Charitable Foundation of the Islands awards $100K in Assistance to Nonprofit Employees; $50K Still to Come

Employees of Sanibel and Captiva island nonprofits struggling to recover from Hurricane Ian are expected to receive $50,000 in grants in the coming weeks, adding to the $100,000 already awarded. 

The grants come from the Nonprofit Employee Assistance Program, launched by Charitable Foundation of the Islands (CFI) in partnership with the nonprofits on Sanibel and Captiva islands. The organizations raised the money shortly after the devastating storm struck the region last September, impacting the lives of many of the agencies’ employees who were attempting to help so many others who had sustained serious losses. 

To date, more than 40 employees have received some $100,000 in grants, with the remainder expected to be distributed by March 1. Longstanding CFI partner, F.I.S.H. Social Services of SanCap, is administering the program. 

For more than a decade, Charitable Foundation of the Islands (CFI) has partnered with the nonprofits on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. After Hurricane Ian devastated the area, those partnerships extended past the agencies and into the lives of the employees themselves, many of whom suffered serious losses and are struggling to recover.  

Birgit Miller, Ding Darling Wildlife Society executive director, summarized the plight of the organization’s employees in a letter to CFI. 

“As a result of Hurricane Ian, 70% of the staff lost their homes. Others were impacted by flooded cars or suffered personal issues. The support your organization gave to these employees was such a relief to them and all the other nonprofit employees who participated. They are often hesitant to apply for support, and the fact that your grant was directed at nonprofit employees was important. It made a very real difference in a time that was unprecedented.” 

On average, $2,500 was granted to qualified applicants for needs such as rental assistance, personal property replacement and loss of income.  

Here is what a few of the recipients said about the impact these awards made: 

  • “This assistance will help us towards everything we lost in our home from clothes to appliances. We are rebuilding our lives from scratch and will need all the help we can get.”  
  • “My family and I have endured numerous hurricanes throughout my life, but this one left us devastated. We are scrambling to fix up our home that was flooded while also grieving the loss of my only grandparent after she fell, endured multiple fractures, became septic and eventually lost the battle. I would be extremely grateful for this assistance as I would be able to help alleviate some of the heavy burden of repairs and funeral expenses.”  
  • “This will be a great start to recouping my losses. As a renter, my insurance did not cover much. Being able to focus my mind and energy toward the cleanup has been helping me cope. I’m single, and it has been difficult to replace what was lost.” 
  • “This assistance would help us get a place faster. We’ve been separated since we are staying with friends. It would help us to get a little closer to normalcy and be together as a family again.”  

Dolly Farrell, CFI executive director, said, “The success of the Nonprofit Employee Assistance Program is due to the tremendous generosity of our donors. They are giving not just to this initiative but to many others with the goal of accelerating our Islands’ recovery. We thank them and the employees themselves. These dedicated staff members are the reason the nonprofits can deliver much-needed services to our community. This program is just a small way we can recognize you and your efforts.”  

To learn more about the Charitable Foundation of the Islands, please visit