In 2006 Fernando and Mercedes Castillo began a venture, with their family, to serve the community by taking food and clothing to the neighborhoods most in need throughout Lee and Collier Counties. God has been very good by directing so many people to help and support His mission.
The ministry originally began serving people at Jesus the Worker Parish. When that building was taken down, the mission moved to trailers on the AFCAAM property. Then in 2011, the outreach moved to a mobile effort. The ministry continues to grow. Now, a more formal community Outreach Program has been created in a building in East Fort Myers, on Palm Beach Boulevard, to serve over 1,000 families in need.
About SMDP Documents
Sandy was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She met and married the love of her life, George, in 1963, and began her career in the Unified Court System in 1966 as a Court Reporter in the City Court of Buffalo. The daily experience of recording the frustration of so many people not fairly handled in our society gave her the cause to become an advocate of Social Justice in her home parish and community. That ministry continued as she and George adopted two sons from Korea. After 35 years in Court Administration and a serious medical diagnosis, they spent time recuperating in Southwest Florida. The temptation to permanently escape the winter weather of Western New York was made easier when they came across a new Catholic Church founded in Fort Myers. They moved permanently in August 2004 and became founding members of Blessed Pope (now St.) John XXIII Parish. That year, Sandy was asked if the parish could support a Mission at Jesus the Worker by providing Christmas presents for 69 children. She brought that proposal to her pastor, who agreed and made her Chair of the Social Justice Ministry. It was the beginning of a long and blessed relationship with the Castillo Family that led to Sandy becoming an original board member of what is now SMDP Outreach.
Diane Baiardi, Secretary
Diane was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and went to parochial schools for 12 years plus a Catholic University. She retired from Chrysler Corporation after 35 years as middle management in Sales and Marketing. She married a widower with 5 children at the age of 42. Diane occasionally volunteered with the Special Olympics, but after retirement and a move to northern Michigan, she decided it was time to give back. She began volunteering at Hospitality House, which was similar to a Ronald McDonald house. She later moved on to volunteering at the Manna Food Project, with her husband. After his death in 2017, Diane heard about SMDP at St. John XXIII church. She was a snowbird for a few years, before relocating full time to Cape Coral. She has enjoyed working at and about SMDP on Thursday for over 5 years, and recently had the opportunity to get more involved as a board member. Diane enjoys getting to know the clients and meeting great volunteers. She is in awe that so many want to give back, and to see the humility in people and the desire to make things better for those with less.
Giles Heuer, Treasurer
For the last 25+ years, Giles has actively supported many charities whose primary focus has been helping poor families better themselves. These charities include Unbound (Giles currently sponsors 14 children around the world), Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Extensions and Hope for Haiti. He became involved with SMDP about six years ago, signing on to help with the after school homework program. He has also volunteered to maintain the financial records for SMDP and currently serves as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors.
Steve Zeder, Chairman
A native of Buffalo, NY, who lived in Texas for 26 years, Steve’s formation revolved around a 30 week JustFaith program that brought him into touch with the plights of others in the Fort Worth area. Through many trips to Cabezas, Bolivia, and his experiences as a 10-year member of the Fort Worth Mission Council, Steve saw firsthand that difficulties were shared in every community. Since coming to Florida, Steve has been focused on food security, volunteering at the Harry Chapin Food Bank and SMDP Outreach. He serves as Chairman of the Board, while still working on dinner service and pantry operations.
Elizabeth Andrews, Director
Elizabeth is a child of God, wife, and mother to 4 children ranging from elementary to high school. She got involved with SMDP Outreach alongside some of its founding members, whom she met through women’s Bible study at St John XXIII. It was apparent to her that God had a plan of service to support these ladies in their phenomenal efforts to show the love of Christ to ALL individuals, whether they fall upon hard times briefly due to medical issues/job loss, etc., or if they have been in a rut for awhile and need to be gently supported and guided to a way forward. Once she spent some time at SMDP, Elizabeth felt compelled to help ensure that the amazing volunteers, who give so much time to love and care for others, are supported and enabled to be fantastic stewards of the generous donations. She joined the Board in February 2021 and is passionate about sharing our efforts with anyone who will listen. Her goal is to draw in as many other volunteers as possible. If you aren’t already volunteering with SMDP, come join us; it will amaze you what God can do with your “yes”!
Tom Howe, Director
A native of Keene, New Hampshire, Tom relocated to Rhode Island to secure employment, where he lived for 40 years, and actively supported various parish and community initiatives. During those years, he recognized the ubiquitous plight of the homeless and underserved. Having retired to Fort Myers in 2015, he is an enthusiastic volunteer and is meaningfully engaged in advancing SMDP Outreach’s mission of serving the homeless of the Tice Community.
