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Non-profits ask for input on needs in Cape Coral

By Staff | Feb 13, 2010

Some Lee county non-profit organizations feel the attitude in Cape Coral has shifted regarding who is in need in the community, and what resources these people require to foster their recovery.
As the economy worsened with each passing day over the last few years, the disparity separating the haves and the have-nots grew in the city, and suddenly the needy came in all shapes and sizes.
It’s no longer strangers, “bums”, and miscreants. Now it’ neighbors, friends, and relatives.
“We’re seeing hundreds of families each month in the Cape,” said Sarah Owen, chief executive for Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. “That’s such a great indicator that tells us the state of families in Cape Coral.”
CCMI works out of the United Way House, which is across from the new police station. The United Way house acts as a one-stop shop of sorts for community’s needy, offering access to non-profits like CCMI.
People seeking help at the house are able to find food, outreach programs, and rental assistance, among other things.
Roger Mercado of the United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties said they were looking at ways to maximize the space they have at the Cape Coral United Way house, hoping to squeeze other non-profit organizations into the building.
Before they can take that step, he said, the community must first tell United Way what it needs.
“It’s got to be the community telling us where these services are needed,” Mercado said.
Leaders in the Cape business community listened to some of these issues Friday morning during the Council for Progress’ monthly meeting. Part of the meeting’s purpose was to foster some type of relationship between the disparate entities.
Greg Gardener, chief executive from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the business aspect of non-profits is often forgotten, and the business community also drives where and how the non-profits set up their organizations.
“The business climate in Fort Myers allowed us to grow there, in a way that made sense for our business,” Gardener said.