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Maybe It Is A Wonderful Life

Maybe It Is A Wonderful Life

There’s a scene in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence (the angel) shows George Bailey (the main character) what life would be like if George had never been born. A town without Bailey was different indeed. Gone are George’s acts of kindness and heroism. Without George, a chain reaction of undesirable circumstances alters the small town in negative ways. Upon seeing the town, “minus George Baily,” George is stunned and filled with remorse. He begs to…oh, you know the rest of the story.

I bring this movie up for two reasons. First, I always like to think about Christmas when it’s hot outside.  It helps me get through. Second, and more importantly, the movie reminds me that we make more of a difference than we think. This past year, we at the Foundation, were privileged to spend time with a number of George Bailey’s. Who are these George Bailey’s? They are leaders in our region who work everyday to create real solutions to vexing social challenges. Their organizations received the Foundation’s 2013/14 Community Impact Grant.  Our region would be different indeed without these men and women.

We put the grant recipients into groups we called tribes. Each tribe was filled with leaders who focus their work on issues of challenge in our region: 1) child development, 2) education, 3) animal welfare and 4) economic development. We called them tribes because, like any tribe, these leaders shared similar missions, language, passion and purpose.

Over the year we spent with our Community Impact Grant Tribes, we encouraged them, to turn lesser situations into better ones through creative solution making, to courageously evaluate their organization’s work with strategic focus, and to connect to each other in purposeful ways that would broaden collaborations throughout the region.

What happened? Spontaneous awesomeness is what happened. Some organizational leaders took bold and innovative steps to increase the effectiveness of a project or a program. New collaborations between organizations formed right in our meetings. Leaders shared resources with each other, talked about future partnerships, and discussed how they could begin to measure their effectiveness as a tribe rather than as individual organizations.  However, the best stuff didn’t happen in our meetings, but outside them, when these leaders became partners in new and creative ways.

It was a great year. And, there’s more to come. As I think back on the spontaneous awesomeness, I can’t help but close my eyes and imagine what our region will be like in 5 or 10 years because of the work these “George Bailey’s” do everyday. Hmm…maybe it is a wonderful life. 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, and Collier counties since 1976. With assets over $75 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. For more information, please call 274-5900, or visit our web site at


Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!