What A Chamber Gathering!


(By Kim Ryan) The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon on Thursday, sponsored by Smiles With Care Dentistry, was packed with members who enjoyed great food (at The Island Pancake House), awards, and an informative presentation.

The Island Pancake house served up delicious entrees, including my personal favorite; the Tuna Melt! When you go to the restaurant be prepared to ask for a to-go container because the servings are large and you won’t be disappointed. Besides the opportunity to chow down it was also a chance to meet the new owners Brian and Stacey Martins (pictured right) who graciously took a moment from busily working to say hello to the members in attendance.

While the food was being prepared and served by the warm and friendly staff, the award ceremony for Fort Myers Beach Deputy of the Month was presented by Chamber President Jacki Liszak.

Two of the three recipients were in attendance to receive their awards having been nominated by Sgt. Brian Walkowiak. Deputy Julian Chavez and Deputy Daniel Ochs were recognized for their efforts to apprehend an individual accused of carjacking and then committing armed robbery at two separate 7-11’s. After being pursued by deputies, the suspect fled the vehicle and the deputies assisted in a foot pursuit of the suspect successfully taking him into custody.

The Sheriff’s department noted in the nomination letter “that chasing a fleeing and armed suspect is inherently the most dangerous act that a law enforcement officer will ever have to face in their careers. These deputies placed their own lives in harm’s way to take this reckless and extremely dangerous criminal off the streets”.

Following the awards was a presentation by Tami Holliday, Community Relations and Development Manager at Community Cooperative whose mission is to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County, while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change in its clients by delivering innovative food, education and social service programs. `

Holliday explained the history of the organization started by Sam Galloway who initially began handing out peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches to folks in the Dunbar area.

Today the Cooperative which might be best known for Sam’s Community Cafe & Kitchen, open to any neighbor in need of a hot meal. As indicated on their website, The café in Fort Myers is open from 10:30am-12:00pm Monday-Friday. They also have a Community Market that provides customers an opportunity to choose their own food off market shelves instead of receiving a box of food filled with items that may not be used thereby reducing waste. This model also instills a sense of dignity to those accessing services. They operate the meals on wheels program, which provides daily, nutritious home-delivered meals and a friendly, safety and security check to eligible homebound neighbors who cannot shop or cook for themselves. These neighbors include seniors, the disabled, or chronically ill adults under the age of 60.

Chamber President Jacki Liszak and Tami Holliday

Holliday explained how important and necessary volunteers are and encouraged anyone interested to contact them and lend a helping hand especially to those living on or near the beach. It was noted that the agency will bring the food which needs to be delivered closer to the beach so volunteers do not need to go to their office in Fort Myers as they have a location at Chapel by the Sea on Fort Myers Beach. Go HERE to see all the amazing programs offered and to check out their volunteer opportunities.

Liszak reminded the group of upcoming events such as the Business After Hours At Gili Anna Artisan Jewelry – 5:30pm to 7pm on June 16th, Coffee Connection At Access Title Agency – 8am to 9:30am on July 7th, Membership Luncheon At Charley’s Boathouse sponsored by State Insurance USA (Guest Speaker: Ivonne Perez-Suarez from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) – 11:30am to 1pm on July 14th to name a few.

Check out their calendar which has a plethora of events going on at the beach and surrounding area.

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