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Angels Aren’t Just Cookie Cutters and Tree Ornaments

Angels Aren’t Just Cookie Cutters and Tree Ornaments

Do you know an angel?

Chances are most people don’t see her halo or her wings like you do.  I have grown to believe that these ethereal creatures have the ability to cloak their kindness, often wearing beige and working behind the scenes.  But some are just so special that the people around them spot their sparkle and do-good ways and can’t help themselves except to stand in awe and point.  We call those people Angel Makers and we know a few of them at the SWFL Community Foundation.  In fact, we know nearly 100 of them.

Angel Makers have found a way to honor a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, or mentor who has everything except a tangible surprise expression of the Maker’s admiration.  Angel Makers give in honor to recognize her essence which will live on long after she is gone from earth and takes her rightful place where all angels fly.

Angels are publicly honored at The Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund luncheons and inducted into the Gallery of Angels at the Foundation and on the website.  The Angel contributions are placed in an endowed fund so that the WLF can provide future grants in our community in perpetuity.  The proceeds from the WLF Fund and Angels endowment this year resulted in a $30,000 grant to support literacy in our region.

Here is one very special angel revealed at our recent WLF luncheon:

Connie McCormick, Angel
Betteann Sherman and Winnie Ballinger, Angel Makers

Winnie Ballinger, Bettann Sherman, David McCormick, and WLF 'Angel' Connie McCormick with family

Winnie Ballinger, Betteann Sherman, David McCormick,
Connie McCormick and family

Connie McCormick was born in Greenville, Ohio and came to Fort Myers with her family in 1974. She was an office, hospital, and home health nurse, patient care coordinator, children’s’ book co- author, charter/ board of directors member of the Uncommon Friends Foundation, Lifetime Achievement Laureate, organizer/ administrator of UFF scholarship program, lifetime member of FGCU Town and Gown, and board of directors member of Moral Re-Armament/Initiatives of Change in Washington, DC.

Connie has been a loyal, steadfast, nurturing friend, a model parent, and loving partner while facing her share of life’s trials and tribulations with faith, grace, a smile, and a sense of determination to always be there for her precious family. Her seven extraordinary children are Cathy Knapp, Englewood, FL, RN, John McHugh Dennis, computer manager, Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Douglas Dennis, Attorney, Cincinnati, Ohio, Ann McHugh Brinson, teacher, Fort Myers, FL, Dr. Julie McHugh Persellin, assistant professor of accounting, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, Judge Michael McHugh, 21st District Court, Fort Myers, FL, and Dr. Danielle Dennis, associate professor, USF, Tampa, FL. Connie taught her children to be there for one another, but she showed them, by example, how to serve their community and humanity.

Connie’s husband and friend, Dr. David McCormick, summarized it best when he said, “Connie is a true angel, a thoroughly good person who has devoted her life to helping others.”

Check out the angels among us on our website and information on how you can honor someone who is special to you.  Your community will also benefit.  I’d love to hear about your special angel, please contact me at crogers@floridacommunity.com or call me at 239-274-5900.

 

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Making a List and Checking it Twice

In the course of raising three kids I have seen my share of holiday wish lists. Crayon scrawled letters to Santa Claus have now been replaced with text messages and links to the coveted items on websites but the lists have all left a narrative of what captured my family’s attention over the decades.

Lists have a way of capturing our thoughts and intentions, and in the case of holiday gift lists our wishes and desires.

Most kids update their lists annually. What they couldn’t live without the prior year is a distant memory as they craft the fantastical world of new possibilities.

In a desire to cultivate the spirit of generosity in my kids as they were growing up I would ask them to make one wish list for themselves and another list for what they wanted to give to others. At this point in the column I wish I had a heartwarming story of how my young charges spent hours crafting their giving list and selflessly put their own wishes to the side. But this list activity never seemed to get the results I had hoped.

In retrospect I think I may have found the answer. (Why we figure these things out after our children have left the house is a mystery to me!) I didn’t spend enough time including them in my own giving list. Sending off end of the year donations was just one more thing on my to-do list. My intentions were good but my execution was rushed.

