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Not All Flat Tires are Created Equal

Not All Flat Tires are Created Equal

The wheel starts shaking, the car slows down, rubber is flying, and it takes just a few seconds to realize that an extended stop on the side of the road is in the near future.

I have my fair share of flat tire stories.  It is almost a rite of passage to figure out where the tire jack is hidden in the trunk, usually on a dark road in the middle of the night.

A blown tire stops us in our tracks and wherever we are heading just has to wait.  I have changed a number of tires on the roadside but technology, emergency vehicle repair companies and some money stashed away for the unexpected life occurrences has provided me with the comfort of knowing someone will come to assist me if I call.  I won’t have to go it alone.

A flat tire might derail my schedule, but it won’t change my life.  That is not the case for everyone.

Sometimes it can be the smallest thing that impacts big dreams.

Over the past 5 years the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been exploring the factors that impact students from completing degrees and certifications.  Hundreds of donors have established scholarship funds at the Foundation to assist our region’s college and career bound in reaching their goals and dreams.  When they set up a scholarship, the intent is assisting the student making it to completion and a career.  So, our team wants to be sure we understand any roadblocks to making this a reality.

For many students, this education would not be possible without scholarships, work study and financial aid.  But the cost of tuition, books and room and board are just the part of the story of completing a degree or certification.

Research shows that completing the journey can be in jeopardy due to unexpected circumstances.  Things traditional scholarships and aid are not designed to tackle.  Transportation issues, a dental emergency, lack of medical insurance, food insecurity, housing issues when school is not in session and yes, flat tires.

These things happen to all of us, but our ability to rebound from them depends on many factors.

In this column I recently shared my hope and desire to provide more scholarships to local students. Some of you reached out in creative ways to offer support and funding.  One group of donors in partnership with our board of trustees are creating an emergency fund to assist Foundation scholarship recipients with that little bit of help when life throws them a curve ball.  If you are looking for ways to assist a student in completing their education and a scholarship fund is not the right fit for you, any dollar amount contributed to the emergency fund could make all the difference in a student’s life

No need for a flat tire to keep someone from reaching their destination or their dream.

If you are interested in contributing to the Scholarship Good Samaritan Fund, please reach out to me at [email protected].


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 $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 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

















Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More