For the past few weeks, we’ve been asking the community to submit stories that show Southwest Florida is #GulfshoreStrong. We’re flooded with news of chefs feeding underserved neighbors and overworked medical professionals, retailers sewing masks for at-risk residents, artists keeping the arts alive through every means possible and nonprofits reinventing and stretching themselves to the limit to be there for those they serve. When things feel bleak, these stories remind us that we live in a place where charity and creativity are never in short supply.
And since we could all use more positive news like this right now, we’ll keep adding to our running list of #GulfshoreStrong heroes and innovators, in addition to sharing highlights of the recent good things happening in our backyard. Below, some of the recent bright spots that have us feeling extra proud to live in Southwest Florida.
Vincenzo Betulia Looks Out For Teachers
Earlier this week, the owner of Campagna Restaurant Group (The French, Osteria Tulia, Bar Tulia) announced a challenge to raise $100,000 for gift cards for local teachers to use at his restaurants. Recognizing that teachers are also overworked and having to adapt to new forms of teaching while keeping our kids engaged, the chef has promised to match the total amount of gift cards donated through May 31. (Order through the restaurants websites, The French and Osteria Tulia. Select the “pickup” option to order a gift card for donation).
Muffy Clark Gill Creates Digital Painting to Benefit Shelter
Naples mixed-media artist Muffy Clark Gill created a digital art piece to support the Shelter for Abused Women in Children. The painting, which shows a girl in black-and-white looking out to the colorful world beyond, raises awareness for domestic abuse victims who are especially vulnerable during this time being in unsafe homes. Clark Gill kicked off a free drawing for her Looking to Leave work to garner support and funds for the Shelter.. The winner will be announced on May 21. In the meantime, you can also buy prints of the digital painting online, with 25% of the proceeds going to the shelter.
Naples YMCA Helps Families Stay Active
This Saturday, The Greater Naples YMCA will distribute more than 60 bikes and $600 to families from the YMCA’s early learning school. The donations were made possible through a partnership with Naples nonprofit Bikes for Tykes. The YMCA recently launched the virtual Y experience to share at-home workouts, virtual field trips and learning opportunities to keep kids engaged at home.
Wicked Dolphin Donates Free Sanitizer
If you’re in need of sanitizer, this Cape Coral distillery has got you covered. Wicked Dolphin—which has been donating sanitizer to front-line workers and other members of the community since the pandemic started—recently teamed up with Florida Crystals and Fort Myers Brewery to get enough sugar and space to keep the supply going. Drive by the distillery when they reopen on May 2 at 10 a.m. to pick up four free bottles of the sanitizer, which can be used to clean hands and surfaces. First responders and healthcare workers get larger gallons of the product.
Art Aid Launches Instagram Forum for Local Artists
Having started just two years ago, Art Aid has become a significant arts nonprofit and event for the region, joining some of the biggest names in Southwest Florida (Paul Arsenault, Juan Diaz, Muffy Clark Gill and Cesar Aguilera, to name a few) for an online auction that supports Legal Aid Service of Collier County. On April 26, the group launched an Instagram Live “meet-up” to keep creatives connected during the pandemic. During the Sunday morning “Coffee Talk With Artists: Art in the Times of Corona,” the Art Aid founder, Laura Barnard, and photographer Lisette Morales, moderate the virtual gathering, bringing in local artists to discuss needs, opportunities and current projects. Not only does this unite creatives who are affected by coronavirus economic pressures, but it also provides a forum where creative solutions can blossom as we all look forward to the post-COVID-19 future of our community.