COMMUNITY COOPERATIVE EXPANDS OUTREACH SERVICES TO FORT MYERS BEACH

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copyFORT MYERS, FL – (May 30, 2014) – The Board of Directors of Community Cooperative, Inc., and God's Table, Inc., are happy to announce the merger of their two organizations in an effort to offer more social and human services in the greater Fort Myers Beach area. Community Cooperative will take over management of all outreach operations beginning June 1.

"This is the right move for God's Table and Fort Myers Beach. It will allow Community Cooperative to extend their reach into the community and better fulfill the mission of both organizations," according to Sheila Morales, God's Table Board member, and Faith Community Nurse at Chapel By The Sea Presbyterian Church.

"Operating as an all-volunteer organization offers continued challenges. We have been surviving but not really thriving. We're sustaining the lives of our clients but want to see them transform their lives and move out of homelessness and poverty. Bringing Community Cooperative to the table accomplishes this for us and for our clients. The merger will create efficiencies, save time and money, and will allow the community to draw of the creativity and expertise of the staff," said Morales.

"We are very excited to expand our outreach services to Fort Myers Beach. Our goal with this merger is to infuse our holistic approach to fighting hunger and homelessness into the good work that God's Table already does for the residents of the beach," said Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative. "This is a good match, an opportunity for collaboration, and a positive move with a great potential benefit to all residents of Fort Myers Beach," she added.

God's Table is an ecumenical program, in its 13th year, helping the homeless and needy of Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding area. They are located at Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church, Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach.

Since its creation in 1984, Community Cooperative has been providing emergency food outreach and resources to communities across Lee County. Community Cooperative serves the greater Lee County area, including Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Pine Island. Community Cooperative works in partnership with United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee, Harry Chapin Food Bank and regional community foundations as well as collaborating with fellow community and service groups including The School District of Lee County and numerous churches, businesses and community support organizations.

Florida Community Bank Partners with Community Cooperative for "Financial Fridays"

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new fcb final smallFORT MYERS, FL. (May 12, 2014) -- Community Cooperative has partnered with the staff of Florida Community Bank to create a series of Financial Education classes for the benefit of Community Cooperative Social Services clients. The twice monthly classes are held at Community Cooperative locations in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

According to Community Cooperative CEO, Tracey Galloway, "Our partnership with Florida Community Bank and the resources they bring to this important program greatly enhances the potential of the program." She continued, "The financial education classes provide our clients an opportunity to gain hands-on financial guidance to promote financial responsibility and we believe this is a level of mentoring and education otherwise unavailable to these individuals."

In the first "Financial Friday" session, clients meet with Florida Community Bank representatives to establish a working relationship, gather information and provide program information on establishing financial goals and constructing a budget. In future sessions, the bank plans to provide transportation to a bank facility enabling clients to directly access bank services and gain a more complete understanding of the components of a banking relationship.

According to Florida Community Bank Senior Vice President, Cheryl Lake, "We believe the knowledge gained from a financial education program enables people to overcome financial obstacles and make sound financial decisions." She continued, "Providing access to the tools and insight into the components of a banking relationship gives our audience a genuine head start on a responsible financial future."

In addition to providing the expertise through employee participation, Florida Community Bank recently provided a $5,000 grant to Community Cooperative. The money from the grant is funding education programs for Community Cooperative clients. Florida Community Bank utilized Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) funds to make the grant.

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Florida Community Bank is a strong supporter of the communities served by the bank, as evidenced by the not only monetary contributions, but also by volunteerism. In 2013, Florida Community Bank employees logged over 3,500 hours of community service to over 60 community organizations. In addition, Florida Community Bank provides meeting use of facilities to a number of organizations and is an active lender into these communities.

About Community Cooperative – Since its creation in 1984, Community Cooperative has been providing emergency food outreach and resources to communities across Lee County. Community Cooperative serves the greater Lee County area, including Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Pine Island. Community Cooperative works in partnership with the United Way organizations in Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties, as well as the Harry Chapin Food Bank and regional community foundations. Community Cooperative also collaborates with fellow community and service groups including The School District of Lee County, as well as numerous churches, business and community support organizations.

About Florida Community Bank – Florida Community Bank, Member FDIC, is a statewide banking institution comprised of nine community banks purchased by Bond Street Holdings, the parent company of Florida Community Bank. These community banks, now consolidated into a single statewide presence, form the solid foundation on which Florida Community Bank is built. Today, Florida Community Bank is a 54 office institution with a presence in most major Florida markets and over $5 billion in assets. The bank is rated Five Stars (Excellent) by Bauer FinancialTM, Inc., the most widely followed bank rating firm in the nation. Florida Community Bank is among the most highly capitalized banks in the nation with capital ratios more than double those required to be rated as "well capitalized" by regulatory agencies.

