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There’s No Place Like Home(s)

There’s No Place Like Home(s)

As expected this time of year the line to valet at the Naples resort seemed to stretch out endlessly.  Experienced Southwest Floridian’s have grown to expect this during season and any patience-testing is offset by the appreciation of what it means for our local social and economic capital and the love we have for our part time neighbors.

Since I had some time to sit and ponder as I waited for the line to progress, I took a moment to check out the license plates of the cars ahead.   It reminded me of playing a road trip game from my childhood that challenged passengers to find tags from as many states as possible along the journey.

Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri were the top results on this particular day.

When I made my way out of valet and into the event, I recognized many folks that I would consider Southwest Florida residents, at least part time, because I see them regularly at seasonal gatherings.

This day’s events at the hotel included a variety of Midwestern universities’ alumni seminars and clearly the attendees were connecting over that strong and common bond.  It also explained the heavy count of certain states in my license plate game.

I’ve noticed that one of the first questions people ask each other when they meet in this corner of the world is which other corner of the world they call home followed quickly by how much time they spend in each location.

In some cases, the question is posed simply as “where’s home?”  If I am in ear shot of this banter, I wait with baited breath for the answer.

If home is where the heart is, I am always hopeful that Southwest Florida has captured a bit of our part time residents’ hearts.  I understand that most have started businesses, raised families and supported causes for decades in their other hometowns, but I also see their ties to our region.

The reason we are all so used to the valet lines is because when seasonal residents are here they are supporting events, volunteering and sharing the generosity that was cultivated in another part of the country.

I like to think that when they are away they miss us and the possibility of being connected to more than one place in a meaningful way is real.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we look forward to our donors, supporters and friends, and even those we haven’t met yet, coming back to town.  We catch up on their lives, and explore the giving dreams and passions they want to accomplish while they are here.

Many of our fundholders sit on nonprofit boards in both hometowns and support causes that transcend state borders.  In some cases, they have funds in more than one community foundation so they can receive support in both neighborhoods.

A few weeks ago a donor who had recently sold a company “back home” came in to discuss how he could make an impact here.  He shared a unique program he had help start at another community foundation that supported nonprofit staffs in building the health of their organization and was willing to get something similar started here.

It didn’t take anything away from his first hometown to reach out to his new one.  You don’t offer to help if your heart isn’t here.  One heart, two homes, plenty of generosity to go around.


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

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, 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