NEWS

Whatever Happened to Bob?

Whatever Happened to Bob?

Something special happens when we get together with friends who share a long and common history.  It might be high school teammates, college roommates or colleagues we worked with building a project or company.

Those relationships have the unique ability to stand the test of time and even if years pass with little or no contact the conversation can pick up as if we were all just together yesterday.

Inside jokes, life changing moments and common experiences are the fabric of these reunions.  I always love it when I find myself laughing just as hard at the retelling of a story that happened decades ago as I did when it happened the first time.

Recently I was invited to join a birthday celebration with a group of friends who had been close in high school and gathered about once or twice a year to catch up.   I was a bit worried about tagging along, as I knew that I would have no clue what they were talking about for most of the night.

But actually it was fun to observe them and listen in as they reminisced.  Eventually the conversation turned to recalling specific people from their past that they had lost touch with over the years.  It was a roll call of classmates and they pondered the question, “whatever happened to Bob, Jill, Tom, or that guy that took you to Prom?”

Even in this day of extreme connectivity through technology and social media, we lose touch with people.  Our lives begin to go in different orbits and seasons of life change.  Staying connected takes an intentional effort in our fast paced society.

Each year the Southwest Florida Community Foundation awards close to 100 scholarships to local students to assist them in pursuing post-secondary degrees and certifications.  As you can imagine we become connected to the recipients through the application and interview process.   Many times we meet their families and we communicate with them as they are beginning their new path in life.

In some cases we are also able to arrange a meeting between the scholarship donor and their recipients, which creates a special bond.  But several years ago I would overhear our team, scholarship donors, and application reviewers ask the “whatever happened to Bob?” question.

As close as we became to the recipients for a short period of time, we were losing touch with them as they transitioned to a new chapter in their lives.  Once in a while a student would reach back out to us or connect on our Facebook page and we would all be so excited to receive the updates.

When donors establish funds to support a student with tuition for technical colleges or universities their vision is to create a fulfilling career.  No one establishes a scholarship for the purpose of just getting a student into school, but rather to assist them in getting done and connected to a job, and a fulfilling career.

This makes the “whatever happened to Bob?” critically important in this conversation.

At the Foundation we are creating ways for donors to support students throughout their education rather than just first year funding, we are opening lines of communication that are easily maintained so we don’t lose touch.  We are launching a pilot that enables students to create LinkedIn accounts that will assist them both in college and their future professional lives.  And of course the link will be our lasting bond hopefully long after the college days.

We want to create relationships that stand the test of time and conversations that can pick up right where they left off.  This way we won’t be measuring how many scholarships were awarded but how many lives were changed.

Watch for our announcement and list of 2016 scholarship recipients.  And, if you want in on being a change-maker, just give us a call because setting up scholarship funds is one of our favorite things to do.

 

 

Small but Powerful People 

Small but Powerful People 

I am the mother of two amazing little ones, a 7 year-old, compassionate, old-soul and a meticulous, thoughtful 5 year-old.  They have an incredible power to rapidly change me.  They can make me laugh, cry, play, act silly, worry, rethink everything, and every now and then raise my voice (despite my best efforts to remain level-headed). Mostly though, they amaze me with the way they think, the things they learn, and how they love.  These two are full of compassion, not just for each other, family and friends, but for all living things.  The coolest part about how they love is their desire to help and make things better.  They are small but powerful people.

For as long as I can remember the month of April has made me think about the earth, this planet that supports life of all kinds and provides essential resources.  I ponder the impact I make, good and bad, and commit to do more.  As a mother, my April reflections have expanded.  Now more than ever, I think about how we will leave this planet for our kids, the next generations who care so much and love so deeply.

This morning I asked them why they think Earth Day is important.  The youngest, hair in every direction and still in his jammies, rubbed his sleepy eyes and said, “It’s our planet, Mom.  I don’t want it to die.”  The other had to think about it.  After school, she announced that Earth Day reminds us that our planet allows us to “grow fruits and vegetables, provides places for animals to live, and we need to take care of it so it doesn’t turn into a garbage dump.”

In one spin around the sun, the earth endures so many changes.  Some of the changes are barely noticeable; others are dramatic, but most appear gradual in our busy lives until you look up and the result is suddenly right there in front of you. It can be overwhelming and seem insurmountable to each of us, individually.  What can one person do to make a positive impact on the earth?

When I ask these little ones what they think we can do to make the world a better place, they always turn to what they can do.  “I will pick up that litter.”  “I will recycle.”  “I will turn off the water while I brush my teeth.” “I will tell my friends we need to protect people and animals.”  They believe they can make a difference and expect others to do the same.  Their perspective is worth a deeper look.  If we all take action, big or small, we can make a difference in our little corner of the world.  Everyone doing their part adds up to real, positive impact around the globe.  Earth Day comes around just like our planet circling the sun to remind us of that.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we provide opportunities for those who love Southwest Florida to support and realize positive, regional change around their cause.  My cause is undoubtedly Southwest Florida’s environment – the earth. This April, the Foundation launched the Fund for the Environment and, to get it started, we’re crowdfunding for it.  That means that anyone can provide a donation, big or small, to be part of something bigger for the region and the planet, just in time for Earth Day.