Community Cooperative Collaborates with ECHO and Next Level Church to Expand Garden

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gardenFORT MYERS, FLA. – (May 1, 2014) – Community Cooperative is teaming up with ECHO and Next Level Church, (NLC) to expand its current gardens at the Martin Luther King, Jr. campus. The work for the garden expansion project will take place over a two-weekend timeframe, beginning on Saturday, May 3, 2014 and continuing on Saturday, May 10, 2014.

"We are very excited about the garden expansion project," says Tracey Galloway, Chief Executive Officer for Community Cooperative. "The garden collaboration with ECHO and NLC strengthens our sustainable hunger solutions and fresh food initiatives that support our customers here at Community Cooperative."

On Saturday, May 3rd, volunteers will be clearing and prepping the area at the MLK campus of Community Cooperative for the garden plantings, adding irrigation and stepping stone walkways and pathways. The following Saturday, May 10th, the installation of established plantings and seedlings will take place.

ECHO designed the garden expansion, taking advantage of the sun and shade for proper placement of the fruits and vegetables to be grown. "We are utilizing trays and existing fencing to establish planting areas," says Brad Ward, ECHO's Agricultural Technical Consultant. "We will start planting seeds into trays and directly into the ground and counting on the coming rainy season to assist in our irrigation of the seedlings."

"Fresh produce provides key nutrients that many of our customers lack in their daily diet," added Shelly Coakley, Food Programs Manager at Community Cooperative. "Having these gardens in our backyard is a cost effective way of ensuring that our kitchens have consistent access to freshly grown food. It also teaches our customers that healthy food can taste delicious."

Next Level Church started building gardens with schools and non-profit groups in 2011. Since that time they have helped to build or manage more than a dozen gardens in Southwest Florida. In late 2013 they adopted Community Cooperatives gardens, supplying volunteers who plant, weed, water and harvest every other Saturday.

"We believe community gardens are a great tool to educate, nurture and empower people, and ultimately transform lives in our community," said Neil Volz, Outreach Director for NLC. "That is why it is such an honor to partner with Community Cooperative on this life-giving project."

BJ’S CHARITABLE FOUNDATION GRANTS $ 5,000 TO COMMUNITY COOPERATIVE

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bjscharitablefoundationFORT MYERS, FL. (April 21, 2014) – Community Cooperative has recently received a $ 5,000 grant from the B.J.'s Charitable Foundation. Community Cooperative will direct the funds to a program related project for the Community Café and Markets.

Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative, says, "We are very appreciative for the generous funding provided by the BJ's Charitable Foundation. Currently, Community Café serves over 80,000 hot meals per year to our clients and these funds will assist in expanding the programs we can offer our clients."

"The BJ's Charitable Foundation is dedicated to supporting hunger prevention, self-sufficiency, healthcare, and education in the communities surrounding our Clubs," said Jessica Newman, Executive Director of the BJ's Charitable Foundation. "BJ's Charitable Foundation donated a total of $ 431,000 to 70 nonprofit charitable organizations across our footprint during this grant cycle, and we hope these donations benefit the incredible efforts of our partners working to impact the lives of individuals and families and enable them to continue to provide crucial services to those in need.

Meals on Wheels Needs Drivers

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Meals on Wheels Drivers and Other Volunteers Needed as Seasonal Residents Prepare to Head North

earnest2FORT MYERS, FL (April 16, 2014) – Community Cooperative is in need of volunteer drivers for its Meals on Wheels program as seasonal residents head back north.

"Unfortunately we see this every year at this time," said Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative. "We are so thankful for the wonderful seasonal residents who volunteer their time with us each winter, but we are at a critical point in needing volunteers to help us pack and deliver meals through the summer months so our seniors don't go hungry."

Community Cooperative serves more than 400 homebound seniors and more than 8,000 meals each month through its Meals on Wheels program. The agency relies solely on volunteer drivers to cover its current 30 routes across Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers and North Fort Myers.

With seven convenient pick-up locations across Lee County, an average Meals On Wheels route has 15 customers and takes approximately two hours to complete. Children are welcome to volunteer as well with adult supervision. Community Cooperative has a variety of opportunities for volunteering within the organization. If volunteers are part of a company, church or organization, they and their co-workers can adopt a route and volunteer together. Community Cooperative currently has several businesses that enlist their employees to volunteer and share a volunteer position.

"If a person doesn't have the time resources available, they could consider supporting the Meals On Wheels program with a monetary donation," added Galloway. "$ 125 per month sponsors one senior for the month, and $ 1,500 sponsors a senior for a year."

The Meals On Wheels Home Delivered Meal Program delivers hot, nutritious and well-balanced meals weekday mornings, including extras for the weekend, to Lee County residents who are elderly, ill or disabled and are unable to shop or prepare their own food. Drivers provide daily nutrition and contact for homebound residents regardless of their ability to pay.

Meals On Wheels drivers must have current drivers' license and insurance.

For more information on becoming a Meals On Wheels volunteer, contact Jen Larsen at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 239- 332-7687, ext. 7112. 

