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Building Resilience in Southwest Florida Together

Catastrophic Hurricane Ian provides opportunities to reevaluate our lives, loves and strengths

Hurricane Ian took an unexpected turn toward Southwest Florida, upturning many of our lives.

This catastrophic event made us take an unexpected turn, too.

In this chapter, we proudly shine a light on the tireless work of the Collier Community Foundation, which has reactivated the Collier Comes Together Hurricane Fund, ensuring immediate aid where it is needed most.

We also provide a listing of other area resources for you and the people you love.

Finally, we offer first-person stories of resilience and gratitude shared by our readers.

In the words of actor Michael J. Fox, “Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul.”

Despite the debris and cleanup, we hope those left relatively unscathed by Hurricane Ian will find the richness of soul that was unexpectedly delivered by this catastrophe. For those less fortunate, know that your community is here, anxiously waiting to help you.

 

CHAPTER 103

 

RESOURCES, NEEDS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Resilience Together  

Post hurricane resources, needs and volunteer opportunities

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It’s heartwarming to see the community come together to recover and rebuild from Hurricane Ian’s historic and devastating impact. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, or worse, need help, we have compiled a list of some, but certainly not all, of the resources, needs and volunteer opportunities for the area. While we have made every effort to assure the information is accurate, we want to note the circumstances are ever changing and encourage you to verify with the organizations attributed.

 

Airbnb.org

Airbnb has committed $250,000 to the Florida Disaster Relief Fund to support Florida communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. If you have a house or room to list for this purpose, it will waive the listing fee. Airbnb.org has committed $5 million to provide free temporary housing to people displaced by Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian in the U.S. and Caribbean. To learn more, click here.

Online donations: click here.

 

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross, serving Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands and Lee counties, is in need of volunteers and donations.

For online donations and volunteering: https://www.redcross.org/

 

Avow

In-kind donations are now being accepted at the Avow campus to supply necessities to Avow employees, patients and families. Needs include towels, sheets, air mattresses, pillows, personal hygiene supplies (toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, deodorant), wipes, nonperishable food, water, Gatorade, cleaning supplies, trash bags, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, battery and cell phone chargers, portable fans, blue tarps, paper towels and toilet paper. Gift cards ($25 denominations are best) are also appreciated for gas, grocery, Walmart and Target.

Website for online donations: avowcares.org

Drop-off location: Avow’s Ispiri Building at 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Beverly’s Angels

Items requested: new socks and underwear for all ages, laundry soap, cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes, nonperishable foods and Walmart gift cards in any denomination. For more information, call (239) 825-5334.

Drop-off location: through Fri., Oct. 7, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sat., Oct 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Synergy Health, 13020 Livingston Rd., #14, Naples. Starting Mon., Oct. 10: Beverly’s Angels, 2383 Linwood Ave., #307, Naples: Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Bonita Springs Assistance Office

The Bonita Springs Assistance Office appreciates all financial donations. At this time, the office asks that people not drop off donations of material or used goods unless already approved through the office.

Website for online donations: bonitaassistance.org

 

Champions For Learning

We are asking our community to donate the following newly purchased supplies to ensure Collier students’ academic success:

Elementary School students - 250 backpacks, 250 packs of colored pencils, 250 packs of dry erase markers, 250 scissors, 750 glue sticks, 500 composition notebooks, 250 packs of lined filler paper, 250 boxes of tissue, 250 sets of markers, 1000 packs of pencils, 250 packs of disinfectant wipes and 1000 pocket folders.

Middle and High School students - 250 backpacks, 250 3-ring binders, 250 notebooks, 750 folders, 750 composition books and 1000 pens/pencils.

School Uniforms - 150 khaki shorts/pants (various sizes), 150 solid polo shirts (various sizes)

Hygiene kits for students and their families - 500 deodorant, 500 soap, 250 feminine supplies, 500 shampoo/conditioner and 500 razors/shaving cream.

Drop-off location: St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, 7070 Immokalee Rd, Naples, Thursday, Oct. 6 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 7 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

CROW is in need of monetary donations to assist in continuing care for wildlife.

Online donations, click here.

 

Coldwell Banker | Realty

Requested items: adult and children’s clothes, shoes and socks, underwear, toiletries, blankets, towels, nonperishable food items, canned puppy and dog food, canned kitten and cat food, cat litter, paper towels, pet beds, disinfectant wipes, pill pockets for dogs and cats.

