Florida Weekly Column

I’m Telling Oliver

I’m Telling Oliver

Sometimes creating change in our community and our world can seem like a daunting task. Change makers wonder if their efforts are creating measurable results and if their work is making a difference.

As you can imagine I walk alongside people in our community who work tirelessly to create positive sustainable change.

Many times these passionate advocates seek advice from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation on the most effective way to inspire others to join them in their efforts or how to influence public opinion to create change.

Much is written and discussed in the non-profit and civic engagement community about gaining support for a cause. Most of us know instinctively that change making is most effective when we do it collectively but we don’t always know where to start.

A few days ago a colleague shared that she and her children had been discussing a compelling eco-thriller documentary on the threat of extinction to our planet she had viewed and felt passionate about. The kids were a bit too young to watch the movie but she did take the opportunity to talk with them about the topic and her personal views.

She wasn’t sure if it resonated with them but the next morning her 2nd grade daughter was ready to discuss how she would choose her career and live her life to save animal habitats (yes these are real kids and they are super smart). My friend felt proud and pleased that her discussion on the documentary had impacted her daughter and enjoyed all the consideration her eldest offspring was giving to the cause. This first-born child was focused on what she could take on single handedly to change the world- first-borns have the tendency to take charge.

Out of the blue, her 4-year-old bound into the room not wanting to miss out on the discussion and shared he wanted to save animal habitats as well. His ideas were not as clearly formed but he knew he wanted to be part of the action –plus no one wants their big sister to get all of the attention.

When his mom and sister pressed him for an idea of his own he paused and announced that he would tell Oliver, his best buddy at school, and then Oliver would tell someone- and so on and so on- and once everyone knows about the problem they would all work together to figure out an idea.

At the young innocent age of 4, this little boy realized that even if he didn’t have an idea on solving a big problem he did have friends that could spread the word and help him come up with something. Sometimes gathering support is as simple as sharing the problem with others and asking for their help.

Too bad we all grow up and think we can solve things on our own.

If you are concerned about a community issue or a cause and are not sure what do, don’t go it alone, instead, find your Olivers and see what you can come up with together. Or, call us at the SWFL Community Foundation, we are listening.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It also granted $518,000 in regional community impact grants and $512,000 in scholarship grants.

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