Our hearts go out to all the families affected by hurricane Irma. While the Naples area repairs and rebuilds in the storm’s aftermath, many of the families in the Golden Gate community we serve continue to face life-threatening challenges. We are grateful to the many of you who have reached out, given funds, and volunteered your time to help support the families of Golden Gate. Many of you have asked for updates on what our families are facing and how you can best help.
With many downed trees and power lines, and an electrical grid that is primarily above-ground, much of Golden Gate City is still without electricity. Florida Power and Light tells us that repairs will take some time and are frequently requiring work at individual residences. Collier County’s water system remains compromised, a boil water order is in effect until further notice, and the sewer system remains under acute stress in areas without power, including Golden Gate City. Further, many residents of Golden Gate City do not receive water from Collier County, and instead rely on wells and electric pumps for water. Families continue to combat heat exhaustion and heat stroke, dehydration, potential water-borne illness, and hunger without the financial means to purchase additional supplies to ride out the continuing aftermath of the storm.
The economic stress of hurricane Irma on the families we serve may not be as visible as downed trees and dark streets, but it is the biggest challenge our families are currently facing and will likely face for some months. Many businesses are still closed, and Collier County Public Schools will not reopen until September 25th, preventing parents who rely on hourly-wage jobs from providing for their families. Further, some businesses have been destroyed and many are now focused on repairs, which will impact incomes in the coming months. With most families living paycheck to paycheck, this economic stress will cause many to become food insecure, and will deepen the need of those who were already having difficulty keeping their families fed.
As an institution our community trusts, we are doing everything in our power to put our campus and staff to work to help relieve our community’s needs in this difficult time. Our Friday Food Pantry opened, as usual, on September 15th. In addition to the herculean efforts of our staff to make our campus safe for families to come receive food, water, and essential supplies, we welcomed more than fifty volunteers who helped clear debris, organize a shipment of food from Naples Children and Education Foundation, and distribute aid to families.
As a supplemental pantry, our Friday Food Pantry typically limits families to receiving food every other week. We are waiving this restriction for the next several months. Further, we will provide bottled water, which we do not typically distribute, while the boil order remains in effect and power is still out, and will redouble our efforts to gather and provide essential toiletries, infant and baby supplies, and disinfecting cleaning supplies. We anticipate that these enhancements to our pantry services will increase costs to approximately $10,000 per month.
We are reaching out to congregations who have offered their assistance across our region, state, and nation. Today, Fifth Third Bank’s e-bus is on campus, providing families with internet access and assistance in applying for FEMA aid, as internet service has not been restored to Golden Gate City and registering in a timely manner is essential.
On campus, we were very lucky that the water and wind damage our facilities suffered was relatively minor, and will be completely covered by our insurance carrier. Not covered, however, are the costs associated with cleaning up debris on our campus. Between overtime hours making campus safe for families coming to the food pantry, tree and limb removal, and other related costs, we estimate that clean-up will cost approximately $15,000.
We will continue to work diligently to support the health and well-being of the families of Golden Gate during their recovery from hurricane Irma, while continuing to meet their educational needs. As ever, we cannot do so without your support.
Please continue to follow the Grace Place page on Facebook for updates, including volunteer opportunities.
If you are interested in making a gift to help with the relief efforts, please contact Barbara Evans, Chief Development Officer at 239.234.2403 or email@example.com.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Chrissie Guzman, Volunteer Experience Manager at 239.234.2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in making a delivery of relief items, please contact Dave Tobiasz, CFO/COO at 239.234.2407or email@example.com.
Together we will rebuild a better, stronger community.
Grace Place for Children and Families Learn more about how you can get involved in relief efforts.