The very full and intense day started with the bus ride to St. Matthew’s House.  Ernie Bretzmann discussed the history and amazing growth of nonprofits in Collier County.  The very competent panel members, Mary Ellen Barrett (Class X) and Rick Fumo (Class XIV), discussed the difficulties and successes of coordination, collaboration and funding among so many varied and overlapping agencies.

 Then, Cynthia Rodriguez-Schweisthal and Rev.Vann Ellison discussed “Homelessness and Hunger.”

 A highlight was the tour of St. Matthews.  Then the bus moved the group on to the impressive Shelter for Abused Women and Children, a model for the rest of the U.S.

 Linda Oberhaus, the inspiring Executive Director of the Shelter gave a heartwarming talk about how the Shelter protects and cares for the victims of abuse, including even pets.

 A panel dealt with the sad, costly teen pregnancy in Collier County, and the difficulty of getting these young girls through high school without second pregnancies.  The Nurse Consultant and the lead teacher and social worker from the County’s Alternative Schools in Naples and Immokalee represented the County. Char Wendel, the dynamic CEO of Planned Parenthood, discussed its programs for mother/daughter communication and for programs to help girls with self-esteem.

 Following lunch catered by St. Matthews and a Shelter tour, the group moved on to the Boys and Girls Club.  After a welcome by Theresa Shaw (President) and Kate Little (Curriculum Coordinator), the panel, including Jay Cook (Class XV) and Rosanne Winter discussed Youth Haven, and Todd Foege presented the Naples Children and Education Foundation. Mental Health issues were addressed by David Schimmel and Carol Shaw (Class IX) from the David Lawrence Center.

 Still another panel, including Mary George (Class IX) described the new Collier 211, the Victim and Senior Advocacy Unit, and the Collier Senior Resources.

 The entire group wrapped up at McCabe’s Irish Pub with a needed drink, compliments of the session leaders, Tom Gamber, Mike Isermann, Rusty Troth and Barbara Levine.

 Barbara Levine

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