Florida Weekly Column

Throwback Thursdays Take on a Whole New Meaning

Throwback Thursdays Take on a Whole New Meaning

The gentleman at the monthly meeting of the Southwest Florida Historical Society had a twinkle in his eye as he shared the mischief he had created on the grounds of the historic Atlantic Coast Railroad Depot when he was a young boy growing up in Fort Myers.

I am not going to divulge his secrets, but he did get run off the property a time or two when he commandeered a freight cart for things other than moving arriving or departing luggage at the Depot.  It dawned on me after I left the group’s Thursday night meeting that if I had videotaped him it would have been a perfect post for #throwbackthurday on social media.

If this hashtag is new to you, don’t worry it’s a simple concept.  On Thursdays people of all ages take to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to look back at something from their past and share it with others.  It’s a great chance to reflect on memories of days gone by and sometimes share really funny pictures of people from their high school years (the longer ago they were in high school the better the photos!).

Ever since the Southwest Florida Community Foundation announced our partnership with the City of Fort Myers to lease and renovate the historic train station on downtown Jackson Street as part of a 10-million-dollar community investment project, my days have been wonderfully filled with stories about the community treasure.   Lately I feel like every day is a #throwbackthursday.  Although the plan is to create a state-of-the-art collaboration space we call the Collaboratory, most folks want to talk about the Depot’s past lives before moving on to the future.

The Atlantic Coastline Railway Depot opened in the 1920s and there are plenty of residents around who remember the days when the rail connected Southwest Florida to the region and beyond.  I have heard stories of kids dropping letters in the mail car, fathers leaving the station to head off to war, shipments of citrus from the packing houses that lined the rail, and class trips that provided students their very first train rides.  One of our board members was in the class that took the last train trip out of the depot.

And of course, there are stories like the one I heard at the Historical Society meeting, in which the depot was the backdrop to childhood memories.

This week we are hosting the ultimate #throwbackthursday moment when we invited the community for the construction kick-off and ever since the invitation hit the mailboxes, the stories of days gone by have been flowing.  But people are equally excited to learn more about what lies ahead in this reimagined space.

We coined the kickoff “History in the Re-Making” to highlight the depot’s glorious past and its promising future.  Just like the original intention of the railroad, we are committed to using the space to bring people together.  We will use data, conversations, experts in residence and strategic funding all powered by the latest technology to create regional change for the common good.  Join us in creating some exciting future #throwbackthursdays of the future. And, if you have stories to share, email me at [email protected] because the foundation will be finding ways to collect them all.

 

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.

 

Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories

Early in my family’s history we moved numerous times.  For a few years we moved so often due to job transfers my kids’ friends thought we might be in the witness protection program.  As a result of landing in new locations,  we had opportunities to be tourists in our hometowns.

You might think that our tourist season would be underway when we first moved to a new city, but actually it would happen just as we were about to depart for another location.  When we first landed in a new place we spun right into new jobs, new schools, new meetings and new activities, but upon departure we realized all we had missed and would frantically begin visiting museums, monuments and points of local interest.

I actually think we did 3 Smithsonian visits and the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC in 3 days prior to a move.  So it has been pure joy to live in Southwest Florida for over a decade, moving only once across a bridge.   And as I have written about in this column on numerous occasions, we have made a point to enjoy all that the region has to offer.  I ventured out to Gatorama in Glades County a few weeks ago, and this was not triggered by an impending departure. I am simply taking advantage of the amazing attractions, places and events all around me in a leisurely and enjoyable pace.

Over the past few weeks I have experienced a different type of urgency that reminds me of my days as a  last minute tourist.  This time it happened with people instead of places.

As our wonderful winter residents began their preparation to head back to their summer hometowns my phone, inbox and calendar were packed with activity.  I don’t know about you, but from my vantage point it seems that our friends just arrived and now it is time to say good bye again for a few months, which is tough.  I am going to miss them.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, many of our donors, community advocates and volunteers are seasonal residents.  They arrive on the SWFL scene ready to roll up their sleeves and create change in this corner of the world.  Over the past several months I have watched our part time friends raise millions of dollars, contribute countless hours and create positive change in our region.   It is amazing to watch a family care deeply about more than one community and to adopt their second hometown in significant ways.

As the calendar heads toward spring, I am trying to find ways to connect with my winter friends one last time before they head out of town.   There always seems to be one more detail on a project, or a last minute report on the nonprofit program they funded and in some cases the beginning conversations on their charitable giving strategy for next season.

Getting together face to face for one last meeting with these special people has allowed me to say thank you for joining forces with our equally generous full time residents and show my gratitude for all they have done together as a community.   Thank you for helping to build a new Children’s Hospital, funding nonprofits who serve our neighbors, supporting students through mentoring and scholarships, protecting our environment, and being patrons of the arts.

These are great memories I will carry with me as inspiration all summer long.  Winter friends, I will see you in October, and please know a dynamic group of “full timers” will be working hard while you are away.  And don’t forget, you can always just call, Skype, Facetime or email me 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.