Drop-off location: 550 5th Avenue South, Naples

Collaboratory

Collaboratory, a Fort Myers nonprofit, is partnering with United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties for the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund, with 100% of the funds going to those in need.

Online donations: https://collaboratory.org/

Collier Community Foundation

The Collier Community Foundation has reactivated its Collier Comes Together Relief Fund to help Hurricane Ian victims, with 100% going of the funds to nonprofits helping victims and their families.

Online donations: colliercf.org

Address to mail check: 1110 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 200, Naples, FL 34108 (Please note Hurricane Fund in the memo line.)

 

Collier County Local Resources

https://www.facebook.com/CollierGov/

https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/

 

Collier County Points of Distribution

Distributing food, water and ice to impacted residents:

  • Collier County Emergency Management - 8075 Lely Cultural Pkwy, Naples, FL 34113

  • Sugden Regional Park - 4284 Avalon Dr., Naples, FL 34112

  • Everglades City Administrative Office - 102 Copeland Ave., Everglades City, FL 34139

  • Barron Collier High School - 5600 Cougar Dr., Naples, Fl 34109

 

Collier Harvest Foundation

Requested items: canned goods (fruit, vegetables, soup, peanut butter, etc.), dry goods (oatmeal, beans, cereal, granola bars, etc.), baby food, diapers and pet food. Monetary donations are also accepted.

Drop-off location: 1455 Pine Ridge Rd., Naples 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (Monday through Friday)

 

Comcast Opens Free Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspot Network (including non-Xfinity customers)

To learn more, click here.

 

Community Cooperative

Support the Lee Country Strong Emergency Relief Fund; donations received will assist those in need with getting their lives back on track after the storm.

Online donations: https://communitycooperative.com/home/leecountystrong/

 

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Requested items: towels (most needed), romaine lettuce, apples, carrots, corn, oranges, bleach, water, detergent, hand sanitizer, reusable ice packs, carbon filters, D batteries and ant bait traps

Amazon Wish List: click here. Chewy Wish List: click here.

Drop-off location: 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples

 

David Lawrence Center

Donations needed: bottled water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene supplies, diapers, batteries, lanterns, sleeping bags, solar chargers, collapsible water bottles and tents.

For a community in North Fort Myers with families and small children who are living in homes without roofs, food or water, the following are needed: all non-perishable food items, bottled water, snacks, Gatorade, paper towels, paper plates, plastic ware, large garbage bags, cleaning supplies, baby supplies and tarps for their houses.

All cleaning supplies, especially N 95 masks, are needed to help avoid breathing in mold: bleach, mold stock, Clorox wipes, brooms, mops etc., gloves and blades to cut out drywall and protective eye wear.​

Drop-off location: The Floor Meisters, 6281 Naples Blvd, Naples, Monday - Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Dellatore Group

The Dellatore Group in Bonita Springs is trying to match landlords and tenants. Please let them know immediately if you have a property you would consider renting or if you are in need of a rental. If you have made the decision not to travel to Florida to utilize your home this winter, please consider the idea of leasing it.

They are also in the process of organizing a donation center at their office and need people to assist with collection and distribution of items. Please call the office with any questions or donations.

To those who would like to make a monetary donation, they are accepting gift cards in $20 increments from the following retailers: Walmart, Target, Sam's Club, Home Depot and Lowe's.

Email: Angela@TheDellatoreGroup.com; Phone: (239) 319-0805; Location: 3570 Bonita Beach Road

 

Feed Thy Neighbor, Collier and Lee

Feed Thy Neighbor, a nondenominational, nonprofit outreach meals organization, operates two kitchens — one at St. Monica's Episcopal Church, Naples and one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Bonita Springs. It prepares and distributes food to those in need. In addition to financial support, they are in need kitchen help and delivery drivers.

Online donations: feedthyneighbor.us

 

Feeding Florida

Feeding Florida is a network of the national food bank nonprofit Feeding America. The organization is coordinating with food banks across the state to provide food to victims of the hurricane. You can donate here.

