21 Oct SWFLCF Celebrates 35 Years
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation (SWFLCF) celebrated 35 years of service in our communities at its Annual Reception and Celebration on November 3rd at the Harborside Event Center.
Every year, SWFLCF’s signature event seems to get better and better. For 2011, the Community Foundation had even more than usual to celebrate, being its 35th year of existence.
The theme of this year’s event was “Strength, Trust, Longevity, and Good Stewardship” and that was clearly on display from the celebratory decor and warm music to the touching and inspirational program on stage.
Welcoming the guests and acknowledging Community Foundation trustees, senior advisors, and other leaders, SWFLCF board chair Dawn-Marie Driscoll didn’t miss a beat as she moved the program along, keeping it short and sweet to give attendees more time for mingling and fellowship afterward.
SWFLCF founding father J. Tom Smoot, Jr. teased Driscoll when it was his turn to speak, playfully threatening to run over his allotted time just to give her a rise.
Fun and jokes aside, Smoot lead the portion of the program that brought tears to many eyes, unveiling the “big secret” of the creation of a $100,000 Community Foundation scholarship fund in the name of the organization’s other founding father, John W. “Johnny” Sheppard.
Before that, however, an award in Sheppard’s name, the John W. Sheppard Award, which recognizes and honors an outstanding local, philanthropist and supporter of the Community Foundation, was presented to Mr. Bill Frey by former recipient David Robinson. For a brief bio about Bill Frey (and Robinson) click HERE.
Ellen Sheppard was then asked to join her husband, Johnny, on stage for the “big surprise.” Old friends of the Sheppards, Sam Galloway, Jr. and Jim Nathan, also senior advisory trustees of SWFLCF, read a personal note of appreciation and a special poem from the podium, bringing tears to the room–a very touching moment for all who know and love the Sheppards.
To top the night off, new President and CEO Sarah Owen addressed attendees, encouraging them to provide input that will help to shape the Community Foundation’s next 35 years. “I am Listening” was the theme of Owen’s speech, and she proved it by providing a special e-mail address, [email protected], and her phone number (239-274-5900) for community members to use in providing her and the Community Foundation leadership with thoughts and ideas.
The evening’s program ended with a touching video that highlighted recent work of the Community Foundation and evoked more tears of appreciation for the work of connecting the charitable passions of donors to the real world needs of thier neighbors. You can view this special video HERE.