NEWS

The Next Wild Generation

The Next Wild Generation

by Mary C. Schoeffel, Development Director, The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

It is wild baby season!  Are you one of the millions who watch YouTube videos of animals, particularly young animals?  How about wild babies?  Many amateur and professional photographers have creatively captured the antics of these youngsters as they learn to fly, practice foraging or hunting skills, and explore their surroundings.  Though wild parents are absent from most postings, they are watching as closely as the photographer because they are critical to ensuring the survival of this next generation.

Late spring and early summer are busy times for wildlife.  We are seeing lots of animals during our daily routines as wild parents are in the midst of training their young.  At the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) which saves wildlife through Care, Education, and Collaboration the hospital is full of wild babies right now because sometimes those parental examples are ignored leading to harmful consequences like broken legs and wings.  Since 1968, concerned citizens have brought injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife patients to CROW on Sanibel Island. In 2015, 3,646 patients were admitted to the hospital which is open 365 days a year.

Wild babies accounted for the largest percentage of CROW’s patient load until 2012 when “If You Care, Leave It There” was launched.   This initiative highlights the importance of wild parents in the successful rearing of their babies.  Many times, babies were brought to CROW when the parents were still actively caring for their young.  Even though CROW’s staff and volunteers are well versed in neonate care, we have learned that wild parents have a much higher success rate raising their young than humans do.   By sharing information about different parenting styles with callers and potential rescuers – some nest on the ground, some underground – the patient load has shifted away from caring for healthy babies and allowed more resources to be applied to critical care needs.

Because we are surprised at times by what is in our own backyards, CROW designed a new permanent exhibit for the Visitor Education Center (VEC) to complement the “If You Care, Leave It There” education initiative.  Here visitors will see nesting examples, learn if the youngster is at the toddler stage of exploring its environment, and most importantly what to do if it is in danger.  Funded by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation with opening scheduled for early 2017, the exhibit will feature examples of:

  • Where various animals nest, den, rear their young
  • How to tell whether or not a wild baby is in distress or just learning to fly
  • What, if any action, is needed
  • How to act, particularly to keep the wild family together
  • When, if necessary, professional care is needed

Guests are welcome year-round at the VEC.  Interactive exhibits focus on the continuum of care at the wildlife hospital.  Live feed streaming from the hospital’s initial exam room and several outdoor recovery enclosures give visitors access to areas off-limits because of regulations.  CROW also offers on-site and off-site Outreach Education Programs, which include Animal Ambassadors.  These unique experiences appeal to all ages.

If you want to know more about CROW, how to participate in activities, volunteer or help our patients, please go to www.CrowClinic.org, or call 239-472-3644.

2016 Mary Schoeffel CROW Director of Development

Mary Schoeffel, Development Director, CROW

 

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
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.

Fund opened for victims, families and those affected by Club Blu shootings

Fund opened for victims, families and those affected by Club Blu shootings

Donations can be made at www.Floridacommunity.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 25, 2016) – In response to this morning’s shootings at Club Blu in Fort Myers,the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has partnered with the City of Fort Myers and the United Way of Lee, Charlotte, Glades and Okeechobee Counties to open the TOGETHER Fort Myers fund to assist the victims, families and those affected by this tragedy.

One hundred percent of funds donated will be used to provide support services to those affected.

“There has already been a tremendous outpouring to our City from across the country sharing their
thoughts and prayers and wanting to know how they can help,” said Fort Myers Mayor Randall P.
Henderson, Jr. “We hope people will help their neighbors in this time of need.”

Donations to the TOGETHER Fort Myers fund can be made by visiting www.Floridacommunity.com.

“Just like the fund we opened following Hurricane Charley, we are reaching out to our community to help Fort Myers heal by making donations to assist the needs of these victims, their families and those touched by this horrific tragedy on our youth, ” said Sarah Owen, president and CEOof the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “We will work with our community partner United Way to distribute funds to those impacted by the crisis”

Anyone wanting access to counseling services can call United Way’s 211 line. 211 is a United
Way program that provides free information and referral to human/social service agencies within Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. Clients can call and receive information and referrals appropriate to their needs. The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee is a volunteer organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all people in our community.

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, 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.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or
visit www.floridacommunity.com.
8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201
Fort Myers, FL 33919
239-274-5900

The Trickle Down Effect

The Trickle Down Effect

by Gina Frazier, iWill Mentorship

The youth’s eyes glistened with tears as he passed me in the hallway.   Fearing the worst, I hesitantly asked “how’d it go?”  He smiled ear to ear and excitedly yelled “I got it! … I will be going to college!!”

