew she had some sage advice.

Interestingly it also involved a snow laden scenario.  Not of pushing a tube up a hill, but instead a snowball.  She says she often thinks of her projects and community movements as snowballs that are being pushed up a mountain.  At the beginning many people will gather around to help push but when things get tough some fall away.  She keeps her team and volunteers motivated by painting the picture of what will happen once they reach the top of the mountain.

Whatever size snowball they have could roll to the summit; the minute they push it over the other side of the mountain it will gain momentum.  It will pick up speed, size and people who want to be involved.   But none of that happens without finding a way to get to the top with the people who are willing to go with you.

Over the last few months I have read, watched and been inspired by the profiles of the News Press People of the Year nominees and recipients.  These are fellow residents who have accomplished amazing things over the past year.  As my friend shared her story I realized that everyone featured had pushed their own proverbial snowballs up some pretty steep mountains.

Overcoming health issues, human trafficking, business challenges, being under the microscope of the public eye, or finding their way as a next generation leader.  Each story has both its snowball up the mountain and down the mountain moment (You can still find the stories by clicking here).

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we also have the great honor and privilege of supporting nonprofit organizations of all sizes and missions in our region.  I see these teams working hard to tackle issues facing the environment, poverty, education, animals, the arts, health and safety, and community development.  They work hard but they need the support of our region.   Just like the tubers who ride in groups, the journey up hill is always better when taken together.

So what snowball or tube are you trying to push up the hill?  Or who could you help up the mountain?  Whichever it is, remember the ride down is worth it and as a semi-pro people (and their causes) watcher, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Love Notes

Community Love Notes

Last week I was driving down College Parkway in Fort Myers and noticed a car stalled out in a turn lane.  A moment later people were racing across the road from a nearby convenience store, pulling over their cars and jumping out to help the young driver push the car to a gas station parking lot.  There were so many people helping I think they could have picked the car up and carried it away.

Others were friendly honking and cheering them on, and I smiled and proclaimed out loud to no one, “I love this place.”  It is encouraging and inspiring to see people come together to help their fellow man.

I was feeling particularly positive since this chance siting happened to fall on Valentine’s Day and I had spent the morning meeting with our team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday to consider and celebrate philanthropy.  At its core philanthropy means ‘love of humanity.’  Our team was reflecting on the work we see so many of our donors and nonprofits advancing in our region.  Acts of generosity and compassion that are fueled by love.

Our team also recognizes that there are challenges and opportunities facing our region that philanthropy has the potential to impact. But in the spirit of community and Valentine’s Day I asked them to consider and share what they loved about Southwest Florida, their work in the region and the generosity they see in others.

Throughout the day they took a few minutes and captured their thoughts on a white board as a love note to the community and I wanted to share some of them with you.

  • I love the environment
  • I love helping people
  • I love our new LGBT fund and the founding donors
  • I love the hearts and passion of our nonprofit leaders and their teams
  • I love the beaches
  • I love the FutureMakers Coalition
  • I love our donors and fundholders
  • I love that we receive gifts from all over the world (first gift from Germany!)
  • I love the plan for our new Technology Hub in downtown Fort Myers
  • I love the sunshine
  • I love our Women’s Legacy Fund Prima Donors and contributors
  • I love SWFL’s diversity
  • I love impacting lives
  • I love our (volunteer) board of trustees
  • I love our amazing team

That’s some of our list and we have decided to keep it up for a while.  It would be wonderful to add your words to our board and our love note. What do you love about Southwest Florida?   Reach out to me at [email protected], or post it on our Facebook page @SWFLCF or our Twitter page @SWFLCFnd.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

Some Who Wander Are Actually Lost

Some Who Wander Are Actually Lost

I enjoy the challenge of navigating a new city, particularly as a solo traveler.  I feel empowered when I am able to get from point A to point B on my own in a place that is foreign to me.

