12 Organizations and Nonprofits Benefiting the Southwest Florida CommunityMar 01, 2021 03:49PM ● By Emma Eldridge
Photo Courtesy of Keep Lee County Beautiful's Facebook page
Community organizations and nonprofits have a huge impact on local communities. Providing resources, engaging with local residents, and finding creative solutions to community-specific problems are among many of the missions of these organizations. Here are twelve prominent organizations and nonprofits in the Southwest Florida surrounding area.
With the slogan “neighbors helping neighbors”, this human services organization aims to enrich the lives of people in Sanibel and Captiva Islands. With social services, education, and assistance outreach programs, the community members of Sanibel and Captiva benefit tremendously.
Specific to F.I.S.H of SANCAP are food programs, such as the Food Pantry, Meals-by-FISH, Backpack Program, and Holiday Food Baskets. In addition to food programs, FISH offers island education for all ages. Whether this is school-aged children obtaining scholarships for after-school programs or adults learning about financial management through FISH’s monthly workshop series, education is incredibly important. The social and senior services program at FISH includes luncheons, workshops, home-care lists, and non-emergency transportation for their senior population. Finally, FISH’s Emergency Financial Assistance program provides support and plans for those experiencing a financial crisis.
For more information about FISH of SANCAP’s offerings, click here.
Create. Inspire. Connect. These are the goals of BIG ARTS Sanibel Island, a special gathering place where artistic and educational experiences are available to all. BIG ARTS’ vision is to create great arts, entertainment, and learning experiences that inspire, enrich, and delight.
BIG ARTS Sanibel Island offers professionally-led classes and workshops for those of all ages, engaging and informative lectures and group discussions with national thought leaders and educators, and a variety of stimulating visual and performing arts presentations. Their programs include theatre, music, dance, fine arts, and film.
To learn more about what BIG ARTS Sanibel Island has to offer, click here.
This nonprofit organization aims to provide creative solutions to Sanibel’s housing problem. CHR provides affordable housing for families and individuals who work and serve in the Sanibel community.
In 1979, CHR was the first of its kind in all of Florida, and today owns 88 units, 74 of which are rental properties and 14 are Limited Equity Ownership properties. This organization provides housing for over 150 island residents, who work full-time jobs on Sanibel Island or are longtime residents who are retired or disabled. The opportunity that CHR provides these workers allows them to cut out the stressful, long commute they might otherwise have to endure without living on the island.
For more information about CHR, click here.
Founded in 1984, the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village’s mission is to preserve and share Sanibel’s rich history. With 9 historical buildings having been moved and restored to their original state, the Historical Museum and Village offers one-of-a-kind learning experiences.
Over 10,000 visitors each year can enjoy a self-guided or guided tour of the museum and village, including visiting the replica of the Packing House and garage with a 1927 Ford Model T Truck. The story of Sanibel Island is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras through the early pioneer families from the 1800s. Be sure to check out Sanibel’s Heritage Trail, which includes an interactive map to guide you along your historical journey.
For more information and to check out the tour hours, click here.
Founded by its parent organization, Keep America Beautiful, Inc. in February of 1990, Keep Lee County Beautiful aims to inspire, educate and engage Lee County residents and visitors in improving, beautifying, and protecting the environment.
With their three “E’s” - Education, Environment, and Events - positive change for their community becomes possible. Beautification efforts include native species planting and sustainable community gardens. The community gardens range from fruit and veggies to native trees. The second program of importance for this organization is their Ending Litter program. Their goal is to provide people with resources to prevent litter, with an overarching desire to end litter across America. In addition, Keep Lee County Beautiful aims to make people aware of the implications of creating waste and hopes to instill the mindset of recycling in their community.
For more information, click here.
Barbara’s Friends Hematology and Oncology Program - 9800 South HealthPark Drive, Suite 405, Fort Myers, FL
Barbara’s Friends is part of the Lee Health Foundation in Southwest Florida. This program sees an average of 400 outpatient visits per month, helping young cancer patients and their families with resources, financial support, and the personalized care they need.
Barbara’s Friends has treated more than 10,000 children with cancer and blood disorders in their time and their goal is to expand their program to offer more holistic treatment for those in need. In addition, this organization hopes to build an Infusion Clinic to help those in Collier County, outside of the range of the community they assist now. In the future, they would like to launch a scholarship fund to ensure the children they are helping now have a chance to be heroes in the future.
For more information about Barbara’s Friends, click here.
Bonita Springs Historical Society’s mission is to preserve, protect and promote the rich cultural heritage of Bonita Springs. Formed in 1984, the resource library, exhibits, and local history displays engage those seeking to learn about the history of Bonita Springs.
They are most recently known for their preservation efforts at the McSwain Home, which will serve as a gallery, event space, and “front door” to the community, as well as Goodbread Grocery and the Liles Hotel. In addition, their efforts to preserve the 1930 Casner Historic Home are well known, which now serves as their headquarters and a period museum.
For more information and to explore, click here.
The Centers for the Arts was founded in 1959 and now encompasses two centers; one for visual arts and one for performing arts. Their goal is to enrich the culture of the diverse community members by providing opportunities for artistic expression, education, and appreciation in a supportive and nurturing environment.
With their wide variety of classes and outreach programs to schools, neighborhoods, and organizations, the Centers for the Arts aims to provide year-round programs for those who wish to learn, study, or appreciate art. They are host to the National Arts Festival three times per year, which draws attention from all across the United States and the world.
For more information about the centers, click here.
Alliance for the Arts is a visual and performing arts center, established in 1975. Their year-round schedule of events has become a cornerstone for those looking to connect with their community and to the arts.
With a multitude of gallery exhibitions, art classes for all ages, and theatre productions, the Alliance creates a space that is engaging and supportive of self-expression, imagination, and equity. With over 50 area arts and cultural organizations in their membership and 1,200+ artists, the Alliance is a great place for those seeking to learn and enhance their artistic abilities.
For more information, click here.
Established in 1967, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc. employs over 100 child care professionals serving 400+ children in their communities. Child Care believes every child deserves to thrive in a place where learning meets their own speed and direction.
This organization aims to provide family-centered child care that prepares children for success in traditional school settings and beyond, employs highly-qualified professionals who have a desire to help children along their paths, and helps Family Child Care Homes with guidance, training, and financial reimbursements for nutritional meals.
For more information about Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc., click here.
Founded in 1990, the Cape Coral Caring Center helps to maintain a suitable standard of living for those finding themselves in economic hardships due to unforeseen circumstances. Cape Coral Caring Center has helped over 70,000 people on a short-term basis who need a boost over an unfortunate period in their life.
Cape Coral Caring Center provides a multitude of offerings to those in need, including food items, electric bill assistance, and referrals to other agencies.
To learn more about how they help families help themselves, click here.
Established in 1973, this organization is built on hometown pride and civic-minded giving. As they emerge as The Global Center for Generosity, they are expanding their reach to national and international partners to assist with their mission. Their goal is to shape public policy fairly, deliver resources to those in need, and empower their community to support the common good.
For more information about what the Cape Coral Community Foundation includes, click here.