FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 24, 2014) – As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

With a theme based on the power of ‘we’ and working together to achieve greater results, the Cause Fest events included a cocktail reception where attendees were invited to decorate their lanyards with ‘passion buttons,’ choosing from the Foundation’s five areas of philanthropy – animals, education, people (human services), the environment and the arts – as well as additional causes like healthcare, water and hunger. Renown classical Cellist Ian Maksin and Guitarist Gabriel Datcu covered classical rock favorites during the reception. Guests were later entertained by poet, playwright and NPR host Al Letson who performed a 90-minute piece, including monologue, song, poetry and multimedia, about the perceptions about race and class.

“These three nights of gratitude were a way for us to reach out and express thanks to our many supporters in Southwest Florida who continue to give in so many ways to make our region stronger,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Because of their philanthropy and advocacy for their favorite causes, our donors, partners and friends are an important part of something larger in the community where collectively, we join together to solve issues and come together around challenges in our community.”

Three local nonprofits were also awarded grants from the Bonita Springs Community Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, during the Cause Fest event at Shangri-La in Bonita Springs. New Horizons’ Emergency Fund was awarded $5,000 to support helping at-risk children and teens who are growing up in an environment of poverty, academic failure and hopelessness; the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs’ Youth Arts Program received $5,000 to support its work enhancing youth development to reduce juvenile delinquency and related problem behaviors through visual and performing-arts programs; and the Literacy Council Gulf Coast’s Mom & Tots Program was awarded $10,000 for technology upgrades and iPads to give mothers and their preschool-aged children the opportunity to learn basic English-language skills to improve their situations.

During its 2014 fiscal year, the Community Foundation granted $2.8 million to nonprofit organizations supporting animal welfare, education, human services, the environment and the arts.

The event was complimentary and by invitation only.

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, founded in 1976, connects 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 $2.8 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. The Foundation granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, visit or call 239-274-5900.

Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island

Tessa LeSage and Joe Mazurkiewicz

Sarah Owen, Al Letson, Larry and Debra Hobbs

Melissa Congress and Debra Hobbs

John Talmage and Maggi Feiner

Jean Gilman, Nip Wilson, Shelia and Ed Thompson, Dorrie Hipschman and Joe Mazurkiewicz

Daniela Jaeger, Carolyn Rogers and Friedrich Jaeger

Colonel Rene Affourtit and Dawn-Marie Driscoll

Bruce Neill and Sarah Owen

Bobby Logue with Kathy and Al Krause

Barbara Yoemans and Maureen Cull

Anthony and Erin Montella

Ada Shissler, Robbie Roepstorff and Darla Letourneau


Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers

Adriana and Scott White

Al Letson and Sarah Owen

SWFLCF staff

Steve and Ann Walling with Roman Lucky

Sharon and Brown Thompson

Kathryn Kelly with Caroline and Bill Bloomhall

John Sheppard and Marilyn Leland

Jay and Kim Haskins with Mary Fischer

Holly and J.D. Leland

Ella Nayor, Jeff Cull and Carolyn Rogers

Dean Chavis and Scott Fischer

Dan Adair and Carolyn Conant

Craig and Marty Folk

Audrea Anderson and Charlotte Miller


Shangri-La in Bonita Springs

Bill and Sharon Riccio

Cindy and Keith Butterfield with Arden McCurdy

Ellen and Bob Nichols (New Horizons)

Guests picking out their passion buttons

Ian Maksin

Lucila Wing, Roger Caswell and Gay  Thompson

Monique Ward

Marge Allen and Margie Willis


Michael Hanson (Literacy Council)

Ron Penn and Steve McIntosh

Sarah Owen and Maribel Slabaugh

Shelley Anderson and Sarah Owen

Susan Bridges (Bonita Springs Performing Arts Center)

Waddy Ward and Dora Miller