Saturday, October 23, 2021

It Takes a Village

Parking for a good cause. Photo by Natalie Strom

Parking for a good cause. Photo by Natalie Strom

By Natalie Strom

I recently had the chance to enjoy a nice dinner on Marco Island. As I am usually serving people in the evenings, this was a rare treat. Unfortunately, my lovely evening was rudely interrupted by an intoxicated gentleman who claimed to live on Marco. He immediately began to talk to me as I sat down. “Where are you visiting from?” he asked, innocently enough. I explained that I lived here. “On Marco?” he continued. “No, I live in Goodland, actually,” was my reply. “Goodland?!?!?! If I lived in Goodland, I would be as useless as everyone there!” He shouted. I was shocked that he would think of the people of Goodland in this way. My view of the people on this island is anything but useless.

Goodland may only have a population of 400 or so but its peoples’ professions and livelihoods are greatly varied. Goodland is home to fishermen, artists, restaurant employees, marine biologists, karate instructors, computer technicians, business owners and much more. Not only do the people who work in Goodland work hard, but they volunteer hard. They are constantly helping to improve their village. One of the most useful and beneficial programs in Goodland is the Goodland Scholarship Fund.

This non-profit organization began in 1990 and has helped close to fifty kids from Goodland attend college or post-high school education. In order to receive money, students must live or have lived in Goodland. Each semester they must submit proof of their school enrollment and write a letter to the Goodland Scholarship Fund requesting financial aid. These letters, however, often reveal much more than the desire for money. Their gratitude and love of Goodland is often expressed. One such example comes from a letter written by a child of Goodland who is currently attending a Florida University. “My parents bought our home on Goodland when I was two and my brother was three. I love Goodland and all of its characters. It has opened my eyes to all types of people and made me the crazed fisherman I have become.”

The scholarship fund was started by a private non-profit group in Goodland called Village Productions of Goodland, Inc. A letter written in 1991 to the residents of Goodland explained their overall goal. “This organization will promote charitable, recreational and educational projects relating to community need… No monetary gain is made by ANY individual. ONLY the village gains. Help make it a better place to live while you are here. Volunteer.” And Goodlanders did. In 1990 The Village Place opened. This small pink cottage offered unique gifts for sale with the majority of its proceeds going to the Goodland Scholarship Fund. Unfortunately, The Village Place burned down a number of years later, and it became necessary to pursue new ways of raising money. Locals began to sell beer and hot dogs during the Mullet Festival each year. In recent years, the majority of fund raising has come from charging a $10 parking fee on Sundays to those who come to Goodland to party.

Other unique fundraisers are often held as well. One such event will be held at the Goodland Community Center on Friday, March 25th at 7:00 p.m. Andrea Willets, a resident of Goodland and Certified Professional CO-Active Coach will be hosting a one-woman show entitled “Sorry No More!” This interactive learning experience is for women and discusses the reasons why they are constantly apologizing even when it isn’t necessary. The show is free but any donations made will go to the Goodland Scholarship Fund.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. The people of Goodland truly understand this concept. Over the years many residents have taken their turn at fund raising and donating. Their only reward is knowing that they have helped future curators, horse breeders, marine scientists, yoga instructors and teachers achieve their dreams.

And as for the man who feels that the people of Goodland are useless, I challenge you to look at your own life and try to count the beneficial and useful things that you have achieved. If you can’t seem to think of anything that compares to how the people of Goodland take care of their own, might I suggest sending a donation to the Goodland Scholarship Fund? Any donations may be sent to the Goodland Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 717 Goodland FL, 34140.

If you would like to attend “Sorry No More” please call Andrea Willets at 860-460-9924 or email her at to register.

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