In my 35 years of being perpetually lost in the big city shuffle, I have never had the pleasure or privilege of witnessing unity and support within a neighborhood like I’ve experienced here.
On Saturday, Dec. 6, the small island community of Goodland came together in a very big way with a tremendous show of love and support for one of their own. Nearly 400 familiar faces gathered in Margood Harbor Park to participate in a benefit to raise money for 30-year beloved Goodland resident, Margie Fortune.
Two days before Thanksgiving, Margie was diagnosed with colon cancer, and immediately upon receiving the troubling news, her loved ones wanted to do something for the person they say has always been there for them. Two of her bestfriends, Celeste Navarro and Denise Santos, led the charge in organizing the benefit, and with the unanimous support of the island businesses and residents behind them, the whole thing came together in just five days.
“This happened in five days because this is Goodland and because it’s Margie; everybody loves Margie,” said Tara O’Neill, friend and local artist.
Following her diagnosis, Margie was quickly scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Thankfully, the procedure was an absolute success; she is now out of the hospital, back in Goodland, and 100 percent cancer free. Recovery will take some time, but to the relief of her friends and family, no chemotherapy is needed at this time.
The outcome of the fundraiser measured above and beyond what anyone could havehoped for. More than $6,000 was raised at the initial benefit; the total raised to date has well surpassed the $10,000 mark, and the donations just keep rolling in. Food was provided by The Red Rooster, with hamburgers and hotdogs served up compliments of the Little Bar, where Margie has worked as a waitress for more than 30 years. A silent auction filled with an array of items contributed by local artists and businesses amassed a healthy majority of the total funds raised. Even local musicians, Jim and Merrill Allen, volunteered their time and talents to entertain fundraiser attendees.
“It’s such an outpouring of love for someone who always leads with her heart,” said Noreen Seegers, Goodland Civic Association board member and family friend.
“I just can’tthank everybody enough for the support they’ve given us. This is what Goodland is about. If somebody’s hurting, this town comes together like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Margie’s husband, John Hackett.
“Margie is the one who’s always there for the community, for each individual, and now she’s living proof that you get back what you give. Of course that’s not why she does it, but that’s the way it worked out; it’s a beautiful thing to see,” said Santos.
Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-896-0426