#SWFLstrong: 'Love Thy Neighbor': Bonita Springs foundation aims to help children impacted by Irma
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Bonita Springs resident John Davis stayed in south Lee County on Sept. 10 when Hurricane Irma ripped through Southwest Florida.
It was thrilling to watch the storm come through the area, said Davis, a certified public accountant, but he was taken aback by the aftermath.
“No electricity, no internet and debris out by your curb for two months. That’s everything we’ve all been dealing with — and I didn’t lose my home,” Davis, 63, said. “People have lost their homes and all of their personal belongings. I can’t imagine what some of these families are going through.”
As people across Southwest Florida assessed damage after the storm, Davis got an idea from one of his daughters.
“She texted me and said, ‘You know, we should do something for the victims of Irma,’” he said.
So, Davis and his family decided to use their family-run charitable foundation — the Love Thy Neighbor Foundation — to help children, young adults and their families that were impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Davis, who runs the accounting firm Davis & Associates, is trying to get the word out to those who need assistance and to people who may want to contribute to the foundation’s post-Irma efforts.
Davis said he started the Love Thy Neighbor Foundation in 2006 as a way to give back for the blessings he has received in his life so far.
Davis involved his wife and three children in the charity’s operations, while he serves as the major donor.
He hopes it can be a generational effort in his family to make a difference for others, Davis said.
“Before I die I want there to be quite a bit of money in this foundation so that my great-grandkids, that I’ll never meet, will understand that it’s important to give back, not just taking and taking and taking,” he said.
Since establishing the foundation 11 years ago, Davis and his family have focused their financial gifts on children, young adults and their families in the local communities where he and his own children live.
The foundation has given to schools, scholarships, food pantries and youth camps across the country, all with the purpose of helping children, teens and young adults, their website states.
One of Davis’ favorite memories happened in 2008 when his foundation helped a U.S. Marine family in California with Christmas money for their children, he said.
“It was definitely a moment to remember,” Davis said.
Recently, Davis used his foundation after Hurricane Irma to provide $15,000 worth of generators for St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Davis heard about the devastation on the island from Denise Obbagy, one of his clients who owns a business and property in St. John.
"He asked how everyone had fared and what people needed," Obbagy said. "We said generators, the islands need power. He then described his foundation and that they were willing to help get generators purchased."
Davis provided money for the generators through the Love Thy Neighbor Foundation, and Obbagy transported them to St. John.
"It made a huge difference in a lot of peoples lives," Obbagy said.
Now, Davis hopes to use his foundation to give back to Southwest Florida families and their children who are still in need after Irma.
“There has got to be tons of families with children that have been displaced out of their homes and just need clothing or a new laptop or something for school that they lost,” Davis said. “We want to help a lot of families.”
The Love Thy Neighbor Foundation has yet to provide funding to families in Southwest Florida but Davis says it will grant up to $500 per family once the organization starts receiving applications.
The online application asks for an email, mailing address, a list of family members, photos of any damage from the hurricane, an explanation of what would be done with the money and why someone should be selected for funds.
Davis said the foundation would use the answers on applications to determine whether a family receives a Love Thy Neighbor Foundation grant.
Although Davis and his family usually do not raise money for the foundation from the general public, he said they are welcoming donations from anyone who wants to help them assist Hurricane Irma victims in Southwest Florida.
Those who want to contribute can send donations to John Davis at 28901 Trails Edge Blvd. Suite 205, Bonita Springs, Florida, 34134.
Checks should be made out to Love Thy Neighbor Foundation Inc., and Davis said that “Hurricane Irma” should be marked in the memo section.
Davis said it means a lot to give back and to do so alongside his family.
“It obviously warms my heart to know that my kids have joined me to want to help people,” Davis said. “I feel that whatever you have, it’s important to give back.”
To nominate an individual for the "#SWFLstrong" series, contact reporter Brittany Carloni at 239-263-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apply for Assistance
Submit a Love Thy Neighbor Foundation application online at johndaviscpa.com/LTN.php.