Whether you decide to give or to do something that will help preserve our environment, please know that every action matters, and we can all start with one thing to make the next spin around the sun a better one for the earth and all its inhabitants, especially the littlest ones.

 

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 $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

 

Big Numbers

Big Numbers

When it comes to anniversaries and birthdays some numbers just seem to be bigger than others. Decade and half decade markers get the most attention and provide fantastic opportunities for recognition and celebration.

Over the last ten years I have enjoyed my share of parties to usher in someone’s 30th, 40th and 50th birthdays or wedding anniversaries marking a couple’s quarter century together. These are events worthy of celebration.

But one trend I have found particularly interesting is our desire to reframe these numbers. When I turned 40 everyone told me not to worry because 40 was the new 30. When I turned 50 those same encouraging souls explained that 50 was the new 40 and a friend of mine who just hit 60 explained that she was really just hitting what used to be considered 50.

On one hand this confuses me greatly because now I don’t actually understand how old we all are but I also realize that we view aging through a different lens than generations before us.

Society used to see increasing age as the ultimate wisdom, credibility and experience quotient. Our elders (notice the name) were revered and held in the highest esteem. I never remember my grandmother sitting down with me when she was in her 80’s offering loving advice and expressing she was actually the new 60. I admired her for the age she really achieved and understood she knew what she was talking about.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week. This big number provides us the opportunity to thank those who have helped guide us, support us and lead us over the last 40 years. We are extremely fortunate that our founders John Sheppard and Tom Smoot are still actively involved as Senior Advisors and that many of our donors who helped us pave the way to where we are today will be on hand to help us celebrate.

To mark the anniversary, we unwrapped an early gift from a new philanthropist to the foundation, Commercial Photographer Brian Tietz. Brian spent much of last year photographing nearly 100 people who represent philanthropy and the love of humanity in Southwest Florida. His one-man photo exhibit will be featured at our anniversary celebration. What Brian was willing to do for us captures the spirit of the last 40 years at the Foundation- individuals giving of themselves individually and collectively to create change. We will reflect on that history and moments like the way the Foundation assisted in Hurricane Charley relief efforts, the establishment of the Women’s Legacy Fund and the Fund for the Arts in Southwest Florida, and the achievement of all-time grants exceeding $63 million and assets growing to an all-time high of $93 million.

When organizations get older often there is a comfort that they are more established, on strong footing and have a greater depth and breadth of experience to call on. This is certainly the case with the Community Foundation.

But, I have to admit I was tempted to put “Join us in celebrating our 40th- the new 30th” on the anniversary invitation. Not because I wanted the Foundation to appear younger, but to signify that we are honoring the past but still pursuing new ideas, change and innovation with the exuberance of an up and coming organization. We are now hosting compassionate shark tanks, researching community needs and opportunities by talking to those most affected, offering donors 24-7 access to their funds via our website, working with millennial donors, and more.

Community Foundations are tasked with listening, learning and changing with a community. Our founders will be the first to tell you that our region is much different today than it was 40 years ago and today’s trustees know they are visioning and planning a course for the foundation for the next 40 years and beyond.

So as we take time out to mark what has gotten us to where we are today, we will also be looking ahead to the future.

And, by the way, Brian Tietz’s photo exhibit will be on display in the Foundation office, the Community Hub, from April 15 through the summer. It is a gift to our community that we hope to share with many. We would love to include you in all of our future celebrations. Please join us, it’s never too late — we are all just getting younger!

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 $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

Because you only turn 40 once!

Because you only turn 40 once!

Congratulations to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation board of trustees and senior advisors celebrating 40 years of philanthropy.  The anniversary events were kicked off tonight with the awarding of the John Sheppard Award to Jay Brett and Dawn Marie Driscoll in front of a packed Community Hub filled with trustees and senior advisor trustees, spouses and friends.  The “dynamic duo,” coined by Board Chairman Guy Whitesman, did not disappoint with heartfelt words of acceptance of a journey well taken as leaders, ….and followers.  We say a hearty THANK YOU.  Happy 40th Anniversary.  Here we go!

