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There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

It’s vacation season.  A time for away messages, delayed responses, and juggled schedules.  Research shows that productivity increases significantly when those in the work world take time away and then return to their offices.  Sometimes I find our team members at the Foundation are reluctant to take vacations but I insist that they take the time and space they need to refresh their minds and get some much needed rest and relaxation.  Some of the most creative ideas are generated away from the office.

I try to lead by example and plan short trips and getaways throughout the year.  I enjoy having an excursion to look forward to in the future as much as I do taking the actual trip.  Each year I promise myself that I am going to try something that scares me just a little on my trips, just to keep life interesting.

On my most recent trip, that new twist turned out to be food poisoning.  Not just food poisoning, it was food poisoning in Montana.  Food poisoning in Montana, in a tent. Food poisoning in Montana, in a tent on the banks of the Blackfoot River.  Ok, I think you get the point.   Not exactly the adventure I had in mind, but it was a little scary.

I am always happy to arrive home after a vacation, but this time my homecoming seemed to be even sweeter.  By the time I landed in Southwest Florida, I was feeling a bit better and the birds seemed to be chirping, palm trees swaying and sun shining brightly in the sky.  In my weakened state, I mumbled something about “never leaving home or eating ever again.”  I think I also was seen clicking my heels together while chanting, “There’s no place like home.”

Sometimes it takes getting away for a while to realize how much you appreciate home.  In my work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have the opportunity to work with donors that call more than one spot on this planet “home.”  They spend time traveling and splitting their time between communities and places they care about deeply.

Community Foundations are all about specific places or communities.  There is a term in philanthropy that I am sure was coined by folks who work in the field, place-based philanthropy.  Place-based philanthropy is powered by place-based funders.   A technical definition I found on the web states that a place-based funder “ has an intimate tie to a particular place that you can find on a map, and is focusing their work in that place with the people who live there and the organizations and institutions that are highly invested in that place. A place-base funder uses a wide-angle, multi-faceted lens in work that is about community resilience and vitality. They may work on one problem or issue at a time, but do so with respect for local history and culture, a commitment to identifying and mobilizing local assets, and an interest in building local capacity to weather the next storm.”  That description is a pretty clear summary of what we do at the Community Foundation on a daily basis.  We work with donors and a wide cross section of community members to find short and long term solutions to issues we face in this place we call home.

It doesn’t mean we never venture out to learn from or partner with other communities or parts previously unknown.  And, many of our fund holders with donor advised funds often grant outside the community to national charities or their alma maters, we do that too.

We are willing to go out into the world talk to others facing similar challenges and bring back that knowledge.  Sometimes we set out to take a little bit of a risk, while on other journey’s we take the safest path.  The point is we always come back to our place or our corner of the universe, because we know we make the greatest impact here. Working together with other place based funders and change agents, we don’t have to travel far to change the world.

If you would like to change the world from Southwest Florida, please email me at [email protected]  No big trips planned in the near future!


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




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