News Releases

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund hosts spring luncheon for contributors

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund hosts spring luncheon for contributors

Nearly 100 Women’s Legacy Fund contributors and Prima Donors recently attended the Fund’s spring luncheon. The luncheon was complimentary and exclusively for WLF contributors and Prima Donors in celebration of the Fund’s 10th anniversary.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

The luncheon included facilitated discussions around the three grant focus areas selected by the WLF grants committee including STEM programs/vocational training for women and girls, micro-lending programs for women and business/market support for women.

In its first 10 years of existence, the WLF has been able to provide $142,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has $638,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

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. It partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community last year. With assets of $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, it has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers.

For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold spring luncheon for contributors

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold spring luncheon for contributors

The Women’s Legacy Fund will host its spring luncheon on Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club located at 14500 Vista River Drive in Fort Myers. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the luncheon is complimentary and exclusively for WLF contributors and Prima Donors.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

The luncheon will include facilitated discussions around the three grant focus areas selected by the WLF grants committee including STEM programs/vocational training for women and girls, micro-lending programs for women and business/market support for women.

In its first 10 years, the WLF has been able to provide $142,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has $638,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

In 2016, the WLF presented a grant check of $20,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Whitaker Center for STEM education. The Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) program used the funding to mentor and inspire female FGCU students and middle school girls in Southwest Florida to pursue STEM careers by providing hands-on, inquiry-driven STEM activities via expertise at Whitaker Center for STEM education at FGCU.

In 2015, the WLF granted $22,675.92 to the Happehatchee Center. The grant was used for Happehatchee Center’s Working to Improve with Self Employment (WISE) Women program which focuses on the San Carlos Park neighborhood of South Fort Myers and the Covered Wagon Trailer Park in Estero.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

Luncheon reservations are required by March 28 by calling Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900 or emailing [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, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that have created more than 400 philanthropic funds over the last 40 years. 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 about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

CAUSE & EFFECT:  Purpose Driven Politics

CAUSE & EFFECT:  Purpose Driven Politics

“Britt Is It” for President is my all-time favorite political slogan.  You won’t be seeing Britt on next week’s ballot but this candidate did make a successful presidential run back in 1996.

After a hard fought 2- week campaign complete with posters, buttons, speeches, and custom cupcakes Britt took the helm as President of Port Orange Elementary School’s study body.  She had been encouraged to run by female mentors in her life and teachers at the school.

I had not thought of my eldest child’s foray into the political scene in years. It was her first and only campaign.   Not even the politics of the day had brought it to mind, until I connected with a friend last week who had made an ultimately unsuccessful run for the US Senate in a highly contested race in another state in 1992.

My friend and I were not talking about national politics, a topic I avoid in my role at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and this year, just avoid in general.  Instead we were talking about the impact of early experiences and the role of mentors in the lives of women and girls.

She had just been asked to present on a national stage, as she often is to discuss her work in politics and women’s equity issues, but this time she would not be alone.   She would be accompanied by her granddaughter. Like my Britt, her granddaughter had campaigned for the presidency of her middle school student council a number of years ago and together they are going to be sharing insights from the US Senate run and the student council campaign.

Of course the opportunity to work alongside her granddaughter to prepare their presentation was a treasured endeavor.  Anytime we can cross generational lines and share common experiences we are more closely knit to each other.  I am certain that this young woman has always been surrounded by encouraging mentors including her grandmother.

My friend shared that as they worked on their speech she was particularly struck by the influence the middle school election had on her granddaughter in terms of her confidence and her place in the world.

Her biggest take away from this early experience was the importance the trust of her peers meant to her when she realized she had won.  In my own daughter’s case, her victory came shortly after we had moved to a new city and the race helped connect her to a new school, new friends and new community.

Exposure to these opportunities stuck with them.  There are many things my adult daughter has forgotten about middle and high school but the campaign is not one of them.  It exposed her the possibilities that were available and in front of her.

Last month, the Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF), a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, held its annual fall luncheon in which the contributors award their annual grant funding to a local nonprofit that advances issues related to women and girls.

This year’s WLF focus area for the grant selection was early exposure to career exploration for young women and girls.  A key word there is early, meaning the contributors to the fund wanted to make sure that the funded program interacted with girls in middle school in an effort to connect with them during years that shape their future decision making.

The luncheon featured speakers Airline Captain Diane Meyers and IT Program Manager Denise Spence, women who have forged careers in nontraditional roles and special guests included young women from Dunbar High School’s tech and engineering programs.

This year’s grant was awarded to the Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) program at Florida Gulf Coast’s Whitaker Center for STEM education.    GEMS matches women in the STEM fields with FGCU students who then mentor girls in local middle schools.

The WLF contributors hope that early exposure to leadership and career opportunities is distributed in an equitable and intentional way, not just for the sake of shaping future career opportunities but also providing the confidence that sticks with them throughout their lives.

And to expand the reach of mentoring in the Southwest Florida, the Women’s Legacy Fund also welcomed a new fund, Impact Dunbar.  Founded by Karen Watson and Tasheekia Perry the fund will provide philanthropic support to programs designed to empower young women and girls in the Dunbar community.

