It has been said that all who wander are not lost, but recently I have discovered all who wander do not even need to leave Southwest Florida. There is quite a lot of great wandering to be done right here in our own region.
Summertime is ripe for all kinds of staycations. Actually as I write this column I am tucked away for the day in an undisclosed Southwest Florida location with an out of office message greeting anyone emailing and looking for me.
Just a few weeks ago, a close friend who was wandering (and not lost) made her way across the state for a visit. She came for the sole purpose of reconnecting and catching up. Other than a few quick phone calls on the way to meetings we had not been doing a great job staying in touch. She is one of those friends that knows everything about me and likes me anyway so I was looking forward to a weekend staycation with her.
Once she arrived and we got settled in for the kind of winding conversations that are the hallmark of longstanding friendships, she asked the normal questions about my kids, my marriage, and life in general and seemed more interested than usual in what was happening at work.
I shared both the joys and struggles of my personal life with great ease but I noticed that when it came to talking about my work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I would quickly change the subject. I would ask about her work or another topic we needed to cover.
For those of you that know me or read this column regularly, you know normally you cannot get to me STOP talking about the team and donors at the Foundation. It is my number one cocktail party conversation. My husband will tell you that he would enjoy me delving into other topics every once in a while. So this question dodging with my friend caught me a little off guard. I gave her some general answers about the needs in the region, our work on post secondary attainment, launching a new sustainability plan and our desire to stoke the fires of strategic philanthropy in Southwest Florida.
I could tell that she was interested but it was not what she was really asking. She was my friend and she wanted to know the impact the work was having on me personally. Why couldn’t I give her an authentic answer?
The last night of her trip before her wandering took her elsewhere and my short staycation was over, she suggested we drive out to Captiva. She lived in Southwest Florida years ago and had fond memories of the Islands.
It looked like it was going to storm and I was already thinking about everything I had to the next day and I made a weak attempt to wave off the idea. But she persisted and we headed out through a light drizzle.
She just happened to have two chairs and a golf umbrella in the back of her car and we set up right by a jetty of rocks and the Gulf’s edge.
Just about the time I was going to say I couldn’t believe we were sitting at the beach in the rain an orchestra of paradise began to play.
As if on cue dolphins danced and played in the water right in front of us, pelicans dove for their evening meals, and fiddler crabs scurried right over my feet. The rain stopped. The clouds broke open to reveal a double rainbow and one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
I looked at my friend and suddenly was ready to tell her all about why I was working at the Foundation. I told her that this place, this region, mattered to me and I wanted to make sure that I supported all the efforts and passions of all the other people that it mattered to as well.
She said, “ You don’t need to say another word” and she took my picture so I would never forget.
I would like to hear what you love about Southwest Florida. Please reach out to me somewhere over the rainbow 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 $88 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.
For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.