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When There’s a Will There’s a Way

When There’s a Will There’s a Way

It is summer camp season for the kids in Southwest Florida.  Camps across the region are in full swing and our youngest residents are having fun, learning new skills and volunteering in our community.  I have written many missives on my desire to go to a summer camp, because they seem like so much fun.

This is the time of year the Southwest Florida Community Foundation begins to receive photos and updates from the various summer programs that our donor’s support.   Seeing their shining faces and hearing the stories of field trips and activities just confirms my suspicion that camps are a ton of fun.

Local nonprofit’s that go the extra mile to offer summer programs normally reach out to us for funding months before any one else is thinking about the last school bell ringing.  These nonprofits realize that in many cases if they don’t provide summer programs they can lose touch and valuable time with the students they walk alongside all year.  Plus, they all report they have as much fun as the kids over the summer months.

In recent years the requests have increased as nonprofits develop innovative ideas for engaging kids during the summer months and the need to keep kids engaged year round grows.  This camp season several programs in our area were facing the possibility of not offering summer lineups if funding was not available.

But fortunately, there are armies of generous people in Southwest Florida and some of them share my passion for a great summer camp experience.   When we put out the word, a number of the Foundation’s donors partnered to fund our area camps.

Some of these donors were alive and well, while others had made provisions for a program in their will and estate plans.

When you work in a field like mine, many conversations center around planning for supporting a cause or a passion long after life here on earth.  At the Foundation we work closely with estate attorneys and professional advisors as their clients chart a path for future charitable giving.  It is easy to get caught up in the technical side of this world and forget just how much this gift will mean in the future.

But then something happens to remind you of the real impact of these gifts.  This year one of my reminders were the smiling faces at summer camps.  Many of our youngest residents are living out their summer camp dreams, because generous donors made estate plans to support nonprofits that run these vital programs.

In this year’s updates, when I look at the faces of the campers, I also see the face of the donor who made it possible.  Even if I never met them, I know their story and what they wanted their charitable dollars to accomplish.  That’s part of our role as a community foundation; to honor the wishes of the donor while keeping up with the current needs in our community.

There are many reasons to have a will, but I can’t think of a better one than knowing that the things you care about while you are alive will be taken care of after you’re gone.  If there’s a will, there’s a way to change the community forever.  Just ask the kids at camp this summer.

If you are a nonprofit with summer programming for youth or if your would like to learn how your estate plans can impact our community I would love to hear from you at [email protected]


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, and Collier counties since 1976. With assets over $77 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