23 Aug 2017 Interwoven Works to Improve the Web
by Rachel Rainbolt, Development and Education Coordinator, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc.
Nature has always entertained and enthralled me; being a Southwest Florida native, I had exposure to the outdoors at a young age. Always happy to dig holes by myself, some of my earliest memories were of sharing the shovels and rakes with my younger sister. In our minds, building castles and digging moats would protect the lizards and shelter them during the rainy months! Not surprising, we were always able to “accomplish” so much more when we worked together. We even discovered a way to construct tree forts out of elaborate rope and pulley systems. Reflecting on it now, I am surprised by our parents’ patience with the “nature creations”.
This desire to protect local flora and fauna continued into adulthood. After graduating from Eckerd College in December 2011, I was privileged to accept a student Fellowship at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). As a result of my experiences, I have grown personally as well as professionally. In part, this is due to CROW’s focus on the “One World, One Health” concept – that all things are interconnected, working within nature’s systems.
As a wildlife teaching hospital and an education center, CROW is dedicated to treating and releasing native and migratory wildlife in Southwest Florida. In addition, CROW is committed to teaching future veterinarians and wildlife biologists the fundamentals of wildlife conservation medicine. Likewise, through on-site and off-site programs, CROW educates the public on issues that encourage them to live harmoniously with our wildlife neighbors. The essence of CROW programs is to awaken the realization of how inextricably the various aspects of the world are interwoven. Appreciation of the value and benefits of a relationship with our wildlife neighbors helps to promote a healthy, sustainable environment.
There are other non-profit organizations across Southwest Florida that also promote sustainable relationships. Although these partners may not directly interact with the furry and feathered, their efforts improve the situations many people face daily. At times, they are found working quietly behind the scenes, while others are actively proclaiming the need to solve an issue.
Many community members are unaware of the existence of these agencies, particularly the value of their services to all of us. Until recently, I too was naïve about the vast network of nonprofits in Lee County. Through CROW’s work with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have rediscovered that regardless of varied missions, we are stronger working together than we could ever be alone. That is why it is important to support local philanthropic endeavors, so that they can continue to support you too!
It becomes apparent that when we consider all of our differences, we identify how similar our goals truly are. Each organization requires its own approach to meet the needs of its constituents. Even so, our issues are systemic in nature and, therefore, interdependent. This systems-based thinking emphasizes problem solving as a “whole” rather than as “parts”. It will truly take all of us, from organization, to individual, to solve the challenges and benefit the web of life in Southwest Florida!
This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2017 competitive grant cycle. We have asked our 2017 grantees to send us their stories. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers.
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 over 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $111 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.