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Rotary Grant Helps Sanibel Community House

Since 1927, The Community House has served as the gathering place of the islands. Churches, civic organizations, clubs, non-profits, and
island families have used TCH for their parties, weddings, fundraisers, and other special events.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club can certainly attest to this. It was the location of our weekly meetings as well as the location for our annual fundraiser, The Arts & Crafts Festival, that brought thousands of people to the island for the largest fundraiser of our club. The money raised from our fundraiser helps local students, Community Housing & Resources, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, and many other non-profits on the island. That was all until the end of September when Hurricane Ian blew through.

At the time of the Hurricane, 57 organizations and more than 50,000 people a year used THC. All of the nonprofit and civic organizations on the island hold their meetings, fundraisers or special events at TCH.

The Community House suffered a devastating blow from Hurricane Ian. The storm surge caused by Ian flooded the building with more than six feet of water inside the building. All the office equipment, files, kitchen equipment (in their award-winning kitchen), table and chairs were all floating in the saltwater surge and were destroyed. It is estimated that the total loss for this “Personal Property” is $250,000.

The new wood floors in the two meeting rooms and the main 500-seat auditorium had been replaced five years ago in a major building upgrade. The wood was warped and broken by the flood. All the drywall was destroyed and has been torn out to reduce mold damage. Currently it is estimated that the total cost to bring The Community House back to its original condition is around $2 million and unfortunately, it had the standard commercial flood insurance policy which has a $500,000 maximum pay out.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary recognized the value and need of The Community House and proposed a matching District Grant of $25,000 for a total of $50,000 to replace sufficient equipment and furniture lost to Hurricane Ian to allow resumption of limited operations as soon as possible. While the District would match half of the grant, our club had to produce the other half. Our members put out a call for help and through generous donations from our members, other Rotary Clubs, including Fort Myers Rotary, Fort Myers South Rotary, Franklin County AM Rotary Club in Tennessee and the Sunrise Rotary Club in Tulsa, Okla., the needed money was raised. Truly, a group effort.

Every day the island is making progress towards normalcy, and on June 16, we will be able to make one giant step in that direction. The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club is overjoyed to be able to once again hold our weekly Friday meetings at The Community House, back on island.

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