There is an old saying that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. If that is true, then a good amount of the “20 Percent” of the Fort Myers Beach Community gathered on Wednesday morning, February 13, for the Fort Myers Beach Alliance of Non-Profits meeting at the Beach United Methodist Church. The Non-Profit Alliance generally gathers at the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club at 175 Sterling Avenue, but a plumbing issue forced the last minute relocation to Beach Methodist.
At this particular session were Denise Monahan of the Friends of the Bay Oaks Recreational Center; Jacki Liszak, the Executive Director of the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce; Ellen Vaughn, the new President of the Friends of the Mound House; Kathy Klar and Debbie Voorhees of the Friends of Lovers Key State Park (FOLKS); Beverley Milligan, President of the FMB Woman’s Club; Pastor Ivan Corbin of the Beach United Methodist Church; Peter Sheridan of the Estero Island Historical Society (EIHS); Tina Yelle and Shannon Orlandini of the Beach Elementary School Parent-Teachers Organization; Mari Torgerson, the Events Chair of the FMB Woman’s Club; Jan Fleming of the Friends of the FMB Public Library; and Dawn Thomas, who does marketing for the FMB Woman’s Club and Non-Profit Alliance. Since the FMB Woman’s Club created the Non-Profit Alliance, Beverley Milligan is the informal leader.
“The FMB Woman’s Club over the past year has been undergoing a metamorphosis,” she earlier explained. “Membership fell below 20 people two years ago, so the Woman’s Club needed a new energy and direction to attract younger members, and the building was not only underused, but showing its age and needed substantial restoration, with new programs to make it relevant again. Today we have over 60 members and a Capital Improvements Campaign, and a new idea was to appeal to Non-Profits. Representatives meet every other month to support one-another, compare notes, share activities, and partnering opportunities. This led us to create the ‘Community Calendar,’ so we compliment rather than compete with each other with programming and fundraising.”
Three Almost Immediate Benefits
The fledgling Non-Profit Alliance and Community Calendar yielded three almost immediate benefits. “The FMB Woman’s Club was planning its first-ever ‘Christmas Tree Festival’ for a mid-December weekend,” recalled Beverley. “We soon learned the historic Mound House would have its inaugural ‘Christmas Market’ on one of those same days, at the same time. Rather than competing against each other, the Woman’s Club moved our ‘Christmas Tree Festival’ to the evening, clearing the day for the ‘Christmas Market,’ and we co-promoted each other. At this same time, the Woman’s Club learned about the efforts of the Beach Kids Foundation to collect and distribute toys so all island children could celebrate a Merry Christmas, so the ‘Christmas Tree Fest’ became a collection site and a new unwrapped toy was the Saturday admission.”
Shortly after the start of 2019 came the 9th Annual Putt-&-Pub Crawl, with the original hosts no longer sponsoring the event, so the FMB Non-Profit Alliance with significant assistance from the Chamber of Commerce took over the fundraiser under an altered format. “Previously, only one island Non-Profit received all the money raised by the Putt-&-Pub Crawl,” said Liszak, “but we partnered each hole sponsor business with an individual Non-Profit to spread the fundraising dollars around.” Putt-&-Putt Crawl Non-Profits were Turtle Time; Friends of the Bay Oaks Recreational Center; FMB Friends of The Arts; FOLKS; the Edison Sailing Club; FMB Community Foundation; Beach Elementary School PTO; FMB Lion’s Club; and the FMB Film Festival, with the Chamber and Woman’s Club. Jacki stated that the Putt-&-Pub Crawl cleared roughly $6,000 and she distributed checks to the Non-Profit partners at the meeting.
The FMB Alliance for Non-Profits will fully take over the 2020 Putt-&-Pub Crawl. Thomas felt it still has room to grow, possibly into a regional event, saying there is “no reason we can’t pull people here all the way from Naples.” Milligan suggested that the Non-Profit Alliance should focus future efforts on one or two large-scale fundraisers, “to pull all our groups together.” After discussing several concepts, the Non-Profit Alliance will form an Events Subcommittee following season to provide recommendations.
Voorhees reported on another recent benefit of the Non-Profit Alliance working together. “The President of FOLKS, Rich Donnelly, is a retired Yale-trained architect. When he heard me discuss the FMB Woman’s Club renovation plans, he volunteered to do our conceptual drawings for free!” “This just shows,” added Pastor Ivan, “how by working together, the Alliance helps our community.”