 

 

 

 

Growing Up Together

Growing Up Together

Florida Weekly and I hit Southwest Florida right about the same time.  I was a little bit ahead of them on the calendar but when they showed up on the scene I gobbled up every page of the weekly paper.   It was a fantastic way to learn more about the community and issues impacting Southwest Florida, not to mention checking out all the photos in the social scene sections.  I felt as if I knew people before actually meeting them in person.

Several years later I was leading a small grass roots non-profit and Florida Weekly was always willing to print stories about our work, ads for our events and photos from our fundraisers.  They not only did it for the organization I worked for but hundreds of others in our community.

They were there for us.

Never did I imagine that a few years later I would have the opportunity to share thoughts and stories on the pages that were my lifeline in my first few years in Fort Myers.  When I joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation team and learned that Florida Weekly donated a weekly column space to the giving spirit in Southwest Florida, I was amazed.  Evidently the column had been in the very earliest issues of the fledgling Fort Myers paper.

This gift of space allows the Foundation and many of its non-profit partners to share innovative programs, stories of local philanthropists, the first published articles by interns embedded in local non-profits, musings by our senior staff members and trustees, and yes, sometimes private moments that my family still wishes I would keep to myself- all in the name of promoting generosity in our region.

500 words a week, for 10 years on charitable giving, philanthropy and community need is an incredible curation of generosity and inspiration.  The remarkable thing is the publishers of Florida Weekly do the same thing for health and wellness, business, animal lovers, and more.

They are here for us.

As if one 10-year birthday wasn’t exciting enough, I also had the opportunity to celebrate this past week with our Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  The contributors to this fund have supported women and girls in our region through nearly $140,000 in grants in areas such as domestic violence, STEM mentoring programs, neighborhood resources, employment skills and literacy.  With an endowment of nearly $660,000, these women are planning for the women and girls of the future as well.  Most recently Impact Dunbar joined the WLF family to focus specifically on women and girls in the Dunbar community.

They are there for women and girls in Southwest Florida.

Being around for 10 years is a remarkable accomplishment, but using those years to make a difference in our community is a real reason to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Florida Weekly and Women’s Legacy Fund, it’s been great watching you grow.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

You Make Your Community

You Make Your Community

April is upon us and that means a couple of things are top of mind in my household.  First, it’s that time of year when the weather starts to shift to a more summer-like pattern and our part-time seasonal Southwest Floridians begin to make their trek somewhere north of here.  It’s an interesting thing to have watched over the years, as our part of the world and economy shifts to become more local.

The other thing that occupies our minds in April is Earth Day.  We love our northern, part-time residents and visitors, but April brings the months with fewer people. It creates an opportunity to experience Southwest Florida’s sharp but fragile, wet, bird- and reptile-filled ecosystem that so many call paradise and we call home.  While unlike anywhere else, the region’s ecosystem is well-connected to others and those to the rest of the planet’s ecosystems; that’s what Earth Day, April 22nd, is all about.

While our part of this beautiful planet is not for the faint of heart, we wouldn’t stay here if we didn’t love it.  Since we love it and depend on it in so many ways, April is the perfect time to think about how each of us can help ensure Southwest Florida maintains this magnet that makes it the perfect place to live, learn, work, and play.

A year ago, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation created the Fund for the Environment of Southwest Florida, which is as unique as the ecosystem it is intended to protect because it is crowdfunded.  The environment is something we all have in common.  It is always near the top of the list of reasons people choose to visit and often decide to move their families and businesses here.

This shared love for a cause created the perfect opportunity to crowdfund our first Fund for the Environment.  Crowdfunding lets us all be philanthropists and what better cause to rally around than one we all need. The environment belongs to us and the responsibility to protect it is each of ours.  Regardless of what is happening with politics or policies near and far, you can make a difference.  You make your community.

This April, we’re doing it again.

The Foundation is taking up this shared cause and creating a new opportunity to let everyone help protect this incredible resource that promotes beauty, peace, the economy, life, and memories to last a lifetime.

As summer approaches, my kids and I will be making memories and plans to take advantage of these things that make our hometown unique.  We’ll hit Fort Myers Beach, enjoy an airboat tour of Lake Okeechobee, ride bikes through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, paddle the Charlotte Harbor, and maybe even brave a Swamp Walk at the Big Cypress National Preserve.  How about you?

As you venture out into Southwest Florida’s environment this April and start to make your summer plans, please take a moment to consider joining the crowd that will fund, through contributions big and small, projects that support something we all love, Southwest Florida’s environment.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Memories

Memories

My friend had tears in her eyes as she shared her visit with a woman she hadn’t seen in years at an assisted living complex in town.

The facility was comfortable and well-appointed and the woman had excellent around-the-clock care but it was an emotional experience because she was not as my friend remembered her.

