The Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organization, mobilized dozens of volunteers after the storm and began shipping essential supplies to the region. Volunteers have been meeting one-on-one with Southwest Florida families seeking assistance at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Fort Myers.
The organization identified individuals and families who are facing economic hardships or housing issues because of the hurricane, and invited them to apply for assistance. During a series of emotional ceremonies and distribution events, recipients received debit cards of varying amounts and eco-blankets comprised of recycled plastic bottles, as well as hugs and a listening ear.
“We’d like to give them a spark of hope so they can get their faith back and move on, get their normal lives back,” said Sean Lo, the foundation’s executive director for its southern region.
The Tzu Chi Foundation has a mission to relieve the suffering of those in need while creating a better world for all through compassion, love and hope. “Tzu” means compassion and “Chi” means relief. The foundation also assisted Southwest Florida families after Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Panhandle families after Hurricane Michael in 2018.
In the weeks following Hurricane Ian, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County have hosted multiple distribution events for youth members and their families, as well as community members. In addition to hot meals and bottled water, clubs also have provided kid-friendly snacks and hygiene items to anyone in need while opening their doors to all children and teens who needed a place to learn, play and socialize.
“The Boys & Girls Club considers itself a connector in the community, and our new Park Meadows Community Club is near several neighborhoods that were severely impacted by the hurricane,” said Denise Gergley, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County. “We were happy to partner with the Tzu Chi Foundation so local families could access resources to help in their recovery.”
“We are very appreciative for the assistance, the kindness, the love,” said Dawn Sanders Ledford, a Fort Myers resident who received support from the Tzu Chi Foundation. “We were very fortunate to be able to come here and experience all of the help and the love, and so many kind people just willing to help.”
For more information about the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, please visit TzuChi.us.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County
Established in 1974, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County serve children and teens through school-based, neighborhood and community club locations. The nonprofit’s mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. After-school and summer programs focus on five core areas: education and career, service and leadership, health and wellness, the arts, and sports and recreation. For more information, please visit BGClee.org or call 239-334-1886.