Last Thursday evening, the Friends of Bay Oaks Rec Center and the Pool had their second meeting at the campus where organizer Denise Monahan explained the process of forming a 501-c3 organization and some possible fundraising opportunities.
At the beginning of the meeting, Charlie Whitehead urged the group to attend the Town’s final budget hearing on Thursday and support Bay Oaks.
“You should familiarize yourselves with the numbers in this budget,” he said. “If you think Bay Oaks ought to remain as is and hire a director, then they need to add $100,000 to the budget. I do not see how you can cut a budget, hire a new director at $100,000 and make things better. We need to tell people we want Bay Oaks to remain whole.”
Whitehead says he loves the idea of the Friends of Bay Oaks yet he is a bit irritated that people need to raise money for things that Council should be paying for.
Bay Oaks Coordinators Adam Leicht and Danielle Felton then asked for help from the community for candy for this year’s Fright Night, scheduled for October 21st.
“If someone donates 10 large bags, they can have a free family pass or they can donate that pass to a family who can’t afford the $10 family entrance fee,” Danielle said. “We are also looking for help from people who can volunteer their time by helping out the night of the event, cash donations and prize donations for the costume contest.”
Candy can be dropped off at Bay Oaks, the pool or Beach Elementary School. Those wishing to volunteer, donate prizes – typically gift cards – or cash are asked to call Bay Oaks at 239-765-4222.
Monahan then explained that the group must establish at least three voting directors for the board before she can file for 501-c3 status.
“Our attorney, Anne Dalton, also strongly encouraged us to find a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to review our articles of incorporation,” she said. “As far as the board of directors, I want to keep everything as simple as possible – their main use will be to vote on how to spend the funds we raise. Once all of this is in place and we are a 501c-3, everything people donate to us can be used as a tax write-off.”
Denise then announced that the organizers of this year’s Sand Sculpting Championships have offered the group one of their ‘Charity Days’, where different groups get to fundraise.
“We can set up a booth, a banner and sell vouchers for different things where a dollar from each sale goes to our charity,” she said. “We will also have our logo sculpted in the sand.”
RJ Snyder, Marketing Director for Salty Sam’s, volunteered to create the group’s logo and there was a discussion about creating t-shirts for the Sand Sculpting volunteers to wear. After speaking with the organizers earlier this week, Monahan informed the Sand Paper that Tuesday, November 22, is the day that the Friends of Bay Oaks will participate.
“I’m also happy to say that the Lion’s Club has selected us as a local charity recipient,” Denise said. “I’ve also been approached by a comedy club in Ft. Myers, who offered to donate all of a particular night’s cover charge to our group if we bring enough people.”
Discussion was then held over various ways to increase public awareness of Bay Oaks and the pool.
Mark and Jo List handed out some pictures of buttons they’d created for local servers to wear that said ‘Ask Me about Bay Oaks’. The group then brainstormed for ways to incentivize restaurant owners and managers to get their servers to wear the buttons, with someone suggesting putting pictures of Bay Oaks – and a list of activities – on kids’ coloring pages instead.
Elizabeth D’Onofrio asked for brochures to hand out at Pink Shell Resort, where she works as a concierge, and Adam replied that the rack cards are nearly ready.
Denise also said that Pat McKeown, who designed the Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve’s website, has agreed to create a website for the group.
“I would also like everyone to go on TripAdvisor and write a review for Bay Oaks – which also includes the pool – because right now we are not coming up as part of the Top 25 Things to Do On Fort Myers Beach,” Monahan said.
The group also has a Facebook page, so – until the website gets set up – anyone seeking more information is asked to open Facebook and search for ‘Friends of Bay Oaks Rec Center and the Pool’. Once the page is ‘liked’, there are places where people can make comments and send emails.
Keri Hendry Weeg