NEWS

Funds established in memory of Jordan Ashley Gutheim

Funds established in memory of Jordan Ashley Gutheim

The Gutheim family has established the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation Fund and the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Scholarship Fund, funds of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

The donor advised fund and scholarship fund were established in memory of Jordan Gutheim, a 20-year-old graduate of Evangelical Christian School and a junior at Florida State University, who was killed in a car accident on May 12, 2016.

According to her family, Jordan was passionate about animal safety, seniors and helping those in need in impoverished countries like Dominican Republic. They plan for the fund to support efforts including no-kill animal shelters, seniors facing dementia, humanitarian mission trips, driver safety and family services. The family also established a 4-year renewable scholarship fund for local students, preferably a graduate of Evangelical Christian School, to attend FSU.  (apply at www.floridacommunity.com/scholarships)

Born in Fort Myers, Jordan was known for her fun and loving spirit, her happiness, sensitivity and interest in going out of her way to help others.

“Jordan took pride in her family and friendships, and valued loyalty and kindness,” said her father Greg. “She loved to travel, exercise, experience new things and make others laugh. We miss her every day, but through this fund, our wonderfully kind and caring daughter will live on and continue to help others.”

The fund is available for anyone who would like to contribute by visiting http://bit.ly/JordanAshleyGutheim or sending a check to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

“We are the Community Foundation, and community is what we are all about,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We want to be here for the members of our community so that we can provide support for philanthropy and building legacy. The Gutheims are an important part of our Foundation family now, and we look forward to walking alongside them in making meaningful and effective grants in Jordan’s memory.”

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 nearly 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation has invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.

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

 

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Contact: Melinda Isley, APR, m.creativepr, 239-274-7736, cell: 239-565-1630, [email protected]

CAUSE & EFFECT: January 2017 issue

CAUSE & EFFECT: January 2017 issue

January 2017 issue
Happy “NEWS” Year
Sarah Owen, Pres & CEO
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Perhaps you are still getting used to writing or even saying “2017,” but the calendar doesn’t wait and things are off to a great start in the community and the Foundation.


Check out what’s been in the news so far this year:

News-Press People of the Year

  • One of our Foundation’s founders John Sheppard has been selected as the News-Press’ prestigious Luminary for 2016. 
  • Community Foundation trustee Carolyn Conant has been tapped as a TrailBlazer.
     
  • One of our fundholders and up and coming “Millennials” Marc Devisse is a nominee for Young Professional of the Year. 
  • Fundholders and change-makers Jerry and Sharon Miller are recognized as Heros. 
  • Grantees Heights Foundation’s Kathryn Kelly, Family Initiative’s David Brown and Anjali Van Drie and Valerie’s House’s Angela Melvin are also selected for honors.
From this exclusive list, I would say that we are “Southwest Florida Strong” with such passionate people involved.  (Click here to read more about People of the Year on the News-Press website.)


Tribe
We announced our newest grantee tribe and they are meeting with us for the first time as a group this afternoon. Stay tuned for more detail on this online and in the news.

FutureMakers and New Funds Opened

Activities in FutureMakers Coalition, a regional coalition that we provide backbone support with the goal to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications by 2025 is strong (www.futuremakerscoalition.com), our scholarship season launched this week, and we are geared up for a season of events and programs with our donors, partners and friends. We are still enjoying a record season of opening new funds and welcoming new invigorated donors to the foundation. And that simply means more good for our region.


Train Depot
We finalized our partnerships with the Florida Community Loan Fund and the City of Fort Myers to start the Midtown New Market Tax Credits project breaking ground on the Atlantic Railroad Train Depot renovation and collaboration accelerator  project this February. (read more here


2017 has been something we have been planning for and with your support and partnership, we are ready for a great year ahead.  Join us!

In Gratitude,

THANK YOU to our Referring Professional Advisors
 

Gift ideas are only limited by causes.  Board Chair Guy Whitesman shows his enthusiasm at a recent reception with donors and friends.

We often say we are better together when working with our donors, friends, partners and supporters. Our referring professional advisers put an exclamation point on that statement. They are those who are estate planning attorneys, bankers, accountants, and wealth advisers who refer their clients to us for philanthropic (and sometimes tax solutions) for current and future gifts.


