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Civic holds poker tourney to help teachers

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jul 26, 2021

The average school teacher spends around $750 of their own money for school supplies every year.

On Sunday, the North Fort Myers Civic Association held a benefit poker tournament at the Big Storm Brewery in South Cape Coral to help put a dent in that number for a few teachers.

More than 40 people came to play a few hands of Texas Hold ‘Em (or Bingo, if they desired) while helping out a good cause.

Paula Marquis, a board member at the civic association and an avid poker player, said there was a need to help teachers in need locally and she came up with the poker idea.

“We know too many people who do backpacks for kids and we wanted to get to the teachers instead of being another group that does backpacks,” Marquis said. “The kids will get their supplies, but in a different way.”

Marquis said there wasn’t a place in North Fort Myers big enough to host such an event that needed at least four poker tables and could serve food and drink.

The civic association is bridging the gap between the community and the schools through an “Adopt a NFM Teacher” program.

The focus is on new teachers within North Fort Myers who need help to stock their classrooms with supplies whether they have transferred to a new school or are teaching for the first time.

The vast majority of teachers (96 percent) purchase school supplies so their students don’t go without them. They also purchase other supplemental materials to help struggling students.

The civic association plans to help one teacher in each of the eight area schools, with the hope of putting a dent in the amount of money they have to spend.

The teachers will get cash to get what they need, since every teacher’s needs are different.

That’s where the poker tournament came in. Players donated $20 ($25 at the door) for $2,500 in chips. Players could buy back in as many times as they wanted in the first hour. The winner got 40 percent of whatever money was raised.

Christy-Lee Iwanow, board member, said she learned the buyback system well enough, as she said she had to about five times. She also said she wanted to support a great idea Marquis came up with.

“The money is going to great use. We want to give back so the teachers don’t have to spend money out of pocket,” Iwanow said. “Paula does this as part of her schedule, so she brought it to the civic association.”

If poker wasn’t their style, they could play bingo, which was a late addition to the event. There also was a 50/50 and raffles for other donated prizes.

House of Cards and Games (HOCAG) helped by supplying the tables and dealers for the event. Marcel Poul said his company does these events regularly.

“We’ve done this for 15 years. People like to play cards and we have organizations and people in need, so this is a great way to provide a service for the community,” Poul said.

Marquis said she was happy the event turned out as well as it did, with each teacher getting a minimum of $50 plus the net proceeds from the event. She said she would like to do this regularly as a fundraiser for other causes.