Tangible Giving

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When it comes to generosity, islander Lena Brown says, “Anyone can participate!”

Brenda Harrity (L) and Lena Brown inspect the kitchen of one of CHR’s rental units that is scheduled for major updates.

Brenda Harrity (L) and Lena Brown inspect the kitchen of one of CHR’s rental units that is scheduled for major updates.

Lena Brown, along with fellow volunteer Brenda Harrity, is heading up a new effort for CHR’s upcoming Mardi Gras fundraising event that will create an opportunity for attendees to donate to the organization at any level. Often referred to as “give-to-give,” the idea is to provide something tangible for genrous donors to give toward.

“CHR is about affordable housing,” Brown says, “so the Mardi Gras give-to-give is going to encourage people to donate toward specific items that are needed to update one or more of CHR’s units.”

With 74 rental units spread across Sanibel, CHR has its hands full maintaining properties while ensuring that rents stay affordable for residents.

“It’s a big job,” admits CHR’s executive director Kelly Collini. “Many people don’t unsterstand how we can do it, or realize how CHR’s budget is structured. Rent collection accounts for sixty percent of our annual budget and the City of Sanibel provides another twenty-six percent for administration. That leaves about thirteen percent of our annual budget that must be filled by grants, donations, and other fundraising efforts, like our annual Mardi Gras event.”

Collini says that CHR relies heavily on those funds for property maintenance. “As with anyone’s home, things wear out. We’re responsible for routine maintenance as well as major updates and renovations when needed, and several of our properties are now at the age where we need to tackle some larger projects.” That can include major overhauls like repainting, replacing worn carpet with tile, replacing appliances and AC units, and plumbing and electric upgrades.

Brenda Harrity explains that the event’s give-to-give effort will help to educate people about how CHR operates. “What we hope to show is that you’re not just ‘buying’ a ceiling fan or refrigerator or buckets of paint,” she says, “but that you are affecting real families here on the island by giving them nice, safe places to live. CHR residents are part of the workforce backbone that keeps our island community stable.”

Brown agrees: “Here on Sanibel, we embrace diversity, and CHR plays a big part in creating island diversity. On our Mardi Gras give-to-give table, you’ll be able to buy everything from door knobs, to fixtures, to tile, to appliances and even air conditioning units, creating many levels of giving and allowing anyone to participate. Plus, it’s being done in a really fun way, proving once again that giving back to our community is truly a lot of fun!”

“Our goal is to completely update an entire CHR unit,” Harrity adds. “Wouldn’t it be great if we far exceeded that goal? I think that by having this fun approach people will come to understand how they are helping people through an affordable housing program.”

CHR’s Mardi Gras will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel. Sponsors include event Premier Sponsor, The Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s, event Presenting Sponsor, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, and event platinum sponsors, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company and Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille. Proceeds from the event support the CHR’s mission of providing affordable housing on Sanibel. All donations to CHR are tax deductible. For additional event and sponsorship information, call Arlene Dillon at 239-472-4932 or Melissa Rice at 239-398-0404 or visit SanibelCHR.org/Mardi-Gras-2016.