Joy of Giving group, Paul Tateo earn Spirit of Marco award

Martin Albertus
Marco Eagle

The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island announced that the Joy of Giving Organization and Paul Tateo were selected as the final two recipients of the 2019 Spirit of Marco Island Award.

From left, Ron and Pat Rutledge, Durell Buzzini, Linda Sandlin and Paul Tateo accepting the Spirit of Marco Island Award, with Sue Haviland.

At a recent Rotary Club luncheon meeting, the Joy of Giving organization, which for the  past 30 years has raised funds to provide Christmas gifts to local children, was recognized with the Spirit of Marco Island Award for their service to families in need.  Nicki Davis who first started the organization in 1988 and still serves as its official leader was joined by volunteer board members, Gayle Collins, Debbie Divita and Val Simon to accept the award on behalf of the organization and its many volunteers.

Joy of Giving began in 1988 by adopting one family to provide gifts for Christmas. It has grown to where it now serves more than 1,200 children each year during the holidays.

Nicki Davis thanked the Island Country Club and its members for their incredible generosity, as they provide more than 50 percent of the funding for Joy of Giving each year. In addition, they provide a complete turkey dinner for all the families. Davis also commented that funds are donated by local businesses and organizations including the Rotary Club of Marco Island. Joy of Giving is proud of the fact that 100 percent of the funds collected goes directly to the children; they have no paid staff and all administrative costs are covered by in kind donations. 

From left, Val Simon Debbie Divita, Gayle Collins, Nicki Davis and Rotary President Pat Rutledge.

Paul Tateo who is a long-time Marco Island resident and Realtor for forty years was recognized for his many years of civic service to many island organizations.

A group of noontime Rotary Club members interrupted a recent St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Vestry Board Meeting to make the surprise presentation.

Tateo is a past president of the YMCA, currently serves on the Board of the Marco Island Historical Society and was one of the original founders of the Marco Island Charter Middle School. He is also a past president of the Friends of Rookery Bay, past president of the Sunrise Rotary Club and was recognized as Realtor of the Year. He has also served on numerous other civic organizations, including on the Vestry Board of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, along with being the treasurer of Camp Able, a week-long camp for people of special needs that is sponsored and hosted by St. Mark’s church.

Joy of Giving and Paul Tateo, along with previously announced honorees Jim Richards and Joe Swaja, will be formally presented with the 2019 Spirit of Marco Island awards at the 11th Annual Spirit of Marco Island Gala Awards Dinner and Silent Auction to be held on Sunday, April 7, at the Bistro Soleil Restaurant.

This gala event has over the past 10 years recognized more than 50 individuals and organizations for their civic involvement in the community through their contribution of time, talent and financial support.

For more information and tickets for this event, contact Al Diaz at 438-5285 or by email at