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DeFonzo lauded for 20 years of service to community

By Staff | Aug 8, 2011

Dave DeFonzo, youth activities coordinator at the Sanibel Recreation Center, is surprised by the giant card presented to him last week, recognizing his 20 years of service to the city.

Following a swift-moving and action-packed season of programs and activities, participants, counselors and staff members of the Sanibel Recreation Center’s Summer Day Camp breathed a collective sigh of relief last Friday afternoon as the camp concluded with a look back at the last eight weeks.

In addition to a farewell celebration with ice cream and a PowerPoint slideshow retrospective on Summer 2011, campers took time to honor the man most of them credit for being responsible for the fun they had each weekday since school let out.

Dave DeFonzo, youth activities coordinator at the Rec Center, was recognized for logging 20 years of service to the island community. DeFonzo began working on Aug. 5, 1991, when the city’s former facility launched the summer camp program.

“I’ve always work with the kids program, basically because I like it,” said DeFonzo. “I really do enjoy it.”

Before the slide show started, Vice Mayor Mick Denham offered his thanks to DeFonzo and shared a little bit of humor with the youngsters in attendance.

Dave DeFonzo, left, is congratulated by Berdenna Thompson, center, and Vice Mayor Mick Denham.

“Congratulations, Dave, on your 20 years with the city,” said Denham, who recalled one of the pranks pulled off by some campers earlier this summer which involved tying a rubber snake to DeFonzo’s chair. “I hope everybody had a great time and I know you’re all looking forward to school starting next week.”

Also in attendance to honor DeFonzo were Sanibel City Councilmen Jim Jennings and Doug Congress.

“We managed to pack a lot of fun into the last eight weeks… but next summer’s gonna be longer and we’ll be able to offer even more to do,” added DeFonzo.

The 10-minute slide show included photographs chronicling the days trips, special events and activities enjoyed by the Summer Day Campers, including excursions to Buckingham Air Field, Greenwell’s Fun Park, Lake Trafford, Imaginarium, Broadway Palm and the Calusa Nature Center, golfing at The Sanctuary, fishing with the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club as well as on-site activities including a demonstration by members of the Fort Myers Fencing Club, John Storm’s Reptile Show, Resort Sports Inflatable slide and obstacle course and game show activities including “Minute To Win It.”

Looking back on the past two decades, DeFonzo explained that he has watched three complete classes – grades kindergarten through eighth – pass through The Sanibel School, and that he is most proud of some of his former campers who have gone on to serve in the United States military.

Angler of the Year Sam Arensman, left, is presented his award by Randy Carson of the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club.

“I do feel a bit old when I see somebody driving their car through the parking lot at Bailey’s and they say to me, ‘Hey, I know you from when I was a kid at the Rec Center,'” he added. “It’s like going through a time warp.”

Prior to the start of Friday’s grand finale, Randy Carson of the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club presented the last two awards for participants in the Junior Anglers Club. Samantha Paxton was recognized as the eighth Angler of the Week, while Ben Arensman received a trophy for Angler of the Year.

“Ben was catching fish like a wild man throughout the summer,” noted DeFonzo.