Urgent Financial Assistance Needed for Low-Income Families in Fort Myers, Florida, Who Lost Everything After Hurricane Ian
Kathy O’Day, Lutheran Church Charities Director of Disaster Response, received an urgent financial assistance request from Tim Richter, Director of Christian Education (DCE) at Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Myers, Florida, to purchase basic living items needed for very low-income community members in Harlem Heights recovering from the destruction of their homes from Hurricane Ian. Debra Mathinos, Chief Programs Officer of Harlem Heights Community Center, made the initial request for assistance to Zion Lutheran Church, one of their very involved community partners for the past nine years.
Your Donations Will Help 40 – 50 Families in Need!
Lutheran Church Charities is partnering with Zion Lutheran Church to use your financial donations to purchase microwaves, crockpots, hot plates, mini refrigerators, card tables, and chairs for at least 40-50 families.
This will allow families to cook simple meals, have a place to sit and eat, and for children to do homework as they try to live as best they can in their gutted homes with minimal functional electrical outlets.
Zion Lutheran Church will purchase the needed items from local businesses. Tim Richter and Jan Boerman, L.E.R.T. leader from Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois, who is still serving in Florida, will deliver these needed items to the Harlem Heights Community Center for family disbursement as soon as they can.
Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community in South Fort Myers, with families living in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County in Florida. The average household income of a typical Harlem Heights family is less than $25,000/year. Demographically, this community is 71% Hispanic (from Haiti, Guatemala and El Salvador), 20% African-American, and 9% Caucasian.
Within the boundaries of Harlem Heights, there are 350 single-family homes, 400 apartments, and more than 750 children. Ninety-five percent of the residents were employed in the service industry on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. Due to the hurricane, their jobs and means of support are now gone.
The Harlem Heights Community Center and its Foundation is a grassroots organization that works to build strong, self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood by providing charitable outreach projects in the community with community partnerships. The foundation also operates the community center, early learning center, and school. They are heavily involved in serving this community and helping find resources to assist families in recovering from this devastating disaster.
Beginning last week and continuing, four L.E.R.T. volunteers from Trinity Lisle are serving out of Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Myers, Florida. Ed and Jan Boerman and Clay and Linda Arnold have been doing chainsaw work and helping homeowners salvage and pack belongings in their flooded homes.
If any L.E.R.T certified individual is interested in volunteering on their own to do muck-outs or chainsaw work, LCMS Disaster Response is still operating a base camp at Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Myers, Florida. It is planning to remain open until the second week of December.
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Please prayerfully consider donating to help Lutheran Church Charities and Zion Lutheran Church help Harlem Heights families who are struggling and in need.
Please continue to pray for the residents affected by Hurricane Ian as they face a long recovery process.