15 Apr 2020 Doing Something
I spend a good portion of my time these days virtually connecting with people who desperately want to do something to help those suffering as a result of the pandemic. They share their feelings of helplessness in the face of the crisis.
Southwest Floridian’s are used to rolling up their sleeves and pitching in during times of disaster. Our community has faced challenges before like hurricanes, fires, recessions, and red tide. In each of those moments we helped our neighbors by standing shoulder to shoulder to clear debris, distribute needed supplies, hand out food and water, and host fundraisers and relief benefits.
That outpouring coupled with resources coming in from across the nation made us all feel as if were in the active pursuit of doing something to help.
Now we are trying to find ways to recreate that feeling while socially isolating, sheltering in place and protecting our own health from a deadly virus. We can’t get out there and spring into action which can create a sense of not doing enough to help.
It has been interesting to see the creative ways we have found to honor and support frontline workers with virtual messages and acts of kindness. Teachers are encouraging students and the healthy are reaching out to the families of those stricken with the virus. The smallest gestures even from afar go a long way to support our community during these difficult times. The human spirit will find ways to reach out to others in their time of need.
When disaster strikes in our part of our world, the rest of the globe sets their attention to doing something to assist their fellow man. Fires in Australia, earthquakes in Haiti, shootings in France, or flooding in the United States all capture the hearts and minds of our worldwide neighbors and they reach out to do something. We have witnessed this many times when hurricanes have impacted our paradise. Nearly three quarters of the support we received after Hurricane Irma came from outside of our area.
But in the case of COVID-19 we are all fighting the same disease, which makes us feel at a loss on how to best care for each other- we don’t have the financial or emotional stockpile to share because we need them in our own communities.
Right now, some of us have resources to share, while others need to lean on others for help, and that’s how it works in a caring community particularly in times of disaster.
If you are looking for a way to do something for your neighbors in the region, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in partnership with the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee has established the Southwest Florida Emergency Relief Fund to collect funds to be used to assist with food, shelter and basic human needs due to the economic challenges caused by COVID-19. The fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address the outbreak as effectively as possible.
One hundred percent of the funds donated through the Foundation will be used to provide emergency funds to directly help people in Southwest Florida. Donors can give donations of any amount at floridacommunity.com or text GIVESWFL to 444999.
If you are in need of help, call the United Way 211 line at 239-433-3900. Don’t wait to reach out.
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. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $7.7 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $134.9 million, it has provided $85 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. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com