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Zonta grantees report progress with service programs

By Staff | Sep 12, 2011

From providing reading materials for adult literacy programs to helping to fund the salary of a bilingual counselor for battered women, grants from The Zonta Club Of Sanibel/Captiva Islands awarded six months ago are being turned into actionable projects, according to Zonta’s non-profit partners.

Eleven local nonprofits that serve women and their families recently submitted midterm reports for 2011 to The Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc., the fundraising arm of the of Sanibel/Captiva club. Submitted in August, the reports are part of the club’s ongoing grants process.

The reports detailed how $54,000 awarded these groups has been spent thus far. Much of this money was raised in 2010 at Zonta’s “Peek at the Unique” island house tour. Held in March, the annual tour is the club’s main fundraising event.

Groups that received money include Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) of Sanibel, Sanibel Community Housing Resources, Inc., The Sanibel Recreation Center, ACT (Abuse Counseling and Treatment), Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, Inc., GRACE Project (Guatemalan Rural Adult and Children’s Education), Literacy Volunteers of Lee County, Parent University (a project of the Lee County School District’s Early Childhood Learning Services), PACE Center For Girls of Lee County and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

In the face of a soft economy, most of theses groups confronted reducing services due to cutbacks in public and private funding. But grants from private organizations like Zonta have filled in the gaps and helped them provide critical services to those in need in the local community.

At ACT, a $5,000 grant from Zonta helped pay for the salary of a much-needed bilingual counselor. So far, the counselor has provided therapy to 64 victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in the Hispanic community.

A $6,000 grant to the Early Childhood Learning Services of the School District of Lee County helped pay for learning materials for both parents and students participating in the district’s Parent University English class. The money also helped augment the purchase of bus passes and gas cards so parents could attend workshops on parenting, employment and self-growth.

At SWFAS, over half of a $10,375 grant from Zonta has been spent on purchasing a computer, software and educational materials to help 23 women recovering from addiction transition from the group’s Fort Myers halfway house back into the community. As a result, many of these women successfully completed their high school equivalency tests and two have gone on to take the SAT exam to enter college this fall.

Closer to home, F.I.S.H. used part of its $5,000 award to assist financially strapped single moms and their children on the islands obtain necessary medical care, dental care and prescriptions. The grant also helped local women with one month of mortgage or rent payments, which were awarded on an emergency basis.

A number of years ago, under the leadership of former Sanibel mayor and Zontian, the late Carla Johnston, The Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida developed a process by which the club could measure the success of its service partners, said Barbara Nagle, president of The San/Cap Zonta Club.

“Carla passed away in April of this year, but her wisdom and expertise continue to guide us in evaluating our partner organizations, ” said Nagle. “In applying for a grant, each organization specifies the goals and results they will achieve with Zonta funding. At the six-month mark and again after one year, we measure how successful the organization has been in achieving the goals we’ve jointly agreed upon.”

In addition to financial support, island Zontians participate as volunteers on service projects developed with these groups. These efforts are part of Zonta’s ongoing mission to advance the status of women both locally and internationally.

“The Zonta mission is to improve the lives of women in our community locally, and worldwide through Zonta International,” said Barbara Nagle. “Because all of our members are asked to volunteer and provide service in our partner organizations, we are intimately involved in their work.

“We see almost daily how organizations like F.I.S.H. here on the island, and SWFAS, PACE, ACT and others are helping girls and women in Lee County. Working with our partners to educate girls and move women toward self-sufficiency is of invaluable benefit to our local community,” Nagle added

The Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva is a service organization of professional women working together to provide hands-on assistance, advocacy and funds to strengthen women’s lives on the islands, in Lee County and around the world through Zonta International.

For more information, visit www.zontasancap.com.