CHR’s Manatee Madness 2.0 Concludes; Bidding Has Begun

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

This is the last chance to participate in this year’s Community Housing Resources’ Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser, “Manatee Madness 2.0,” in support of affordable housing on Sanibel Island.

You can be the proud owner of an original and unique piece of art and take home your very own “Manatee Madness” sculpture and help support Community Housing and Resources with your generosity when you go online and participate in the online Manatee Madness 2022 Auction ending March 30.

This year 24 talented, fabulous artists dedicated their time and creativity to support CHR and transform a manatee sculpture into a fantastic work of art. The sponsors quickly jumped at the opportunity to help CHR, our local nonprofit.

“We are humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of support from the City of Sanibel and the community”, said Laura DeBruce, Manatee Madness Committee Chair.

We can only do what we do with your help. CHR depends on fundraising, donations, and community support for more than 40 percent of the annual operating budget needed to continue to provide affordable housing here in our island community.

“The festivities wind up at this year’s Manatee Madness Mardi Gras Celebration. Bidders will be live and via proxy April 1st at Sanibel’s MudBugs Cajun Kitchen and Restaurant,” said Melissa Rice, CHR’s Executive Director. “Five of the auction’s Manatees are full-size mailboxes, and the rest are smaller versions that can be displayed indoors or outdoors in your favorite room, on the patio, lanai, front porch, or in the garden. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the CHR website. Look for more details on social media on our website.”

“We’re All Mad Here” is the name of the large Manatee sponsored by and on display at Bailey’s General Store. Based on The Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, Cheryl Logan decided to create an Alice and Wonderland type Manatee. For the artist, Logan painting portraits of friends or their pets is her favorite hobby. Last year Logan created the Manatee “Flossie and Fiona,” which garnered much attention throughout the season.

“We’re All Mad Here,” left, and “Pearl”

Another unique Manatee statue, “Pearl,” is sponsored by and has been on display at Sanibel Captiva Trust Company. She now heads to the auction block April 1 to meet her new owner. Artist, Laura Conway, was inspired to paint her Manatee to look like a mother of pearl inlay because it reminded her of the pattern of water drops shimmering on the manatee’s skin as it surfaces for air. Conway is a decorative artist and Sanibel resident who has worked staging homes for clients on Sanibel, Captiva, and around the U.S for the past 26 years. In addition, she specializes in stenciling, glazing, and multi-layered embedded plaster creating custom floorcloths, painted furniture, and shelled accessories.

Meanwhile, “Pete the Pirate,” a yo-ho kind of guy, Pete, the Pirate Captain, travels the Southwest Florida seas with his band of ManaPete pirates in hopes of protecting the area’s precious seagrass and mangroves. He’s a special Manatee sponsored by Sue Kressley and Greg Anderson and created by Sanibel School 8th Graders. You can enjoy this Manatee’s remaining days at Joey’s Custard if you rush. Sanibel School 8th grade students Sophie Allen and Micah Baker put their creative talents together to help create “Pete, the Pirate.”

“Pete, the Pirate,” left, and “Hey Mrs. Postman”

“Hey Mrs. Postman” is sponsored by Karen Bell and the Bell Team and VIP Realty. Artist Laura Ball’s manatee was inspired by the post office and how mail keeps us all connected. “We share our adventures, dreams, encouragement, fears, accomplishments, good wishes, and love by sending postcards and letters to each other worldwide,” says Ball. “I wanted to create a manatee to honor that incredible service!”

Ball attended H.S. of Art & Design in N.Y. Originally from Bayside, NY, she moved to Florida in 1995. You may know her from the Sanibel Post Office. When not at work, she is usually painting in her art studio. Her paintings of local wildlife make it possible to bring a little bit of Florida home with you. She also paints coconut postcards that you can address and mail as is… No box is necessary.


Next up is “Sheila” by the talented artist Challen Rivera who says she chose the name Sheila because “(my) 10-year-old daughter walked by while I was working and asked if that could be her name. I asked, ‘So, she’s a girl?’ When she nodded, I looked up thename and found it means ‘heavenly,’ That was all she wrote!” Though established in Ft. Myers, Rivera’s family roots harken back in large part to her Southern and Jamaican heritage. Rivera says, “Helping others find joy and freedom of expression through the arts is my goal and passion!”

You can find this Manatee treasure at her sponsor, MudBugs Cajun Kitchen, for a few more days. Go online to to get your tickets now and thank her sponsor properly in person at the main event on April 1. The Grand Finale at Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen includes a buffet dinner, a full bar, Beignets for dessert, DJ Robert McDonald, dancing, and fun. Tickets can now be purchased at the CHR website at $250 per person; all proceeds directly benefit CHR
and our affordable housing program.

And now, let the Manatee Madness Auction begin. Please remember to “bid high and bid often!”

The Online Auction ends at 5 p.m. March 30. All manatees will then be on display at the April 1 Mardi Gras Manatee Madness event held at Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen in a Silent Auction Manatee Stroll, where the high bid from the online auction will be the beginning bid for the Silent Auction. Three Manatees have been reserved for the Live Auction bidding, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. by our Emcees Nicole McHale and Eric Pfeifer. If you cannot attend the Live Auction and have your heart set on a Reserved Manatee, we encourage you to send a proxy.

CHR (Community Housing and Resources, Inc.) was formed in 1979 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to address the growing need for affordable housing in the Sanibel community. In 1983, an ordinance was passed by the City of Sanibel that established the Affordable Housing Program, and CHR was designated as the city’s housing foundation. Today, CHR owns 88 housing units at various locations on Sanibel, including 74 rental and 14 Limited Equity Ownership (LEO) home

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