CFI Makes Major Contribution to Islands’ Irma Recovery Effort

 Left to Right: Paul Roth, Melissa Congress, Mary Ellen Pfeifer, Chris Heidrick, Brenda Harrity, Richard Johnson, Melissa Rice, Nicole Decker-McHale, Ralph Clark, Maggi Feiner, Steve Greenstein, Kevin Ruane, Mick Denham, Ken Kouril

Left to Right: Paul Roth, Melissa Congress, Mary Ellen Pfeifer, Chris Heidrick, Brenda Harrity, Richard Johnson, Melissa Rice, Nicole Decker-McHale, Ralph Clark, Maggi Feiner, Steve Greenstein, Kevin Ruane, Mick Denham, Ken Kouril

The Charitable Foundation of the Islands has launched a major recovery initiative for the benefit of Islanders effected by Hurricane Irma.

“We have a rainy-day fund,” CFI Board Member and Grants Chair Chip Roach said, “and now we have a rainy day. We want to put our arms around the islands. There is much work to do, but this is a first step.”

The initiative entails special, one-time disaster relief funding for F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, Inc., Community Housing & Resources (CHR), and the City of Sanibel. “We will extend a line of credit of up to $50,000 to F.I.S.H. and up to $25,000 for CHR,” CFI Board member and secretary Ralph Clark said, “and we will give the City $10,000 in direct support. This will benefit City employees who find themselves in difficulty.”

According to F.I.S.H. Board Chair Nichole McHale, CFI’s generous emergency support will enhance the organization’s capacity to help Islanders or Island workers who have lost homes or power, or who have been forced out of work and can no longer pay for rent or utilities. “We have just received an order of food, and more is on the way,” McHale said. “We give food, cash and food gift cards to our neighbors in need.”

With these special funds, F.I.S.H.’s “Backpacks for Kids” program will be augmented. “Each year F.I.S.H. supplies 1100 school lunches for children,” McHale said. “With the help of CFI, F.I.S.H. can now provide children with two meals per day while school is closed. They will not go hungry on our watch.”

“Sanibel is community strong,” McHale said. “We come together in time of need. We are so grateful to CFI for stepping up—and so quickly. It is truly a blessing.”

CFI’s emergency support of CHR will help the organization repair damage to its residential properties. “A huge tree fell onto a ten-unit complex in Riverview,” CHR Executive Director Melissa Rice said. “The roof and at least one unit have been severely damaged.”

Rice reports that other CHR locations have also sustained tree damage. “Siding is off a unit in Sanibel Highlands, from a downed tree,” she said,” and a tree fell against a home in Mahogany Way. We are still assessing the extent of that damage.”

CHR is in need of manpower, as well as monetary support. “The Mahogany Way playground is strewn with downed tree limbs,” Rice said. “We would be glad for volunteers to help clear that debris.”

“We are incredibly grateful for CFI’s generosity--and especial the speed of its support. It means so much to the residents,” Rice said.

CFI’s sole mission is to help Islanders in need. “We have been putting aside money for disaster relief,” Clark said. “This is right in our sweet spot. We are ready. We have prepared for it. We can do it.”

CFI will also reach out to other nonprofits on Sanibel and Captiva affected by the hurricane. “We are here if you need us,” Clark said.

The Charitable Foundation of the Islands’ partnership with the Sanctuary Golf Club and its Community Golf Challenge–along with its many generous sponsors--helps CFI to provide continuing financial support to worthy causes exclusively on Sanibel and Captiva. CFI’s primary concerns are basic human needs, arts and education, the environment and unforeseen emergencies. Its mission is to promote philanthropy to help people in need on Sanibel and Captiva, and to strengthen Island non-profit organizations, with the expectation of building a spirit of community for generations to come.