$50,000 contribution brings smiles
Gulf Coast Humane Society gets generous donation from Amazon and Bachelorette celeb
A leading international enterprise and Florida-native who found fame on one of TV’s most popular shows have teamed up to assist a local non-profit animal welfare organization.
Amazon and Tyler Cameron, a “Bachelorette” alum and the show’s season 15 runner-up, visited the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers on Tuesday to present a check for $50,000 and other supplies to help with Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
GCHS was devastated by the storm in September. Parts of the facility’s roof came off, outdoor areas for animals were swept away, fences that keep animals secure were out of place, and debris from wind and fallen trees littered the property. Water and electricity were unavailable for quite some time.
“We give big thanks to Amazon for choosing Gulf Coast Humane Society for its gracious donation,” said Gary Willoughby, executive director at the GCHS. “Donations like Amazon’s do not only help care for our current shelter animals, but also provide a better future for the incoming shelter animals GCHS will take in. We appreciate Amazon’s generosity to the GCHS’ shelter animals and to our future of providing positive animal welfare in our community.”
Cameron, being from Florida, a rescue-dog owner, and someone who has fond memories of the area, said it was a perfect fit to help support the society’s efforts. The non-profit lost potential revenue due to their closure and are still feeling the effects.
“Amazon really wanted to find a way to give back and help out following Hurricane Ian,” Cameron said. “The Gulf Coast Humane Society really went through it during the hurricane. They do so much for these animals, and a lot of people had to stay here during the storm to help protect and take care of them. Amazon wanted to help out, and donate, and kind of help build back the humane society, replenish their supplies, and get them back to where they were before Ian.”
Cameron, born in Jupiter, said he vacationed in Southwest Florida nearly every summer with his grandparents in Bonita Springs. He remembers going from coast to coast whenever the prospect of a storm would be forecasted.
“I grew up on these beaches and waterways with my family,” he said. “With what happened with Hurricane Ian, it was tough to see because this is a place that’s dear to my heart. I grew up coming here and enjoyed all the great things Southwest Florida has to offer.”
Cameron’s dog, Harley, was rescued from the Bahamas after a hurricane hit the area. He knows just how much organizations like GCHS do for animals that are displaced year-round, and especially during weather events.
“With no federal, state, or county funding, for them to be able to do what they do is quite impressive,” he said. “They take care of almost 3,000 animals each year. They give a tremendous amount of care and love. You see the compassion when you walk through this facility. It means the world to be a part of it.”
He encouraged members of the community donate to GCHS in whatever fashion they can.
“There’s so many ways to help out, and it doesn’t even have to be through a big donation,” Cameron said.
He also shed light on how rescuing an animal, especially after an event like Ian where many were surrendered, can be such positive in someone’s life.
“These animals have gone through a traumatic experience,” Cameron said. “These shelters are filling up. A lot of people left their dogs and cats when they evacuated. Right now is a great time to adopt. My dog went through something similar as well, and the bond and way we are with each other is the best relationship I’ve ever had with a pet. If you can rescue a pet, you create a bond that’s so important. You help out the dog, and you can also help out these shelters.”
In addition to the donation to the GCHS, Amazon has cleared the Amazon Wish Lists of other Southwest Florida non-profit organizations affected by Hurricane Ian, including Eva’s Closet and Foundation and Valerie’s House.
“Eva’s serves up to 75 families per day and many of our families are still displaced or highly affected from Hurricane Ian,” said Jessica Goodall, founder of Eva’s Closet & Foundation. “We are so grateful for the support of Amazon and for the beautiful donations for our Eva’s children for the holidays.”
The GCHS Adoption Center is at 2010 Arcadia St. in Fort Myers. The GCHS Veterinary Clinic is at 2685 Swamp Cabbage Court in Fort Myers. For more information, visit www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org.
For more information on Eva’s Closet, at 16331 Old US 41 #101, visit www.evas-foundation.org.
For more Information on Valerie’s House, at 1762 Fowler St. in Fort Myers, visit www.valerieshouse.org.
–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj