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Rotary Happenings: Club considering new capital campaign funding requests

By Staff | Mar 5, 2019

Just as predicted, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club Arts & Crafts Festival was an outstanding success. At the club’s Feb. 22 meeting, Rotarian Scot Congress announced that barring any unreported expenditures the festival’s gross intake is estimated at about $194,000. Expenditures are estimated to be about $70,000, leaving $124,000 to be transferred to the Rotary Club of Sanibel and Captiva Trust for disbursement to qualified Rotary grant applicants and college scholarship funding for the year.

This is outstanding news, since this year there are several island non-profits running capital campaigns that are in need of funding for construction renovations, rebuilds and land acquisitions. The club’s five-year pledge of $75,000 for the renovations at The Community House is almost satisfied, and the trust’s board is considering capital campaign funding requests from the Bailey-Mathews National Shell Museum and BIG ARTS. Club board discussions will take place in the next couple of weeks regarding the requests and conversation points will be sent to the trust’s board for discussion and review before grant approval determination.

We were lucky enough to have as our recent Friday morning speaker Dorrie Hipschman, executive director of the Bailey-Mathews National Shell Museum. But to be totally transparent, she is one of our own, an island Rotarian. The museum recently went public with its capital ALIVE! campaign by publishing an informational insert on the project in local newspapers. Although the transformational project is only new for the public, discussion and planning for it has been ongoing since 2015 as part of a master plan for the museum. The museum wants to expand the opportunity to educate the public about mollusks and their significant environmental worth.

Even islanders are rather nave about the shells that lie on their very own beaches. Visitors come to collect our islands’ beautiful shells, but do they really know about the sea animals that produce the shells? Inquisitive minds will find answers to so many questions about shells and the live sea creatures that create them, mollusks that we find so fantasticating and exquisite. Visitors will marvel at how sea creatures produce their own shells.

Mollusks, mollusks, mollusks snails, clams, cuttlefish, live junonias, Florida horse conk and what? Squid, octopus and so much more – all will be housed in the new aquarium section of the ground floor entrance-level of the museum. The footprint of the building will not change, but the new entrance will have visitors entering the world of under-the-sea – a large number of aquariums with various types of live mollusks will showcase the various types of mollusks found in the oceans. Realize the environments they live in and realize the unique being each mollusk is. Along with the large aquarium showcases, there will be two 15-foot touch tanks for up close experiences with wonderful live mollusks. Educational material will be displayed alongside of the live specimens, and video monitors will allow viewing of the sea animals in their own natural environments. There will be pop-up tanks to display various marine displays.

The inviting aquarium space will be mostly glass, allowing viewing of the room from wall to wall and giving a surreal feeling of visiting the marine animals in their natural environments. The ground floor will be 7,500 square feet. Mollusks spend their entire life in their shells and only when they die should the seashells be collected. The carcasses of the dead mollusks supply nutriments as part of the food chain for under-the-sea creatures. Continuing this circle of marine life is important to the oceans well-being and to our healthy well-being. Just food for thought.

Education and research studies will be an important part of what will go on in the inner sanctum of the renovated museum. The visual component of the museum will be the one that gets the visitors in the door, but the educational component will be the one that provides a respect for our under-the-sea environment and the importance of its well-being going forward. Upper floors will hold traveling exhibits, educational displays, meeting/lecture space, and research/study areas. Donations at all levels are appreciated by the museum for its campaign. To do so, visit ShellMuseum.org/ALIVE.

I am also proud to say that many of our Sanibel-Captiva Rotarians are instrumental in the ALIVE! capital campaign, including Hipschman, Roger Grogman, John Henshaw, Holli Martin, Scot Congress, Richard Green and Jane Henshaw.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.