He had arrived late to the Youth Scholarship Summit that we were holding in the Dunbar community of Fort Myers.   The presentation had already begun as he sat down in the empty chair next to me at the back of the room.   “Am I too late?”, he glanced at me with a worried look on his face.  “I had to go home and get my drums!”   I noticed the white shirt he was wearing was a bit too large and had a small tear in the cuff, but it was clean and pressed free of wrinkles; and his shoes, a bit worn in the soles, had been buffed to a shiny black hue.   I smiled and whispered back “Nope, you’re ok.”  As the speaker continued, we talked softly, making sure that his registration was in order for the music scholarship auditions that were coming up next.

Over $300,000 in tentative scholarships were awarded that day, pending grade and other verifications, at an event that had been thrown together in just a few weeks.  It was an event that evolved from what I call “trickle down,” an unexpected benefit derived as result of a grant IWMF received from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation for our Game Changer Program.  Game Changer is a 5 phased college preparedness program for at-risk youth; phase 3 involved taking the youth on college tours over spring break.  One of the colleges was so impressed with the youth that they came down to conduct scholarship auditions … just one of several trickle-downs that resulted from this grant.

While the direct impact of this grant has been tremendous, sometimes the trickle-down goes far beyond what could have been imagined, or sometimes even reported as an outcome.  We are working on the reporting process of what is measurable versus what is not, and do not want to ignore this “after effect.”  So to all of you who who keep our programs going, thank you! The impact of your generosity is far greater than you and sometimes even we know!

If you’d like more information about I Will Mentorship, check out our website at www.iwmf2.org.

gina frazier

 

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
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.

 

 

Making Connections

Making Connections

by Tina Figliuolo
Director, Community Relations and Development
Charlotte County Homeless Coalition

 

Four years ago a group of human service agencies, including many food pantries, gathered to discuss hunger in Charlotte County. For most in this first meeting we had no idea how many people were actually hungry in our own community. We heard numbers ranging from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands. But since no one had the real answer a task force was formed to find out, the Food Connection Committee set out to start data collection.

Mid-way through the first year, more than half of the County’s Food Pantries had agreed to share information in a shared database, dubbed the Community Information System (CIS). The group quickly began to see a picture of residents struggling with lack of food.

By the end of the first year, the Food Connection Project had identified over 11,000 people who used more than 80,000 services throughout the community. These services included such things as; food pantries, rental & utility assistance, free clothing & furniture, and case management. These 11,000 made up 3,642 Households and they frequented food pantries more than 23,000 times.

We were surprised to learn that of these 3,642 households, only 37% received Food Stamp assistance (SNAP). This information gave the team an immediate needs gap that could be addressed through counseling and support.

The project’s second year was successful beyond our expectations. We were able to collaborate with more pantries than our initial goal and data really began to tell a story of hunger in Charlotte County. We realized that what we thought we knew and expected to see, we didn’t. The things we had previously based our assumptions on, were not entirely accurate.

What has been created from the Food Connection is Charlotte County’s unique story of hunger and poverty. Although the literally homeless do not play a significant role in the data, the data told us that most people who were accessing services here were less than one bump in the road from becoming homeless. They are your neighbors, young and old alike. They are members of your congregation. They are members of your family. The examination of the data was telling, many people simply didn’t know where or how to access help that could prevent them from being hungry.

A major goal of the project was to identify the repeat high utilizers of food pantries and try to reduce their dependency on the services by addressing their deeper needs. Through the data we were able to identify those high utilizers quickly and began to implement plans to find out why those households were so in need.

The first household identified was “Sue and Joe.” We found that Sue had visited food pantries 140 times over a one year span, that’s over 10 times a month! When a case manager sat down with Sue, they were surprised to learn that her husband, Joe was ill and homebound. Sue had given up her manager job at a local medical office to help him. Sue explained that she had been visiting local pantries as a way to socialize with others since being home all the time was something she was not used to. Sue would use some of the food; however most would be given away to her neighbors and friends. She felt she was helping others and just thought she was sharing. The case manager referred Sue to volunteer at a local food pantry to meet her need for companionship and socialization. This proved to be a great solution and Sue is happy in her new role.

At the beginning of the project’s second year, the number of people identified as high service utilizers totaled 254 and today that number has decreased to only 52. What does all this mean? We as a community are making real progress in the fight against hunger. No question there is still a long way to go, but meeting with people one on one and addressing their real needs is working. We are so thankful to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, United Way of Charlotte County, Mosaic and the Harry Chapin Food Bank for being our partners in this project.

