Naples is a wonderful place to live. It’s pretty much a cliché – “We live in Paradise.” Yes, it is also a very small town at times, and it can feel like everyone knows everyone else’s business! The thing that strikes me most, however, after three years here, is how incredibly charitable this town can be.
Sooner or later, it seems like everyone gets involved in charitable causes. You really can take your pick here on where you donate your time and money – children (poverty, literacy, abuse…the list of issues goes on), needy adults, animals, the environment, the Arts…there is something that can interest anyone who wants to give back.
My particular cause is a great organization called “Friends of Foster Children.” My viewpoint is that the earlier we can make a positive impact in the lives of kids, the better chance we have to see them grow up into individuals who are productive members of our society. This is far better than any business deal; by helping a child choose the right paths, we can literally save lives. If you believe that life is priceless, that is an infinite return on investment (for you business types). Indeed, The Talmud says “..whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
I was inspired to join the Board of this organization by my friend and mentor, Jim Henderson, of the William C. Huff Companies in Naples. Jim has been my role model of how to grow a business AND support our community. When I heard the stories (not easily shared, as Jim is a private and humble guy) of his youth as a foster child, I was moved to make this organization the main focus of my charitable efforts.
These kids show up in a strange new home, often with only the clothes on their back.
The wonderful people who open their homes to these children are often of modest means; the kids need clothing, bedding, and school supplies, as well as tutoring to catch up in school due to the disruption (and often abuse) they have suffered. They also need to get away sometimes, to a picnic or an amusement park, just so they feel like “normal” kids. Friends of Foster Children strives to meet these needs. Our high energy Executive Director, Jane Billings, supported by a small but dedicated staff, and an involved Board of local business people, does a fantastic job with modest funds in enriching the lives of these kids.
You don’t have to write a check to give back – I had the pleasure of volunteering, along with 400+ others, at the Naples Winter Wine Festival in January. It was humbling to be at the auction, and see hundreds of the most generous people in Naples donating many millions of dollars to help so many great causes here in Collier County. This event is run by Naples Children & Education Foundation, and they are BIG supporters of Friends of Foster Children. The tables I was assigned to, I might add, included the Publisher of this magazine, Reg Buxton, and his lovely wife Sandra who were covering the event.
Give back! You’ll end up receiving so much more than you give.
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