EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report from the Rotary Club of Sanibel Captiva meeting at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club on Friday, Jan. 22, was submitted by Shirley Jewell of the Rotary Club.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotarians had a big decision to make last Friday morning. Rotarian Charlie Emerson had sponsored a request for funding from the Sanibel Community Association/Sanibel Community House directly related to the current SCA Capital Campaign for the restoration and rebuilding of the Sanibel Community House to the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva Trust Board. 

Before this funding request was submitted by Rotarian Emerson to our Trust Board, careful consideration was given to the amount requested and whether this project fit within the parameters of our club’s giving policy.  The request was for a pledge of $15,000 per year for five years, totaling $75,000 to be used for the restoration /rebuilding of the Community House-with a portion of these funds allocated to support educational programming at the Community House. 

Because of the amount and length of this $75,000 multi-year pledge, the Trust Board decided it would bring a recommendation to grant the request before the membership-at- large for discussion/questions and for club vote approval. 

To help with the understanding of this request on Jan. 22 Teresa Riska-Hall, executive director of the Sanibel Community House, was invited to outline the Sanibel Community House restoration/rebuilding project to our membership and attendees at that meeting. The need for extensive repairs to the Community House is an absolute necessity and bringing the building up to current city building codes would have to be satisfied during any construction project.

Addressing these repair problems was put off for a couple of years because of the opportunity to be part of the proposed new Sanibel Cultural Center across the street from the Community House on Periwinkle. The Cultural Center move was considered by the Sanibel Community Association Board and the building of a new Community House on that site, but in the end the SCA Board decided against that idea and would restore and renovate their current building. 

Plans for these renovations include restoring the historic North Room, building a new entrance portico, redesigning the interior space including middle room, kitchen, auditorium, restrooms, halls, storage rooms, and offices – adding some additional space for a larger kitchen and shell-crafters storage. Electrical, sound, and technical equipment will be upgraded in all rooms of the Community House for both current and future needs. The stage in the auditorium will definitely have new curtains, lights, and sound system. The redesign of the interior space will absolutely address the functionality of all interior space and update the look of the space overall.

So, there definitely was discussion. 

There were concerns regarding the amount and length of this commitment with some questions regarding what this commitment of future funds would have on other giving by the Trust Board, especially our international projects. The answer to that was there is a 50/50 split between international/national-local for Rotary of Sanibel-Captiva Trust Fund giving.  International projects will still receive 50 percent of available funds dispersed by the Trust Board.

There were concerns about whether this really is the type of project the Rotary club should be funding. The answer was that the Community House makes itself available to all. It allows many non-profit organizations to hold fundraising events that benefit those in need on our Islands and throughout Lee County. Supporting organizations and non-profits servicing those in need everywhere is part of Rotary’s overall principle. The SCA Community House promotes cultural, social, educational, and civic activities for Island residents and visitors to our Island. 

How would it affect our giving to other local non-profits? In some manner it will, but past fundraising by our Rotary club seems to indicate that …not so much.

After about 45 minutes of discussion, a vote was called for…The club voted yes in support of the application for funding of $15,000 per year for five years for a total of $75,000 submitted by the SCA Community House for restoration and renovation of the Sanibel Community House. 

The $75,000 pledge from the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva has given Rotary the naming rights for the Sanibel Community House stage and it has been agreed upon that upon completion of the restored and renovated Sanibel Community house the auditorium stage will be designated the “Rotary Stage” with a prominently displayed plaque and marketing and oral reference to the “Rotary Stage” for all future events whenever the stage is used.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club for its 7 a.m. Friday morning meetings. As usual, guests are always welcome. Come check out the recent Dunes clubhouse renovations, have a wonderful buffet breakfast, meet great people, and enjoy outstanding speakers.