Southwest Florida has no shortage of people who love their communities, so it comes as no surprise that dozens of them are getting the love back during the first nonprofit awards recognizing them, organizers said.
The Cape Coral Community Foundation named 27 finalists in nine categories for the first Excellence in Nonprofit Performance Year Awards this month, with the awards ceremony on Wednesday.
The awards recognize those making an impact in Southwest Florida, not solely Cape Coral, including staff, volunteers, board members, leaders and business partners.
“Nonprofits always there 24/7, loving on the community, even when funding is tight, even on tight resources, with few staff and volunteer support,” said Michael Chatman, the Foundation’s president and CEO.
The ceremony, at Crowne Plaza Bell Tower in Fort Myers, was quickly selling out for a 200 member lunch crowd, which Chatman said was indicative of the importance it is to the community.
“The nonprofit sector has not gotten a lot of appreciation,” Chatman said. “We labor hard every single day. We make enormous sacrifices.”
Connie Ramos, of Conric PR & Marketing, said the breadth and scope of nonprofits is evidenced by the sheer numbers. For example, United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okechobee Counties serves more than 70 nonprofit agencies.
Chatman, at the foundation’s helm for about a year, has redefined it as a Global Center for Generosity, linking needs to donors through the state, nation and world.
“He really, really has a big heart and focus on nonprofits,” Ramos said, saying he approached her to see what they could do to recognize those who contribute to the community.
At the finalist unveiling, Ramos said the excitement was undeniable.
“They are the unsung heroes,” she said. “They do so much, but they don’t have an opportunity to get that recognition. There was a huge, huge buzz.”
Sponsors include Storm Smart, Cape Coral Community Foundation, LCEC, CONRIC PR & Marketing, Suncoast Beverage, News-Press Media Group, Wicked Dolphin, Premier Cape Construction, Lee Health, HBKS Wealth Advisors & HBK CPAs and Consultants, Regions Bank, Bank of the Ozarks, Rotary Club of Cape Coral, Michel Doherty & friends, and Stroemer and Company.
Information, visit TheENPYs.com.
The first Nonprofit Performance Yearly Awards (ENPYs) will be named Wednesday:
Nonprofit Organization of the Year: Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples; Community Cooperative; Lighthouse of Southwest Florida
Nonprofit Rising Organization of the Year: Valerie’s House; Cape Coral Animal Shelter; Eva’s Closet
Nonprofit Executive of the Year: Nida Eluna, Dr. Ella Piper Center for Social Services; Samira Beckwith, Hope Healthcare; Nancy Green-Irwin, Friendship Centers
Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year: Douglas Carlson, M.D., ECHO; Dean Piccirillo, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce; Janet Ortenzo, Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Coalition, Inc.
Nonprofit Employee of the Year: Aimee McLaughlin, Big Brother Big Sisters of the Sun Coast; Megan Feeney, Goodwill Industries of SWFL; Allyson Ross, Pace Center for Girls, Lee
Nonprofit Volunteer of the Year: Chuck Thornton, Lee BIA Builders Care; Tracie Bagans, Heights Foundation; Ingrid Fuller, Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida
Business Partner of the Year: Smart Companies; Advanced Pain Management & Spine Specialists; Cape Coral Plumbing, Inc.
Michel Doherty Community Impact Award: Duane Chaney, Jeanne Sweeney, Frank Haskell
Paul Sanborn Service Above Self Award: Steve Pansing, James Gravedoni, Pete and Cyndi Doragh