Once Around The Table
Members discussed upcoming events and activities: Milligan stated the Woman’s Club, in conjunction with the EIHS, will host a club social on March 26 on the building’s history at 6:30 p.m. Monahan encouraged everyone to get on the Bay Oaks Recreational Center quarterly mailing list, “as we offer amazing programs!” Liszak said Chamber meetings continue the second Thursday of each month, with a breakfast one on March 14 with a Stokes Marine speaker, then April 11 with Captain Daniel Andrews of “Captains For Clean Water.”
Vaughn said the Friends of the Mound House will host their “Artful Intersection” fundraiser on Friday, March 22, at the Woman’s Club, with tickets $75-per-person. “It will be a strolling supper, with unique art pieces and exciting island experiences you bid on to purchase!” Klar stated that FOLKS will have a photography fundraiser in Naples on Thursday, March 7; and Thomas reported the Woman’s Club is working on an upcoming “BBQ & Bricks” campaign for a gas grill area on the property, and residents and guests can purchase a limited edition and signed artwork print by noted island artist and Town Vice Mayor Joanne Shamp for $100, with all proceeds to the Woman’s Club.
Voorhees stated as well that “Drag Queen Bingo” at the Nauti Parrot Dock Bar is “the new hot and fun island fundraiser! The evenings sell out, expanding now to Fridays along with Tuesdays, and they benefit one local non-profit each night per month. They recently presented FOLKS a check from January for $3,910. Tuesdays in February go to the Bay Oaks Recreational Center and Fridays to the Woman’s Club, and I know one of the March groups will be the Friends of the Library. We all need to thank Sandy Sandness of The Island Sand Paper because she gave the non-profit idea to the Nauti Parrot.” The Alliance agreed to send a Letter of Appreciation to the Nauti Parrot.
Our Deepest Condolences
Pastor Ivan continues to work with most of the island religious leaders on the Fort Myers Beach Ministerial Association, for the needs and concerns of the local homeless population and underserved members of the community, and said that Beach Methodist will host a Paul Todd Concert on Monday, March 18. Sheridan from the EIHS, at his first Non-Profit Alliance meeting, gave a brief history of his organization and reported that the final two 2019 Speaker Series lectures at the FMB Public Library are Monday, March 11, with Dr. Tom Berson presenting “The History & Significance of Florida’s Springs,” and Monday, April 8, with Elliot Kleinberg offering “Florida in The Civil War? Believe It!” The free programs are in the 3rd floor Community Room at 7 p.m. He added the late Library Director, Dr. Leroy Hommerding, “was an EIHS officer and did so much for us; we are working hard to fill his shoes, God Rest His Soul!”
Yelle and Orlandini reported that tickets remain for the PTO’s 2nd annual “High Rollin’ on The Beach” Gaming Fundraiser to benefit Beach Elementary School students on Saturday, February 23, on the FMB Woman’s Club campus at 175 Sterling Avenue from 6 to 10 p.m. This year’s theme is “Lucky Hearts,” with tickets $50-per-person. Thomas then discussed a comprehensive Non-Profit Alliance marketing brochure.
Fleming spoke on the drive to collect plastic container caps for a recycled “Buddy Bench” for Beach Elementary School, “where kids who need a friend sit, as a signal to the other children to come to their aid! We have collection sites at the Beach School, Public Library, Woman’s Club, and Lovers Key Ranger Station. This is such a cool concept!” She reported as well that the Library Friends will host a March membership drive and the Friends of the Library Annual Meeting, postponed in late January due to the tragic passing of Dr. Hommerding, will be Thursday, February 28, in the 3rd Floor Community Room, with Beach Elementary School Principal Karen Manzi the guest speaker at 10:30 a.m. “On behalf of the entire Non-Profit Alliance,” Milligan told Fleming, “we express our deepest condolences to the Library Family on the loss of Dr. Leroy.”
The FMB Alliance for Non-Profits meets the second Wednesday every other month at the FMB Woman’s Club; the next session is April 10 at 10 a.m. To list your local Non-Profit event on the “Community Calendar,” address your email to Jan Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org; for details, see fmb-wc.org.