 

FEMA

Disaster victims can obtain additional information and apply for disaster assistance through FEMA in various ways. You can apply for certain types of disaster programs and obtain information about others at (800) 621-FEMA (3362). www.fema.gov

 

FK Your Diet

Feeding the community for free (while supplies last) at 19630 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers.

 

The Florida Disaster Fund

This private nonprofit has waived all administrative and credit card fees so that 100% of every donation can be used to help Floridians recover from Hurricane Ian.

Online donations: https://www.volunteerflorida.org/donatefdf/

Or call (850) 414-7400, text Disaster to the number 20222, email info@volunteerflorida.org or mail to: Volunteer Florida Foundation, Attn: Florida Disaster Fund, 1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250, Tallahassee, FL 32308

Harry Chapin Food Bank

  • Lee County Food Donations - (239) 334-7007; 3760 Fowler St., Fort Myers; Food Donation Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

  • Collier County Food Donations - (239) 334-7007; 3940 Prospect Ave., No. 101, Naples; Food Donation Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Online donations: harrychapinfoodbank.org

 

Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation

#WeAreFMB Fund; donations will support those on Ft. Myers Beach.

Online donations: click here.

 

Gulf Coast Humane Society

Requested items: pet food and treats, canned cat and dog food, bleach, blankets, linens and towels. Donations can be dropped off at the facility, which is closed for the foreseeable future.

Drop-off location: 2010 Arcadia Street, Fort Myers 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

GCHS Wish List: click here. GCHS Donation Page: click here.

 

Healthcare Network

Donations to the Community Outreach Fund will be used to purchase much-needed supplies, including bottled water, canned goods, personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste), baby diapers and adult briefs for our elderly.

Online donations: healthcareswfl.org/donate

 

Hertz Arena

Donations in high demand: pillows, blankets, air mattresses and hygiene products. The arena is currently being utilized as a shelter.

Drop-off location: 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero

 

Humane Society Naples

Requested items: pellet litter, clay non-clumping litter, dog crates (airline type only), cat crates and soft toys for dogs. Monetary donations will go to helping animals displaced by the storm; HSN will deploy its Mobile Vet Clinic to impacted communities, provide pet food bank assistance and emergency boarding. The organization will also take some of Gulf Coast Humane Society’s misplaced animals.

Online donations, click here.

Drop-off location: 370 Airport-Pulling Rd., Naples

 

Lake Park Diner

Requested items: donations of any kind (food, water, toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)

Drop-off location: 944 7th Ave N, Naples

 

Lee County Local Resources

https://www.leegov.com/hurricane/storm

 

Lee Health Foundation

Donations will provide critical resources, equipment and supplies to the Lee Health hospitals and medical clinics.

Online donations, click here.

 

Meals of Hope, Collier County

Meal packing organization Meals of Hope is looking for volunteers to work at its mobile pantries for one-hour setup and three-hour distributions.

Online donations and volunteering: mealsofhope.org; (239) 537-7775

 

The Naples Players

Hurricane Ian Scholarship Fund donations will help families offset the costs of the arts education programs during this difficult time of rebuilding.

Online donations, click here.

 

Naples Senior Center

Naples Senior Center has begun working with seniors who have been affected by Hurricane Ian. Please contact them if you need assistance. Their staff of social workers, case managers and volunteers are ready to help.

(239) 325-4444; 5025 Castello Drive

 

NCH Community Blood Center

During disasters, blood banks often lose power and supply. The need for blood rises to keep hospital patients alive and help anyone coming in who might have been injured and needing blood. The NCH Community Blood Center has a stationary location at 1100 Immokalee Road, Naples, as well as traveling mobile blood donation busses. To find hours and locations, visit www.nchmd.org/services/blood-center.

 

Operation Blue Roof

Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency which provides homeowners and permanently occupied rental properties in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs. For more information, click here.

 

Our Daily Bread, Marco Island

Food distribution center Our Daily Bread operates a pantry at 1450 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, and mobile food pantries for those without transportation. It needs financial donations and volunteers.

Online donations and volunteering: ourdailybreadfoodpantry.org; (239) 259 5188

PALS Sky Hope

Is offering free non-emergency flights to Naples residents and their families who need transportation to and from the area through the Naples Airport. Community members in need of transportation can contact the organization at missions@palservices.org or (860) 866-6750. For more information, visit www.palservices.org

 

Premier Mobile Health Services

Premier Mobile Health Services has mobile clinics in the community to continue providing free health care, hot meals, water and clothing to those in need. Donations, volunteers, gently used clothes and shoes, durable medical equipment, nonperishable items and monetary contributions are needed.

