STRAIGHT TALK: Island truly embraces the spirit of giving
Sitting here this morning looking out over Collier Bay I can’t help but reflect back on how simple life was only 50 years ago for someone living on an island down here in southwest Florida. I’m not trying to tell you it was easier, just a bit simpler than the one we live today.
We didn’t turn on the TV to listen to the constant drone of one negative news story after another, especially those relating to the upcoming election of what has always been viewed as the most prestigious position one could aspire to. Today the negative ads and unflattering commentaries could fill and overflow the local landfill anywhere we live, so it’s no wonder good people shy away from elected public service.
We also wouldn’t be living in an era which has seen the deaths by law enforcement professionals rise by 250 percent as the result of gunfire in these first 80 days of the year; a tragic statistic by any measure.
Newspapers would still have stories however, that would tug at our heartstrings regarding the loss of life by innocents. They fortunately wouldn’t be as graphic and we wouldn’t have mega-grocery stores that would have racks of tabloids telling us about “Elvis” sightings or stories regarding two headed babies.
We have traveled quite a distance though in this last half a century however. Some of those advances have been quite astounding. The accomplishment of sending men to the moon and see them walk on the lunar surface has to be one of those great milestones.
The advancements in health care which have helped us all to live fuller and more productive lives, including the first American heart transplant procedure which occurred in New York City on a child. This has led to 3,500 of those procedures being done yearly today.
The developments in communication resources, including personal communications are just as astounding, although some of us might yearn to the return to a day when we were not so connected by the electronic leashes known as cellphones.
The day of the old “party lines” and operators are gone, but we’ve also seemed to have lost the ability to truly “communicate” with each other on a personal level, rather than a text or an email.
Our ability to move around town, through the state we live in and across the country has also improved, much to the dismay of some, while to the delight of others.
We now have a total of six lanes of traffic to flow off and on the island if we include the Goodland Bridge on Route 92. That span replaced the old crank bridge that was the sole ground access to Marco and had served this sleepy little island so well, until it was developed in these last 50 years.
This weekend the three largest philanthropic clubs on the island joined together to host the 8th annual Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival. Once again we saw islanders and visitors alike come out and enjoy the great weather, food, music and community spirit which has dominated this island’s history these last 50 years.
The proceeds from that wonderful festival will go to charities and causes which the two Rotary and Kiwanis clubs support throughout the greater Marco area. Giving to causes and others in need is something that Marco Island residents have never lost sight of.
From the early days when Tommie Barfield taught on the island to her many contributions to education as the first Superintendent of Schools in Collier County, islanders have always taken seriously the need to give back to their community and those in need.
That spirit of philanthropy and service has never faltered on this island these last 50 years. Throughout the various service clubs, schools, churches and organizations the spirit of giving back has always been strong.
From Caroline Kipp’s dreams of establishing the first church on Marco Island in 1939, to Jane Hittler’s dreams for a youth center for children, the island has always embraced the wonderful spirit of philanthropy that has never gone out of style these last 50 years.
Yes, it was a bit simpler 50 years ago, but it’s not too bad now, thanks to those that continue to see the value in their neighbors and have the ability to fill those needs if and when they arise.