River Oaks Preserve Now Open to Residents

Purchased by the Village of Estero, River Oaks Preserve has been under the management of the Coccoloba chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society for about a year. Pristine and undeveloped acreage was full of natural vegetation and local wildlife, and also overrun with invasive species while lacking water, electricity, restrooms or storage buildings — a raw canvas on which Coccoloba has worked its magic already.

 “Most noteworthy, we have opened our retail nursery on site for residents to purchase native plants for their own natural and Florida native landscaping,” said Coccoloba President Marlene Rojak.

Popular plants include native bottle brush, lantana and over a dozen ground covers under 18 inches to start replacing grass with ground covers more friendly to irrigation, pollinators and wildlife. Volunteers do everything with the exception of professional invasive species removal and infrastructure requiring professionals to meet codes, such as electricity and a solar well pump. Presently, there are restrooms, water, electricity and storage buildings completed.

Wildlife sightings might include gopher tortoises, bobcats, multiple birds, bunnies and butterfly species. Master gardeners and knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to share best practices for natural methods of gardening and landscaping in business and at home. For more information, visit www.fnpscoccoloba.org or www.estero-fl.gov or call 239-273-8945. The retail nursery is open Sunday and Tuesday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


Copperleaf Sewing Bee Brings Smiles to Hospitalized Children

Copperleaf Sewing Bee

Copperleaf Sewing Bee

Once a year, the Copperleaf Clubhouse in The Brooks is home to a sewing bee that produces almost 200 pillowcases and 30 blankets for children ages 0-18 who are receiving medical care. The pillowcases are the accidental calling that began 12 years ago for resident Rae Ann McCall after she read online about an organization named “A Case for Smiles.” McCall sent out a notice about her plans to make pillowcases, and about 40 women responded.

“Throughout the year, I search out the materials for the cases that are joyful and full of the characters, animals and symbols with bright colors that appeal to children of all ages,” said McCall. After completion, the pillowcases are delivered to Golisano Children’s Hospital as a gift for children to use and then take home.

Some women who could not sew also wanted to help, so no-sew blankets with knotted fringe edges are now part of the kits. Cases and blankets also go to Ronald McDonald House and the ACT women’s shelter. Copperleaf Charitable Foundation purchases the supplies and the women of Copperleaf provide the sewing, cutting and tying that bring smiles to children.


Find Tips at Lee Health’s Emergency Preparedness Website

Lee Health Emergency Info

Lee Health Emergency Information

Lee Health launched a new disaster preparedness tool in June that is easy to follow and chock full of advice at https://www.leehealth.org/emergency-preparedness, launched by Lee Health in June.

 “Lee Health’s mission to create a healthy and well community aligns with keeping the community healthy through knowledge and education,” said Chris Simoneau, chief of development marketing and communications officer for Lee Health. “The website provides preparedness information for most public health emergencies including air and water quality, infectious diseases, and the largest component now is hurricanes.”

This one-stop location includes community partner resources from Lee County, the City of Fort Myers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as additional emergency action plans and helpful links and phone numbers. Topics include managing medicines and medical equipment in any public emergency, access to telehealth through the Lee Health application, and step-by-step emergency plans, including Plan B for needed resources, an escape route, batteries, flashlights and emergency staples.  Being prepared in advance helps reduce stress, save lives and move toward recovery.


Lee Health University Highlands Open for Outpatient Care

Lee Health New Schultze Cancer Center

Lee Health New Schultze Cancer Center

The newly opened Lee Health University Highlands is a two-story facility located at 19511 Highland Oaks Drive in Estero, offering outpatient services on the first floor and Lee Physician Group Primary Care services on the second floor. Outpatient services available include women’s health services, imaging (ultrasound and X-ray), physical therapy, and lab services with no appointment necessary.

At another local Lee Health location, The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic will celebrate its grand opening with a community open house at the Bonita Community Center on Friday, Sept.15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (3501 Health Center Blvd., Bonita Springs). The new oncology and infusion center, part of the Lee Health Cancer Institute, brings greater access to cancer services. See www.leehealth.org for more information.


Laser Lounge raises $23,000 for orphan care

The second annual Klimbing for Kids fundraising campaign held at The Laser Lounge Spa raised $23,000 in support of Haven of Hope International’s transformative Future of Hope program.

“The Klimbing for Kids initiative has not only captivated the hearts of countless individuals in the Fort Myers-Estero area but has also served as a beacon of hope for orphaned children that are cared for in our partner orphan care homes,” explained Haven of Hope Founder Alice Sweet.

The Laser Lounge Spa owners Jonathan and April Sigg said they are proud to support orphan care and want to show the importance of giving back. To date, The Laser Lounge has donated a total of $45,000 through its fundraising efforts. As a result, Haven of Hope was able to award 41 scholarships to young adults from orphan care partner homes in Bolivia and Kenya, opening life-changing opportunities for education and a brighter future, Skaff said.

For more information about Haven of Hope International, Klimbing for Kids or the Future of Hope program, visit https://bit.ly/KFK2023Scholarships.

Laser Lounge check to HOH

Laser Lounge check to HOH

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