If you attend the Marco Island Seafood Festival here this weekend, the beverages may seem colder and the seafood may taste sweeter if you know or know of some of the people whose lives are changed by this annual event.
The Kiwanis and Rotary clubs here host the two day fish fest – a fun time, of course, but the impact of the party on some Islanders lasts long after the food tents have folded and the music fades.
Wanda (not her real name) is a single mother of two children, one in day care and one in elementary school. The children’s father is out of the picture and there is no child support.
Thanks to the Kiwanis club volunteers, she got financial help to pay for day care so she could hold a job.
“If I didn’t have that I just wouldn’t be able to afford to take care of my family. I guess I would have to live at home with my Mom. I wouldn’t be able to pay rent.
“A Kiwanis woman, Kathleen Reynolds, personally has phoned me to see how I’m doing. It’s so nice and it makes me emotional. It really helps us make something of our lives and have some kind of control. Sometimes it’s a helpless feeling. It helped me keep my family together.”
Greg Hauze, who went to Tommie Barfield, the Charter Middle School and Lely, got a Rotary sponsored scholarship that helped him at the University of Florida.
“Without that it would have been rough and I probably would have had to take out a lot of student loans. Tuition has increased a lot.”
Greg is grateful and gives back, volunteering at a Boys and Girls Club.
Alexis Fischer, an Islander who graduated from Lely High School, is a sophomore at the New College of Florida, thanks in large part, she says, to a Rotary scholarship.
“As long as I do well and keep up with my schoolwork they will continue to give me scholarships.
“It’s been incredibly helpful and I’m not certain what I would do if I did not have it. I might be working at a job at home and am not sure I would even be able to go to college.”
So while we enjoy the Seafood Festival at Veterans Park on Saturday and Sunday, remember these three young people who are benefitting from the good works that Rotary and Kiwanis do. They give people a hand up, not a hand out.
Meet the author here, read the book, wait for the movie
On April 3, you can get up close to a Southwest Florida man who has written an exciting thriller of a book, a man whose real life has been as action-packed as his novel.
He is Bennett Shelfer, a former Air Force and commercial pilot with stories to tell. For example, he apparently is the only living man to be hijacked twice.
And in this book, “Drawing Dead,” he tells a page-turner of a tale. It is, as we said, a novel, but is more real and realistic than any so-called reality TV show.
Shelfer will be autographing his book, starting at 4 p.m., at the Sunshine Booksellers, 677 South Collier Boulevard.
Meantime, we invite you to read my Farmer File column of today (Friday) in the Naples Daily News, in which Bennett shares some harrowing moments of his career piloting famous and infamous people, from US Presidents to hijackers.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.