 

Jay Brett and Dawn-Marie Driscoll Recieve the John Sheppard AwardSarah Owen and Larry Hobbs MDMyra Walters and Aurora Badia MDJohn Sheppard, Bob daFrota, Bill FreyJoe Mazurkiewicz and Jay BrettGary Aubuchon and David LucasHugh Kinsey, Aurora Badia MD, Sydney RobertsTrustees before toastIMG_8938IMG_8937IMG_8936Cindy Banyai, Howard Leland, Ron PennCharles Idelson and Juan BendeckTom Smoot, Archie Hayward and Chauncey GossScott White, Robbie Roepstorff, Larry HobbsArchie Hayward, Carolyn ConantAmy Gravina and David Lucas

Southwest Florida Community Foundation launches Fund for the Environment

Southwest Florida Community Foundation launches Fund for the Environment

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has launched the Fund for the Environment in Southwest Florida.

All monies raised through this multi-donor fund will be given back out to the local community through nonprofit organizations with projects focused on the long-term sustainability of the Southwest Florida environment.

Donations starting at $10 are now being accepted online at www.floridacommunity.com/environment-fund. The first 22 donors will receive an “environment” button in the mail.

Earth Day is celebrating its 46th year as a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion and motivate people to action. The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Today, the Earth Day Network (EDN) works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016. 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, it has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

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

CAUSE & EFFECT: SPRING 2016

CAUSE & EFFECT: SPRING 2016

Spring 2016 issue

Have you hugged the earth lately?

In the month of April the world celebrates the planet.
 
Here in Southwest Florida, our natural environment gives us so much unique beauty.  It is the region’s value proposition; it sets us apart from the rest of Florida, the nation, and the world.  
 
At the community hub, we plan to celebrate the planet along with you.  Each of us can do something to honor, celebrate, and protect the planet and our amazing part of it.  
 
 
And if you really want to do something local,GIVE to our Fund for the Environment in Southwest Florida, the first of its kind where you can give now and we will grant it all out this year. Give now or learn more by clicking here.  
In Gratitude,

Women’s Legacy Fund 
Spring Contributors Luncheon to Explore Needs of Women & Girls in our Region May 12th

We have once again planned a more intimate gathering for this year’s Spring Luncheon. This “working lunch” format allows Contributors to explore and discuss this year’s cause areas for the annual WLF grant as a group of collective philanthropists.

Thursday, May 12, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Registration starts at 11 a.m.

The spring luncheon is complimentary and will be open exclusively to our active Contributors and Prima Donors. We will begin with facilitated discussions around the research we performed and the grant focus areas selected by the 2016 WLF grants committee:

  • Intergenerational Activities for Women & Girls
  • Career Exploration for Young Women & Girls
  • Youth Activities for Disconnected Young Women & Girls

We invite you to renew or become a 2016 Contributor (note: the WLF calendar is from the fall luncheon through May 1).  To “have a voice in the choice” vote and/or attend the luncheon, you must be a Contributor ($250 or $100 for 25 years or younger), or a Prima Donor by May 1. 
 
Please watch your email and mailboxes for the appeal letter or click here to learn more or here to contribute online now.

Some Special Someones
Foundation leaders receive awards

Jay Brett and Dawn Marie Driscoll will receive the prestigious John W. Sheppard Award
Jay Brett and Dawn-Marie Driscoll will be presented with the 2016 John W. Sheppard Award by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation board of trustees at the Foundation’s board meeting and 40th anniversary celebration on April 12.

Named after a founder of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the John W. Sheppard Award is given to outstanding trustees who have given selfless dedication to humanity and made significant contributions to the Community Foundation. Past recipients include John Sheppard, David Lucas, Peter Kleist, Arnold Sarlo, Frank Bireley, Jim Nathan, Sam Galloway, Jr., Tom Smoot, David G. Robinson, Bill Frey and Gene Solomon.  

Sarah Owen receives a hug from her son Samuel when named News-Press 2016 Person of the Year

photo by Amanda Inscore, 
News-Press

News-Press Person of Year

She may be the News-Press’ Person of the Year, but Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the SWFL Community Foundation is our person of the day, week, month, and always.  She was selected for her vision and leadership of the FutureMakers Coalition to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 to 40% by 2025, according to News-Press Publisher Mike Jung.  Owen credits the Foundation board and the hundreds of FutureMakers working together toward the goal.

To learn more about FutureMakers or to become one, please visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com.
Celebrating 40 Years of Philanthropy
1976-2016

As part of the Foundation’s 40th Anniversary celebration, a special photo exhibit donated by commercial photographer Brian Tietz called “Faces of Philanthropy” will be on display at the Community Hub, (the Foundation office).

The exhibit celebrates outstanding philanthropy from the region and honors those passionate about our community and who give back through their time, talent and treasure.

More than 65 photos are part of the exhibit and include faces from all walks of life and individuals as young as 8 years of age up to 90. Subjects, who were nominated for their philanthropy, include a judge, retired teachers, business owners, attorneys, entrepreneurs, community volunteers, donors, Community Foundation fund holders, those who plan to leave a legacy gift in their estates, and more.

