Kathy Shimp, Sarah Owen and Susan Acuna

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2014) –The Women’s Legacy Fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation presented $30,000 to the Literacy Council Gulf Coast to support its Helping Women Thrive Through Literacy program during its annual fall luncheon held on Thursday, Oct. 23 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Gulf Club in Fort Myers.

Literacy was selected by the Fund’s contributors to be this year’s area of focus, as the grant will help local women improve literacy skills, focusing on reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. It will also assist women in improving their financial literacy knowledge by offering topics in basic financial literacy incorporated into typical classes, expand GED preparedness classes to help women advance to higher educational levels thus increasing their economic empowerment and independence, and offer regular informative sessions educating women on domestic violence and human trafficking issues to help break the cycle of abuse.

“Literacy is the stepping stone to pave the way to education, better jobs and independence,” said Kathy Shimp, vice-chair of the grants committee for the Women’s Legacy Fund. “Without literacy, women face even more barriers; that’s why we wanted to support this important program offered here for women in our community.”

The luncheon also included Liza McFadden, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, as the program’s keynote speaker and the honoring of three new ‘Angels,’ including Connie McCormick honored by Betteann Sherman and Winnie Ballinger, Shirley Losch honored by Melanie Holaway and a group of Shirley’s friends posthumously, and NBC-2 Anchor Kellie Burns honored by John and Ellen Sheppard, Amy Gravina and Carolyn Rogers.

The Angel honorary designation is for mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, grandchildren, friends, loved ones and community leaders, either living or deceased, who have had a special impact on the lives of those around them. WLF members can make the special women in their lives a WLF Angel with a minimum contribution of $1,000 in their name. The contribution is endowed in the WLF so that it lives on in perpetuity, and the residual interest is used by the WLF annually to fund initiatives.

The Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders. In just five years of existence, the WLF has been able to provide $90,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has more than $423,682 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women under 25 years of age). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund, which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation is celebrating its 39th year of connecting donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $4 million to more than 100 different organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the WLF or the Community Foundation, visit www.floridacommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

WLF ‘Angel’ Connie McCormick with family

Meg Geltner and Michel Doherty

Margaret Antonier and Elaine Hawkins

Lucy Costa and Lori Sampson-Wilson

Liza McFadden, Amy Gravine, Tina Matte and Kitty Green

Lasheba Travis, Christine Rahmings, Sarah Owen and Marie Ackord

Kim Williams, Tessa Lesage and Monique Ward

Judy Biddle and Marian Borneman

Jessica Stilwell Catti, Michel Doherty, Kellie Burns, Tina Parker and Meg Geltner

Gail Markham and Judge Michael McHugh

Ellen and John Sheppard with Kellie Burns, Carolyn Rogers and Amy Gravina

Bev Fuller and Gay Thompson

Arden and Jacke McCurdy