Take the First Step

November 01 2017 • Rachel Calderon

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This editorial piece was featured in the November 2017 issue of The Park Press.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The mass shooting in Las Vegas. The wildfires in California.

Never has there seemed to be so much need here in Central Florida and elsewhere. It can feel overwhelming.

Now, as we enter the last two months of the year and glimpse the upcoming holiday season, is a good time to think about – and hopefully to act upon – our obligations as caring people to those who are less fortunate or the victims of circumstance beyond their control.

We can contribute to our favorite charity or cause. In addition, we can get involved and give of our most precious resource – our time.

At Central Florida Foundation, we connect people with things that matter because we believe philanthropy makes our community a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Really, it’s about creating a culture of caring right here in Metro Orlando.

And that starts with taking the first step – finding something that you are passionate about and committing to it.

Take, for instance, 100 Women Strong, our women’s giving circle. This group of women from various walks of life across Central Florida each contributes $1,100 to a fund. Then, they research source problems and make grants to and volunteer their time on projects that can make a lasting difference.

Their current project is focused on implementing the Circle of Security Model in two daycare centers in Pine Hills. The model prepares caregivers with skills that foster feelings of attachment and security in the children, setting the foundation for a healthy and productive life. The group has been able to help in other ways by providing a new playground for one of the centers and in building a well-stocked library for the kids to enjoy.

Previously, the giving circle also has partnered with Harbor House of Central Florida to pilot its Project Courage initiative and the Foundation for Foster Children.

Another worthy example is Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator that launched this summer. Rally connects entrepreneurs with resources, funding and mentors to guide them in building their ideas into self-sustainable ventures that solve pressing community issues.

Headquartered at the Rosen Family Center at Rollins College, it is the first program of its kind in Central Florida. The intent is to build businesses with a “double bottom line” that deliver tangible results and solve social, environmental and economic societal challenges.

Coming together with others on our street, in our neighborhood, our community or city makes what seems impossible to fix much more solvable. Whether it is recovering from a devastating hurricane, a financial crisis or any other hardship, we first have to decide to care.

Then we need to act, preferably sooner rather than later. When we make philanthropy a priority and connect it with passion, we can make our world – or at least our little piece of it – a better place.

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