During those 10 years, a lot of money has been distributed locally to help people when they need it the most. Fundraisers over the years have included, galas, fashion shows, casino nights, auctions, yard sales and luncheons. The organizations that have been helped include: the Library, the Mound House, Friends of Matanzas Preserve, the Fire Department and St. Vincent DePaul. In all, over 30 organizations have been helped as a result of what The Community Foundation does.
The organization was set to repeat all the events in 2020 when suddenly, life came to a halt. COVID 19 shut everything down. Anita Cereceda and Janeen Paulauskis decided to extend neighborly kindness to the hospitality workers of the island. They sold #WeAreFMB t-shirts hoping to make $5000 so they could give out 100 $50 Publix gift cards. The Community Foundation became deeply involved right from the start. Jan Falkum quickly put together a website to sell the shirts. Foundation treasurer Cheryl Hohman tracked every penny. The amount of money raised was incredible: $62,057.05 deposited with $38,171.84 disbursements split between costs of merchandise and 640 Publix cards. Six hundred forty cards went directly to people in need, all in less than three months.
By the beginning of the summer, people were getting busy with their lives and the need for the cards abated. The process of supporting struggling workers on Fort Myers Beach needed to adapt. The Community Foundation has taken over the #WeAreFMB initiative. They’ve expanded the merchandise to include doggy bandanas and masks. They are distributing Publix gift cards to any employee identified by their beach employer, expanding the campaign beyond hospitality workers. Distributions every year will be done in August and September.
Next up: 2021 and our Taste of Paradise Cookbook, Favorite Flavors of Fort Myers Beach, Fashion Show and Virtual Auction on February 13, and more #WeAreFMB!