07 Mar 2018 It is our middle name
Sometimes I feel like I am living in a commercial for Southwest Florida complete with soundbites, video clips, campaign themes and headlines. I see it all around me as I work closely with donors and community members at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation who want to be part of improving the quality of life for everyone in our region.
Everywhere I turn I see so much incremental change happening here because of caring people. In just the past few days I took phone calls from donors in Naples worried about the safety of their schools in the wake of the Parkland tragedy and spoke with a sheriff’s deputy about a safe driving class that some donors wish to support in the memory of their daughter. I attended a training for volunteer scholarship reviewers at the Foundation who are working with us to help evaluate the applications from the thousands of high quality high school seniors seeking funding to purse post-secondary education.
I attended a business afterhours featuring my co-worker who presented the Community Foundation’s work with our sustainable development goals in relation to business and economic development.
Yesterday while on a walk in Lakes Park I ran into some donors who were surveying the benches along the meandering pathways to decide which one they wanted to adopt with a donation out of their donor advised fund. Two days before that, I took some of my colleagues to visit a nonprofit doing futuristic work with youth entrepreneurs at an afterschool program in Dunbar.
I met with a couple who wish to leave more than $1 million in their lifetime to their community by working with us to find ways of greatest impact.
That same evening, I attended a grand opening and fundraising event for a nonprofit serving families whose children are suffering from the loss of a parent or sibling. The Foundation played a role in helping this nonprofit leader get it going and recently granted funds from our Community Impact Grants to fuel their mission. There I saw so many local givers who care deeply about the cause and their community.
Yes, their community, OUR community. That is our Foundation’s middle name and our ultimate purpose, our focus and our passion.
Our board of trustees and our staff see community thriving in many positive ways here in Southwest Florida. Community is found in the scholar researchers who study our community to produce the annual Workforce Now report (read more about that on our website); community is found in the exquisitely designed boxes of chocolates served at fundraising events from our own famous local chocolatier; community is found in the groups of families with children with autism who meet on Saturdays for socialization and respite.
In just a snapshot of my week, I could go on and on. You can just read the pages of this newspaper to see the community at work.
Like hundreds of cable television channels, social media platforms, newspapers, magazines and radio outlets filled with stories, photos and messages, the commercial for change here in Southwest Florida is all around us. As a Foundation, we see it as our job and our ultimate responsibility to work with the change-makers of our community to help foster and measure the activities such as these that lead to a better tomorrow for all of us.
If you are watching or maybe starring in these metaphoric commercials, it is our hope that we can work together to keep it going, and to take a pause during this commercial break to revel in the goodness that abounds in our COMMUNITY.
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 $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 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. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com
For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.