Our Kids VIP After School Program, created in the late 90's, was a response to the call to nurture children in a safe and caring environment after school. The children are attended by trained leaders at the Beach Elementary School in Fort Myers Beach. VIP, the acronym known as Very Important Person underscores our intention to foster self confidence in children. VIP accentuates the purpose of our program, V - for a Vision of children being cared for in a loving environment, I - for intervention, without adult supervision, children may become involved in unsafe and destructive behaviors. P - Prevention, the most important element of the program is to provide a disciplined environment. Children receive help completing homework, provided activities and games which foster creativity. Fridays, the VIP children have an outing either on the beach or at the pool.
The VIP program directed and administered by the New Church of Southwest Florida enjoys the support of many Fort Myers Beach community fund raisers throughout the year. VIP director Ms Debbie Dunlap works closely with Reverend Gabriella and a group of volunteers who devote their time to provide a safe and caring environment for the children.
Registration is required for this program. Call the church office for more information.
Opportunities for volunteering are available in the VIP program. Volunteers must undergo a background check and participate in observation and training.
Almost two weeks ago, I spent the entire day meeting contestants at Nervous Nellie’s, the starting and ending point for the Put & Pub Crawl. It was the most perfect day one could wish in Fort Myers Beach. Not only was it sunny not too hot or cold, just as the Almanac predicted, but the day was perfected by the smiles and general good spirit of the teams gathering for a day of putting and pubbing. Ms Debbi Dunlap, the Director of the VIP After School Program, Rev Dick Tafel and I handed out packets and wished the teams good-luck. Ms Debbie, offered smiley face stickers to everyone, “no matter what happens”, she said, “you’ll have your smile on”. It turned out to be true. Smiles and laughter were everywhere. There was rivalry, yes, spirited conversations, indeed, about the scores at putting holes, but never disgruntlement. In the afternoon, teams returned with more glow than when the day started. It felt like a party. The teams were asked to name their favorite Pub. Some were democratic, discussing and voting for their favorite putting hole. In some cases the individual turning in the score card voted for all. While Nervous Nellies was the winner, one participant said about Nervous Nellie’s, “I loved the challenge”, some votes went to Nemo’s, because the owners were very nice. Being “nice” may not have won, but it made me want to go there just to get to know those nice people. Being my first time with this fundraiser, the generosity of the contestants simply amazed me. The announcements of the winning team, the most favored pub, best dressed team and the winner of the 50/50 drawing were the highlights of the day. Cheering for the winners rose to a crescendo. It was ecstatic chaos in that upper room. I loved every minute of it. I had fun thanking the participants and the organizers. The food was wonderful. I take this opportunity to give special thanks to the participating pubs; Gulfshore Grill, Nemo’s, Pierside, Beach Whale, the Mermaid, the Surf Club, Habitat for Harmony, Matanzas, & Nervous Nellie’s. Thank you, and kudos, to Paula and Larry Kiker and the committee that organized this event. A huge thanks goes to all the participants.
The funds raised in this event will benefit the children in the VIP After School program sponsored by the New Church of Southwest Florida. I relay the children’s thank you in this picture.
See you on the beach,
VIP KIDS Summer Camp begins its second year under Ms Debbie Dunlap's Direction. This summer, John Heim will serve as co-director together, they will offer a fun filled summer program. The VIP Kids Summer Camp mission is to provide a safe and nurturing place where children can connect with the environment. Registrations begin this week for eight weeks of camp beginning on May 28. Each week has a specific theme but the overall focus is for children learn while they are having fun. Each day has lots of fun in the sun activities and creative projects. Field trips are planned for one day each week. Children meet at Beach Elementary in Fort Myers Beach, a short walk away from the pool and the beach. We are currently seeking volunteers who like to play and work with kids on creative projects. Please contact Ms Debbie Dunlap at (239) 677-7017 for more information.