Online donations: https://premiermobilehealth.org/

 

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

Requested items: bottled water, canned goods, can openers, dry nonperishable food items, flashlights battery-operated fans, portable cellphone chargers, toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.), female products, baby diapers and wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, dog and cat food, bedding, clothes and air mattresses

Drop-off location: 7711 Collier Boulevard, Naples

 

Salvation Army, Collier County

Location: 3180 Estey Avenue, Naples (headquarters)

The Salvation Army of Collier County has been providing 2,000 meals daily across Collier County since the night of the hurricane. People who need non-food items, such as diapers, should come to the headquarters for them. 100% of designated disaster donations go to direct services for survivors and first responders.

Online donations: www.HelpSalvationArmy.org

Donations by Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)

 

Seed to Table

Requested items: nonperishable food items, placed in the bins at the front of the store, which will go directly to St. Matthews House and Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. Purchase a Seed to Table gift card and the amount will be donated directly to St. Matthews House and Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.

Drop-off location: 4835 Immokalee Rd, Naples at the front of the store 1-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9

 

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Requested items: food, clothes, shoes and sanitary supplies

Drop-off location: 2301 First Street, Fort Myers

 

St. John’s Evangelist

Requested items: bottled water, Gatorade, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels, paper goods, clothes, underwear/socks, toiletries, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula and large plastic containers. Also accepting monetary donations and gift cards to Publix, Walmart, Home Depot, SAMS Club and Costco. If you are in need, call (239) 566-8740.

Drop-off location: 625 111th Ave. N., Naples

 

St. Matthew’s House

We need monetary donations for emergency housing and food programs.

Online donations: https://stmatthewshouse.org/give-2/

 

Think Pineapple

We need monetary donations to distribute food in Lee and Collier Counties; $15 provides one hot meal.

Online donations: click here.

 

True Fashionistas

Lifestyle consignment store True Fashionistas is collecting supplies and nonperishable food donations for victims of Hurricane Ian and delivering them to those in devastated East Naples coastal areas and Naples Park. Requested items: Nonperishable foods, including canned foods with a flip-top lid (no can opener required), pasta, ramen noodle packages, basic toiletries and supplies, including diapers, baby formula, wipes, hand sanitizer, flashlights, toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, brushes/combs, body wash), feminine hygiene products, shampoo and conditioner (please tape together), paper products (individually-wrapped paper towels; small packages of paper plates and cutlery), cleaning products (bleach, laundry detergent, cleaning sprays), batteries size AA and D and plastic tubs for collecting supplies

Drop-off location: 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, No. 178, Naples 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Sat., Oct. 8

 

The United Way of Collier and the Keys

The United Way supports many of its organizations with funds and services, and partners locally to provide support to the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Goodwill, Guadalupe Center, Habitat for Humanity, Immokalee Foundation, YMCA, and many more. It offers grants and disaster management case workers, and partner with local government.

Online donations: www.uwcollierkeys.org

 

Valerie’s House

Hurricane Ian Relief Fund donations will go directly to help the organization’s families in need during this time.

Online donations: click here.

 

Venjhamin Reyes Photography

Offering complimentary photography services for insurance purposes to those in the Naples, Fort Myers and Cape Coral area whose main residence was damaged by Hurricane Ian.

Contact information: info@venjhamin.com or (305) 332.7211

 

Volunteer Florida

For a list of Hurricane Ian volunteer opportunities, click here.

COLLIER COMES TOGETHER

Helping Hurricane Ian Victims Where Needed Most

Collier Community Foundation reactivates Collier Comes Together Hurricane Fund

The Collier Community Foundation (CCF) has reactivated its Collier Comes Together Hurricane Fund to assist Hurricane Ian victims and their families.

Activation of the fund allows the foundation to ensure immediate aid where it’s needed most, with 100% of donations distributed to area nonprofits without administrative fees.  

The fund’s purpose is to assist those affected and the nonprofits that support the victims in the aftermath of a crisis. It also serves to assure donors’ support will reach its intended cause. (Fraudulent sites that pop up following a disaster or emergency can mislead donors about where their funds go.) 

