Fran Peters, owner of Island Vacations, is delighted to have a key employee who lives on Sanibel.
"In the vacation property rental business, it's a huge asset having someone actually live on the island for the occasional emergency," she said. "Allen Dunham coordinates the cleaning and maintenance of all our properties, and is my only employee who lives on island. It gives me great peace of mind to have him here."
Dunham came to Sanibel from Illinois in 1998, and the moment he set foot on the island knew he wanted to live here. He quickly found work in the hospitality industry, but could only afford to rent off-island until he qualified for Community Housing & Resources (CHR) affordable housing a year later.
Allen Dunham confers with Fran Peters about an inspection report. PHOTO PROVIDED.
Living on island also allows Dunham to indulge his love for the natural environment and volunteer for activities such as the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation's sea turtle program. As a permittee, he is licensed to assist with sea turtle strandings and nest monitoring. He has also helped SCCF with shorebird nest monitoring, plus bobcat and gopher tortoise surveys, and he reports to the Audubon eagle watch program on the eagle nest across the street from his office.
Dunham is grateful to CHR for enabling him to be part of the fabric of Sanibel, and Peters is happy to have a true "island boy" on her staff.
"When he applied for the job in 2005 and the interview was complete, I asked if he had any other questions. Most would ask about benefits, hours of work or pay scale, but Allen's most pressing question was whether he had to wear shoes to work!"
CHR is a non-profit organization that has partnered for more than 30 years with the City of Sanibel to provide affordable housing for people who live and/or work on the island, plus senior and disabled Sanibel citizens. With more than 117 residents occupying 74 rental units and 14 limited-equity ownership homes in 11 complexes throughout the island, CHR is an essential resource for those who provide the services all islanders want to enjoy. CHR residents contribute in numerous ways to island life and often volunteer for/lead island organizations.
CHR depends on donations to help cover the ongoing maintenance, refurbishment, and repair of CHR buildings and grounds, and will hold their second annual Mardi Gras fundraiser on March 1, 2014. For more information about CHR, visit sanibelchr.org, stop by their office at 2401 Library Way, or phone 472-1189.