MANY THANKS the following for all of your support this past year:
  • Lowell Schoenfeld, Green, Schoenfeld & Kyle LLP
  • Michael Stone, CPA, Freedom Tax & Financial Group
  • A. Scott White, Scott White Advisors
  • Kelly Fayer, PA, The Law Office of Kelly Fayer
  • LaDonna J. Cody, PA, Attorney
  • Andrew Barnette, CPA, Andrew Barnette & Associates
  • Juan D. Bendeck, Partner, Hahn Loeser Attorneys at Law
  • Jay Brett, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A.
  • Terri Alsept, Northern Trust Bank
  • Mary Beth Crawford and Grace Guittierez, Cummings & Lockwood (Bonita office)
  • Guy Whitesman and Eric Gurgold, Henderson Franklin (Fort Myers office)
  • William Horowitz, Cummings & Lockwood
  • Marc Reisman, RS Wealth Management
  • Pavita Sandhu, Regions Bank
  • Renee Porter-Medley, Key Bank
  • Craig Folk, CPA, Miller, Helms & Folk, PA
  • Danielle Lucht, Alliance Financial Group
  • Hugh Kinsey, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A.
  • Steven “Rusty” Whitley, CPA, Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English, PA
  • Trevor Whitley, Marquis Wealth Group
  • Sandy Robinson (retired) Northern Trust Bank
  • Dave Owens, Midland IRA
  • Fran Payson, Merrill Lynch
  • Jennifer Hammond, Green, Schoenfeld & Kyle LLP
  • Charlotte Hause, Charlotte State Bank & Trust
Donors, we are happy to work your professional adviser on your philanthropic planning. It’s among our most favorite things to do.


THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation 
Fund established to support causes that were important to local woman

Jordan Ashley Gutheim
The Gutheim family has established the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation Fund in memory of Jordan Gutheim, a 20-year-old graduate of Evangelical Christian School and a junior at Florida State University, who was killed in a car accident on May 12, 2016.
 
According to her family, Jordan was passionate about animal safety, seniors and helping those in need in impoverished countries like Dominican Republic. They plan for the fund to support efforts including no-kill animal shelters, seniors facing dementia, humanitarian mission trips, driver safety and family services. The family also plans to fund an annual scholarship at FSU.
 
Born in Fort Myers, Jordan was known for her fun and loving spirit, her happiness, sensitivity and interest in going out of her way to help others.
 
“We are the Community Foundation, and community is what we are all about,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We want to be here for the members of our community so that we can provide support for philanthropy and building legacy.
The Gutheims are an important part of our Foundation family and we look forward to walking alongside them in making meaningful and effective grants in Jordan’s memory.”

To give directly to the fund in Jordan’s memory, please click here.


Legacy Society Events Upcoming


It’s our favorite time of the year when we get to spend it 
with our Legacy Society members, those who have a fund with the Foundation or have planned to establish a fund in their estate.  We have three great outings planned for January and February including receptions, evenings at with the Gulf Coast Symphony and at a theatre matinee with Florida Rep.

If you have not received your invitation OR if you have not RSVP’d, please call Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900.

We can’t wait to see you at the reception and enjoy music and the arts together.

Scholarship Season Opens with $500,000 available 
PASS IT ALONG!

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s scholarship application process for the 2017-2018 school year will begin this month.
 
Approximately $500,000 in scholarship money is available through more than 50 scholarships for local high school students, undergraduate and graduate students from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

Our scholarship portal opened on Jan. 16 and students may apply for scholarships here here.
  The scholarship application process will close March 3.

Students may review the scholarships available online as well as a tutorial about how to create and submit the online application. Students may apply for multiple scholarships and upload transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation and the FAFSA student aid report. 
 
Educators, mentors, parents and students can find resources to complete the FAFSA form through the local FAFSA first website recently launched by the FutureMakers Coalition at http://fafsafirst.org/

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by the year 2025. 
 
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.