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Any funds not used for Hurricane Ian relief will be returned to CCF’s “Your Passion. Your Collier” crisis and disaster relief fund to ensure that the Collier Community Foundation is prepared for future events that affect our community. 

Donations are tax deductible. The Foundation takes no administrative fees for this community service.

“The fund allows us to meet nonprofits’ needs,” says Cindi Withorn, CCF’s senior director of marketing and public relations. “We receive calls every day for food, clothing, funds, gift cards and more. The Collier Comes Together fund allows us to work quickly to meet those needs without having to go through a lengthy process.”

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The ­­­­­­­­­­­­Collier Comes Together fund’s purpose is to assist those affected and the nonprofits that support the victims in the aftermath of a crisis.

Collier Community Foundation President and CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler agrees, saying, “The Collier Community Foundation is the proven philanthropic first responder. We have been here to provide our community with over $4 million in relief grants due to Hurricane Irma, red tide, wildfires and COVID-19.

“Our community's generosity allows us to come to the aid of those most in need and will carry us through to a quick and strong recovery.”

To learn more and to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund, visit colliercf.org. Checks with “Hurricane Fund” in the memo line may also be mailed to the Collier Community Foundation at 1110 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 200, Naples, FL 34108. Please note if you would like funds to go to Lee or Charlotte counties, which have all been devastated by this storm.

 

HURRICANE IAN NOTES OF GRATITUDE

Amidst Catastrophe, expressions of Thanks and Love

Readers and friends share heartwarming notes of gratitude

by Kathy Grey

In its 15 years, what defines èBella is its dedication to empowerment, edification and, most of all, inspiration. Our intent is to inspire better lives for every one of our readers, often by taking a look at the great works and deeds of people around us.

That said, we were struck by comments made by friends on social media in the wake of Hurricane Ian. How grateful people are! How wonderful it is for us to come together with selfless intent!

These are just a few treasured snapshots of gratitude from Southwest Floridians whose lives were impacted by the most ferocious hurricane on record in the history of Southwest Florida.

These stories prove that we are more alike — and more grateful — than ever.

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By the Grace of God

We are safe at home. We are surrounded by devastation. Devastation in the true sense of the word. By the grace of God, our home and a small area of homes around us did not flood and received very little damage. If there was ever a mother who could protect her child from heaven, it would be mine. And I believe she did.

We evacuated the day before the hurricane. Many of our neighbors and friends did not. They have said it was the most terrifying experience of their lives. Some stayed because they had been through other hurricanes before and thought Ian would be like those. But I believe hurricanes are like children, they are never alike.

Others chose to stay because they did not want to leave their animals behind. And there are friends that would have liked to evacuate but could not afford a hotel and gas to leave. So many reasons.

We took our 78-pound dog with us to a hotel on the east coast that only allowed a max of 40 pounds. We snuck him in at night to wake up surrounded by even larger dogs. No need for him to appear smaller. (New idea: dog Spanx with slimming capabilities.)

As with Hurricane Irma, our neighbors have been taking care of each other, helping with food, water and the gifts they have. Mark Millar has the gift of providing generator power via 12-gauge extension cords. He is also very handy with a chain saw. My gift is my dazzling personality. There are gifts all around us.

There but for the grace of God go I.

~ Anna Millar

 

Narrow Escape

To all our family in New York, Florida and Trinidad trying to get ahold of us, we are all safe and sound with the rest of [my husband] Tim’s family. Electric was just restored, and we lost our cellphones [and] all numbers were saved in our other phones.

Everything happened within 5-8 minutes. I was running to get the cats in the carrier when water came up to my waist instantly. Tim and our neighbor, Austin, broke through our slider, pulled me through to safety along with six other neighbors and a dog. We locked arms and walked strong up to [U.S. Highway] 41 and got to shelter.

We saved both cats when we got out of the shelter — so happy! They were wet and full of mud, but stood strong, knowing we were coming for them. God paved a path for us to get to them.

As with many of our family, neighbors and friends, our homes and cars are done. But we have each other and we will rebuild and walk in purpose. Clearly, we have a bigger calling.