40% of all charitable giving in the United States happens in December- when most Americans are busy checking off lots of lists. With over a million charities in the US and over 3,000 right here in Southwest Florida there are a lot of opportunities to give.

I always told my kids that they wouldn’t get everything on their lists-and the same thing rings true for my end of the year giving. There are so many great causes and organizations and I can never give to them all.

Intellectually I realize that when I decide to give to one organization I am in the same moment deciding not to give to another, but in the end of the year rush, I have to be careful not to make these decisions in haste.

I wish my children had seen me take as much time with the giving lists as I did with all the other holiday preparations.

One strategy I have learned since I joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is establishing a Donor Advised Fund. Last year I contributed a portion of my charitable dollars into a Fund at the end of the year and that gave me plenty of time to devote to my giving decisions.

I have also learned that I am not alone in trying to develop a list or find the information I need to make decisions I feel good about long after the holidays are over. Team members at the Foundation, armed with data on community need, information on nonprofits and opportunities to get involved in our region, are getting calls from caring donors seeking the most effective ways to fulfill their personal philanthropic wishes.

The team also arranges tours at local organizations, and roundtables on issues to help shape a charitable list.

All of my kids will be home for the holidays this year and I plan to revisit their youth by asking them to craft two lists. But this time I will be checking the giving lists twice.

If you would like any help crafting your end of the year giving lists please email me at iamlistening@floridacommunity.com

 

image courtesy of cachevolunteercenter.org

 

 

 

Cause Fest Photos

Cause Fest Photos

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

CAUSE FEST BONITA

CAUSE FEST SANIBEL

CUASE FEST FORT MYERS

Cause Fest Bonita

Cause Fest Bonita

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Cause Fest Sanibel

Cause Fest Sanibel

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Cause Fest Fort Myers

Cause Fest Fort Myers

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Couple opens fund for Hope Clubhouse – $1.1 million to support mental illness locally

Couple opens fund for Hope Clubhouse – $1.1 million to support mental illness locally

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2014) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently established a new fund for donors to support mental illness in our community.

Donors Kappy and John King established the $1.1 million John S. and Kathryne A. King Fund for Mental Illness with the Foundation.

Mental illness is a cause that’s near and dear to the Fort Myers Beach couple. Through their family fund, they’re committed to erasing the stigma associated with mental illness and helping Southwest Florida improve its services. The state currently ranks 49th nationally in mental health spending per capita.

“We hope by giving through the Community Foundation, it will raise awareness for the need for more money for mental illness,” said Mrs. King. “There are thousands of people out there who need help. It’s so difficult to raise money to support mental illness as opposed to mental health. We hope our fund will lead to additional contributions.”

The Kings worked with the Foundation to customize their fund, creating a family legacy that will ensure continued support of Hope Clubhouse, a Fort Myers agency offering work, education, friendship and access to housing for those with mental illness.

“It’s a wonderful organization, as it gives people a sense of life and purpose,” said Mrs. King. “We know if anything should happen to the Clubhouse, the money will continue to help people living with mental illness. It will carry on after we’re gone.”

The Kings participated in the creative exchange of ideas during the Foundation-hosted iLab with local nonprofits. By participating in the iLab, the Kings and other donors had the opportunity to see the work the Community Foundation is doing to partner with nonprofits.

“We got to watch and ask questions and share our insights,” recalled Mrs. King. “We knew about the Community Foundation and have watched them grow during the past few years. We love what they’re doing – carrying it further and seeking solutions.”

The Foundation has also introduced new programs to empower donors with ownership on the issues they care deeply about. Donors with donor-advised funds can choose their investment strategy, from conservative to more aggressive, and they can continue to work with their investment advisors through the Foundation.

“We’ve made it even more convenient for donors to become vested in their giving, launching a Donor View portal on our new website that provides 24/7 internet access to their funds,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Here, they can track the history of their giving, create reports and receipts, and conveniently make grants.”

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 $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $2.8 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. The Foundation granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.