By Charlene Golden
Last year’s Easter Egg Hunt at Christ United Methodist Church sparked the formation of a whole new organization for the people and groups of Lehigh Acres.
Love Lehigh is now an organization for groups in the area to come together and share information on their events and programs, and even build off of what others are doing. It was found at the egg hunt that many groups had the same goals and were doing the same types of things with no knowledge of each other.
“We share what we are doing and how we can help each other,” said the church’s administrator Charlene Golden. “We didn’t realize that we were all doing activities on the same day or duplicating activities. We are building on each other.”
An example of this was groups such as churches, Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lehigh Community Services found that they were duplicating each other’s ideas, and now can collab to make the events even stronger.
There are approximately 30 groups invited to Love Lehigh’s meetings held February, May, and August to share their activities.
“We are here for the community, especially for families with children,” said Golden. “Lehigh Acres is growing, and the community is not aware of what is available right here. Any other service organizations that want to join us, they are welcome to the next meeting.”
At our last meeting, two young men from Life Designers with the goal of starting up a financial help group came to see how they could fit into the community and how they can help. Pastor Nick Yantorn and his family ministry team from Rise Christian Church also attended. Pastor Nick is interested in collaborating with the organizations that have food pantries after finding out that many organizations offer this service in Lehigh Acres.
Goodwill, who is working on expanding their Job Link services, also has attended. They are working on helping with immigration papers and literacy classes for the community, according to Golden.
Another example of how meetings bring people together, Christ United Methodist Church is in the planning stages with the YMCA to provide an after-school program in the fall with the idea of possibly establishing a summer camp program as well.
Golden explained how she wanted to bring the sense of community back into Lehigh. She said when she first moved here 24 years ago, information about what was happening was easy to find, and she wants to bring that aspect back for the future of the community.
At the meetings, people can bring flyers, brochures, and business cards to give out and share. The most recent meeting lasted about two hours as people stayed to network with each other. “We had a really good time,” Golden said.
One group involved in Love Lehigh, Lehigh Community Services attends the meetings looking for assistance for their various projects, such as their backpack event in July with registrations beginning in June. Other people caught the interest and decided to help out with the Rotary Club’s Rock, Brews, and Blues event.
The Sheriff’s Department and Lehigh Acres Fire Department had flyers on summer programs for youth that they sponsor and summer safety tips.
Mark your calendars for the next Love Lehigh meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at Christ United Methodist Church, 1430 Homestead Rd. N. Bring your list of activities from August through January, especially your fall and Christmas events. For more information, call (239) 369-1433 or email email@example.com.