With 2012 shaping up to be the most successful year yet for the "Peek At The Unique" house tour, Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva credits the success to the sponsors, contributors, homeowners and volunteers who made it all possible.
Now in its 11th year, the annual tour is the main fundraiser for Zonta. As numbers stand right now, the club expects this year's Peek donations to top $84,000. Virtually all of it goes to local and international organizations that work to improve the lives of needy women and girls. The money is awarded in the form of grants by the Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida, the club's fundraising arm.
"The success of the Zonta Peek at the Unique would not have happened without the support of our business sponsors, our benefactors, our food contributors, our homeowners and the many helping hands of the members of the community," said Peek co-chair Linda Robison. "On behalf of Zonta, I am pleased to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you."
Lee County Sheriff's Lt. Joe Pappalardo donated seven hours of his time to direct traffic outside one of the Peek at the Unique tour homes.
The heart of the event was the four extraordinary houses featured on the tour, courtesy of the generous homeowners who opened their homes to nearly 600 "Peekers," as tour participants are called. Susen and Jim Berg of Captiva, and Sanibel homeowners Rita and Stephen Jaeger, Ed and Carol Garske and Jack Claypoole and Paul Paglia all earned the grateful admiration of island Zontians for their whole-hearted participation.
House sponsors, who contributed $2,000 each, include Captiva resident Joan Sherman, multiple-year sponsors Gulf Breeze Cottages, Sanibel Home Furnishings, and 11-year sponsor Sanibel/Captiva Trust Company deserve kudos for stepping up to support the Peek, said organizers.
About 200 area businesses and contributors came through with support in the form of donations, ads featured in the keepsake program, and coupons distributed to Peekers on the day of the event. Area businesses and individuals donated raffle items, food and beverages.
The Peek would not have come together were it not for the volunteers who donated time and energy preparing for the event and on the day of Peek. Ninety-three volunteers, including 54 Zontians, four members-in-waiting, 17 "Z-men" (usually spouses of Zontians) and eight helpers from Sanibel Community Housing & Resources (CHR) and Friends in Service Here (F.I.S.H.) donated nearly 700 hours working the event.
Some, like Lieutenant Joe Pappalardo of the Lee County Sherriff's Department, went beyond what was asked of them. Lt. Pappalardo delighted the club by providing at no cost seven hours of his time directing traffic in front of the Berg house on Captiva.
"Everyone worked hard in great spirits and it clearly was a community effort," said Jan Alden, volunteer coordinator.
This fall, deliberations will begin on how to distribute the funds. Last year, more than $54,000 was awarded in local grants and $18,500 to Zonta International.
The Zonta Club is a service organization of professional women working together to provide hands-on assistance, advocacy and funds to strengthen women's lives on the islands, in Lee County and around the world through Zonta International. For more information, visit www.zontasancap.com.