Making Waves is our salute to the residents, businesses and organizations of Southwest Florida’s island coast who make the community special
Celebrating Southwest Floridians
The goal seemed hardly possible―to raise $100 million in donations for a new children’s hospital, or nearly half of the $240 million project cost. The commitment over five years was daunting, those behind the effort said when it ended in November. The seven-story Golisano Children’s Hospital is located next to HealthPark at Summerlin and Bass roads. Opening the children’s center in April will precede by a year the new Lee Health-Coconut Point medical campus in Estero.
From the beginning of the campaign to raise funds for the children’s hospital, good things happened, starting in 2012 with $20 million from a Naples billionaire. More contributions followed, many at $500,000 or more each, but most in much smaller amounts. Suddenly in November it ended in a shower of confetti, happy supporters accepting final donations of more than $3 million. The initial $100 million goal, capital campaign chair Joseph Catti says, was at first daunting. “But so many people stepped up to the plate. Every dollar made a difference. It has been an honor to have been part of it.”
College and community volunteers cleared more than 300 pounds of debris in the Caloosahatchee River Watch event. The work in November was along a stretch of city managed creeks and preserves in the Palm Beach corridor in Fort Myers. Sponsors included Caloosahatchee Riverwatch, Lee County Mosquito Control District, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, American Rivers, city of Fort Myers, Keep Lee County Beautiful, Wright Construction Group, Lee County Solid Waste, Hans Wilson & Associates.
Deemed edgy and giving opportunity to striving playwrights, Theatre Conspiracy in January presents its 23rd consecutive performance schedule.
Underlining the 2017 season is author Jeff Lindsay, who in March will stage The Cave, a play about Civil War soldiers and a runaway slave. Lindsay has authored the Dexter novels that evolved into a television series. Philadelphia playwright Jared Michael Delaney’s Noli Timere (Don’t Be Afraid) also premieres in May. Delaney’s work was picked from 600 others in an annual Theatre Conspiracy contest. The 2017 season kicks off Jan. 20 with the staging of 33 Variations by Moises Kaufman. Performances are at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers.
Compared to surrounding counties, the number of foster kids in Lee County is staggering. Some 1,309 Lee County kids in November were in foster care, far more than Collier and Charlotte counties.
Jennifer Fischer had observed abused kids, which is how many arrive into foster care. Neighbor children looked ill-treated, the Cape mom says, bruised and thin. State social workers later removed them. It was her introduction to the system run by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the removed children requesting Fischer as a custodial parent, she says, which the state granted. She has since started Foster Genies, a nonprofit soliciting foster parents. The program also grants wishes such as trips to Disney World, for instance. She just added the Little Genie program that matches stable children to foster assistance, says Fischer, a mom with three kids and half a dozen foster children, a modern Brady Bunch. “My goal is to educate [people] about the state of emergency we’re in,” she says. “I have listened to stories [of abused kids] and gone to my room to cry. I want to give the support they need.”
Details are at fostergenies.org.
Confetti rained on those celebrating the funding achievement. Golisano Children's Hospital opens in April.
Lee County's foster system is in crisis and needs qualifying adults to step forward. Kids from stable homes are also asked to help.