 

Florida Repertory Theatre establishes agency endowment fund with the  Southwest Florida Community Foundation 

Florida Repertory Theatre establishes agency endowment fund with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation 

          The Florida Repertory Theatre’s board of directors recently established a nonprofit agency endowment fund with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

            Established by nonprofit organizations, Nonprofit Agency Endowment Funds are long-term funds that allow an agency to plan for the future needs of the organization. Because the funds are endowed, agencies like Florida Rep can take advantage of the Community Foundation’s financial management, administrative resources and expertise on planned giving. The fund provides a simple and effective way for charities to build endowment and therefore sustainability. Agencies can opt to receive annual payout based on the balance of the fund as a source of income for operations and programs or roll over the amount to increase future endowment.

 “We look forward to working in partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and cultivating our donors to not only give for the future but also endow gifts such as cash, appreciated assets and planned gifts,” said Robert Cacioppo, Florida Repertory Theatre’s founder and producing artistic director. “Thanks to our wonderfully supportive community and incredible ensemble of artists, Florida Rep has proudly become the largest nonprofit arts organization in the history of Lee County with $4 million in budget, 51 full-time staff members and 87,000 people served annually. With no debt, it is exciting for people to know that when they donate to the Rep, those donations go directly to new programs. Now, as we prepare for our 20th season, we look even further into the future. We want Florida Rep to be serving our area 20, 30 years from now. In my mind, there are two important ways to assure that: to reach more young people (we now serve 25,000 youth annually.) and build an endowment, a fund that will secure our future for future generations to enjoy the magic of live theatre. Because 20 years from now, that 15 year old in our programs will be our future audience, donor, board member and subscriber.”

Florida Repertory Theatre is committed to providing a first-class regional theatre for Southwest Florida and creating, nurturing and developing an ensemble of theatre professionals who will develop long-term relationships working on a wide variety of plays. Its goal is also to improve the quality of life in our community through all the arts and to making the arts, especially theatre, accessible to all. Florida Rep is celebrating 19 years of award-winning regional theatre as a fully professional theatre company that The Wall Street Journal called “One of America’s Top Repertory Companies.” Performing in the Historic Arcade Theatre, Florida Rep produces a wide variety of comedies, dramas and musicals, and brings many people to the Fort Myers River District annually throughout its October to May season.

“Building a fund for the future enhances a nonprofit’s mainstay and health of the organization, said Sarah Owen, CEO and president of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “In our 40 years, we have found donors like to give to an endowment, and we are dedicated to the stewardship of such gifts to help nonprofits like Florida Rep remain effective.” 

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, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.

Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.  

How are you going to change the world?

How are you going to change the world?

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…..

COMMUNITY.

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.

 

Community Foundation scholarship application process begins in January

Community Foundation scholarship application process begins in January

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s scholarship application process for the 2017-2018 school year will begin this month, and need-based scholarships require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form available at www.fafsa.gov.

Approximately $500,000 in scholarship money is available through more than 50 scholarships for local high school students, undergraduate and graduate students from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

Beginning Jan. 16, students may apply for scholarships through the Foundation’s online portal at www.floridacommunity.com/scholarships. The scholarship application process will close March 3. Students may review the scholarships available online as well as a tutorial about how to create and submit the online application. Students may apply for multiple scholarships and upload transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation and the FAFSA student aid report.

Educators, mentors, parents and students can find resources to complete the FAFSA form through the local FAFSA first website recently launched by the FutureMakers Coalition at http://fafsafirst.org/. The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by the year 2025.

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, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.

Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation announces $10 million New Markets Tax Credit project

Southwest Florida Community Foundation announces $10 million New Markets Tax Credit project

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2017) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently closed on a $10 million New Markets Tax Credit deal to be used to restore the historic Atlantic Coast Line railroad station and build a technology hub and headquarters in the Midtown historic neighborhood of Fort Myers.

The New Markets Tax Credit, or NMTC, program encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods.

As part of the public-private partnership with the City of Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation will sign a long-term lease with the city to move its regional headquarters to the train depot on Jackson Street. The building will be restored, and the Foundation plans to construct a 10,000-square-foot LEED Gold addition to create a campus that includes the Foundation offices and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants.

Florida Community Loan Fund provided the $10 million in the NMTC allocation, and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is an investor on the project. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.

According to Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the innovative thinking around community investments that created this opportunity will result in a gathering place for philanthropy and nonprofits in the heart of midtown Fort Myers, featuring vibrant spaces for work, gatherings and special events. In addition, plans include state-of-the-art broadband access.

