Giving Opportunities

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I remember how shocked I was when I first heard that Barbara Streisand suffered from nearly debilitating stage fright.  As a person who is almost completely tone deaf, I have always imagined that if I could sing a single note I would do so any chance I could get.  I have often wondered what it must feel like to possess a talent that would cause others to take notice. It must be humbling and somewhat frightening to realize people are critiquing you at every turn.

I cannot claim any such talents or gifts that generate this level of scrutiny, but I must admit that three years ago when I began writing this column I suffered from write-fright- a word I made up to express my terror of generating 500 words a week that could even touch on the topic of giving and the generosity that exists in our community.

Others who were also concerned about my talent pool, suggested I might want to engage a ghost writer to help but I really wanted to challenge myself to intentionally contemplate and communicate what I was hearing around the topic of philanthropy in our region.  I had promised that I would listen but I also wanted to have a vehicle to share what I was hearing.

So for the last several years when this column deadline was looming, my palms would sweat, I got short of breath and I wanted to run away.  But then I just told myself “Don’t worry, there are so many great articles in Florida Weekly, I am sure not many people are reading what I have to say!”

Sure, I received emails to my iamlistening email address that I include in every column, and I would use both the positive and negative feedback in my daily work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  The Foundation serves as a broker of resources and ideas for our region so dialogue with our neighbors is vital to our work.  If I am not hearing from donors, advocates, nonprofits and community members I can’t effectively work on their behalf.

But recently I have been running into people (outside of my immediate family!)  who make a point to tell me they are reading this column each week.  Regular readers find out about my flaws and insecurities and insider info about my family.  I write about the things that happen in my life and what I see as I engage in the work of the Foundation.  People have shared they are also Libras, love candy, are learning more about the art scene and they ask about my kids and offer me words of encouragement.

More importantly though they have begun to reach out to me to find out how they can support an organization or a movement I have mentioned.  They send me updates on projects I have written about in the past.   They have started scholarship funds to launch a local student into college, become contributors to our Women’s Legacy Fund, volunteered at a camp for adults with disabilities, and discovered that they are philanthropists who can make a real difference in our community.

My only talent is just sharing the great things that other talented and gifted people are doing in Southwest Florida and trying to inspire others with their stories.   It hasn’t cured the weekly write-fright, but it has made it worth it!

As always, I would love to hear from you.  Let me know you are reading and tell me about great things you know are happening in Southwest Florida at [email protected]

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