Community Foundation

The Big News in Philanthropy Across Central Florida

Central Florida has a vibrant nonprofit community, and there is always something to share. However, three things have recently happened in Central Florida that are newsworthy in the nonprofit sector because they impact the sector-at-large. I’d like to highlight them briefly here.


First, the P. Due to the Edyth Bush Foundation’s continued generosity for 15 years to the Center, the Philanthropy and  Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC) has changed it’s name to the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. More than 2,000 nonprofit leaders from over 200 members utilize the courses and other resources each year. Since the Center serves so many they are truly a “cornerstone” in Central Florida’s nonprofit community. Margaret Linnane still serves as the Executive Director. Under her guidance, the list of programs continues to grow. Central Florida is truly fortunate to have a resource as comprehensive as the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership.


Homelessness continues to be the hottest topic among the nonprofit community. And, Andrae Bailey, CEO of theCentral Florida Commission on Homelessness, made waves when Cardboard Stories, the media campaign went viral. Cardboard Stories was seen along I-4 billboards, on the news feed of many Facebook profiles, and received local press. Because of his effective and persistent action to shed light on the issue of homelessness, Andrae was awarded runner up as Central Floridian of the Year. His activism has put him and the Commission in the spotlight, garnering the support of politicians and other organizations. Many organizations are coming together in a collaborative effort to implement an effective model to reduce homelessness.


Third, Charity Magazine  is now in it’s second year highlighting the news, stories, and organizations that are making a difference in Central Florida. Eric English, Editor, has gone from publishing an inaugural issue in 2014 to a quarterly issue in print this year. Two columns to look forward to are written by Mark Brewer and Kaia Forget for the pulse of philanthropy.

Gratitude: A Legacy for Lake County

The Leesburg Regional Medical Center Foundation, led by Executive Director Ted Williams, has seen many changes since 2009 when he accepted the position. The Leesburg Regional Medical Center (LRMC) began serving the community in 193 with 15 physicians and 25 support staff members. In their first year they served 2, 357 patients. Today they serve Lake, Sumter, and surrounding counties with the help of their 331 physicians and 1,790 support staff. In 2012 they cared for 52,000 patients. Their legacy continues to be a beacon in our community in many ways including as the largest single employer in Lake County. Ted has championed continued growth as the President of the Foundation and the Vice President of the Medical Center. Ted spends his day dedicated to his work. You may find him bringing a casserole to a sick friend over the weekend, checking on another before surgery at 7am, or reaching out to a colleague who lost a loved one late into the night. He doesn’t do these things because of his job description. He does this because of his heart. Ted’s heart quickly turns strangers into lifelong friends.

Ted states, “I once read that happiness is an attitude. We can choose to make ourselves happy and strong or to make ourselves miserable. The amount of work is the same.”

There are many milestones the Medical Center has been able to celebrate under Ted’s leadership and with the dedication of the medical and support staff. The 25 events each year that are done to raise funds for LRMC are highlights for the staff and the community because they understand that everyone at some time will need medical care. Their participation allows those without the means to pay to receive treatment. The largest event, “Go for the Green” Golf Classic, has been their signature event for the last 17 years. It is hosted at the beautiful Mission Inn each September. Whether you are a constituent that comes to golf or an entrepreneur that supports the event through sponsorship and enjoys the opportunity to network, it is a highlight event for everyone. The day encompasses friendly competition, relaxation, networking, a wonderful lunch, and usually beautiful weather.

The Ladies in Philanthropy are an integral part of the Leesburg Regional Medical Center Foundation as well. This is a group of community minded women who want to change and save lives by collaborating with other women leaders. The Ladies in Philanthropy wish to empower others to fulfill their philanthropic potential by understanding the healthcare needs in Lake County and promote the power of collective giving. The embrace fellowship and strive to educate and inspire women. They provide regularly scheduled lunches and events that allow you to serve on a committee, learn about healthcare issues affecting women, and teach others about the philanthropic potential of women. 92% of men interviewed named their wives as the primary influencer for philanthropic giving (Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund Study 2009). Therefore, our Ladies in Philanthropy program is an instrumental part to our fundraising goals.

Last fall, the LRMC Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $5 million of the $10 million needed to add 24 rooms on the hospital’s first floor. Approximately $3 million of that has been quietly raised. “Whether someone gives a little or a lot, just the act of giving something provides enormous benefits not just to the quality of healthcare in our community, but to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the giver.” Ted prompts us to remember.

The First Annual Philanthropy Day for Lake County

The First Annual Philanthropy Day for Lake County was hosted by the Community Foundation of South Lake. Over 100 people were in attendance.

The day began with an inspiring speech from Renaut Van Der Reit, CEO of Axum Coffee and Founding Pastor of Mosaic Church. Renaut shared how his vision for Axum Coffee was to be different; being a social enterprise allowed them to unapologetically make money to fund justice and mercy projects. Renaut inspired the audience with several profound quotes.

“If you are not driven by a deep desire of passion you won’t sustain what you are doing.”

“You can make money for greed or to change the world”

Once you’ve broken boundaries once you realize they weren’t really boundaries. Someone convinced you it’s a line you can’t cross.”

Renaut believes that in the nonprofit sector you are limited by resources and access. Just because your resources don’t align with those options on the table doesn’t mean you are limited. It means you need to be free to think outside the box and be free to fail, a message he gives his staff often. Your access is only limited by your relational access. Relationships create access. He allows his staff to fail so they can learn, grow, and succeed. The final thought he shared with the audience is that “your passion point must remain central”.

After the audience was inspired with these profound thoughts, they were sent to the breakout sessions offered in a track for CEOs and one for Development staff. Speakers for the CEO track were Royce Gomez on a nimble strategic plan, Stephanie Krick on social entrepreneurship, and Gary Cain sharing how to assess our strengths and weaknesses. Each speaker gave relevant, real life examples and even shared some of their personal learning experiences. The Development track speakers were Todd Roupp on data collection, Vanessa Lopez-Littleton on measurable outcomes, and Susan Kelly on strategic planning.

The evening closed with an Awards Banquet and a Keynote Address by Pat Burke, Founder of HOOPS Life. His message to the audience was investing your time and talents in young people can change the course of their life in a positive direction.

Bryan Williams, the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of South Lake, shared that there are approximately 1,000 nonprofit organizations in Lake County. In 2012 $107M was given to charity. From that figure 47% goes to religious and educational institutions leaving an average of $53,000 per year given to organizations like the nonprofits in attendance. This gives you a brief perspective on the philanthropic picture in Lake County, Florida. This will become an annual event; the staff look forward to planning an amazing lineup again next year.