provided to The Santiva Chronicle
As a gathering spot for 100,000 people each year, The Community House (THC) at 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel has served as the heart of the island since 1927. With a SanCap Chamber ribbon-cutting on Thursday, Oct. 26, it is officially back in service catering to the needs of the community under the leadership of the Sanibel Community Association.
TCH reprised its gathering place role as soon as possible following Hurricane Ian’s destruction to most of its kitchen and event spaces.
“We were able to successfully use the out-of-doors for community gatherings and much-needed meals and supply distributions,” said Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall. “Partnering with FISH, having head and neck massages, and FEMA onsite to help homeowners. We held gatherings for people just to come share a beverage and snacks that were well attended and served as a healing space. We are trying to work with all groups to bring them back as numerous organizations have lost many of their members, and so their coffers are not as flush as they once were.”
“What a proud, proud moment this is,” said John Lai, president and CEO of SanCap Chamber. “The reopening of The Community House is like a transfusion to get the lifeblood of the island pumping once again. We congratulate the entire community for this effort.”
“The community has supported us by continuing to generously support our rebuild – coming back to The Community House for meetings and gatherings,” said Riska-Hall. “The Lions will have their holiday tree sale here. Kiwanis is helping with the north parking lot, and so many more! It is important that we all support each other in a positive, upbeat way, keeping each other’s spirits up and looking forward.”
TCH’s schedule is filling for high season, but dates are still available, she added. The Shell Festival will return for three days, March 7-9.
“Some of our organizations are making it back faster than others, but all are trying,” said Riska-Hall. “The chamber is an important part of island businesses’ life-support system.”