Medical Reserve Corps to stage ‘Operation Rain Barrel’ fundraiser
Islanders, get ready to “roll out the barrels!”
Sponsored by the Sanibel-Captiva Chapter of the Southwest Florida Medical Reserve Corps Foundation, “Operation Rain Barrel” has been planned as a way to protect the environment, save money and energy while at the same time supporting a great community cause.
According to event planners Dr. Pat Santucci and Jeanne Hamilton, “Operation Rain Barrel is being coordinated as a fundraiser for the Southwest Florida Medical Reserve Corps (SWFLMRC) in order to purchase medical supplies and equipment for their organization. The MRC Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which supports volunteer medical professionals and interested citizens who respond to community needs in times of disasters and health crises.
“The silent auction of artistically painted rain barrels has a goal of $25,000 to buy medical supplies and equipment for the Southwest Florida MRC,” said Hamilton, who is coordinating a series of events and activities to help increase awareness about the group.
Last week, Naples artist Thom Millsap presented the first rain barrel to be auctioned off, entitled “A Day At The Beach.”
“I thought it was sort of a neat concept,” said Millsap, who met Dr. Santucci and Hamilton recently during an art festival on Sanibel. “Creating art on a three-dimensional surface presents a challenge. You’re working on in, going around and around, and you hope for the best where it comes together.
Millsap, who has a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (N.C.), exhibits his creations throughout the year. After making the first painted rain barrel — made from a plastic mold — for the MRC fundraiser, he is thinking about adding ceramic versions that could be sold both at art shows and at local plant nurseries.
In addition to Millsap, a number of local artists — including CC Caldwell, Alisha Cooper, Jesse Cooper, Mary Ann Czarnicki, Mary Ann DeVos, Randon Eddy, Katie Gardenia, Jane Hudson, Laura Meyer, Mary Ann Ravenna, Sue Ross, Jan Rozeboom, Casandra Soobitsky, Dorothy Wallace and youth artist Haley Capobianco — are generously donating their time to artistically paint rain barrels for the fundraiser.
Artists and their work will be highlighted and sold at silent auction the last two weeks of February, with a final bidding and exhibit of all barrels on Saturday, March 5.
“These creative pieces of work will be on display at various business locations in Sanibel and Captiva,” said Hamilton. “The locations and other details will be announced later in January.”
The Medical Reserve Corps is a nationwide network of over 200,000 organized volunteers who respond the disasters and community health crisis. The Southwest Florida MRC has over 600 members, including the San-Cap MRC Chapter.
“During disasters such as hurricanes, the MRC may be deployed to help at the local hospitals, assist other medical or disaster agencies or staff special need shelters for the medically frail,” said Dr. Santucci. “MRC volunteers also provide on-site first aid to survivors and responders.”
MRC Disaster First Aid stations need tents, cots, blankets, an ample supply of bandages, splints, suture and wound care kits, along with pharmacy support.
In addition, the MRC responds to mass casualty events. A specially trained Southwest Florida MRC Airport Disaster Response Team can reach the airport within 15 minutes. Reaching victims rapidly and having life saving equipment readily available is crucial. In order to be most effective, each “mini” trauma team should carry a trauma bag.
According to Dr. Santucci, more trauma bags and additional supplies are desperately needed, along with key items such as an AED, oxygen delivery kits, IV set ups, pulse oximeters, airways and ambu bags for adults and children, blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, opthalmoscopes, etc.
The MRC Airport Response Team, an all-volunteer unit comprised of both medical personnel and interested citizens, are taught how to triage, basic life-saving trauma interventions, and are trained how to respond in the event of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The next mass casualty training will be held at NOVA University on Feb. 1.
Strenthening the health and safety of their community is a priority. Last year, during the H1N1 virus outbreak, the Southwest Florida MRC volunteers set up one of the first mass immunization clinics in Lee County on Sanibel. Unlike the other H1N1 clinics throughout the state, which employed staff and used volunteers, the Sanibel clinic was totally staffed by MRC volunteers and provided more than 1,000 injections to island residents.
During non-disaster times, strengthening the health and safety of their community is a priority. Outreach programs for detection of diabetes and hypertension is done on a monthly basis. In the near future, the MRC hopes to be able to add new screening programs for the homeless, indigent and rural underserved areas but will need to purchase additional supplies, including glucose monitoring kits.
Becoming a member of the Southwest Florida MRC automatically connects individuals to a wide range of opportunities to volunteer during disasters and in times of need, both on a local and national level. Medical liability is provided.
If you are interested in learning more about the group or becoming a member, attending an orientation or training program or would like to support the mission of the MRC, please contact Deb Gary at 239-542-4887 or visit www.swflmrc.org.