Every summer, the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva, through its foundation, invites applications from 501(c)(3) organizations in Lee County for grants to be awarded early the following year. Those selected become Zonta “partners,” each with a club member as liaison.
And every March since 2002, Zonta has raised grant funds through “A Peek at the Unique,” the home tour. In January 2020, Zonta distributed $104,700 from its 2019 Peek to 16 local partners, including Community Housing and Resources (CHR), F.I.S.H., Habitat for Humanity, and a dozen more.
Despite cancellation of the 2020 Peek last March, out of concerns for health and safety, funds for distribution in January 2021—while reduced—were available through the generosity of benefactors, sponsors, and 2020 tour ticket-buyers. Zonta is proud to introduce some of the wonderful organizations supported by these funds.
Meet Pace Center for Girls Lee County, part of a statewide system. In 2007 Pace Lee opened its doors to at-risk girls at the junior high and high school level, those struggling at school, in foster care, or in the judicial system due to domestic abuse and neglect, parental incarceration, substance abuse, and more. Pace offers a better future through education, counseling, and advocacy, changing their life trajectory. “At Pace,” said one student, “you can step off the path you are on and find a new path to success.”
The girls experience year-round middle school and high school academics, individual case management, counseling services, and life skill coaching in a gender-responsive environment. Girls who were failing in school improve academically, find their voices and achieve their potential. They typically return to high school with better grades or graduate from Pace and move forward with a plan for their future: 96% of Pace girls remain crime free, 88% improve academically, and 95% are in school, higher education or employed a year after leaving the program.
Zontians have volunteered both at the Center and at Pace’s signature fundraisers, Love that Dress and the Grand Dames Tea, and have helped design and implement skill-building programs for girls in transition. In 2021, Zonta funds will support Earning Through Learning, an incentive program that lets the girls earn points for purchases at the Center’s Point Store, attend special meals, and go on field trips. Explained Zontian Jan Alden: “Earning Through Learning is the foundation of Pace’s positive behavior modification system to encourage, empower, and transform these young women.”
The current focus for Zonta is the upcoming “Peek at the Unique Repurposed,” set to begin on March 1, 2021. To learn more and to support Zonta’s work, visit www.ZontaSanCap.org.