When she arrived for her visit she found the woman sitting alone in her small quiet room.  She greeted her warmly and they fell right into catching up.   My friend had invited a couple of other people to join her who had known the woman years ago as well and they all spent some quality time together.

As she shared the story of the visit with me I realized that the woman was the mother of the family who owned the house where many of my friend’s best teenage memories took place.

I bet most of us have one of those houses in our memory banks as well.  The house where everyone seemed to gravitate after school, building homecoming floats or hanging out before and after football games.  The house that always had cars in the driveway and if you didn’t have anything to do, you knew that there was a good chance you could find something happening or at least someone to talk to at this common gathering place.

You never went there to hang out with the parents but you did know them and they seemed to just be part of the house and the experience.  They were Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so.  In some cases, they could be a listening ear and offer advice that you would never probably accept from your own mom or dad, or maybe the people that kept everyone in line.  These houses and the families that occupied them are imprinted on our adolescent memories.

I don’t know about you, but it never occurred to me that even though I was aging they were too.   My Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so are always exactly as I left them, and in my mind the house is the same and everyone still gathers there.

So I imagine the frail woman sitting alone in the wheelchair who struggled a bit with her speech was not the person from the hustle and bustle of her high school memories.

As she shared the story with me she recounted her Mrs. So-and-so  as tinier than she remembered but with the same beautiful face and flawless skin.  I am sure Mrs. So-and-so remembered her guests as their former high school selves as well.  That’s how memories work.

When the visitors reflected on the time with her they decided they should continue to go back and make new memories and it made them aware of others that might need a visit as well.

Her story reminded me of the time I spent delivering Meals On Wheels to the frail elderly in Lee County.  I remember meeting so many wonderful people, who were living alone and unable to drive.  Many had lost contact with friends because they were unable to leave their homes to socialize and stay connected.  I am betting that many of them were Mr. and Mrs. So-and so’s as well.

There are some great nonprofit organizations in our community that are dedicated to reaching out to those who are aging and may not have the ability to stay connected.  They are always looking for caring individuals to volunteer help overcome the isolation that many feel.  You may not live in the community you grew up in, but there are some Mr. and Mrs. Somebody’s that would love to start some new memories with you.

If you would like to learn more about the organizations that help keep people connected as they age, or if you are involved in this work I would love to hear from you 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Best of Times

The Best of Times

A friend invited me to lunch last week.  Not long ago she had a highly successful career, owned her own business, and was a leader in her field.  Those were great times.  Now she is retired and I noticed a certain freshness about her, and her new calm was palpable.  She shared her new daily challenges, like what book to read or the struggle of getting out of the house on time even though she doesn’t have anything pressing to do or deadlines to meet, and assured me that these are the best of times.

As she sat across the table from me, I remembered her telling me nearly 20 years ago when her children were younger that she would often work from home or knock off at 3 pm.  She worked hard to achieve an enviable work life balance. My children were a bit younger than hers, and when I had my own business, I never forgot her tricks (though I somehow missed part of her lesson because I ended up working into the wee hours after my boys went to bed).

Now we are comparing notes on our grown children and even learning about her grandchildren.  I still rely on her wisdom and guidance professionally and personally. I am still her student, I suppose.  And, when I get to retire, I hope she will show me the ropes.

But not yet, I have a lot to do in the next 10 to 15 years.  I feel an even stronger sense of urgency the more I learn about the pending transfer of wealth from one generation to the next and its anticipated effect on philanthropy and what it could mean for our community.

Philanthropy is experiencing many changes for numerous reasons.

My change-maker colleagues and I at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation view philanthropy as one part funding and one part action mixed together to create measurable impact or create desired change.  We know that money alone cannot and has not solved anything, but we also know that funding is an essential resource in our philanthropic work to inspire and fund projects driven by nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida now and in perpetuity.

In 2012, Florida Philanthropic Network commissioned a “Transfer of Wealth” study to understand what might happen to wealth as Baby Boomers begin to retire and pass their assets on to the next generation.  In Florida, it is expected that more than $322.35 billion will change hands from one generation to the next by 2020. In Lee County, more than $15.32 billion will change hands by 2020 and grow to $163.42 billion by 2060.

Imagine if our current generation of donors considered giving even 5% of their assets to charity, it would result in millions upon millions captured, protected, invested (endowed), and then a portion granted each year to causes the donors care about.  Talk about the ability to improve the quality of life in a community BY the community!

The Community Foundation recently granted $550,000 to regional nonprofits from funds left by donors. We continue to work with the awarded nonprofit grantees after the money is given to help them stay the course of the grant and help them with their organization’s challenges.  We all could do so much more with our nonprofit partners if we had even 5% more resources without the burden of fundraising at every turn. At the foundation, we work with donors every day to plan their philanthropy whether it is for current community needs or left in their estate for future needs that match their passions. And if you ask me, these are the best of times preparing for even better times ahead.

If you ever want to talk about what we do, just give me a call or email me at [email protected].  We will have the best time — 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.

 

 

 

 

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.