Together in Fort Myers: Connections to Overcome Loneliness 

The word empower spelt out with wooden letters.

By Michael R. Davis.

I started in real estate 16 years ago, co-founding a commercial real estate fund management company. In January 2021, after helping our company build over a billion dollars of real estate under management, I found myself struggling with depression and anxiety. I then made a life-altering decision and left the career and company I had personally named and passionately dedicated myself to help build. That moment marked a shift from the familiar to a journey of self-discovery and transformation. 

Ironically, with my newfound freedom, I met an unexpected challenge: loneliness. Having left my work, family and friends behind, I found myself spending most of my days alone. My family was busy with their daily work and school routines, leaving me to find my way through a new world of quiet weekdays. This change disrupted my sleep patterns, making my feelings of isolation even more pronounced. 

So, I started walking. Day by day, miles unfolded under my feet – 10, 11, sometimes 15 miles, which meant 4-5 hours of walking alone, deep in thought. I explored old neighborhoods, fell in love with Lakes Park, and came to appreciate the ‘pot of gold’ at the end of John Yarbrough Linear Park – Sun Harvest Citrus! During these long walks, my sense of loneliness started to diminish, giving way to a deep connection with the world around me. In my solitude, I rediscovered who I am, remembering the people and experiences that have shaped my life. This path of intentional solitude led me to healing, joy, and an unexpected sense of belonging to this community. 

Meanwhile, as I was rediscovering my connection to Fort Myers, the city itself was undergoing a transformation. The streets grew busier, schools welcomed more students, and lines at stores stretched longer. As we witness our city’s remarkable growth, we’re also attentive to the challenges it brings, especially the often-overlooked issue of loneliness in our evolving society. 

This concern was underscored by the Surgeon General’s Advisory released in May 2023, which brought to light the significant health risks associated with loneliness and isolation. The advisory revealed a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke among those experiencing loneliness. Alarmingly, the risk of premature death in isolated individuals can rival that of daily smoking. These statistics powerfully illustrate the critical importance of social connections for our overall health and wellbeing. 

In response, Fort Myers is at the forefront of fostering a community where everyone feels connected and supported, from its sun-kissed beaches to its lively art and music festivals. 

Our town has become a leader in actively combating loneliness through various initiatives. Lee County Parks & Recreation provides a wide variety of activities that bring people together in shared spaces. Lee Community Healthcare extends essential health services and outreach, particularly to those most in need. Moreover, the Heights Foundation in Harlem Heights is transforming lives through education and opportunity, fostering a nurturing community spirit. 

Volunteering in community programs provides fulfilling opportunities to connect with others. In Fort Myers, you’ll find a range of options, from empowering young girls at the Pace Center for Girls, to joining the fight against hunger with the Harry Chapin Food Bank or contributing to brighter futures for children in foster care through the Children’s Network of SWFL. Your involvement has the power to turn the tide against isolation within our community. 

While the discussion around loneliness primarily focuses on the importance of connecting with others and being part of communities, there is also a meaningful aspect to finding solitude in nature. Southwest Florida’s natural environment offers numerous opportunities for spending time alone. Being “alone” (al’one) in nature can awaken a profound sense of our interconnectedness with the world, which can suddenly remind us that together, we are “all one” community. 

“Solo kayaking the backwaters of Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge was one of my favorite respite spots during my recovery from grief and loneliness following the loss of my 19-year-old son to brain cancer,” reports refuge center volunteer Dr. Joe Blanda. “Being present while immersing yourself in nature allows your mind, body, and soul to participate in something much larger than ourselves. It reminds us of the beauty and wonder that life offers, providing a fresh perspective and an opportunity to cultivate joy for ourselves. For example, watching the metamorphosis of a monarch caterpillar, or the recovery of the storm damaged landscape, can help us receive adversity as a gift to strengthen our resilience and foster a sense of community.” 

At Worthington Realty, we’re more than realtors; we’re part of this vibrant community, committed to enriching lives and strengthening connections. Our work goes beyond home sales; it’s about contributing to the fabric of a community where no one feels alone. 

In Fort Myers, every smile, every hello, and every shared moment strengthens our community. We invite you to embrace the vibrant Southwest Florida lifestyle, stepping out and reaching out, to be part of our collective journey towards a more connected, supportive community. Let’s build a future in Fort Myers where everyone finds a place to call home! 

Michael Davis' headshot.

About the Author 

As one of the owners of Worthington Realty, Inc., Michael R. Davis has been a principal and facilitator in sourcing, evaluating and acquiring more than $1.3 billion in private real estate transactions and partnerships throughout his career. Originally from Leesburg, GA, he has called Fort Myers his home since 2003. With a visionary mindset, Michael plays a crucial role in shaping the culture and future vision of Worthington Realty, always fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and growth.

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About Worthington Realty

Founded in 1989, Worthington Realty is a boutique real estate company specializing in residential sales, rentals and development, predominantly within Lexington Country Club in Fort

Myers and surrounding communities. For more information, please call 239-437-3334 or email info@ftmyersrents.com.