Jim Korom, Director
Jim was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and practiced employment law there for 40 years. He and his wife Lucia were snowbirds beginning in 2014, and began volunteering at SMDP shortly thereafter. Now a full time resident of Fort Myers, Jim is trying hard to be a “recovering lawyer” by helping where he can. In addition to his service on the SMDP Board, Jim is a regular lector and sacristan at St. John XXIII parish, helps in the funeral ministry, and serves on the Board of Faith & Ale Lee County.
Jim Madden, Director
Jim was raised and lived in the south suburbs of Chicago, before retiring in 2003 and spending winters in Ft Myers with his wife Drina. Jim has spent more than 30 years as a board member of a private Catholic college and an organization that cares for developmentally disabled individuals while running his commercial printing business in Chicago. Having worked in a church food pantry serving Hispanic families and serving on numerous parish committees, he became more aware of the needs of the poor. Several years ago, he and his wife were asked to participate in the after school program at SMDP, and saw firsthand the needs of the community and the spectacular job the organization of volunteers does here at SMDP. It inspired him to get more involved.
Leslie Robertson, Director
The Dow Chemical Company employed Leslie for 28 years, before retiring from a middle management position in Information Systems. In that time, she was heavily involved in her community Housing Commission Board, Affordable Housing Alliance Board, and Habitat for Humanity; all focused on providing housing for very low-income members of the community. Leslie was also involved in her parish, on its parish council, and active volunteer at the local food pantry. She is now a full time resident of Fort Myers, a very involved member of St John XXIII Catholic Church, and beyond the SMDP Board responsibilities, an active volunteer in several aspects of the ministry.
Carolyn Smith, Director
Carolyn, a registered nurse, was raised in upstate New York and worked at several hospitals during her career. In 1994, she began volunteering at Teresa House, a comfort care home for the dying in Geneseo, NY, and was named its Executive Director in 2002. She remained in this position until relocating to Fort Myers with her husband in 2007. Since moving to Florida, she has been a volunteer with the Community Cooperative organization. Carolyn began working with SMDP almost 7 years ago and has been on the Board since 2018. She cooks at SMDP twice a week and has seen firsthand the needs of those we serve, the difference we make in the lives of our guests, and how grateful they are for the assistance we provide.
Elizabeth Walsh, Director
Elizabeth grew up in Southeastern Michigan and worked in the hospitality industry before joining the United States Navy, where she met her husband Chris. They are the parents of seven children ranging from 10 months to 17 years old. Elizabeth spent many years as a Navy spouse working with various charities, such as the USO and Helping Hands for Tohoku. She is a former Navy Ombudsman, has run a meetup group for military spouses, and is part of the founding team for the grassroots organization Human Milk for Human Babies. After settling in Fort Myers in 2015, Elizabeth volunteered with the Fort Myers Villas Educational, Literary, and Charitable Institution, served on the Board of Directors and held the positions of Secretary and President over the years. She is also a past Early Learning Coalition Literacy Buddy and scholarship reviewer for The Collaboratory. She now works in digital and print content creation, both freelance and for Decided Excellence Catholic Media. Elizabeth homeschools her children and serves as an Engineering and Journalism teacher and Yearbook advisor for Camp HomeSchool Rocks! Co-op. She joined the SMDP Board in December 2021 because she believes in helping people where they are without judgment, as well as providing paths to future self-sufficiency.
Doralma Velazquez, Director & Administrator
Doralma was born in Puerto Rico, became a chemist, and worked in the pharmaceutical industry there until she moved to Fort Myers at the end of 2009. Before moving here, she was involved in various ministries in her parish, doing missions and providing spiritual retreats with the youth of her community. In Fort Myers, she is an active member of St. John XXIII Catholic Parish. It was there that she learned about SMDP and was invited to participate. Doralma has been a volunteer for two years and tries to help in every way she can. She serves on the Board and as Administrator, helping the Operations Manager with the daily activity of the Outreach.
Lisa Munkelwitz, Operations Manager
A native of Smithtown, NY, living in Florida since 1992, Lisa has been married for 35 years and raised three sons. Although she was a “hockey mom” for almost 18 years, her passion has always been to help those in need. Having volunteered in nursing homes and food pantries since the age of 12, she was approached by a local pastor to help serve dinners at SMDP. From the moment she stepped in the door, Lisa knew SMDP was a special ministry and something she wanted to be part of. After working for 27 years doing legal transcription, Lisa was humbled and blessed to begin working for SMDP as the Operations Manager.