By Commissioner Ray Sandelli
As in most every New Year we started 2020 with hope and optimism. The economy was strong powered by growth in most sectors, job opportunities drove unemployment to historic lows, and we approached each day with great collective purpose.
Suddenly, an unknown virus quickly became a worldwide pandemic. Factual information was at best inconsistent, news coverage was non-stop, our medical system was under siege, and the initial response was to isolate and shut down. Our world changed. As one of your County Commissioners I am acutely aware of the stress and suffering of so many of our residents in Lehigh Acres and in Eastern Lee County. By no fault of their own life has become ever more challenging. A trip to the grocery store, the payment of mortgages-rent, utilities and the safety of our families causes great stress. The long lines at Food Distribution sites in the community is a sign that our neighbors are in need. The loss of a job or jobs within a family or with individuals is traumatic.
As the American people have in the past however, we rise up, assess the challenges and started to think beyond ourselves for solutions. The issues are many and they persist but we are moving forward. The incredible dedication of our medical and first responders has been heroic. The innovation at every level to help adapt has been truly amazing, and the daily outreach to help meet the very personal needs within our community is the best in who we are. I think it is clear we often learn more from adversity than success.
Now as we approach mid-year, our collective efforts have served to stabilize and decrease the effects of the virus. Stay diligent. With that our Governor and our communities have begun to recognize that we are ready for a phased re-opening and getting back to business. We are all in the process of creating a balance of the realities of the virus and the hard work ahead to re-energizing our economy.
To help in that effort Lee County received a direct allocation $135,000,000 from the State of Florida.
Those Phase 1 Funds have been divided into five categories:
• Rent, Mortgage & Utility assistance
• Business Relaunch
• Childcare Support
• Food Pantry support
• PPE Supplies
At our BOCC meeting on 5/19 I was able to propose, and it was unanimously approved, that we add an additional $7.5M to this first Phase 1 allocation for a total of $57.5M. The programs are set to launch May 26th. Check the website: www.leeflcares.com
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-533-2223. The time is to look ahead. We are stronger together.