BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Right after Hurricane Ian, Jay Belanger, told Fox 4 that some of the people in the Imperial Shores community in Bonita Springs felt hopeless.
“People are still living here, they are living in their car, they are living in mold-ridden houses,” said Belanger.
On Thursday, during the one-year mark since Hurricane Ian, Belanger reflected on that moment and said the only way he thought to inspire hope, back then, was through action.
“ So I immediately jumped into action grabbed some waters and some sandwiches and actually just put up a six-foot table and said what can we do to help," said Belanger.
That table eventually became Camp Bonita Hope, a grassroots group with more than 300 volunteers and provided over 100,000 fresh meals to the Imperial Shores and surrounding Bonita Shores area.
The site for Camp Bonita Hope was run by Belanger and staged in front of the American Legion Post 303 from September 29, 2022- February 28, 2023.
“We had executives take their ties off to help out we had people working two or three jobs and wanted to come down and come down to the camp and work for an hour to help serve meals,” said Belanger.
On Thursday, Belanger said Camp Bonita Hope's home base still had damage from Ian.
Belanger said the GoFundMe account he used to raise funds during Camp Bonita Hope, he is using again to raise money for repairs for the American Legion Post 303.
“This was Camp Bonita Hope’s living and breathing spot so ya we are hoping to get this post back up,” said Belanger.