The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center, an organization dedicated to building strong, self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers, hosted a Hurricane Ian Restoration Wrap Up Celebration on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at The Heights Center. The event marked the successful completion of the rebuilding efforts in Harlem Heights, where more than 173 homes were severely damaged by Hurricane Ian.
Since the hurricane, The Heights Foundation has been the driving force behind the recovery in the neighborhood. 250 residents of Harlem Heights joined The Heights Foundation staff and volunteers to enjoy food, fellowship, music and to honor the leaders of Crisis Relief and Recovery (CRR) and the Horvath family of Adventures in Missions (AIM).
“Right after the devastation of Hurricane Ian, we expanded our role in the Harlem Heights community,” said Kathryn Kelly, founder, president, and CEO of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center. “We committed to 100% restoration of the neighborhood. Although the Harlem Heights neighborhood is low-income, there is a strong sense of community and family. Despite the destruction, residents who have lived in Harlem Heights for generations wanted to stay and rebuild. We could not have accomplished this without the contributions of CRR, AIM, and the many partner organizations who contributed time and money.”
Only days after Hurricane Ian struck, CRR, a nonprofit specializing in immediate disaster relief, traveled to Fort Myers to assess homes and deploy work teams to muck and gut impacted homes.
Adventures in Missions (AIM), a nonprofit that sends teams worldwide for project-based missions, also committed to assist. Chris and Sarah Horvath, Disaster Relief Managers with AIM, relocated their family to Fort Myers in their RV in November 2022. They established their headquarters in a vacant neighborhood building, transforming it into the Recovery Operation Center. This basecamp supported over 60 volunteers a week from around the country with housing and meals, enabling continuous work in the neighborhood. For the past year and a half, their team has coordinated all volunteer efforts in Harlem Heights.
Thanks to the partnership with AIM, 43 partner agencies, and more than 5,150 volunteers contributing over 184,000 hours, the volunteer labor cost is estimated at $4,786,000. Additionally, The Heights Foundation and its supporters have contributed $1,400,000 in material costs.
For more information about The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center, visit or call (239) 482-7706. To donate, visit
About The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center
The Heights Foundation works to build strong, self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. Our mission is to support education and wellness, promote family and community development, and provide the benefits of enrichment and the arts. The Heights Center, supported by The Heights Foundation, is a place for Education, Opportunity, and Enrichment. Heights Early Learning serves more than 85 babies through 4 years old. The Heights Center serves 163 children in AfterSchool and 153 children in SummerCamp. The Harlem Heights Community Charter School serves 200 children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Harlem Heights was originally settled as a rural agricultural community. Approximately 780 children live in a mixture of single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Demographically, the population is approximately 70% Hispanic, 20% African-American, and 8% Caucasian. The poverty rate for children in Harlem Heights is more than twice the county average, with family income 40% below the county average. As a result, families cannot easily access family support services in downtown Fort Myers and benefit greatly from programs within the neighborhood.