Neapolitans are well acquainted with the culinary and civic contributions of Tony Ridgway, now in his forty-third season as a Naples restaurateur. Now on the local scene is his daughter, Caroline Ridgway, 33. The third-generation, full-time Neapolitan moved back to Naples in 2012 after living in Philadelphia for college, law school and a job in policy and government affairs in health care. She says, “When I moved back to Naples, it was never a question that I would find ways to contribute, and I am lucky to have found a couple of really terrific organizations to jump in with right away.” Ridgway now works in compliance and business development for HFI LLC, a local privately held investment portfolio.
Earliest philanthropic effort:
One of the earlier sustained volunteer experiences I had was at the Immokalee Horse Trials [which raised money to benefit the migrant population of Immokalee], a founding initiative of The Immokalee Foundation in the early ’90s. I am a horseback rider and my trainer was involved in the planning and execution of the event along with Parker Collier.
Wisdom to share with young people:
I think it can be intimidating for young professionals to consider themselves “philanthropists” because we don’t have the monetary resources to drive change, but we can help in other ways. Start small and be open to opportunities for involvement that may come your way. It’s the whole pebble in the water phenomenon: One small action can have far-reaching consequences. Don’t worry if you feel like right now your capacity to contribute is limited; it will grow. Do what you can.
Words to live by:
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” (Leo Buscaglia) I’m sure we can all think of an instance where a small compliment or other minor victory really turned around an entire day.
- The Next Generation Committee for The Shelter for Abused Women & Children, and working on a new signature event to debut in May.
- Planning committee for the Naples Zoo’s ZOObilee 2014.
- Planning committee for the 2014 David Lawrence Center gala. I am a huge proponent of mental health and wellness support.