When representatives from three Pine Island organizations recently accepted $5,000 donations each from the Matlacha Mariners, this community-minded group was reminded about how its hard work meets the needs of island programs.
"Without your help, we would not be able to provide activities for the kids' summer camps," said Nina Richter, who serves as the site director for Matlacha Community Center. With 40 children scheduled to participate in summer programming, the generous donation makes it possible for center staff to provide fun opportunities for campers ages 6 to 12 years of age
Along with the contribution to the community center's summer camp, the Mariners awarded $5,000 donations to Pine Island Food Pantry and Fellow Islanders Sending Help (F.I.S.H.).
Site director, Nina Richter, accepts a donation of $5,000 from the Matlacha Mariners, stating the support comes just in time to help Matlacha Community Center provide summer camp materials for 40 kids.
Again, the Mariners heard the same reminders from grateful community members.
This year, the Pine Island Food Pantry has served 120 new families, bringing the total to 1,700. Funds from the Mariners help pantry volunteers provide needy families with necessities that food stamps do not provide, said Dave Grueser, a longtime pantry volunteer.
With the donation, pantry workers can now purchase laundry soap, dish soap, bar soap and shampoo, fresh eggs, cheese and milk, all items that are not allowed to be purchased with food stamps.
"Your support is invaluable to us," Grueser said as he accepted the donation.
Since organizing in 2001, the Matlacha Mariners' sole goal has been to reach out to the community, with 50 members working diligently to raise funds, said Carl Jervis, treasurer for the Mariners.
"Everything we raise we give away," Jervis said. "And all the money we raise stays right here on the island."
With help like this, F.I.S.H., a 26-year-old, non-profit organization, may continue to provide a variety of services for island residents, said Dianne Higgins, FISH president.
FISH volunteers chat by phone with shut-ins and transport aging seniors or people with physical challenges to doctor appointments, grocery stores and banks. Mobility equipment is also available through the program, free-of-charge.
"We have no paid staff," Higgins said. "Everyone with FISH is a volunteer. We have no physical location, either. Everyone works for FISH from their homes."
Continuing to provide help for fellow islanders is important to each volunteer, Higgins said. "Everything we give through FISH is from our hearts."