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Presidents Letter

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times …”

Charles Dickens could have been describing 2009 when he wrote those famous words in A Tale of Two Cities some 140 years ago. 

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world with unique physical beauty: towering skies, azure waters and miles
of stunning beaches. People visit and move here to enjoy a beautiful and affluent corner of Florida. But, as one looks more closely, it is apparent that there are challenges galore. Beyond the gated communities and upscale restaurants, there is another side to life in Southwest Florida. As the economy has suffered, so have the fortunes of tens of thousands of people. More than ever, families and individuals are suffering and need help.

The good news is that Southwest Florida is home to many who possess an unparalleled sense of caring and philanthropy, and whose actions and generosity help increase the quality of life in our community.

This issue of Gulfshore Life—our Social Register—defines and celebrates this spirit of philanthropy in Southwest Florida, including:

• Worthy Causes, and how you can help. We profile 307 of the leading charitable organizations in Collier
and Lee counties. They are here to help others and
could use your assistance as well.

• The Social Calendar. Get out your pen—or BlackBerry—and get ready to plan your season. We highlight the year’s top events, galas and fundraisers. As well, this complete list will be online at www.gulfshorelife.com, and updated throughout the year with new events as we learn of them.

• The 2009 Philanthropists of the Year. This year’s honorees include a couple who donated millions to help local kids afflicted with cancer; a Mariner High grad whose accomplishments include an innovative “Adopt a Grandparent” program; and a volunteer who teaches kids to grow fruits and vegetables to feed the hungry.
We also salute two jewelers in Naples and Fort Myers who regularly support a myriad of local charities as well as a credit union whose foundation promotes the education and welfare of children throughout Southwest Florida.

• Galas and Fundraisers in a challenging economic environment. How do you accomplish more, and raise more, with less? We share innovative strategies for success, including joining forces (a combined Heart Ball to benefit the American Heart Associations in both Collier and Lee counties); staging ecologically aware events (the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Magic Under the Mangroves); and moving away from black-tie to more casual and fun events (The Community School of Naples’ Angel Ball).

• The New Etiquette. When can you send an electronic invitation or thank-you note? What do you bring the hostess who has everything? Can I answer my cell phone at the fundraiser?

• Fashion. Straight from the stylish setting of an artist’s studio, Fashion Director Julie French shows us the most compelling gowns for the new season. 

• Wedding Planners Tell All. Going back to Charles Dickens, these weddings had the best of times and the worst of times …

I hope that you enjoy the issue. As well, I encourage you to get involved and support the charities and nonprofits that are striving to improve the quality of life here in Southwest Florida. With your help, it can really be “the best of times.”

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