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Take Pride in the Cape seeks cleanup volunteers

By Staff | Sep 3, 2011

Two years ago Ray Nicholson was distressed.

He watched as the city he loved and once worked for become overrun with foreclosed and abandoned homes, most of which were falling into disrepair. Grass was overgrown, landscaping was unkempt and the properties were looking more and more like jungles instead of houses.

Then Nicholson decided he had had enough. He was approached by former city council member Gloria Tate, had a chat with his former boss Frank Cassidy in the Department of Community Development, and decided that he must “Take Pride in the Cape” and something needed to be done.

There was a small group at first, four or so people. But the efforts of the Take Pride group have ballooned since then.

They meet early in the morning on Friday and Saturday for breakfast, then they set about the business of reclaiming those jungles for the city of Cape Coral, staving off the tide of overgrowth with mowers and weed wackers and good old fashioned hard work.

“It upset me so much to drive through the neighborhoods and see what was happening to our city,” Nicholson said. “I became so upset. It bothered me personally seeing the city like it was.”

The former code enforcement officer for the Cape is quick to point out that he’s not alone in his efforts.

The small group of four or so people have become a bank of more than 60 volunteers, that contracts and expands depending on what time of the year it is.

They can do six to eight properties each day, spending roughly 30 minutes on each site.

They have worked on about 650 properties since they began two years ago, racking up 2,500 man hours in the process.

They don’t get paid for their efforts, only the satisfaction they’re helping out their city, restoring some of the luster that has attracted so many over the years.

They maintain their own equipment and work mainly on donations. Now a 5013c non-profit corporation, the group works in tandem with Keep Lee County Beautiful and are able to accept donations through that organization.

But what Nicholson and his band of concerned citizens needs are more people to help the cause.

“We could use more people right now, people who are interested in taking care of their own city,” Nicholson said.

The former code enforcement officer also said you don’t have to be a member of “Take Pride in The Cape” to make a difference in the city. Neighbors just need to get together with neighbors and take care of those properties within their own neighborhoods.

“Go knock on your neighbor’s door,” he said.

“Take Pride in the Cape” mainly cuts properties that are truly abandoned and in lis pindens. Although they’d like to do more, they’ve narrowed their scope to where they feel they can be most effective.

“This is really hard work,” Nicholson added.

Nicholson and “Take Pride in the Cape” can be reached at rtnicholson@embarqmail.com, or by calling 677-0363, or 283-2581.

To make donations to”Take Pride in the Cape”, make checks and money orders payable to “Take Pride in the Cape, c/o Keep Lee County Beautiful”, PO Box 9244, Fort Myers, FL, 33902-9244.