Friday, January 28, 2022

Noontime Rotary Announces Spirit of Marco Honorees

The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island is proud to announce that Jim Richards, Joe Swaja, Joy of Giving Organization and Paul Tateo were selected as the recipients of the 2019 Spirit of Marco Island Award.

Jim Richards was taken by complete surprise at a recent Marco Island Center for the Arts event when a group of Rotarians from the Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club made the announcement of his Spirit Award selection in front of a group of nearly 100 attendees.

Richards, who is currently the President of the Board for the Marco Island Center for the Arts, is also a member of the Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island, where he serves on the College Scholarship Committee. In addition, he is on the Board of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation and the Marco Island Police Foundation. He is an avid community volunteer and supporter of many local civic organizations and events that include: the YMCA, Meals of Hope, Christmas Island Style, Our Daily Bread Pantry, and Marco Island Historical Society, to name a few.  

Joe Swaja was also taken aback by the surprise announcement in front of a large crowd at a recent Knights of Columbus Social at the San Marco Catholic Church Parish Hall.

Swaja is the current Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, he’s a Past President and current member of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, serves as the Vice President of the Marco Island Police Foundation and also serves on Commissioner Donna Fiala’s Island Advisory Board. In addition, Swaja serves on the Board of Directors for the Marco Island Civic Association in charge of Governmental Affairs and in the past for many years he served as the Chairman of the Collier County Productivity Board.

At a recent Rotary Club luncheon meeting, the Joy of Giving organization, which for the past 30 years has raised funds to provide Christmas gifts to local children, was recognized with the Spirit of Marco Island Award for their service to families in need. Nicki Davis, who first started the organization in 1988 and still serves as its official leader, was joined by volunteer board members Gayle Collins, Debbie Divita and Val Simon to accept the award on behalf of the organization and its many volunteers.

Joy of Giving has grown from adopting one family in 1988 who were provided gifts for Christmas, to now serving over 1,200 children each year during the holidays.

Nicki Davis acknowledged and thanked the Island Country Club and its members for their incredible generosity, as they provide more than 50% of the funding for Joy of Giving each year, in addition, they provide a turkey dinner for all the families that are served. Funds are also donated by local businesses and organizations including the Rotary Club of Marco Island. Joy of Giving is proud of the fact that 100% of the funds collected goes directly to the children, they have no paid staff and all administrative costs are covered by in kind donations.

Paul Tateo who is a long-time Marco Island resident and Realtor for forty years was recognized for his many years of civic service to many island organizations.

A group of noontime Rotary Club members interrupted a recent St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Vestry Board Meeting to make the surprise presentation.

Tateo is a Past President of the YMCA, currently serves on the Board of the Marco Island Historical Society, was one of the original founders of the Marco Island Charter Middle School. He’s also a Past President of the Friends of Rookery Bay, Past President of the Sunrise Rotary Club and was recognized as Realtor of the Year. He has also served on numerous other civic organizations, including on the Vestry Board of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, along with being the Treasurer of Camp Able, a week-long camp for people of special needs that is sponsored and hosted by St. Mark’s church.

All of the recipients were moved by the recognition and expressed their humble gratitude.

All of the honorees will be formally presented with their 2019 Spirit of Marco Island Award at the 11th Annual Spirit of Marco Island Gala Awards Dinner and Silent Auction to be held on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at the Bistro Soleil Restaurant.

This gala event recognizes individuals and organizations that are civically involved in the community through their contribution of time, talent and financial support to the community.

For more information and tickets for this event contact Al Diaz at 438-5285 or

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