Skip to main content

Bonita Springs' Cafe of Life Gives Away 120 Backpacks, Looks Forward to More 2017 Special Events

Aug 26, 2017 06:31PM, Published by Kevin, Categories: Bonita & Estero


COL donated Christmas gifts to this family. Picture taken by a COL volunteer.


Gallery: Café of Life 2017 Programs and Special Events [2 Images] Click any image to expand.



Café of Life, a Bonita Springs nonprofit, gave away 120 backpacks at its annual end of summer backpack distribution. The event was held on Friday, July 28, at Leitner Neighborhood Park.

Founded in 1998, Café of Life started out offering coffee to a group of the homeless, who were living in the woods in Bonita Springs. From there, it became "a fixture in Bonita Springs, serving luncheon meals, Monday through Friday, to individuals and families from all walks of life," according to its website.

Café of Life's purpose is to help in meeting the basic needs of the less fortunate people of Bonita Springs. It is an agency of the United Way of Lee County. Volunteers serve an average of 70 hot meals per day.

Up next, the organization will host its annual Christmas party, where volunteers and staffers will provide approximately 200 children’s gifts, as well as a special Christmas meal. The younger children get toys; the older children get gift cards. The sheriff’s department assists with the gift giveaway.

Most years, Easter baskets are distributed to the children around Easter time, as well. On Mother's Day, gift bags are distributed to the mothers. 

Café of Life holds an annual Summer Feeding Program, where, on each Friday of the summer, about 60 families are given a whole chicken, and a pound each of beans and rice.

Aside from serving hot meals and hosting special events, the organization has various initiatives that run throughout the year.

Transportation Program

"The new Nomad Drive food service facility, with its covered eating area, is ideal for serving food, even on rainy days," according to Theresa Moore, who serves on the board of directors. "But its location is not as accessible to those that bicycle or walk as was the downtown park."

Once the meal service location changed in 2013, Moore said they noticed a downturn in attendance for the hot lunches. To make it possible for families and the homeless to attend the meals, they decided to secure a van, which volunteers drive through the neighborhoods to give clients a ride to and back home from the meal service.

A second van and minibus have been added since the program's inception.

"Having these vehicles also allowed COL to expand its services to provide clients with transportation to doctor and dentist appointments; court hearings, especially for women seeking restraining orders for domestic abuse; English lessons; grocery shopping, especially for seniors without other transportation; and similar transportation needs," Moore said.

COL’s Outreach Program

Many of Café of Life's clients are not English speaking. Most staff and volunteers, however, speak English only. Operations manager and volunteer coordinator Yadi Munoz speaks both English and Spanish, and for years she was the only conduit for direct communications with non-English-speaking clients.

"Over the last year, due to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to hire a Spanish-speaking outreach coordinator to develop our Outreach Program," Moore explained. "Its purpose is to understand the unique needs and problems of our clients over and above food, groceries, and clothes, such as medical or dental, legal, immigration, mental health, special education needs for children, etc."

Often, Moore admits, the organization cannot fulfill these needs on its own, but can find other nonprofits that have the resources to provide the assistance needed. Accomplishments of this program include:
  • Discovered a woman that was the subject of significant domestic abuse and helped her get a restraining order.
  • Met a family with a 23-year-old son who had never seen a doctor even though he was blind and suffered severe seizures. The outreach coordinator found a doctor who was willing to see and treat the young man, pro bono.
  • In combination with the Transportation Program, has made it possible for a young mother of three to take English lessons. Now that mother has spread the word about the lessons to her non-English speaking neighbors and others are also taking advantage of these programs to learn english.
  • Identified an attorney that was able to provide pro bono legal advice for a client subject to deportation proceedings.
  • Covered the cost of critically needed medications that a senior could not afford.
  • Distributed new tents to five homeless men.
For more information, visit cafeoflife.org.


charity giving philanthropy nonprofits


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    09/22/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Mirror, Mirror... Exhibition

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Mirror, Mirror… September 1 - 28, 2017 Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 2017, 6pm-8pm C...


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    09/22/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • Step Up to Art

    09/22/2017
    04:00PM — 05:30PM

    Come join fine artist Kathy Dunn in this new and exciting art series for your growing artists! Ch...


  • Sunset Celebration at Times Square

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Live Music, Food and Fun at Time Square on Fort Myers Beach


  • Craving Fashion 2017

    09/22/2017
    05:30PM — 08:00PM

    Join us on September 22nd from 5:30pm-8:00pm for our 5th annual Craving Fashion. This food and fa...


  • Ladies' Night at The Paint Escape

    09/22/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    09/22/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Into the Woods

    09/22/2017
    09:00PM

    James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite storybook characters and bring them to...


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    09/25/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Sanibel Shell Crafters

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Visit The Sanibel Shell Crafters every Monday all year long from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. to watch this d...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Mirror, Mirror... Exhibition

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Mirror, Mirror… September 1 - 28, 2017 Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 2017, 6pm-8pm C...


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    09/25/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    09/25/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    09/25/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    09/25/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    10/02/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    10/09/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...