“We are extremely excited about this project, public/private partnership with the City and the possibilities this brings for the midtown neighborhood,” said Owen. “We like to call this a ‘collaboration accelerator’ that is powered by technology, funding and good ideas to create change in our region. It’s old historic rail meeting new innovative rail.”

The center, along with the Internet network, will be a resource for regional nonprofit organizations, local businesses and schools.

“This is a fantastic project because it gives U.S. Bank the opportunity to support the restoration of an important historical building, spark new economic development in a growing region and partner with a visionary non-profit,” said Jennifer Westerbeck, vice president of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, a division of U.S. Bank.

The City’s Midtown redevelopment plan covers the areas south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, north of Edison Avenue, east of U.S. 41 and west of Fowler Street. Part of this plan also includes 15 blocks of upgraded utilities and $2.5 million of streetscaping.

The Foundation is supporting the financing by paying closing costs and interest payments for the next seven years. The New Markets Tax Credit provided $3 million of equity-like financing to the $10 million project, which after seven years will be available to be converted to true equity.

The Atlantic Coast Line railway station at 2031 Jackson Street was presented to the city on Feb. 4, 1924, the same year Fort Myers was poised to join the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. In the face of shrinking revenues, the Seaboard Coast Line (which had merged with ACL) sold its track and discontinued all passenger service into Fort Myers and closed the station in 1971. After sitting empty for a decade, the Southwest Florida Museum of History opened on the site in 1982. In 2015, the museum merged with the Imaginarium Science Center and recently moved to the Imaginarium’s site at Cranford Avenue.

“This project is a win-win for our region because it is a pivotal example of unique strategies and investment coming together for repurposing and revitalization of our historic treasures and neighborhoods,” added Owen. “Upon completion, this once vital Fort Myers’ asset will once again be a central hub for community activity and progress.”

Work on the site is anticipated to begin February 2017, exactly 93 years after the original presentation to the city.

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, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.

Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

Have Resolve, Think Local

Have Resolve, Think Local

In December, there is always a long list of fun activities going on at the kids’ elementary school.  My two little ones love to dress up on theme days, participate in violin recitals, shop in the Holiday House, and sell poinsettias to raise money for field trips.  My favorite part of the 2016 end-of-year festivities was reading to my son’s kindergarten class. It was a small task. I was in and out in 20 minutes, but this year it was therapeutic for me – as giving back often is for us all.

I don’t know about you, but 2016 felt a little out of control at times.  For better or worse, there were a variety of problems that continued or bubbled up around the globe.  A long list of icons passed, from the man who brought Professor Severus Snape to life on the big screen, to an American hero astronaut, to a larger-than-life boxer and activist.  An unprecedented year of campaign and election fodder bombarded us at every turn. There was so much unrest around the world and violence here at home. The list goes on and, for me, 2016 left a pronounced feeling of wanting to spend December in bed without access to the internet.

As a dreamer and doer among the change-makers here at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, that’s a pretty awful feeling because we believe in the region’s collective capacity to make a positive impact on Southwest Florida and the world.

When the invitation to read to 5 and 6 year olds arrived, I accepted without thinking twice. I showed up with a book from home about dealing with a problem for no other reason than it’s a favorite.

In the book, the problem is a dark, scribbled ball above the protagonist’s head, a growing ball of worry.  The little boy’s drama only subsides when he realizes that opportunity lies in every problem but sometimes you go through a lot of worry and struggle before you can see it.

As these kindergarteners stared up at the truthful illustrations, I realized something I already knew about the way I was feeling.  I could worry and hide from a world that often feels out of control, or I could face 2017 with resolve to do my part and try to have a positive impact on the things I can control.

It’s easy to be so connected to a world of challenges that can feel like they’re ours.  None of us can tackle global problems alone and worrying about them as if they are ours is paralyzing.  What we can do is take control of something we’re passionate about changing for the good right here in our own backyards.

A new year always makes us feel we can control our destiny. Imagine what we could accomplish if we all resolved to make a real positive change here in Southwest Florida in 2017.  I’m guessing we’ll feel better, our communities will be better, and the world will reap some benefits, too.

 

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.