Cape Coral Kiwanis hail their ‘new home’
The Cape Coral Kiwanis Club purchased the Cape Coral Shrine Club hall earlier this month to provide the club with a headquarters, along with space for the Fort Myers YMCA to offer programs starting in the fall.
Cape Coral Shrine Club President John Foor said due to lack of financial support to keep the building operating, the club had to sell. He said the Shrine Club Holding Company was the organization that held the property and the Araba Temple sold the property.
The club built the facility in the early 1980s and has occupied it ever since. On Feb. 5, the Cape Coral Shrine Club moved out of the Santa Barbara Boulevard location, but honored functions they scheduled in March.
Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral Foundation President Sam Huber said he received a call on a Friday two months ago that the old Cape Coral Shrine Club was available for purchase. On Monday he made an offer and on Tuesday it was accepted.
“I didn’t want to build a small clubhouse,” Huber said. “In this economy you don’t build, you buy.”
The transaction, from start to finish, was completed in two months with the Kiwanis Club closing on June 2.
“I am very happy with the outcome,” Huber said. “We finally have a place to call home.”
The Shriners Club left equipment like tables, chairs and kitchen appliances for the Kiwanis Club to use.
“It is nice that the Kiwanis bought it and they are giving the YMCA the use of it. It is a beautiful building. I am sure the Kiwanis and YMCA will get good use of it,” Foor said. “I think it is an excellent addition to the community.”
Although they no longer have a clubhouse, Foor said they are still a Shrine Club and will continue to have meetings at The Dog Bar & Grille.
The Kiwanis Club currently has 110 members, most of whom live in downtown Cape Coral. Huber said the hall will be a great change of pace for the club members because it will give them the opportunity to grow and expand membership.
“This is a huge step forward for the future of our club,” he said.
The building, which is at 360 Santa Barbara Blvd., will be the Kiwanis Club Foundation’s headquarters due to its size of more than 10,000 square feet on 3.75 acres.
Since moving in, Huber said they have cleaned and cleared out furniture they do not need. They also are undertaking some renovation projects that will include updating the bathroom and decreasing the size of the kitchen to add more room for the recreation area.
New paint also is being applied to the walls of the hall.
Huber said to tackle the project in a speedy fashion they need volunteers who want to help them transform the hall. He said they hope to accomplish as much as they can with volunteer labor hours.
“I’m really excited,” Huber said. “This is going to be a lot of fun.”
Those who wish to offer a helping hand can contact Huber through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The building will give the Kiwanis Club an opportunity to hold fund raisers, dinners, banquets and meetings. It also will house the backpack program that now feeds 1,000 Lee County School District children during the school year.
With the ample storage space and walk- in freezer, it will provide the Kiwanis Club with more room to expand the backpack program even further.
In addition to the Kiwanis Club functions, the hall also will be used as a tool to collaborate with neighboring organizations of Cape Coral.
“In this economy it’s about collaboration,” he said about nonprofit organizations joining forces.
The property also provides the Kiwanis Club with the opportunity to expand if they need to in the future as there is property space to the rear of the building.
The hall also will house YMCA programs.
Jim Sanger, area president for the Fort Myers YMCA, said they have plans to expand in Cape Coral and wanted to have a solid partner already established, before eventually opening one in the area if the need is there.
“The Kiwanis was identified as a leader in the Cape Coral community,” he said. “We are excited to partner with the Cape Coral Kiwanis and are anxious to begin helping serve the needs of the Cape Coral community.”
Sanger said the YMCA wanted to start on a smaller scale and grow into a full facility YMCA when the needs of the community warrant it.
Although they plan on offering programs in the fall at the Kiwanis hall, the programs list still is being determined as they identify the needs of the community, he said.
“We are prepared to run programs for children beginning at age 3 and up to adults of all ages,” Sanger said.
Huber said he does not want to duplicate programs that the city is already offering, but rather determine what the needs of the community are and offer those programs.
“I would love to see this facility used seven days a week,” Huber said.
The last two weeks of July, the hall will be open for the public to attend Christmas in July. The event is a major Christmas sale of merchandise from the two Kiwanis Thrift Stores.
Huber said it will be a chance to show off the place to the community, along with giving them a chance to purchase Christmas goods at a discounted rate.