Fort Myers’ Community Cooperative moved into their new facilities by Christmas thanks in part to the generosity of local company Storm Smart.

The non-profit organization has spent nearly the past decade in modular buildings donated by the Lee County School District. Over that time, the buildings have been rebuilt multiple times, according to Community Cooperative Executive Director Stefanie Edwards, “Both of the modular buildings are vital to our mission to end hunger and homelessness, one holds our Community Market food pantry and the other is my Social Services and Education Resource Center.”

With the cost of repairs outweighing the value of the buildings, the organization decided it was finally time to replace the current dwellings. It purchased two new modular buildings for its location on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fort Myers intending to be in the new buildings by Christmas, “We have more than doubled our space which we needed to keep up with the demand.”

As the transition to move from the old buildings to the new dwellings moved along, the organization discovered just a few short weeks ago to receive the OK by the City of Fort Myers to move into the new buildings, hurricane protection would need to be installed.

Under a time crunch to get the new buildings operational by Christmas, Edwards reached out to Storm Smart’s executive chairman and founder Brian Rist to see if it were possible to purchase hurricane protection and expedite the installation process to meet the Thanksgiving deadline.
Hearing the cooperative needed the products and knowing the impact the organization makes on the community, Rist did the organization one better, “The Community Cooperative does amazing work for those less fortunate in our community. I wanted to do what we could do to help their cause,” explained Rist.

The help came in the form of Storm Smart donating the $10,000 worth of the company’s Storm Catcher hurricane screens needed to cover both buildings. In all, the company installed the screens on 19 openings helping ensure they are protected in the event a hurricane or other significant storm impacts Southwest Florida. Despite only having a few short weeks to manufacture and install the screens, Rist also guaranteed the company would have the screens installed in time for the organization to move along with their Christmas move-in schedule uninterrupted.

Edwards says it is the generosity of Storm Smart and other local businesses like them, which help the Community Cooperative meet their mission of helping those in our community less fortunate, particularly during the holiday season, “This entire project would not have been possible without the support from so many of our local businesses. We are overwhelmed with gratitude and are grateful to now have the facilities we need to help even more families in crisis here in SWFL.”

For Storm Smart, Rist says it was another way for his company to make an impact on the community they call home, “It is all about helping out others. Since day one that is what we have been about and will continue to be. We are just we were able to help out.”

About Community Cooperative

Community Cooperative is an innovative nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of social service entrepreneurs fighting to end homelessness and hunger in the community. In 2018, the agency assisted over 27,000 Lee County residents through its Community Cafés, Community Market, Community & School Mobile Pantries and the Meals on Wheels program, as well as homeless and comprehensive case management services through its Social & Education Resource Centers.