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Rotary Happenings: United Way board member speaks before Rotary Club

February 6, 2019
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Is it just me or are most islanders asking, "Where did January go?" Here we are on the cusp of one of the busiest months on the islands. Snowbirds have landed and are nesting comfortably and day trippers and tourists are flocking, once again, to our beaches and shores now that the red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks have cleared the area. For islanders, we have just entered island fundraising season, with at least two major capital campaigns going strong, a plethora of fundraising galas and activities, and right in the middle of the month - Feb. 16-17 - the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's 36th Annual Arts & Crafts Festival.

Another extremely important yearly fundraising event the United Way Campaign runs, at this time of the year, throughout Lee County spearheaded this year by Linda Doggett and Robert Shearman. On Jan. 25, Captiva resident and business owner (and board member of United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee) Tony Lapi came to our Rotary meeting to talk about the United Way's efforts to champion our communities generous support of the United Way and support of 80 partnering agencies and 245 programs that United Way is evolved with right here in our local communities. Lapi has been an integral part of the United Way family for over 25 years. Where he lends his time, talent, and treasure to such a worthy cause. Anyone who knows Lapi and his wife, Angie, know that they are the real thing. Although Lapi has been honored with many prestigious business and humanitarian awards throughout Florida, he is the most humble and sincere person when it comes to his achievements. Lapi is president and chief executive officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, formerly Rochester Resort. I found this quote from him in an article written about him when he received the Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year Award from the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in 2012: "Never compromise integrity," he said, adding "Healthy communities are communities in which people give back." Giving back you could never count the ways that Lapi gives back to this community.

The focus of our Friday morning meeting wasn't Lapi and he would never want it to be. It was the United Way. Nearly 93 percent of every dollar given to the United Way is supporting 79 partnering social service agencies. Right here on Sanibel, it partners with the F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva. The United Way also is in partnership with Lee County Healthcare and Lee Health having four clinics providing medical care: Cape Coral, Dunbar, North Fort Myers clinics, plus Lee Memorial.

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Tony Lapi, board member of United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee, was the guest speaker at the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's recent meeting.

It not only financially contributes to partnering social service programs but also has a free 24-hour non-emergency helpline for receiving referrals to health and social services that provide those services food, housing, child care, veterans services and more in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. Dial 211 and get connected to the help you need.

Lapi brought with him the program manager of the United Way initiative Mission United. Mission United uses the existing 211 number as a comprehensive information and referral program for our country's veterans. 211 along with its other help services traverses the complicated and fragmented systems for veteran services in place in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. It helps veterans navigate and access needed services. Trained United Way 211 information and referral specialists are only a phone call away. Mission United has helped more than 3,000 vets in the last year and are at the ready to continue helping others.

Some more timely information, at this time of the year A fairly unknown program run by the United Way - VITA, or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is a free tax preparation service provided by IRS certified volunteers for household incomes of $66,000 or less. Visit UnitedWayLee.org/FreeTax Prep or dial 211 or 239-433-3900 to schedule an appointment.

United Way is funded by donations from you local community members individuals and businesses that believe in and generously support this non-profit organization. United Way information can be found at www.UnitedWayLee.org or by calling 239-433-7201.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.

 
 

 

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