Pine Island Kiwanis exploring ‘Restaurant Crawl’
After the disappointing results from the 2016 Taste of Pine Island, the Kiwanis Club is exploring something new a “Restaurant Crawl.”
“The Kiwanis provides the second largest amount of college money to Island students,” Kiwanis member Buzzy Phillips said. “Needless to say, this was a very disappointing season, and this year we have more applicants that we usually do.”
“We’ve been doing the two-day Taste of Pine Island for many years now and it has served us well,” Phillips continued. “However, this year’s Taste had to be cancelled by the Lee County Parks Department due to the record rains in January and February that left the field under water. The normal proceeds from the event of $25,000 was reduced to a few thousand dollars in donations.”
The scholarship committee got a great lift recently when Diane Higgins, president of FISH (Fellow Islanders Sending Help) matched existing donations with a check for $7,000.
“Thirty years ago, when FISH was just starting,” Higgins said, “our first donation was a $50 check from Kiwanis. That $50 got us a phone line which is the connection we have with the community. Last year we were able to help Islanders with more than $80,000 in services. After reading about the Kiwanis plight in the Eagle, our board wanted to help.”
“We are thrilled,” Carlyn Herring, chair of the Kiwanis Scholarship Committee said of the FISH donation. “We will definitely be able to help lots of Pine Island students this year, more than we thought just a few days ago – we have really been scrambling. The Pine Island Kiwanis has given almost $500,000 in scholarships over the years, surpassed only by the parents of our students. We have to come up with some new ideas so that the weather can’t kill us again.”
The most exciting idea came from Kim Holland, general manager of Bert’s Bar & Seafood Grill. Holland suggested that the Kiwanis Club approach all 31 restaurants on the island for a unique kind of crawl.
“We got the idea from Kim and Bernard (Bernard Johnson, owner of Bert’s), during a brain storming session,” Mike Shevlin, chair of the fundraising committee, said. “The idea is that the restaurants can help us while we help the restaurants increase their customer counts.”
Kiwanis is planning on having the various areas compete with one another; Bokeelia, Matlacha and St. James City. At the same time there will be numerous prizes for customers.
Joy Veatch, president of the Kiwanis Club, said that the club has overcome numerous issues.
“We have had some major problems this year,” Veatch said, “but the club has come together very enthusiastically in order to overcome them. I am excited about this ‘Restaurant Crawl’ and very proud to be a member.”