October 8, 2022
It has been ten days since Hurricane Ian landed on our beaches and began its journey of destruction across Florida and our neighboring states. As I traveled across our region this past week, I witnessed catastrophic damage and disaster areas, but I also saw hope. I observed people coming together who were once strangers leave as friends. A small, thoughtful gesture brought joy to a family who lost everything and the next generation volunteering alongside those who have served our communities for decades.
Our Y is serving over 3,000 people daily through our hurricane relief efforts and the number continues to rise as we expand our services. Our Community Hubs are open to all in our community, food and meal distribution sites serve over 800 meals daily and our Community Relief Camps are up and running with 377 children in our care each day. Our team is working with partners daily to increase resources such as childcare, food sites and connection to services. And as long as our community needs us, YMCA of Southwest Florida will be here to serve.
Some of our communities were hit harder than others and their recovery process will look different, but we will walk with them every step of the way. Fort Myers is our largest focus with disaster recovery and we have assembled a team of staff and volunteers dedicated to outreach. Socio-economic statuses have been removed and people from all over the community need support. We are here for ALL. This is who we are as an organization.
Some seasons are formidable; however, I have never been more proud of my community and the people who live here. I am also blown away by the dedication of our staff at YMCA of Southwest Florida as they, too, have suffered losses due to the storm but still show up to give back to those in need. To each of you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together, we will rebuild and overcome the challenge ahead.
We are Southwest Florida Strong.
Yours in service,
Gene T. Jones, President & CEO
YMCA of Southwest Florida
P.S. To learn more about how you can join the Y’s movement and our hurricane relief efforts, please do not hesitate to reach out or to make a donation towards our hurricane relief efforts, please visit www.ymcaswfl.org.