“My goal with shooting the Faces of Philanthropy portraits was to try and capture an unguarded moment with each subject, capturing just them as themselves and not a public persona that people, especially those well known in their community, sometimes feel they have to project,” said Tietz. “I also wanted to give back on my terms producing unique authentic and original images that fulfilled me as an artist and photographer.” 


The exhibit will run and be open to the public from April 15 through the summer months during regular Community Foundation Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some photos are located in meeting rooms so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible.
Scholarship Reviewers Unite
Reviewers, save the date June 6 for special 
CEO Roundtable
It’s that time of year when scholarship reviewers from the community take to the tough ta sk with our Scholarship Committee to review over 1,200 applications. When the tallies are in and interviews complete, the Community Foundation will award over $550,000 through over 90 scholarship funds with the help of nearly 100 volunteers

These special reviewers are invited to join us for a thank you “sneak peak” at the winners, and a roundtable discussion on removing barriers to education to improve SWFL’s workforce with President & CEO Sarah Owen. After all, being a reviewer has its privileges. Invitations are forthcoming, if you are a volunteer reviewer, please save the date of June 6. The future is indeed very bright in Southwest Florida!
Sustainability is at the Center of Everything We Do:
Sustainability Plan Draft on Website
As leaders for regional change, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is addressing the quality of life for those who live, learn, work, and play in our region.

In 2015, Lee County Board of County Commissioners transferred the CompleteLee Sustainability Plan to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. We understand this plan to be a road map for driving continuous improvement. Our goal is to use the plan’s framework to measure the collective impact of regional initiatives that indicate the strength of our community.  You can get more information by clicking here.

Our plan is a regional one, though.  So we will use this direction laid by Lee County to establish similar tools for the region.  We can’t wait to see what’s next!  For more information, please visit our website www.FloridaCommunity.com/#lead.

To read our winter newsletter, Our (Sustainable) Community, click here.

Freedom Riders from Dunbar See the South with Grant from Community Foundation

 

 

The I Will Mentorship Foundation opened the

eyes of 56 students last week. 

 

While their friends were enjoying down time, these students spent their spring break visiting colleges and educational historic Civil Rights sites in the South.  Funded by a recent grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the group was awarded for their innovation and focus on providing positive experiences for the teens of Dunbar. 

 

For more information on I Will Mentorship and to see their journey, visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

 

 
Bonita Springs Community Fund grants $20,000 to local nonprofits

Bonita Springs Community Fund grants $20,000 to local nonprofits

The Bonita Springs Community Advisory Committee recently presented four local nonprofits with $5,000 each.

Recipient nonprofits included the Bonita Springs Assistance Office, New Horizons of Southwest Florida, Bonita Springs Middle School Center for the Arts and the Bonita Springs YMCA.

The Bonita Springs Assistance Office’s Backpacks of Love program provides food-insecure children and teens in the community a backpack filled with food that is specifically child-friendly, nonperishable, nutrient dense and easy to prepare.

New Horizons of Southwest Florida’s Laying a Foundation for Growth program offers after-school and summer programs for socio-economically disadvantaged students. The students, grades kindergarten through 12, learn in an environment of one-on-one tutoring and mentoring focused on their specific needs. The $5,000 grant will help cover the salary of a new staff position that is key to the succession plans of the organization and its program.

Bonita Springs Middle Center for the Arts’ Steel Drum Band received funds to be used to purchase a steel pan drum band for its students. The $5,000 grant will fund 30 drums with mallets and stands, and covers for the drums. The steel pan drum class allows the school to create a program that will interest many of its students and also allow them to perform in the community.

The Bonita Springs YMCA received funding for its Summer Day Camp transportation system, which includes transporting youth to swimming activities and a variety of field trips throughout the region.

The Bonita Springs Community Fund was established at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in 1997 to promote philanthropy and enhance the spirit and quality of life for all citizens in the greater Bonita Springs area, now and for generations to come through stewardship of permanently endowed funds. The BSCF has provided more than $1.6 million in grants and scholarships through endowed funds set up by community donors.

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, it has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.
For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

 

Bonita Springs YMCA - Jamie Hoover, Nancy Ross, Brianna Houser, Debi Braendle, Pete Shattuck, Jacke McCurdy & Joe Murgalo BSAO - Joe Murgalo, Suzanne Vendel, Jacke McCurdy, Leonor Reales, Nancy Ross, Debi Braendle, Arden McCurdy, Teri Lamaine, Larry Vendel & Bob Rosier BSMCA - Joe Murgalo, Nancy Ross, Debi Braendle, Sarah Rigney, Jacke McCurdy & Mary Blackmon New Horizons - Jan Chance, Debbie Finch, Amanda Hampton, Debra Haley, Hadley Lolli, Debi Braendle, Joe Murgalo, Jacke McCurdy, Nancy Ross & Dort Bear