Submitted by Eileen Connolly-Keesler – Collier Community Foundation
We are now at seven weeks since Hurricane Ian since left his indelible mark on our community. And for only the third time on record, another November hurricane, Nicole, simultaneously formed in the Atlantic while Ian was still wreaking havoc and destruction. While we breathed a sigh of relief that Nicole was not much more than a nuisance on this coast, we understand and sympathize with our east coast friends as they clean up and recover.
The good news is that our Collier Comes Together Fund is making incredible strides in our recovery efforts. I am proud to report that we have already granted our community over $2 million in relief funds! The first $1.3 million distributed in the first four weeks was for immediate needs to alleviate suffering. This support includes funds for gift cards, cleaning supplies, food, pet carriers to transport displaced pets, childcare, and temporary housing.
The next phase involves repairing, rebuilding, and mitigating long-term housing needs that will last through future storms. The first step is assessment. We will focus on low-income developments and owner-occupied mobile home parks for 55 years and older with the greatest need. Our goal is to rebuild homes and elevate them with dirt fill, making them less susceptible to future storms.
We have provided over $500,000 for case management to assess how best to proceed, including a case manager position for the Naples Senior Center to evaluate the need in owner-occupied senior mobile home parks. Other nonprofits experienced the need for short-term staff to deal with the aftermath of the storm, so we have granted to the Salvation Army of Collier County and St. Matthews House for disaster assistance case managers. We also funded a full-time position at Legal Aid of Collier County for a Disaster Relief Project Attorney due to the rise of eviction notices that quickly follow disasters.
We have not forgotten the devastation in neighboring counties and have earmarked $700,000 in relief for Collaboratory’s rebuilding efforts.
Click here for a complete list of grants to date.
As always, the benevolence of our community and beyond allows us to act on these projects. The outpouring of support is heart-warming and gives me hope for our future. From small benefits and donations to star-studded performances from well-known performers like country singer Chris Stapleton, rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a world-class ballet, Arts Heal, at Artis-Naples, every contribution is helping us make a difference. I cannot begin to thank all of you enough for your generosity.
We know this will not be our last storm. Daily national and worldwide headlines from extreme droughts and deadly floods to devastating wildfires and tornadoes to record-setting high temperatures plead with us to take action now. With your help, we can be ready for whatever the future holds. Learn more at colliercf.org and on our social sites: @colliercffl on Instagram, Facebook, Twitte