An Update From Kathryn Kelly

Rising 4th grader Chris sums it up best “I’m so glad we’re at The Heights Center where we get to learn and do important things.”

Summer Camp amid COVID 19 means small groups, mask-wearing, temperature checks, frequent hand-washing, and lots of sanitizers and disinfectants. Providing a safe place for our Heights kids to thrive and learn has taken on a new meaning during this time.

I am extremely grateful for the kindness and generosity so many have shown to us. You make it possible to do our work in Harlem Heights; keeping families sheltered and fed, and kids safe and learning.

Summer School/Camp

“Can we have school this summer?” Who would imagine Kevin, or any elementary student, asking to have school in the middle of summer vacation?
• The Center currently has 57 elementary students with us from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
• Because so many students had difficulty maintaining their learning in the last 9 weeks of the school year, students spend several hours every day working on their reading and math skills in small groups.
• Since it is summer vacation, the kids practice their skills in fun ways. For example, one group will be putting on a play – having spent several weeks practicing their reading and comprehension skills learning their lines.
• Need to work on your reading and writing skills? Join the kids in The Writing Club who are busy at work putting together their collection of COVID stories, aka When We Had to Do School At Home.
• When the kids aren’t working on strengthening their academic skills they are enjoying art, technology and sports activities.

Thanks to you, The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center continues to respond to meet the needs of families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood during the COVID-19 crisis.

Food Distribution programs:

The Heights Center partnered with 4 organizations, Farm Share USA, Community Cooperative, Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the We Have Your Back program to provide groceries and meals to Harlem Heights Residents.

• Farm Share USA, in coordination with Senator Benacquisto’s office, hosted a food distribution event that provided fresh produce to approximately 450 families on April 16, 2020.
• Community Cooperative’s Mobile Food Pantry facilitated 6 food distribution events at the Center between March 2020 and May 2020.
• Westminster Presbyterian Church donated and helped to distribute shelf stable groceries to families every Friday beginning in mid-May through June.
• The We Have Your Back Program partnered with local restaurants to provide Heights families with hot meals every Tuesday and Friday in May.
• Since March we have provided more than 2800 meals and nearly 500 bags of groceries.

Additionally:

• Several of you provided funding to help Heights families with rent, childcare, utilities, home repairs, car payments, car repairs, etc.
• Lorraine and Gary at Gulfshore Cooling stepped up to provide a new HVAC system for a Heights grandmother. Thank you!

Back to School 2020 outreach update:

• We anticipate providing 580 students in K-12 with school supplies on Saturday, July 25 at The Heights Center.
• You have been so generous! Organizations and businesses currently collecting and donating supplies are FL Blue, Bell Tower Park, Crown Colony,Hertz- Revenue Management Team, Kelly Brothers Marine Construction, Owen Ames Kimball Company, Kelly Greens, Estero Island Chapter of NSDAR, Scotlynn Group, Jason’s Deli-Reflection Lakes, State Farm, Temple Judea, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Zion Lutheran Church, Peace Lutheran Church, ReMax Realty Group, ABC Young Professionals Group, and Fort Myers High School NHS.*
• Donations are currently being accepted at The Heights Center Monday-Friday from 9AM-5PM.
• Monetary donations are accepted directly on the Foundation’s website.
• Checks can also be mailed to The Heights Center (15570 Hagie Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908

*In addition to collecting school supplies, members of the Fort Myers High School National Honor Society are also donating canned goods and clothing to The Heights Center. This campaign began the week of June 29 and is expected to continue through the end of the summer.

Harlem Heights Community Charter School:

• We look forward to welcoming our fifth-grade class in August. The school will now serve K-5, with 151 students enrolled.

GLAD Kids:

• GLAD Kids is serving 54 children, and we expect that number to continue to rise.
• Children are in small groups, washing hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces & toys multiple times a day, and taking a lot of extra precautions.

Construction of The Heights Education Center:
Future home of The Harlem Heights Community Charter School and
GLAD Kids Early Learning Center

• We are on schedule to open for the school year, August 10.
Click here to see a really cool time-lapse video of our progress.
Click here to view more construction photos.
• The building is beautiful! and it’s unfortunate that COVID has kept us from having our planned Hard Hat tours. Email me if you’d like a private tour.
• I do look forward to showing off our Education Center in the near future.

As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Heights Foundation, we are so proud of the accomplishments of our Heights families that YOU made possible! Stay tuned for more details.