Council Designates January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month; Arbor Day Proclaimed; Employee of the Year Named

by SC Writer Jan Holly

Human Trafficking
Mayor Kevin Ruane designated January 2020 to be Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month on Sanibel during City Council’s meeting Jan. 7 at City Hall. The proclamation noted Florida’s extremely high incidence of human trafficking, as well as its efforts in “doing the most to combat this crime in terms of legislation and victims treated.”

In particular, the proclamation praised “the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva and its members, [who] were instrumental in building awareness of the crime and [supporting] the efforts of Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, along with other Sanibel Organizations such as St. Michaels & All Angels Episcopal Church, the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva, the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, the Sanibel Community House and B.I.G. Arts.”

Accepting the honor on behalf of Zonta was long-time member Karen Pati. She is a prior Director of the Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida.

Arbor Day Proclamation
On behalf of the City of Sanibel, Mayor Ruane proclaimed Jan. 18, 2020, as Arbor Day on Sanibel and in the State of Florida. Via the proclamation, he urged Islanders “to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands. It’s a time for people to get their hands in the dirt and plant and/or care for trees, bushes and plants,” he said.

The proclamation emphasized the essential value of the Island’s trees, which “aid in lowering our heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife.

“They beautify our community and, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal. The City of Sanibel is proud to participate in National Arbor Day,” Ruane concluded.

National Resources Director James Evans thanked the mayor, Islanders, and especially the Vegetation Committee, for “promoting trees on the Island. Without trees and vegetation, Sanibel would not look like it does or support its vast amounts of wildlife and its tourism-based economy.”

Councilman Jason Maughan lauded the work of the Vegetation Committee. “[The Committee does] a fantastic job, especially its Environmental Handbook, which is the go-to book for anyone wishing to learn more about our environment,” he said.
Maughan encouraged Islanders to attend Committee meetings, “which are open to the public live or via online streaming.”

Employee of the Year
Char Durand, Recreation Services Supervisor at the Sanibel Recreation Department, was voted Employee of the Year 2019 by her peers at the City of Sanibel. Durand has also been recognized as Employee of the Quarter—twice during her tenure.

Durand was hired Sept 2013 as a part-time Recreation Assistant with the Recreation Department. She was promoted to Recreation Program Coordinator in 2018, before attaining her current position in July 2019. She was instrumental in the development of the Youth Basketball League and in the implementation of Pickleball.

In voting for her, Durand’s colleagues lauded her “extremely” welcoming professionalism and her friendly demeanor.

Durand accepted her recognition by “first and foremost thanking God. I am a very, very blessed individual to have the opportunity to come to Sanibel, with His guidance. He has blessed me over and over.”

She also thanked the City, the mayor, City Council, the city manager “and folks that I work with [who] make my job so easy and enjoyable. I am able to go to school, because of the City. Hopefully, at Christmas time next year, I will be able to graduate.

“My wife is standing in the back,” she added. “You are a rock and a blessing in my life. I am blessed and thankful. I hope to continue to grow with the City. Thank you all very much.”

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