 

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
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.

 

Cooking Up Change

Cooking Up Change

by Dr. Debra Mathinos, The Heights Foundation

Fifty-six year old Roderick Lee has a past he isn’t proud of, but he’s not shy about saying so.  Since 2010 he has been unemployed.  Despite his efforts to find a job, he had to rely on his family for food and shelter during that time.

In 2015 he enrolled in The Heights Center’s Culinary Arts Job Training Program with the goal of gaining the skills to help him find a job in the food service industry.   The 14-week program was created to address the issue of unemployment and underemployment and is designed to develop job-specific technical skills as well as providing support services and experiences to address barriers to success.  These barriers include learning challenges, minimal academic skills, limited English Proficiency, transportation and scheduling concerns.  The program is made possible by a grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation as a part of the Community Foundation’s 2015/16 Community Impact Grants.

Toward the end of Roderick’s training, our students visited Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel and met with co-owner Richard Johnson. Roderick was hired on the spot. His current responsibilities include frying chicken and washing dishes.

“Roderick is an example of how well this training and preparation can work for employers.  Rod came to us with a can do attitude and his customer service attitude already tuned up and ready for work,” said Johnson.  “With over 100 positions throughout our businesses we are always looking for quality people to work with us.  We are in the customer service business and our staff needs to be comfortable in that environment.  Working with The Heights Center’s Culinary Arts Job Training program we find that potential staff members understand what is needed and are trained to provide that level of service and work ethic from the beginning.”

“The Culinary program gave me a second chance to get it right,” said Roderick.  “I needed someone to believe in me and both The Heights Center and Bailey’s did that.  The program not only helped me gain confidence in myself and find fulfilling employment, it has had a ripple effect on my children and family and inspired me to help others.”

The program that originated at The Heights Center has recently expanded to include the Grace Church campuses in Cape Coral and Fort Myers.  The three locations across Lee County offer the training at varying times which maximizes the number of unemployed and underemployed individuals who can participate. Additionally, training at one site is devoted to a program specifically designed for individuals who experience learning challenges and need an appropriately modified programmatic approach. This site is operated as a component of Grace Church’s Exceptional Entrepreneurs Program.

To date 78 individuals have completed the 14-week programs and 95% are currently employed.

Individuals interested in participating in the culinary training program and restaurants interested in partnering with us can contact me at (239) 482-7706 or [email protected].

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers.

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

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.

 

 

 CAUSE & EFFECT – The Purpose Driven Young Professional

 CAUSE & EFFECT – The Purpose Driven Young Professional

If you ever find yourself seeking hope for the future let me encourage you to find a way to spend some time with young professionals in Southwest Florida.

I realize that the term young professional or YP for short is a catch phrase for a very diverse group made up of individuals who manifest what it means to be a next generation professional in our region.  But the energy and hopefulness they possess as a collective is contagious and when I have the opportunity to spend time with them I walk away inspired and motivated.

I am honored whenever a YP group invites me to spend time with them at one of their events, but also somewhat terrified.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was the YP at my workplaces and now I am a baby boomer who if not careful could block the new ideas and insights that the younger leaders are bringing to the table.  I always check myself to make sure that I don’t fall into imparting outdated wisdom mode and rather spend most of my time in listening mode, because I have a great deal to learn from this generation.

I consider the Southwest Florida Community Foundation fortunate to employ a diverse team of change agents ranging in age from seventy somethings to twenty somethings.  Our YPs hold positions of leadership and are shaping our mission of regional change for the common good each and every day.

I am so proud to work alongside them and value their contributions to the team and the community, so it is no surprise that one of the questions I am asked the most is how I am going to retain them.  It goes something like this, “Wow they are really great, how much longer will you be able to keep them?”

This is not a question unique to me, but one that I hear over and over again in our region.

It begins with how businesses in Southwest Florida can retain the best and brightest YPs and then keep them engaged enough to hang on to them.  Recruiting and retaining workforce is one of the greatest economic development drivers of our time.

Some of you might be wondering why a leader of a charitable community foundation is thinking and talking about this topic.  Particularly in a column dedicated to community causes.

But after decades of discussing how charities should be run more like businesses the tide is shifting and business is starting to wrestle with the idea of how to more fully incorporate social benefits into their business.  The YPs are driving this discussion and we all need to listen.

Of course businesses of all sizes have long seen charitable endeavors an important part of building community.  I don’t think you will find more generous businesses anywhere than Southwest Florida.