Community Cooperative Celebrates 30 Years with Rebranding

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image001FORT MYERS, FL. (March 10, 2014) – Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI) has introduced a new branding initiative and unveiled a new logo and tagline in celebration of its 30th anniversary and recommitment to its mission of ending hunger and homelessness in Lee County. The organization will now be called 'Community Cooperative' with the tagline 'Feeding People. Nourishing Lives.'

Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative, says, "The new logo represents the collaborative, innovative, hand-up approach that our mission embodies. It projects a modern yet conservative look while holding onto our distinguished legacy through our name, Community Cooperative."

"In four simple words, the tag line 'Feeding People. Nourishing Lives.' sums up our mission, which is to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change in our clients by delivering innovative food, education and social service programs," Galloway added.

Since the creation of CCMI in 1984, Community Cooperative has been providing emergency food outreach and resources to communities across Lee County. The Board of Directors has adopted a strategic plan which outlines a vision to ensure that the organization will be stronger in its mission and is a recognized leader among the hunger fighting, opportunity creating, and life-changing organizations in our region.

CCMI to Host March for Meals Community Champions Week March 17-21, 2014

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m4m-webFORT MYERS, FL. (March 4, 2014) – Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. announced that it will be hosting Community Champions Week as part of its "March for Meals" campaign. Area dignitaries will be participating in the event to show their support for our community's homebound and hungry seniors.

According to Tracey Galloway, CEO of CCMI, the need within the Southwest Florida community continues to grow. "Currently, our Meals on Wheels Program delivers over 400 hot meals every day to the local area homebound community," says Galloway. "Many times we provide the only hot meal and social interaction for this segment of the community each day. Our annual numbers are reaching over the 100,000 meals delivered mark and continue to grow."

"March for Meals" is a national campaign during the month of March, initiated by the Meals On Wheels Association of America, which seeks to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action on the part of the local community.

Senior Nutrition Programs across the United States, like CCMI, promote March for Meals in their local communities through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment and fundraising initiatives. Community Champions Week is a component of March for Meals that utilizes the involvement of local Mayors and other local personalities.

CCMI/March for Meals Community Champions Week Scheduled Participants

  • Monday, March 17, 2014 

            Earnest Graham, Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer 

            Brian Hammon, Lee County Commissioner

 

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 

            Mayor Randy Henderson, Mayor of Fort Myers

            WINK Anchor Lois Thome

 

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 

            Sheriff Mike Scott

           (Other participants will be added upon confirmation.)

Menu Donors For 11th Annual Soup Kitchen Benefit Announced

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2014skblogoFORT MYERS, FL (February 19, 2014) - Menu donors for this year's annual Soup Kitchen Benefit have been announced.

Sam Galloway Jr. & Friends 11th Annual Soup Kitchen Benefit will be held on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at the Sam Galloway Ford dealership, located off Boy Scout Drive and Summerlin Road. The dinner starts at 7:00pm, following cocktails, which begin at 6:00pm. The Gulf Coast Symphony, led by the Maestro Andrew Kurtz, will present "Celebration of Broadway."

This year's menu, which is donated by local restaurants and individuals, includes, Appetizers from Sandy Stilwell of SS Hookers and Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group and The Rao Family of Mastello Ristorante and A Touch of Italy Market; Salad from Will & Andrea Prather of The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre; Bar-B-Que Chicken and Sauce from Jim Stewart of Jim Bob's Bar-B-Que: BBQ Pork & Swamp Cabbage from Wesley & Deanna Hansen; Fried Shrimp & Cheese Grits from John & Paul Browning of The Three Fishermen Restaurants; Gourmet Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes from Jordan Webster of J. G. Webster's Catering; Broasted Chicken by Steve & Jeanne Sexton of The Alva Diner: Peas & Rice, Corn Bread & Hot Pepper Sauce from Bill & Janice Barnwell of The Farmer's Market Restaurant; Summer Squash & Green Beans from Kim & Jack Avery of The Main Event Catering; Collard Greens from CCMI's Everyday Cafe & Market; Desserts from Norman & Mary Love of Norman Love Confections and Uncle Charlie's Cookie Ministry; and Beverages from Mast Family Culligan and The Mitchell Family of Suncoast Beverages.

The goal of this event is to raise over $450,000 for CCMI, the umbrella agency for the Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, School Backpack and Pantry Program, Mobile Food Pantries, and Social, Education and Homeless Services for area residents in need. The event has sold out for several years and continues to be one of the signature events in our community.

According to Tracey Galloway, CEO of CCMI, the need within the Southwest Florida community continues to grow. "There are over 3,400 documented homeless individuals in Lee County; more than 1,200 are children," says Galloway. "Our mission is to end hunger and homelessness in Lee County by addressing the root causes and finding sustainable solutions to achieve long term success for our clients."

CCMI's Everyday Cafe and Marketplace concept makes food more easily available to everyone in our community who is hungry. The market model also decreases the stigma associated with standing in a line for a hot meal or groceries.