~ Lisa Doyle-Mitchell

 

Look for the Helpers

Thank you to my Uncle David, for insisting that I go over to his house and wash my clothes and borrow his generator. He also force-fed us English muffins. [My wife] and I are so grateful. Fans will be blowing on our scantily clad bodies tonight! Also, thank you to my friend, Rosita, for helping us figure out your futuristic washer and dryer.

She’s not on Facebook, but I’d like to thank my mother-in-law, Linda, for storing our food at her house and lending us her fans.

We’re so blessed to have family and friends who care about us and want to always ensure that we’re safe and supported.

~ Miguel Cintron

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Amanda Inscore-Whittamore’s family worked hard in the yard following Hurricane Ian.

Newswoman’s Personal News

While I’ve been working long days documenting our community, my family and our fabulous neighborhood crew has been clearing yards for neighbors. And today, they cleared Jefferson Park with the help of a landscape company who saw them working and stopped to help.

Our neighbors have been coming together for dinner each night (and some mornings for breakfast) to make sure we all have a hot meal.

I’m so grateful for our crew.

~ Amanda Inscore Whittamore

Day Saves the Day

“We are Human Angels” is a book that defines human angels as “souls who have chosen to be born now on this planet to awaken themselves and humanity to unconditional love and the awareness of the oneness.”

I am privileged to have experienced one such angel in my Hurricane Ian experience.

I first met Regina Day through a mutual friend. I’ve always known her to be a caring problem-solver but, until recently, I had not been a recipient of her skills and generosity. Now, she can add me to a long list of grateful people.

I was out of town when Hurricane Ian deposited four feet of storm surge into my home and into that of our mutual friend’s home next door, who was also out of town.

I felt helpless from afar, trying to get people there to begin the cleanup.

Regina had already recruited a crew to start work on my neighbor’s house and came to my rescue, too. For more than a week, she managed teams of people to remove everything from both houses for garbage collection, clean the filth and water Ian left behind and prepare both houses for restoration. 

I can’t find the words to express my gratitude to Regina, who embodies this definition of a human angel.

~ Sharon Hood

Meals Beyond Measure

The third day of Ian was as eventful as all the rest [at Feed Thy Neighbor.] First, we cooked 625 meals by lantern light in our kitchen. All we had was a gas-fired stove, a gas-fired griddle and two gas-fired ovens under the stove.

Our big convection ovens, capable of cooking 16 turkeys at a time, are electric [and were inoperable].

I’ve never measured anything in my life in the kitchen and Josh has become just like me. Sandy was a speedball today, doing the work of two, maybe three, people and never complaining.

Today was also the day we had to pick up our allotment for both Walmarts, so it was a doubly busy day, but Devan kept things flowing.

At 4 p.m., we received a call from the Parks and Recreation department. They were running the new big shelter in North Naples Park where everybody from all the other shelters was being relocated, as I understand it. They told us that people were being bused there, but they had no food for them. Could we come over with some meals for these people?

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Tony Mansolilo and the crew of Feed Thy Neighbor make and distribute meals matter what.

We took 150 meals and boxes of pastries and desserts for the kids that Walmart had donated.

I noticed an elderly lady sitting on a park bench with a box with some clothes and water bottles beside her. Her face was pretty badly banged up and she looked devastated. I went over to her and asked, “What’s wrong? You look very upset.” She said, “I came from another shelter and they dumped me on this bench and nobody is paying attention to me. I don't know if I’ll have a place here or not.”

[She’d lost her trailer during the storm and said she had nothing except the cardboard box and a few pieces of clothes.]

She said, “My trailer’s washed away. I have nothing in this world and I’m sitting here hoping they’ll help me.”

I said, “I’m gonna sit right here with you until we get you inside and taken care of.” She looked at me so relieved, saying “Really?” I said, “Really".

I had already given out all the meals, but I carried a bag of snacks in the car, and we gave some to her.

Soon, they came with a wheelchair and brought her in. She was so happy. She turned in the wheelchair and gave me a little wave. Made my day.

~ Tony Mansolillo

Words of Wisdom

Adversity is not competitive.

Service to others is not competitive.

You’re allowed to grieve material things.

You’re allowed to be upset over your situation even though others have it worse. Keep it in perspective, but have your own experience.

You may feel guilty that you are not able to help others as much as you would like, but don’t let seeing huge collaborative efforts discourage you from sharing whatever help/skill you have to offer. Everything matters.

~ Shannon Livingston

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Regina Day