Florida Weekly Column

Stay Curious My Friends

Stay Curious My Friends

Are you a student of wonder?

One of the 5 values that guides our team’s work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is encouraging curiosity and exploration to promote learning and development from the inside out.

One of the risks of value statements is they are created, written down but not actively lived out in the culture of the organization.

At the Foundation, we understand that as we pursue cultivating regional change for the common good, our mission, we must be relentless students of wonder.  We must strive to be curious.

A big part of our work is our connection to others.  Donors, non-profits, community advocates, and our neighbors.  We can’t wait for partners to seek us out, instead we must be actively curious about the work, challenges and opportunities in our region.

Curiosity leads to exploration, conversations and in some cases solutions.

Our team must commit to listen well, ask questions and respond when it is helpful.  I hope you have seen us out and about involved in the community through our work with grantees, donors, civic leaders or engaged in conversations, events, meetings or gatherings.

Once a quarter we host “Caffeinated Conversations” in which nonprofits come to our Community Hub and share their work with our team.  Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of 6 leaders of nonprofits were at the table and 3 were new organizations that we learned about for the first time.

Later that same week I found myself in several conversations with donors and colleagues and shared what I had heard, which in turn sparked their interest.  That’s one of the great things about curiosity, it’s contagious when cultivated.

I would love to hear what you are curious about in our region.  I might not have the answers but our team is willing to find out.  Your input will guide some exploration expeditions across the region next year and we will invite you to come along! You can contact me at [email protected]

Let’s stay curious together.

 

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. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million 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.

 

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Recently there has been quite a bit of talk about bridge building in our nation and in our communities. Not the literal infrastructure kind of construction but rather symbolic scaffolding to connect people and ideas.

Whenever and wherever there are choppy waters of change, someone suggests building a proverbial bridge.

Just last week during a presentation on inspiring more registered women to vote in the 2020 election, the speaker fielded a number of questions on women’s issues that can cause divisiveness. She urged and encouraged the audience to find common ground and coalitions that encourage bridge building and collective thinking to reach a common goal of getting women to the polls to express their own unique views.

Her comments on bridge building grew applause and affirmative head shaking all around the room and it reminded me of how many times I had heard the term in conversation over the past several months.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we find ourselves in settings that require connecting diverse views on a regular basis. When you are working alongside passionate advocates and donors you are bound to hear a wide range of views on topics like education, health care, civic engagement, economic development, animals, poverty and arts.

We have found the best opportunities and innovations come out of conversations with a wide range of world views, but that does take some bridge building.

There are organizations, trailblazers, philanthropists, and leaders in our community who are willing to step up to build bridges across regional boundaries, cause areas and social, economic and cultural barriers.

Sometimes the bridge building is a lonely task while other times it gains a great deal of energy and support. Either way the bridge is built; coalitions are established; organizations are formed; and unifying conversations are started.

I see a lot of bridges all over our region. But what I am eager to see next is people willing to walk over them.

We can build goodwill and a framework to navigate some of our most difficult topics but if we as individuals we are not willing to take a step across the infrastructure that has been built nothing can really change.

Take a few minutes to look around and find a bridge that deserves your time and attention and start the journey. And if you want some guidance, reach out to me at [email protected]

Community Love Notes

Community Love Notes

Last week I was driving down College Parkway in Fort Myers and noticed a car stalled out in a turn lane.  A moment later people were racing across the road from a nearby convenience store, pulling over their cars and jumping out to help the young driver push the car to a gas station parking lot.  There were so many people helping I think they could have picked the car up and carried it away.

Others were friendly honking and cheering them on, and I smiled and proclaimed out loud to no one, “I love this place.”  It is encouraging and inspiring to see people come together to help their fellow man.

I was feeling particularly positive since this chance siting happened to fall on Valentine’s Day and I had spent the morning meeting with our team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday to consider and celebrate philanthropy.  At its core philanthropy means ‘love of humanity.’  Our team was reflecting on the work we see so many of our donors and nonprofits advancing in our region.  Acts of generosity and compassion that are fueled by love.

Our team also recognizes that there are challenges and opportunities facing our region that philanthropy has the potential to impact. But in the spirit of community and Valentine’s Day I asked them to consider and share what they loved about Southwest Florida, their work in the region and the generosity they see in others.

Throughout the day they took a few minutes and captured their thoughts on a white board as a love note to the community and I wanted to share some of them with you.

  • I love the environment
  • I love helping people
  • I love our new LGBT fund and the founding donors
  • I love the hearts and passion of our nonprofit leaders and their teams
  • I love the beaches
  • I love the FutureMakers Coalition
  • I love our donors and fundholders
  • I love that we receive gifts from all over the world (first gift from Germany!)
  • I love the plan for our new Technology Hub in downtown Fort Myers
  • I love the sunshine
  • I love our Women’s Legacy Fund Prima Donors and contributors
  • I love SWFL’s diversity
  • I love impacting lives
  • I love our (volunteer) board of trustees
  • I love our amazing team

That’s some of our list and we have decided to keep it up for a while.  It would be wonderful to add your words to our board and our love note. What do you love about Southwest Florida?   Reach out to me at [email protected], or post it on our Facebook page @SWFLCF or our Twitter page @SWFLCFnd.

 

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. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million 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.

 

 

Some Records Are Made to be Broken

Some Records Are Made to be Broken

I recently heard a story in which a man was trying to break a Guinness World Record by rowing the distance in a boat made out of a huge, human-sized pumpkin grown originally to win the record for the world’s largest pumpkin competition.  When his prized pumpkin came up short, he found another record to beat.  I had never heard of a pumpkin boat much less a record for the longest miles rowed in a gourd.

When he set out on his adventure he knew from the folks at Guinness that he needed to travel 8 miles to break the record.  The voyage went off without a hitch and when the 8-mile finish line was in sight he received an urgent text informing him that the old record had been broken the week before with an astonishing 15 mile journey.

So the great pumpkin traveled on and 13 hours later made it to the 25.6-mile mark, crushing the previous record.

I am sure that to the pumpkin growing captain breaking the record was of utmost importance but the rest of us were probably not losing sleep over it.

Records and milestones provide people and organizations unique opportunities to celebrate accomplishments and milestones.  Some are personal bests while others impact entire communities.

In this edition of Florida Weekly you will find the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s annual report to the community. And I am pleased to report that our generous donors have reached a record of their own in 2016:  A record breaking $5 million year of investing in our region.

This is only possible through powerful partnerships with donors, funding partners and a visionary board of trustees.  But it’s not only about the dollars, the investment also represents a diverse funding stream addressing a variety of community opportunities including the environment, social justice issues, economic development, the arts and health, safety and animals, and more.

More resources to support these important causes is a record worthy of being broken every year.

Our goal in 2107 is to create more record breaking moments of change.  I hope we have the tenacity and drive of the pumpkin paddler to not only hit the mark but move way beyond it for the good of our region.

Please read our annual report here in Florida Weekly, and go online at www.floridacommunity.com/annual-report to view the hundreds of partners and supporters of the Foundation’s work.  If you want to get involved and become a change-maker, or simply be part of a record with us, please let me know at [email protected].

 

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, we’ve invested $5 million 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.