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Local groups lend a hand

September 20, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The 7 Slot Social Club and students from Florida Gulf Coast University teamed up last week to help islanders get a head-start on their yardwork.

Hurricane Irma downed many trees and large limbs around the island. Without a chainsaw or a few sets of extra hands, cleaning it up could have been an impossible task.

A group of FGCU students joined forces with one of the beach's Jeep clubs to help out around the island.

Article Photos

FGCU students Logan Halbritter, Justin Nessel, Lawrence Waters, Kammie Conrad and Esta Minaie came to the beach last week to help clean up.

"The sooner we help each other, the sooner things get back to normal," said Lawrence Waters, who is pursuing a graduate degree in physical therapy. He was still without power Thursday, but that didn't hold him up.

Undergraduates at FGCU are required to put in volunteer hours, but grad students are not. The five graduate students helping out Thursday didn't have to fill in a service requirement; they just wanted to help out.

John Wallace had no idea he was getting any help with his home on Donora Boulevard. His property was a jungle of debris.

"I tried to do it myself on Monday," he said. "But I'm turning 82 next month."

Wallace evacuated to Fort Myers during the storm to stay in a newer building. His home was built in the 1950s, and he was happy to see it still standing when he returned. But then, the workload and the heat caught up to him.

"My neighbor said people were coming who wanted to help," Wallace said. "It's amazing."

The 7 Slot club continued its work on the beach through the weekend; the group of FGCU students said they were planning on helping out around the county, where ever needed a hand.

Esta Minaie is a former student of Renee Jeffreys Heil, who teaches at FGCU and is one of the 7 Slot founders. When Minaie heard the beach needed help, she reached out to Heil to see what she could do.

"I was okay, I made sure my family and friends were okay, and then I just wanted to help the community get back to normal," she said.



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