Interfaith Charities of South Lee (ICSL) is a community service organization serving the residents of South Fort Myers, Estero, and San Carlos Park.
Our mission is to feed the hungry and provide help and hope for those in need. The food pantry is our main program. Dry goods and perishables are donated by local merchants, HOAs, church food drives, and individuals. We also receive food from the Harry Chapin Food Bank and Midwest Food Bank. A grant from United Way of Lee, Hendry Glades and Okeechobee funds our financial assistance program that pays utility bills, rents and mortgages for clients.
97% of our cash and in-kind donations are used directly for program activities.
WHO WE ARE
Interfaith Charities was formed in 1992 by the San Carlos Park/Estero Ministerial Association. At that time, the founding churches were looking for a way to more effectively provide assistance to those in need in this community. Our service area was established south of Gladiolus Road and extending to Coconut Road in Estero.
Our original programs focused mostly on the needs of the elderly - respite care, meals on wheels, parish nursing, transportation to medical appointments, and some minor home repairs. Over the years, as the demographics changed, the services at ICSL changed as well.
Now our main programs focus on feeding the hungry. We receive donations from local stores, food banks, businesses, churches, communities, and individuals, and we also purchase fresh produce and dairy items. Our clients have access to the perishable items and shelf-stable items once a week. We also assist our clients applying for the SNAP (aka food stamps) and Medicaid.
Additionally, we have a financial assistance program that assists our clients in paying past-due utility bills, rent, and mortgage payments. This often requires us to pool financial resources with other agencies to meet those needs. For the past 12 years we have also been a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site. This program is open to anyone who makes under $70,000 per year.
A year ago the coronavirus greatly impacted our lives as well as the mission of Interfaith Charities. After a brief shut down, we reopened with a new design and implemented a new way of doing business while keeping our clients, volunteers, and team members safe. Despite our challenges, we continue to see reasons for hope in the year ahead!