TREASURE ISLAND — A local women's organization — thanks to its successful fundraising efforts — has been quietly making an impact with improvements to this island community for 56 years.
The Treasure Islettes, formed just after the city was incorporated in 1955, have donated roughly $66,815 toward island beautification projects, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Millie Fant, who established the first beautification committee, has held several positions since becoming an Islette in 1961. She is the chairwoman for that group and is this year's fashion show chairwoman.
"I enjoy working with a group of such talented and highly dedicated women who have contributed to so many worthwhile projects in the area."
As of early March, the group of about 120 women had donated more than $875,000 around the city since forming. Some of the more significant contributions and projects include providing the Treasure Island Police Department with its first police boat, four-wheel-drive vehicles, two-way radios, exercise equipment and bulletproof vests.
Saturday's fashion show fundraiser was no exception, as the group raised more than $5,000 and pledged $3,000 of it to the city's beach walk beautification project.
Being a member of the Treasure Islettes means having pride in the city's neighborhoods, community structure, youth activities and general economic well-being.
The organization's fundraising efforts are immediately obvious upon crossing the Treasure Island Bridge — especially its commitment to the island's beautification projects. But some of the more significant benefits of the group's generosity aren't so obvious or even well-known.
Recipients include the city and its police, fire and recreation departments. They have funded Chamber of Commerce projects and contributed to the local business community and various local civic associations, nonprofits and schools.
The Treasure Islettes also purchased emergency vehicles, defibrillators, diving gear and a cardiac care unit for the city.
Most of the money raised has come from the weekly Thursday night bingo game, held at the Treasure Island Community Center. Other events include an annual luncheon and fashion show at the Community Center held in the spring, which is usually a sellout.
The planting of Chinese palms along downtown streets as well as flowering annuals along the Treasure Island Causeway, the Community Center, police and fire stations and City Hall has been a major focus of the group's beautification efforts.
Linda Tyler, the Islettes' current president, said it's sad that many residents don't realize what and how much the group has done over the years.
"People now seem to be involved in themselves and aren't out doing for others or joining groups," said Tyler, adding that she hopes membership of civic groups improves.
"Parents' involvement in their kids' schools and sports is down. People need to be involved in their kids' activities and their communities so that it is better for all living in the area."