My friend’s granddaughter is about to graduate high school and head out into the world, and the young women we mentor through the WLF funding also have an open canvas in front of them.  My hope is that they feel supported and that we are offering experiences that shape them and inspire them.

My daughter has not pursued a career in politics, but the middle school experience and other mentoring moments did impact her in many other positive ways in her nearly 30 years.

And for the record, I still think Britt is IT! Along with all the other young women who will affect our future.

 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

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.

 

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund hosts fall luncheon – New fund, grant funding and ‘Angels’ announced

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund hosts fall luncheon – New fund, grant funding and ‘Angels’ announced

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2016) – The Women’s Legacy Fund hosted more than 130 attendees at its annual fall luncheon on Oct. 20 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club. The WLF luncheon featured keynote speakers, highlighted a new fund that was established for Dunbar women and girls, presented the 2016 WLF grant and honored two special WLF Angels.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund of Southwest Florida is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

Speakers for the themed lunch “Encouraging Girls to Go For It: Career Exploration for Young Women & Girls” included Airline Captain Diane Meyers and IT Programs Manager Denise Spence who shared their common journey in nontraditional careers.

Among their many other accomplishments, Meyers was the first female U.S. airline pilot to fly routes for a Turkish airline, and Spence has been recognized with the distinguished “Woman in Technology Award.” These two trailblazers shared their passion for encouraging camaraderie among women and inspired the WLF’s grant focus to give career confidence to girls.

The luncheon also featured the 2016 WLF grant check presentation of $20,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Whitaker Center for STEM Education. The Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) program will use the funding to mentor and inspire female FGCU students and middle school girls in Southwest Florida to pursue STEM careers by providing hands-on, inquiry driven STEM activities via expertise at Whitaker Center for STEM Education at FGCU. The program’s approach involves multiple layers of mentoring including Whitaker Center mentoring during the activity development, FGCU female faculty mentoring of FGCU female STEM majors, and FGCU STEM majors mentoring middle school students. Four Saturday events are planned to reach a total of 400 middle school girls, 84 FGCU STEM majors and 24 middle school teacher participants.

Two angel tributes were announced at the luncheon and surprised the recipients. Dorit Solomon and Ginny Yates are the Legacy Fund’s newest angels. The WLF Angel honorary designation is for mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, grandchildren, friends, loved ones and community leaders, either living or deceased, who have had a special impact on the lives of those around them. WLF members can make the special women in their lives a WLF Angel with a minimum contribution of $1,000 in their name.

An announcement of the new Impact Dunbar Fund as part of the Women’s Legacy Fund was also announced. Similar to the Women’s Legacy Fund, this new fund will include a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop Dunbar’s next philanthropic leaders. The Impact Dunbar Women’s Legacy Fund, founded by Karen Watson, MSW, executive director of Our Mother’s Home, and Tasheekia Perry of Crowning Daughters for Success, was established this year to empower young women and girls in the Dunbar community.

In just nine years of existence, the Women’s Legacy Fund has been able to provide more than $122,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has $547,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and into the future.

The event was for contributors to the Fund, WLF Prima Donors and women who are interested in making a difference in their community.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund, which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

The next WLF luncheon is for contributors and Prima Donors only and will be held on April 7, 2017, at Gulf Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Fort Myers.

 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

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, visit www.floridacommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

Southwest Florida Community Foundation establishes Impact Dunbar Women’s Legacy Fund

Southwest Florida Community Foundation establishes Impact Dunbar Women’s Legacy Fund

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2016) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has established the Impact Dunbar Fund as part of the Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Similar to the Women’s Legacy Fund, this new fund will include a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop Dunbar’s next philanthropic leaders.

The Impact Dunbar Women’s Legacy Fund, founded by Karen Watson, MSW, executive director of Our Mother’s Home and Tasheekia Perry, of Crowning Daughters for Success, was established this year to empower young women and girls in the Dunbar community.

“We welcome the ladies of Dunbar who want to make a difference and create change in our region starting in their own neighborhood,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “We look forward to working together and learning from one another.”

The founding contributors to the fund are dedicated to providing experiences to young women and girls that broaden their exposure to careers, opportunities and community. The focus area for grant dollars from this fund will be targeted to programs and opportunities that will build, inspire and challenge the women and girls that call Dunbar home to be their best.

“After researching and interviewing a number of women’s foundations, we chose to establish this new fund under the Southwest Florida Community Foundation due to its long history in Southwest Florida and funding infrastructure,” said Watson.

Annual contributions of $250 or more to Impact Dunbar will be pooled to collectively award grants to nonprofit organizations. The cause area for the grant will be determined each year by the contributors. All $250 and more contributors will a vote on the cause for the following year’s grant. During the next year, Impact Dunbar will inspire contributors to join the fund and raise resources for a 2017 grant cycle. As the fund grows and Prima Donors join Impact Dunbar, the focus will expand to include an endowment fund. Additionally all giving levels of the Women’s Legacy Fund are available to the Impact Dunbar Fund.

