By Richard Weinstein, President & COO
Ocean Reef Community Foundation

“Where are you from?” It’s possibly the most commonly asked question between Members meeting for the first time at Ocean Reef. Perhaps, for anyone meeting someone new anywhere. In Florida it seems that whenever you ask that question the answer is never “Here.” I am from Here.

Similar to Florida, when I lived in Arizona, everyone I met was from what I called “I” states or “M” states. “I” state people mostly go to Arizona… Illinois, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana. “M” state people, those from Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and even Montana, choose Arizona as well, but some also go to Florida. In either case, when “I” state and “M” state folks purchase a home in Florida, it is almost always on the West Coast. Naples is a good example. Meanwhile, when someone from the Northeast (PA to Maine and down to DC) comes to Florida they almost exclusively choose the East Coast… but why?

The answer is simple. It’s the highways. When traveling south from the Midwest you get on I75 and it ends pretty much in Naples, unless you want to drive across Alligator Alley. While in the Northeast you take I95 and that takes you right through Palm Beach to the heart of downtown Miami. So how does that explain Ocean Reef?

We know the Club’s founder Morris Baker was looking for a fishing camp. But what are people looking for when they arrive at Ocean Reef today? Many other clubs in Florida boast great fishing and an impressive location. Think about Naples or Palm Beach. Without taking anything away from their beauty and success, it seems that Ocean Reef offers something that doesn’t exist elsewhere in this state. It offers something I like to think of as a “taste of old Florida,” but with good air conditioning.

“Old Florida” was a time when people looked out for each other, for their community, and everyone in it was equally important. Even without a view from the Foundation, it is easy to see this is the case at Ocean Reef and it extends into a strong desire to be philanthropic. While you do see philanthropy elsewhere, this is the place where that attribute is more important than showing off material possessions. This is the place where bragging rights come in the form of support for All Charities and for the organizations and people helping those in need.  This is the place where it is all about what you give of your time, treasure and talent. (Yes, I know that is in the Bible.)  This is the place where a strong mix of Midwest and likely even more Members now from the Northeast come and show off, not their car, but the BEST… in all of us.

This generosity is just another reason why Ocean Reef is truly a “Unique Way of Life.” That strong desire to help both the non-profits here at Ocean Reef and the charities doing so much for the communities outside our gates says that this is a community that cares more about people than material possessions. This is a place that puts that sense of community and caring in the forefront. THIS is the place where our Membership says “We are from HERE!”