How are you going to change the world?
It was an innocent enough question that I asked each of the young professionals who visited our office last week. These six young women and two young men were home for the holidays. They have still not met each other but have so very much in common. They each answered my query without a pause as if it was something they thought about often and do as they go about their daily work.
A former Marine and senior level patent examiner at the US Patent Office, an assistant state attorney, a new mother and former Miss Florida and 4th runner-up Miss America who went on to get a masters degree in theology, a CFO for an energy company, a first generation college graduate now finishing a master’s degree program in communication at the University of Vermont on a full scholarship, a head of a Montessori school, an assistant professor in the department of Thoracic Surgery at a major medical institution, a Lee County Public Schools Take Stock in Children alumna who is currently a student studying sports psychology at Cornell — they are all going to change the world but not how you might think!
They are also Southwest Florida Community Foundation scholarship recipients over the last decade. Some live here and some do not. They all say they are going to change the world starting with wait for it, wait for it…..
Yes, community! The responses varied only slightly and differed only from how they defined community. Some said they were going to change the world starting with their cities or towns where they lived, others spoke of their colleagues and peers in their chosen careers as their community, or the patients they serve, and another said she was going to change the world starting with her own family.
How are you going to change the world? It’s something we all ponder every day at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. I guess that’s why I asked them.
I used to think that changing the world was such a big thing, as large and as difficult and as magnanimous as our globe. Where do you start? I thought this so much so that when I used to ask the question I would add a caveat, an extra line like this: “Do you want to change the world? — at least our corner of it?”
I quickly realized with this bunch, they understood the question very clearly without my expanded version.
“With a smile,” said Lindsay Scott. She said if she can brighten just one person’s day, she’s changing the world.
“I would encourage people to seek opportunity,” Lee Visone said. “If one person accomplishes that, then it will have an exponential effect on the world.”
“Oh, I have a plan!” said Dr. Erin Gillaspie. “I am focused on research for lung cancer patients and I want to find treatments to make their quality of life better so we can best treat these people.”
“First I will change my community,” said Nahisha Alabre. “It’s how I can give back to my community because this community gave me my start. Then if I can change my community, I think it will change the city, then the state, then the country, and then the world, but I have to start small right here where I came from.”
“I have a strong sense of community, I want to help out young people who are following the same path I followed,” said Michael Dignam. “I want to get involved in an organization like this because it has greatly influenced me.”
“My hope is to first and foremost change the world through my family by supporting and loving my husband and raising our daughter,” said Sierra Jones. “I want my daughter to learn what it means to be kind and have compassion, I think we need to start at home with our family unit – it’s in our daily interactions with others that will change the world.”
“As a first-generation black woman getting an education, I am changing the world by changing the narrative, and I am giving people a voice who may not necessarily have a platform,” said Jessica Williams. “I am going to continue to do that to change the world.”
So now it’s your turn, how are YOU going to change the world? We’d love to know. Please post it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SWFLCF), tweet about it (@SWFLCFnd), email us ([email protected]) or call us (239-274-5900). If you want to start with your community, so do we!
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.