I even give myself bonus points if I don’t speak the language and use public transit.  But this type of adventure lends itself to mishaps.  In Washington DC I once took a train that landed me in a residential part of Virginia and in Berlin I ended up on a subway that came to a stop, everyone exited and I found myself sitting alone in an unknown station.  Finally, a kindhearted person came and tapped me on the shoulder and signaled that this was the end of the line on that route and guided me toward a new train.

Just last week I was in Philadelphia and found myself making about 10 laps in a roundabout until I figured out which way I was headed.  All in the name of exploration.

Several times on this most recent trip I threw in the self-navigation towel and called a cab or summoned an Uber.  Normally the drivers know their city like a human GPS but not this trip.  I found myself backseat driving on more than one occasion and late to a few meetings.

I was struck by how much I trusted them to get me to my destination.  I assumed if I said I was going to the Liberty Bell they would know exactly how to get there.  I eventually found a driver who knew every inch of the city and I stuck with him for the rest of the trip.

Sometimes in life we are ready for exploration and sometimes we need a trusted advisor.

I see this with our donors at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation when they are making decisions about funding organizations or causes.  Many times they know exactly where they would like to see their dollars directed.  They have a long, positive relationship with a

non-profit and have committed to sustaining operational and program support.  Other times they are exploring possibilities on their own, researching websites, attending events and volunteering to get a sense of where they are going with their support.  And then there are times they are looking for direction and ask our team to help connect them with a cause or nonprofit that offers opportunities and solutions for their particular passion.

Since many of our neighbors are seasonal residents or have moved to our community from somewhere else, navigating giving can feel just like finding your way through unfamiliar streets and we are happy to share information, guides to giving (http://floridacommunity.com/guide-to-giving/) and make introductions to local non-profits.  Often we share the letters of ideas for projects that have been submitted by local non-profits through our own grant making process and we learn about new initiatives and organizations throughout the year.  With nearly 2,000 non-profits in our region there are fantastic opportunities to get involved, adventures awaiting and guidance when you need it most.

If you are on a giving journey, reach out to us at [email protected] and we will be happy to help every step of the way, I promise we won’t get you lost!

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

Cause & Effect:  It’s All Gone.

Cause & Effect: It’s All Gone.

It’s all gone.  That was the message delivered by my friend who emailed to let me know that the home shared by multi- generations of her family had been lost to a devastating fire.

This news was heartbreaking, and what made it worse is it followed on the heels of other tough health and personal challenges she had faced with courage.   It all just seemed too much.  I was thinking, “enough already!”

My friend lives in another part of the country so we stay in touch via email and text, but I struggle to find the right words for her.  I knew that as result of the fire the family had lost some valuable legacy establishing artifacts created by her father who had passed away a number of years ago.

The family had been busy working to curate and memorialize his work so that it could be shared with the world in perpetuity — a painstaking task.   I had learned from another colleague who is overseeing her late husband’s collection of artwork that this kind of responsibility carries the weight of the world.

Honoring and protecting legacy while grieving is difficult.

I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect with my friend in person, so I planned a video Skype call just to check in and make sure that I could see her face to gauge how she was holding up.  She is really skilled at sounding strong over the phone.

This news happened to correspond with a trip I was making to Philadelphia, and I couldn’t help but think that if after spending some time in the City of Brotherly Love I would somehow be inspired to share words of love and comfort with my hurting friend.  I had even thought of texting a photo of the famous LOVE sign in JFK park to let her know her family was on my mind.  Again, just the right words escaped me.

My original plan for this month’s Cause & Effect column was to share insights on the concept of brotherly love, which I had researched as part of my trip, and how it pertained to philanthropists and local nonprofits who shower love on our region every day.

But my plans changed when I Skyped with my friend. Surprisingly enough, I discovered it was she comforting me with the lessons learned from the fire and how it related to legacy and love.

With tragedy comes reflection and she was quick to share that the loss of the home and material possessions particularly those with financial and legacy implications had helped her focus on the true meaning of what matters after we are gone.

