by Karen Coney Coplin
There’s a new face in town – or, actually, many faces- all of whom comprise a newly launched not-for profit, the Collier Resource Center. If you haven’t heard about it, the organization will host an upcoming “Friendraising” event later this month or in early April, 2017 as an introduction to the Naples community.
What is the Collier Resource Center? This organization is, in large part, the brainchild of a longtime Naples resident, Nina Gray, who has been a part of the Naples non-profit community as a professional and as a committed volunteer. As a retired CEO and Chief Advancement Officer for several well-regarded organizations such as the Neighborhood Health Clinic, she observed first-hand that many potential clients of human service organizations encountered a variety of barriers prior to getting the help they need.
For instance, low-income clients often had issues with reliable transportation. If they were lucky enough to have a car or access to one, it could be that no gas money was available -in the endless shifting of limited financial resources from one“need” to the next.
Sometimes, language was a barrier too. Issues of general literacy and computer literacy created barriers to effective communication about the array of services which are available in the Naples community. The lack of access to the internet often is a problem. As Ms. Gray pointed out, “A typical client does not own a computer, nor, has ‘unlimited access’ even if they own a smart phone” – which, frequently, they do not. Thus, even though many social service agencies exist to help those with the greatest needs, there were many barriers in connecting with prospective clients.
It is Ms. Gray’s knowledge of and passion for our community that led her to co-found the Collier Resource Center. This organization, by utilizing trained local volunteers, assist clients with navigating the maze of health and human service organizations. She stated, “Our volunteers know this community, have a genuine desire to improve the quality of life for our residents, and are able to dig deeper until they find what is needed.” One grateful client said, “Thank you for not giving up on me.”
The Collier Resource Center shares office space with the Senior Friendship Center and Healthcare Network of SWFL at 2355 Stanford Court. It provides confidential services for which there is no charge. How can you help those in need? By donating or volunteering, of course! If you speak Spanish or Creole, and have some time to spare, give them a call. Do you know a graphic artist (maybe a student looking for public service hours?) – let them know you can help. Or, if you are a whiz with public outreach, those with marketing or public relations backgrounds can also step in to lend a hand.
Other “wish list” items include client-tracking software; case management volunteers, and donations. The organization is planning to meet the community at large at their first“ Friendraiser” on a date soon to be established. Please contact Nina Gray at 239.777.5341 or the CRC at 239.434.2030 or online, www.collierresourcecenter.org, to find out how you can help, or, if you know of someone in need of their help, and, to receive an invitation to their Friendraiser event. Karen Coney Coplin has lived in Naples, FL., since 1994 after growing up in upstate N.Y. Please email her at NaplesKCC@gmail.com to suggest a local organization for future coverage in this column.