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, visit www.floridacommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold fall luncheon

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold fall luncheon

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2016) – The Women’s Legacy Fund will host its fall luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 11:15 a.m. at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club located at 18061 Miromar Lakes Parkway. The theme of the lunch is “Encouraging Girls to Go For It: Career Exploration for Young Women & Girls.”

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

Speakers will include Captain Diane Meyers and IT Programs Manager Denise Spence who will share their common journey in nontraditional careers.

Among their many other accomplishments, Meyers was the first female U.S. airline pilot to fly routes for a Turkish airline, and Spence has been recognized with the distinguished “Woman in Technology Award.” These two trailblazers will share their passion for encouraging camaraderie among women and will help the WLF’s grant focus to give career confidence to girls.

Denise SpenceDiane Meyers in cockpit

The luncheon will also feature the 2016 WLF grant check presentation and an Angels Tribute

In just nine years of existence, the WLF has been able to provide more than $122,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has $547,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

The event is for contributors to the fund, WLF Prima Donors and women who are interested in making a difference in their community.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund, which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

To purchase a ticket, visit click here or contact Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900 by Oct. 6.

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.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation Prima Donors Summer Gathering

Southwest Florida Community Foundation Prima Donors Summer Gathering

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently hosted more than 20 of its Women’s Legacy Fund’s Prima Donors for a dinner at its Community Hub.

The evening featured dinner conversations exploring housing, homelessness and affordable housing for women.

Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the Women’s Legacy Fund endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

The WLF also offers a contributor-giving level at $250 a year. The Fund was established in 2007 by the Community Foundation to enable women in Southwest Florida to direct their giving in focused, strategic ways. Its mission is to engage women in affecting change in our community through collective philanthropy.

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. Founded in 1976, it 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.

 

 

Women’s Legacy Fund holds Spring luncheon

Women’s Legacy Fund holds Spring luncheon

The Women’s Legacy Fund hosted its Spring luncheon on Thursday, May 12 at Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club exclusively for its WLF contributors and Prima Donors.

The “working” luncheon featured table discussions exploring cause areas identified and researched in our region to determine the fund’s next cause area for grants benefitting women and girls in Southwest Florida. Discussions focused on intergenerational activities, career exploration and youth activities for young women, women and girls.

“Our contributors are interested in taking a deeper dive into the WLF grant focus areas before making their votes on what to fund, so we formatted the luncheon to be a more intimate gathering in order for everyone to explore and discuss cause areas as a group of collective philanthropists,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “This type of thinking and talking together further proves that we can do so much more together than we could ever do alone.”

The feedback and votes will be used to determine the next area of funding for the WLF’s 2016 grant recipient.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

Here are some photos from the event:

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.

I’m Not Busy

I’m Not Busy

I am wondering what your reaction is when you read the headline to this week’s column. Some of you might be thinking, “Are you kidding me, season in Southwest Florida is the busiest time of year?” You may be wondering if I am slacking off in my job or just not receiving invitations to all the happenings in our region.

Everywhere I go these days when I ask how someone is doing, 9 out of 10 times they will express how busy they are and seem to be on the verge of collapsing on the spot. Sometimes extra words are thrown in to make the point- “I am so busy, incredibly busy, extremely busy, or never busier” are among the chorus of the tribe of busy.

People seem to perceive that I too am busy and want to welcome me to the club. When someone sends me an email or leaves a voicemail they almost always open with “ I know you are so busy but….” and then take it from there. I have to admit until very recently I almost wore being busy as a badge of honor. I thought is was a positive that people saw me as busy because it meant so many exciting things were going on at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I could barely keep up.

Several weeks ago our team at the Foundation discussed this idea of busy and how we perceived the word. We were checking in to make sure we never used it as an excuse or promoted the idea that our busyness kept us from serving the community.

We considered other ways of expressing the energizing work we are engaged in. Our full lives don’t drain us but rather give us purpose. The team committed to moving away from claiming, “I’m busy” as a moniker of success.

I thought the conversation was interesting but it really hit home over an omelet breakfast that I have the pleasure of sharing once a year with a philanthropist and former volunteer at the Foundation. This gentleman is a winter resident with a very full calendar but he always makes the time to see me between singing in a choir, playing golf, his consulting business, and various volunteer positions at local nonprofits- that’s right he is very busy.

We had a wonderful time together, catching up personally and professionally and at the end of our allotted hour (he always keeps it to one hour- I would linger longer) I commented on how much I enjoy and look forward to our yearly breakfast.

He smiled and told me he almost didn’t call this year and even after the date was set on the calendar he almost called to cancel. He was worried I would be too busy.

I realized this perception came very close to ending something that I look forward to and value. I wondered how many other opportunities I might be missing when I express how busy I am to others. How many people are not reaching out to me and how many I do not connect with because I think they are on the busy track of life.

Yes, my life is full and for that I am extremely grateful. But I’m not busy. I would love to hear from you, email me at [email protected]

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.