She made special note of the gratitude she felt that her loved ones escaped the fire and talked about the tedious and messy work of trying to sort through the remains at the site of the blaze, standing ankle deep in wet ash.

At one point the firefighters helping with the recovery of items from the home, opened a drawer of a nearly burned out dresser to find a single photo encased unharmed in an acrylic frame.

The photo was of she and her husband and their two kids and she said in that moment she knew that was the legacy of her father and that home.   Not just the continuation of the family but what they give of themselves and their work in this world which includes their faith, and service to the local and global community.

Because she lived in our part of the world for several years she made a point to mention the work that happens through the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and more specifically the nonprofits and donors we have the honor and privilege of working alongside every day.

She said the fire taught her that legacy developed by helping our fellow man, our environment and our communities lasts forever, because love endures all even when belongings and heirlooms do not.

So in a hotel room in the City of Brotherly Love, on a Skype call with my friend in the Midwest, who had returned from sorting out a family tragedy in the Northeast I learned a lesson about creating and sustaining love and legacy in our backyard.

A special thank you to all the nonprofits and the incredible people who support them, work in and with them for creating a legacy in Southwest Florida that can never be destroyed.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Shelf

An Open Shelf

The first home my husband and I bought together was a 1920s bungalow just a couple blocks off Daytona Beach.

It had hardwood floors hidden under carpet and many other quaint features that were covered with layers of paint, wallpaper and drywall.  A few years of our lives were spent uncovering the treasures of this house.

The first time we looked at our future home with a real estate agent we noticed the living room built ins were filled with keepsakes you wouldn’t normally find displayed in that setting.  A well-worn baseball cap, stacks of folded paper grocery bags and an assortment of fly swatters.  They weren’t thrown haphazardly on the shelves but were arranged as a display that seemed to hold meaning.

Long after we moved in and had filled the shelves with our own brand of memorabilia we would wonder out loud about the meaning of the eclectic tokens of the previous owners.

We created stories about the items and imagined how they made their way to a place of honor on the main room shelves.

When is the last time you took inventory of the things displayed on bookcases, mantels or shelves in your home or office? For the most part we reserve those places for things that hold memories, special meaning or inspiration.

Recently my son cleaned off some shelves in his bedroom that were filled with youth sports trophies, various certificates, collectibles and souvenirs from family vacations.

When I noticed the cleared out space I asked him what was up with the redecorating.  I knew a number of the things packed away had meant something to him over the years.

His answer was short and to the point.  “I am just making room for what is coming next,” he said.

I turned around, closed his door and went to find a few shelves of my own to clear.

The team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has recently been refreshing and sharpening our strategy on how to support donors, stakeholders and our nonprofit partners in cultivating change in our region.  Although we have 40 years of experience in philanthropy and change making, we realize that we always have to make room for what is coming next.  The next community need or opportunity and the next donor with their own unique story and vision for giving.

Many of our proverbial shelves will be filled in perpetuity with the generous keepsakes of those who came before and established funds to care for the community.

But we will always keep an open shelf, an open door and an open mind to what comes next.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving is the UnSelfie

Giving is the UnSelfie

As I pulled up to a busy Southwest Florida intersection last week I noticed a long line of cars backed up in the opposite direction.  For a moment I reconsidered my route assuming there must be an accident or an extreme case of seasonal traffic overload heading my way.

On closer inspection I noticed a young woman stopped at the light, smartphone in hand.  I know you think I am going to tell a tale of texting while driving or no hands free talking, both dangerous and potentially deadly acts when behind the wheel of the car.

But this was neither of those all too common offenses.  Instead this driver was actively engaged in a stop light “selfie.”  For the select few of you not up on all the uses of a phone these days one of the most popular is taking photos of yourself and then posting them on social media.  Celebrities have taken this to a whole new level even publishing books that are collections of their selfies in front of bathroom mirrors or just living out their glamorous lives.

