24 Oct Writing to You, With a New View
I have been writing this column for seven years, but this week feels as if I am reaching out to you for the first time.
I always take the summer off from these missives, so we can all hear from and about the amazing nonprofits the Foundation has the privilege of partnering with through our impact funding. I hope, like me, you were inspired by their change-making stories. (You can check out any you missed on our website floridacommunity.com and see accompanying videos.)
It is bittersweet to see the series come to an end as fall rolls in and I find myself nervous and wondering if I will remember how to write and connect with you.
All summer I made mental notes of the things I want to share, discuss, and learn through this column but nothing seemed quite right for this article once I was face-to-face with the computer screen. I sat staring at the blinking cursor for quite a while, and then I looked up. My gaze went up and out the massive archway windows of the newly renovated 1920s Atlantic Coast Rail Depot in Midtown Fort Myers that the Foundation team now calls home.
It was the ultimate summer project to complete the 18 month transformation of the Depot and the 13,000 square foot addition, which created a nearly 3-acre campus we named Collaboratory, a space designed in partnership with the City of Fort Myers to bring people, ideas, technology and funding together to solve issues and seize opportunities.
One of my favorite views from the new space is overlooking the Bennett-Hart Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. I try to imagine the early days of the depot as people gathered at the front entrance to meet travelers or head out on their own adventures. Train stations have always been a point of connection and I believe that is why this project resonated with all of us at the Foundation. We are all about bringing people together.
A few days later I peered out the same window, I didn’t need to imagine people bustling around a historic site, instead I saw hundreds of Southwest Florida neighbors gathered for our Party in the Park. It was our chance to present the building to the people and the community it was built to serve, now and in the future.
So, this year I will be writing to you with a whole new view- the one out my window and the one our community creates together.
Here we go,
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
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 $6.3 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $79.9 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. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com