Friendship Force began in 1977; the Southwest Florida chapter formed in 1989 originally as the Lee County Friendship Force chapter. Its first president was Don McCourt and the club welcomed its first inbound club from New Zealand. The club was chartered on April 17, 1991 and had 20+ members. During that time, its first outbound journey (formerly known as exchange) was to New Zealand and also, it welcomed its first inbound ambassadors from Derbyshire, England Through the years there were many leaders. Some of the former presidents were: Tom Crick, Bob Douglas, Jody and Russ Garmon, Luvvy Koviack, JoAnn Robbins, Daryl Anderson, Lou Rizk, John Janiak, Joanne Collins, and Sue Linehan. The current president is Michelle Kemps.
Members of the Southwest Florida Friendship chapter now reside along the Florida Gulf Coast from Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda to Naples. Fort Myers is roughly in the middle of this range. We share a common mission with all Friendship Force chapters to promote global understanding across barriers that separate people. We embrace the Friendship Force slogan "Experience Different Views. Discover Common Ground." We do this by connecting people from different countries at the personal level through inbound and outbound journeys. In these visits, members share conversation, meals and the routine of daily life.
Our chapter has visited clubs in Manchester & Leicestershire, England; Jena & Herne, Germany; Manawatu, New Zealand; Sydney & Cairns, Australia; Korolev, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; Yamaguchi, Japan; Belgian Coast; Schwerin, Germany; Turrialba, Costa Rica; Stratford/St. Marys and Haliburton, Canada; and in 2018, Sao Paulo and Nova Lima, Brazil. You need not travel with our chapter to travel with Friendship Force; you can travel with other chapters as well as many of our members have.
We have hosted many chapters including those from: Hamburg, Germany; England; Belarus; Russia; Uzbekistan; Korolev, Russia; Alejuela, Costa Rica, Belgian Coast; All Africa (Uganda and Kenya); Hiroshima, Japan; and from the United States, Willamette Valley, Oregon; Denver & Colorado Springs, Colorado; Lincoln, Nebraska and West Michigan.
To find out more about some of our journeys, both current and past including photo albums, click the Journeys button. For Social Events, click the Social Events button.