I’m not sure if the driver I encountered was a celebrity but horns soon started blaring, she dropped the phone, was on her way followed by a parade of cars and surely a great shot from the front seat of her car.

In the right scenario, selfies are fun.  It’s a way to catalog solo experiences or invite a few friends into a photo with you.  Technology has made it possible to be a documentarian of our own life.  No celebrity status needed and no more asking passing strangers to snap a shot, you have the power right at your own fingertips.

But you have to be careful that capturing the selfie doesn’t become more important than experiencing the moment firsthand.  You can miss a lot from behind a phone.

Over the holidays I spent some time at the beach and saw more than one family miss watching beautiful Southwest Florida sunsets while trying to capture the perfect selfie.  Backs to the water, phone outstretched searching for the best shot of themselves only to discover the sun had set while they weren’t looking.  I could feel their disappointment when they turned back to face the water and realized what they had missed.

By name and nature, the selfie is an inwardly focused activity.  Sometimes we all must stop and consider turning the camera away from ourselves literally and figuratively.

Giving is the ultimate Unselfie.   Acts of kindness, generosity and service allow us to focus our attention on others.   We no longer worry if we are in the shot and can take in the beauty found around us through relationships, and our surroundings.  Donors at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation often tell me they are most in touch with themselves when they are giving to others.

You don’t even have to give up your phone to become part of the unselfie movement.  Just turn the camera around and capture someone in an act of giving and share it with others, or snap a shot of yourself giving back finding a way to hide your face so the focus is not on you.

In Southwest Florida you don’t have to look too far to find opportunities for unselfies, giving is all around us and there are so many opportunities to be involved and impact the lives of others.

I would love to see your unselfies and share them on our social media platforms.   Send them to me at [email protected] or on Facebook @SWFLCF or https://www.facebook.com/SWFLCF/  and on Twitter @SWFLCFnd or Instagram @swflcommunity.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, the foundation has invested $5 million this year in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your Treadmills

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your Treadmills

I went to a new gym last week.  I realize lots of people went back to gyms over the past few weeks as part of a blurry eyed pact they made with themselves on New Year’s Eve, but my visit was different.

I don’t spend much time in gyms, I am more of a yoga studio, paddleboard, walk on the beach or through the Six Mile Slough type.  But on one of the coldest days of the year in Southwest Florida I shed my boots for a pair of tennis shoes and joined the Healthy Lee Coalition to launch their 2017 Million Mile Movement at Around the Clock Fitness in Fort Myers.

The Million Mile Movement is an initiative of Healthy Lee designed to inspire healthy lifestyle choices by challenging the residents of Lee County to collectively move 1,000,000 miles by March 31, 2017.  Moving doesn’t mean just walking.  Biking, rowing, swimming are all ways of logging those sought after miles.

So it was only fitting that companies and individuals gathered at a fitness center to set their goals to help get Lee County to that million-mile mark.

By the end of the launch, major sponsors were already on treadmills clocking in the first of many miles to come. I woke up the next morning wondering if they were still there chasing the promised miles by their companies.  There seemed to be some healthy competition brewing between school systems and municipalities which always makes for a fun challenge.

Outside of all the health benefits I am inspired to see the community coming together to support a common goal.  The idea of teams or individuals designing a strategy unique to them while still keeping the overall mission in sight is a cornerstone of creating change together.

No one person or organization has the ability to achieve large scale goals on their own.  Healthy Lee has already proven that working together can improve health outcomes for Lee County.  The Million Mile Movement allows residents from all over the county to come together and accomplish something that is good for them personally and for our community.

So, no matter if going to the gym made your 2017 resolution list or not, join the movement at HealthyLee.com or (http://healthylee.com/news-events/million-mile-movement/) and help Lee County reach a million miles. If you are looking to join a team the Southwest Florida Community Foundation welcomes you to join us [email protected] Florida Community Foundation.   It will be good for all of us. See you in sneakers!

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, the foundation has invested $5 million this year in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.