FORT MYERS, Fla. (January 23, 2018) –The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, recently awarded $15,000 to Collier County’s Avow Hospice for an education program to address aging issues in the LGBT community.

The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida is a multi-donor fund that allow donors to support the LGBT causes by becoming an LGBT Community Fund Participant, making a gift in honor or a memorial gift in memory of someone special, or creating a legacy fund as part of one’s estate plan to benefit the LGBT Fund in perpetuity.

Avow’s skilled nursing staff provide in-home hospice nursing care at nursing homes, independent

senior housing communities and assisted living facilities throughout Southwest Florida. Avow also

provides palliative care, bereavement support, and education.

“This grant helps promote equality for LGBT in Southwest Florida by expanding Avow’s current education and outreach programs to include programs designed to meet the unique needs of LGBT seniors,” said LGBT Community Fund Committee Chair Shawn Williams. “The contributors to The Fund believe this grant honors those elders who forged our path of equality and acceptance before us.”

Avow’s education and outreach program will include seminars, presentations and panel discussions at the Avow campus in Naples as well as informal coffee and conversation sessions in Southwest Florida eldercare and senior housing communities. They also plan to host theatre productions aimed at addressing aging issues for the LGBT community.

The changes Avow envisions range from simplified admissions forms that recognize same sex partners and spouses to addressing the chronic health conditions affecting transgendered people due to hormone treatments.

“In discussing eldercare issues with LGBT community leaders in Southwest Florida it’s clear that many in the elder gay community ‘hide’ their status. This presents a challenge – one that Avow is uniquely equipped to address,” said Melissa Phillips, Avow’s vice president of development. “By leveraging our eldercare and senior housing relationships and our deep understanding of the issues, we will raise awareness, highlight concerns, and help to create safe spaces within the eldercare and senior housing services environment.

Phillips said the program will also help to address the need for social support networks within the LGBT community itself where an understanding of older adults’ sexual orientation might be expected.

“By reaching out to and educating the target audience for our program we aim to increase awareness of issues that are specific to the LGBT community,” said Phillips. “One of the most significant changes that will occur as a result of our proposed program is that eldercare and senior housing staff will acknowledge and address the needs and concerns of LGBT community members. LGBT elders deserve the same respect and dignity in senior housing, long-term care, in-home care and community care as everyone else in society.”

Grantmaking from the LGBT Community Fund is research-based.  Through research, the fund’s steering committee identifies the greatest needs in the SWFL region for the fund’s granting focus. There is no minimum donation, but donors with contributions of $250 or more are considered Fund Participants and have voting privileges on grants selection.

The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida is a fund of The Southwest Florida Community Foundation and operates within the Foundation’s structure.

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 $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 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. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers.

For more information on how to become a participant of the LGBT Community Fund visit