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Shell Shocked: Volunteer work is next to Godliness

By Staff | Jun 16, 2011

Sanibel is blessed with a plethora of do-gooders. There is much volunteer work to be done and our residents rise to the occasion.

Recently, the island newspapers reported that volunteers from far and wide bagged several tons of oyster shells to help restore local oyster habitats. The idea was that once the oysters realized that they were being appreciated in Sanibel they would stay around a while.

More than 1,000 shells were bagged and will be placed in Clam Bayou to form new living reefs. This restoration will benefit many important fish species, which rely partly on oysters for their subsistence.

Now you might think that bagging oyster shells is a rather unusual form of volunteerism. Maybe you can think of more traditional forms of volunteer work, like putting salt on the popcorn at the Island Cinema, spraying the mouths of island diners with Listerine after they eat blackened fish or helping island tax evaders shred their bank statements.

But we are finding that volunteer work has expanded its traditional parameters. There are more pointed examples of volunteering in Sanibel. New needs in the community need to be addressed. For example, Sanibel needs volunteers to help older residents find their reading glasses from minute to minute – as well as their teeth.

Sanibel sorely needs volunteers to swat flies, place egg shells back on the beach, manually wind up old watches, count out three minutes for residents who boil eggs without the benefit of a stop watch and polish the backs of alligators.

But there are two very important volunteer activities that are at present severely undermanned. One is providing counseling for estranged wildlife couples. As active as CROW is it doesn’t have the manpower to sit down with depressed, almost suicidal victims of wildlife couple detachment.

One egret was so upset when her spouse ran off with a sparrow that it buried its beak in the Sanibel city dump until some dump watchers happened to witness this near tragedy. Sanibel volunteers once again rose to the occasion when they provided the egret with many psychotherapy sessions and got it to address childhood deprivation issues.

Thanks to these volunteers, the egret is now dating again and looking forward to a meaningful life in Ding Darling. This is the power of volunteerism.

Another powerful example of Sanibel volunteerism is the devotion of some islanders to affection-deprived residents. Every afternoon at 4 p.m., those residents who are alone, lonely, and starved for human contact can get free hugs in the parking lot at Jerry’s. These hugs are not only therapeutic but they lead to a more positive outlook on life. Sanibel residents need more hugs and new volunteers are needed. The only qualification is to have two arms in good working order and a heart of gold.

Sanibel can always use more volunteers. Get out there and do some good.