Students & Community Groups
Somebody Up There must really appreciate all the good works done by the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation – with thunderstorms to the north, south, and west, the only water that rained down during the outdoor ceremony at the Historic Mound House before roughly 50 people on Wednesday evening, May 8, were tears of joy from proud parents and appreciative recipients!
“We are thrilled that the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation (FMBCF) can touch so many lives in our community,” said President Sheryl Bowman in her welcoming remarks before the presentations of $15,000 in scholarships to nine area students and $12,000 in charitable giving to worthwhile groups. “In a way, you could say our 78 members are a selfish group because every time we give away money, we get to feel good about ourselves! Sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish to raise the moneys to donate to these nine organizations and scholarships to the same amount of students. We not only contribute financially but donate our time to make our island a better place.”
Bowman then made the presentations to the nine community groups: Leap of Faith After School Program; Beach Baptist After School Program; Choice Market Food Pantry; The Presbyterian Church / God’s Table; Keep Lee County Beautiful; The Ostego Bay Foundation; Society of St. Vincent DePaul; The Mound House & ACT.
“’The Leap of Faith After School Program saw an obstacle that faced us and one day simply decided to take ‘a Leap of Faith,’” Bowman exclaimed! “The Beach Baptist After School Program is for kids from Kindergarten through 5th grade so they have a healthy snack, safe activities, and field trips, as the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation constantly supports and cares for our island children. Choice Market is truly the market of choice to families in need, allowing them to shop just like at a grocery store so they can choose items that are important to them.”
In calling forward “God’s Table,” Bowman said they “open their doors to the needy and underemployed who live on Fort Myers Beach with warm breakfasts, hot lunches and social services to those who need assistance, while spreading Christian fellowship to all! ‘Keep Lee County Beautiful’ is now in its 30th year of operation, having cleaned up in 2018 twenty tons of litter along 207 acres of public lands and 101 miles of our river, lake, and Gulf shorelines. The ‘Ostego Bay Foundation is dedicated to providing education about our local estuary and marine environment and wildlife to children and adults. Over its 20 years in existence, the Ostego Bay Foundation Science Center does not ask for much while doing so much!”
When introducing St. Vincent De Paul, Bowman stated that “it is a Catholic volunteer group that provides aid to everyone of all faiths on Fort Myers Beach 7 days a week, and was especially essential last summer in helping those dealing with adversity from their jobs over the Red Tide crisis. As for ‘The Mound House,’ what can I say,” with that drawing the loudest ovation of the evening! “Cheers to all you do, as on these three small acres, you fulfill your mission to provide over 2,000 years of Fort Myers Beach history, from Calusa Indians through today’s environmental and historical programs. Finally, ACT provides shelter to those in need, with outreach support and education through initiatives and services, even though there are more individuals who require help every year. The FMB Community Foundation appreciates all of you!”
Mary Louise Bauman introduced the student scholarship recipients. “I like to say that we ‘Inspire Today & Impact Tomorrow’ but when I read these scholarship applications, I wondered if I have that wrong! They just blew me away, and I began to realize that these young people are doing their part to ‘impact today to inspire tomorrow,’ as they are our leaders of tomorrow! Education is the greatest gift we can pass on to each other and these students of Fort Myers Beach will impact us all.”
She then individual introduced the nine Scholarship Winners: Jacob Franklin; Bailey Faircloth; William Holt Wallace; Olivia Hovis; Taylor Harlan; Bridgette Taylor Myers; Allison Jones; Adrian Kahn & Andrea Maria Vanegas.
“Jacob is studying Political Science at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a focus on the environment and international politics, with the goal to reduce plastics in the world! Bailey unfortunately cannot join us; she is studying to be a nurse-practitioner at Florida Atlantic University. William is taking Engineering at The University of Florida, and you have to ask him what he is actually doing because it is way beyond me! Olivia is at FGCU to be a physician’s assistant, but this was her graduation week so she could not attend. Taylor will soon start her college career at Florida State University as she is just graduating high school. She wants to do Social Work so as we all age, we will be very glad to have her around!”
Bauman explained that “Bridgette is at FGCU for psychology; Allison attends there as well, working on her Bachelor degree in athletic training so she can eventually go into physical therapy; Adrian is another at FGCU who is focusing on becoming a teacher; and Andrea Maria is also at FCGU. She is interested in community health, to become a pediatric oncologist. There they are – they are our future!”
New Foundation Board
The next meeting of the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation is Wednesday, May 15, at Charley’s Boat House Grill, where they will inaugurate their new 2019-20 Board of Sheryl Bowman, President; Corri Francisco as Vice President; Cindy Richardson, Secretary; Cheryl Hohmann as Treasurer, with the six Directors being Marylynn Alfieri, Nancy Bouchard, Bobbi Kemp, Suzy Krajewski, Kelly Smith and Alicia Steinhagen. For additional information on the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation and how to join, contact New Member Chair Jan Fleming at email@example.com.
By Gary Mooney