During our community’s annual United Way campaign, wine fests and throughout our busy charitable social season businesses step up to sponsor galas, golf tournaments and a wide variety of events to support a range of causes and organizations.  This is important support.

Simultaneously, the YPs we are working so hard to recruit and retain are telling us they want more. Research shows that this generation wants to see a more direct connection to social benefit and purpose in their workplace.

They enjoy volunteering and giving back, they value and want to be involved in the charitable support their companies provide but they have greater desire to see purpose woven into their day to day work.

My boomer generation will tell you all day long that we have purpose in our workplace, but for us research indicates this is more related to the bottom line results of earnings and revenue.  We see purpose as what we do to promote the company that then allows us to be charitable.

So just imagine a boomer interviewing a YP in that all critical recruitment period.  When the YP asks about purpose in the company, we say it is a cornerstone of our work-  but we are not speaking the same language.  Once hired the YP starts looking for the social benefits within the work that we haven’t clearly defined and retention becomes a challenge.  They leave looking for more.

If you would like to dive into some data on how this breaks down in today’s workplace, PwC recently conducted a study, “Putting Purpose to Work: A study of purpose in the workplace” www.floridacommunity.com/putting-purpose-to-work.

The research points to the idea that “Purpose is not an initiative; it is a way of business. It must be core to the decisions, conversations, and behaviors across all levels to be authentic and deliver the wealth of advantages it promises. Now, more than ever, companies must cultivate the power of purpose if they are to succeed in a world where the opportunities—and responsibilities —of business have never been greater.”

If you are a Southwest Florida business concerned with the recruiting and retention of employees, I encourage you to reach out to our team at the Foundation.  We are working on initiatives and designing solutions for many of the drivers that are important to our future workforce.   We are talking with and listening to YPs and would be happy to work with you and your teams on these ideas.  Just reach out to me at [email protected].

 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

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 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.

 

Special play group is about more than just fun for children with autism

Special play group is about more than just fun for children with autism

by Anjali Van Drie, MA, MSW, BCBA, Vice President
Family Initiative, Inc.

 

Every Saturday, a few minutes after 1pm, Dylan comes running in to the gym smiling and giving hugs.  After making his rounds, greeting everyone in attendance, he searches for a basketball and laughs as he shoots it at the basket.  Although he doesn’t usually make it, he picks it up and tries again, giggling the entire time.

Dylan is one of many children in Southwest Florida diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis (ASD).  One of the hallmark traits of individuals with an ASD diagnosis is developmental delay connected to social skills. Children often struggle with developing friendships, or even knowing how to play with others. Dylan’s parents, Mike and Lilian, bring him to the Family Initiative’s playgroup almost every Saturday. The playgroup was created by David Brown and me less than a year ago.  We are both social workers in Lee County and graduates of Florida Gulf Coast University.  Together we recognized the need for families with children with ASD.

There are such limited resources for these families, we wanted to create a place where parents could bring their kids to have fun in a safe and accepting environment.  The Family Initiative enlists a team of professional social workers and board- certified behavioral staff to oversee the playgroup each week. For the kids, it’s playtime. But they’re also learning critical skills that will help them thrive, like how to make and keep friends

Just about every Saturday, Mike and Lilian give Dylan the choice- continue swimming in the pool at home or getting dressed go to “the gym”? His answer is the gym, every time. They gather up Dylan and his younger sisters, and make the one-hour trek from Cape Coral to Fort Myers so Dylan can play with his friends.

Before they starting making that weekly trek, Dylan didn’t really play because he didn’t know how.  His parents had tried to teach him, rolling cars back and forth, or attempting to play games. They were met with disinterest or tears. And Dylan never wanted to play sports. Through regular participation, today, he loves them—especially basketball. Dylan has come to love playing a variety of games, including basketball. He now freely engages with the other children in attendance and always participates in the programs activities. One night, as Lilian was getting Dylan’s younger sisters ready for bed, she noticed Dylan with a Nerf ball in their home.  He took the ball over to the wall and began throwing it up…as if he was shooting his basketball.  Lilian took a quick video and shared it with David and me, saying, “I think he’s using what he learned at group!”

Dylan is just one example of the many success stories we cheer with parents each Saturday. Watching the children grow socially and to begin developing meaningful friendships is simply amazing. Without the support of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, these types of innovative and critical programs would not be available for families here.

For more information on our program, please contact us at 239-910-0712, www.FI-Florida.org, www.facebook.com/FamilyInitiative.

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
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.