Over the last 30 years living here, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a great many of you that have influenced the lives of many of our residents in so many ways. You’ve done so by contributing so much to this wonderful community we have all come to love and cherish.
One of those residents explained to me that you could contribute in three ways that could make a difference. I will always remember that conversation after we had left a board meeting at the YMCA.
That individual is gone now, but his words still ring in my ears as I think about that trifecta of contributions he referred to. They would be Time, Talent and Treasure. Each of these contributions can make a world of difference in how we can transform the world we live in. We can all witness that truth on a daily basis here on the island if we take the opportunity to just look around us and think about it.
The impact of “time” is one of those great contributions that we may overlook all too easily. Organizations around this island are great recipients of the wonderful gift of “time” that is volunteered on a weekly basis. I think about the great job that is done by those that volunteer their time with the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry. Those men and women who volunteer tirelessly to help feed those in need is especially heartwarming as are the efforts undertaken by the Mobile Food Pantry who are engaged in a similar task.
Think about the volunteer hours that are given by those wonderful folks at the island’s busiest little store, The Bargain Basket. That little store on Bald Eagle Drive is a favorite of so many islanders, as its success provides a wide range of assistance to so many here and off the island.
The wonderful commitment to “service above self,” by members of the Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Optimist Club, Lions Club, Saint Vincent de Paul, Meals on Wheels, the Knights of Columbus and so many other organizations that do so much with their commitment of “volunteer time,” by their members.
A sea of volunteer time can be seen each year as the Meals of Hope Food Packaging event on Marco Island is held in an effort to ensure no one goes hungry within the greater Collier County area. That effort held right here on this island in conjunction with the Harry-Chapin Food will pack close to 250,000 meals that are distributed throughout the year.
When you think about the phrase “talent” you immediately think about an acquired skill set by an individual. I think we can all reflect on individuals who have those skill sets that help make us and our organizations extraordinarily successful in our endeavors. Nothing in this world ever gets done without leadership, and that is a valuable “talent” indeed.
One of the projects where “talent” was required was when the island came together to build what is known as “Kids-Cove” at Mackle Park. That wonderful creation has been visited countless numbers of times by wide-eyed and happy children since it was erected several years ago. Yes, it was the efforts of a lot of men and women and their volunteer time, but it was the knowledge of the building trades and those “talents” which made it a reality.
The third portion of our winning trifecta lies in the wonderful generosity of this great island. I’ve personally witnessed the willingness of our citizens to assist by donating “treasure” to help make dreams become a reality during the 30 years I’ve had the privilege to live here amongst you.
Our wonderful Veterans Memorial is evidence of that willingness to come forward and make that wonderful effort a reality. 3 years ago, the community once again stepped forward and enough monies were raised to replace our wonderful Christmas Tree in Veterans Community Park. Then we added another wonderful Christmas Tree at the entrance to our island at the corner of Barfield and Collier Boulevard 2 years ago.
When Cat 5 Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in 2005, it caused 1,833 deaths and $125 billion in devastation in that area. Marco Islanders raised over $35,000 in relief efforts to send to that devastated area in over just one weekend. In addition to that significant cash donation, another large donation of Christmas gifts from the 2005 Christmas Island Style Parade was driven up to Pass Christian, Mississippi to help lift the spirits of youngsters from that devastated area.
Another devastating Category 5 Hurricane named Michael pushed ashore in the Panama City area in 2018. Once again, the community responded with both gifts from our Christmas Parade in addition to a combined donation of $20,000 cash from the Marco Island Fire/Rescue Foundation and the Marco Patriots to assist First Responder families.
Countless times, residents, city employees and others have benefited from the outstanding generosity of organizations and citizens of this great community. One can always be assured, should the need arise, that the Marco Island community is always willing and ready to respond appropriately to meet those needs. Our community is incredibly special in that way and it is why we are one of the great places to live in Southwest Florida.
Thanks for being you Marco Island.