Friends of BERT – A Year In Review

Friends of BERT launched at what turned out to be an auspicious time…one week prior to Hurricane Ian in 2022. At first, our board thought we should put the entire program on hold out of respect for those who lost so much. Then we began hearing from Friends of BERT who said please don’t slow down. We all need something on which to focus that will help rebuild our hope for the future. So, we did.  Over the past year our leadership team as well as several of our members attended multiple meetings with the Bonita Springs City Council, Estero Village Council, Lee County Commissioners, community business leaders and many others advocating for the trail, an effort which continues on today.  As an example, Friend of BERT will be meeting with members of the Fort Myers City Council in October.  Thanks to all of you that have helped us push the message.  Additional highlights from the past 12 months include: 

December 5, 2022 First Annual All-Friends Meeting

Over 200 Friends of BERT gathered to hear from multiple speakers about the potential of this 15-mile Rail Trail. Leaders from other organizations, Friends of the Legacy Trail; Naples Pathways Coalition and Trust for Public Lands as well as our Friends of BERT founders were all featured.  Since this meeting our membership has grown to over 3000! We are planning another membership meeting in December, so look for details of that in upcoming newsletters.

December 6, 2022 Pelican Landing Becomes the First of 21 HOA’s to Endorse BERT

Steve Gunther, Friends of BERT Treasurer, spearheaded a program where HOA-represented communities could show their support for pedestrian and bicycle safety by formally endorsing BERT. Pelican Landing was first and twenty more have followed. These endorsements are critical to showing our elected officials just how important this Rail to Trail is for Lee County.  Let us know if your community is interested in endorsing the trail.

February through present: Friends of BERT Leaders Speak in the Community

Friends of BERT Vice President Emily Porter is featured here at the South Fort Myers Rotary Club meeting. Big thanks to Emily for her great presentation! Since then, we’ve presented to Chambers of Commerce; Community Foundations; City Councils and more.  If you would like Friends of BERT Leadership to present and answer questions for your community organization, just let us know and we will get that scheduled.

March 17, 2022 Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Meeting

The Feasibility Study was UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED by municipal leaders and Lee County Commissioners. Friends of BERT showed up in their shirts and 14 Friends spoke from the heart during the public comment portion of the meeting! This was a big milestone and the support shown from Friends of BERT was a difference maker.  We have many more milestones to achieve as we move forward, but getting unanimous support from the MPO Board was definitely one of the biggest to date.

May 5, 2023 First Volunteer Training and Planning Event

The many volunteers that attended in person and have become a force behind tent events at festivals; business sponsorships; and more! Our next volunteer meeting will take place October 24th where we will plan for the next six months of events and other activities.   If you are a current volunteer you should have received details of that meeting.  If you are interested in attending and have yet to sign up, go to our website complete the volunteer form and we will make sure you receive the details.  

Sept. 21, 2023 Caloosa Riders Selects Friends of BERT as One of Five Charities to Support

Big thanks to this Lee County based Bike Club who raised money for charities post Hurricane Ian. They decided to count Friends of BERT among the five charities they supported this year.  What an honor to receive their support and thanks to the many organizations and individuals who have made donations that are essential in helping us get out the message.

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