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Noontime Rotary donates $4,000 to Meals of Hope

Noontime Rotary Club has completed its committed donation of $4,000 to the 2017 Meals of Hope campaign.

The check was presented to Bill “Captain Happy Hope” Morris at the club’s recent luncheon. Morris stated, “This is a big help. Meals of Hope is a joint effort by both of Marco Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis Club and each donates $4,0000 annually. Even their renewals coming, it doesn’t get to the bank until the check is delivered and for that I thank Noontime Rotary.”

Marco Island Meals of Hope raises funds year round to finance its packaging event in November. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 18, at Marco Island Charter Middle School.

The group hopes to package more than 200,000 meals to feed the needy and must raise more than $40,000.00 to reach that goal.

Marco Island Meals of Hope’s next event will be happy Hour for Hope from 5 until 7 p.m., Aug. 28, at Pinchers Crab Shack, 591 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. The public is invited to all Meals of Hope events. There is a charge of $10 for each Happy Hour.

For more information concerning Marco Island Meals of Hope, contact Morris at 239-642-6020 or visit mohmi.org.

Friends of Rookery Bay hires new executive director

Friends of Rookery Bay has hired Athan Barkoukis as executive director of the non-profit organization that supports the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. He will be responsible for community engagement, fundraising, special events, grant writing and other activities that highlight the education, research and stewardship work conducted by reserve staff, who protect 110,000 acres from Naples Bay through the Western Everglades.

A highlight of the Friends work is the annual Batfish Bash for the Bay signature event, which will be held March 16, at Rookery Bay’s Environmental Learning Center.

“We are delighted to have someone of Athan’s caliber and experience taking the helm of our organization,” said Ray Carroll, president of the Friends of Rookery Bay board. “Athan has a passion for the environment that will help our members, donors and sponsors understand the importance of protecting our estuaries and the land around them. I’m a fifth generation Floridian, and I am confident that the Friends group is moving into an exciting new phase of expanding our support for the reserve’s scientists and educators, who are improving our water quality, mitigating invasive plant species, tracking and protecting wildlife, and helping local governments and businesses making informed decisions that impact our environment.”

“I am thrilled about returning to Southwest Florida, and working with the community to support one of the nation’s few remaining pristine mangrove estuaries,” said Barkoukis. “Rookery Bay Research Reserve plays a vital role in tourism and our local economy. Enhancing support for stewardship, education, and research efforts will protect this resource for the benefit of future generations.”

Barkoukis brings a mix of environmental research and non-profit management experience to the Friends, including tenures at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Green Energy Ohio, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Mote Marine Laboratory.

He earned a master of science in environmental studies from the College of Charleston and a bachelor of arts in biology from Colgate University.

To reach Barkoukis, call 239-530-5990 or email director@friendsofrookerybay.org.

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