History of the Conch Republic Foster Children’s Fund
The Conch Republic Foster Children’s Fund was founded over 20 years ago when Mel Fisher walked up to Peter Anderson at the Schooner Wharf Bar,
with Morgan and Coke in hand, and said,
“Mr. Secretary, we should have elections in the Conch Republic. . .”
“Over my dead body, Mel,” Peter replied, “We are not about to trade the ‘world’s first functioning meritocracy’ for the corruptions of Democracy!!!”
But, knowing Mel, Peter asked him what was on his mind. “I want to be King!” says Mel.
“Let me work on that” said Peter.
Timing being everything, and as luck would have it, Peter’s next door neighbor had just gone to work for the old state of Florida Health and Human Services (HRS) in the Foster Care Program.
Roxanne Kunkel knew that Peter had been searching for a number of years for a charitable need that the Conch Republic could focus on as its own. Over a brew or two, she informed Peter that there was no support for the special needs of children in foster care in Monroe County. She explained that the late Gus Boulis threw a Christmas Party in Key Largo every year, but there was no year-round effort to take care of needs like prom dresses, football uniforms, band trips and other things that most children take for granted.
So…. Peter put two and two together and came up with the “world’s most honest election . . . The Conch Republic royal Family Election.” In this election, every vote would cost a dollar . . . Motto, “Vote Early, Vote Often.”
Every Vote (every dollar) would be given to HRS to use to “reach out and touch a child’s life at the exact moment it would mean the most to that child.” They knew that sometimes it would be a little thing, and sometimes it would be a big thing, but at that moment it would mean all the world to that child. Everyone remembers what that was like when we were kids, right? Right!
So, Peter called Mel and told him he had figured out how he could be King. After all, since he had all the gold, he could be King! Mel loved the idea, especially the idea that he could raise money for kids in foster care. That made being King really special to Mel. In fact, Mel Fisher is re-elected King every year. Every year his cardboard cutout is on stage at the Green Parrot, with a Morgan and Coke taped in his hand, wearing his crown. The Motto is, “The King is dead, long live the King!”
Ironically, when thousands of dollars were raised for the foster kids, HRS did not know how to take the money. No one had ever formed a private enterprise to give money to a state agency before! The enterprise was called the Conch Republic’s First Foreign Aid Program. It took them about six months, but HRS headquarters in Tallahassee figured out that they could open a special account and distribute the money to the kids and their foster families.
The Conch Republic Children’s Fund Today
The most wonderful thing about the fund, as it has evolved over the years, is that it has remained true to its original purpose . . . reaching out and touching a child’s life at the moment it means the most. Over the years, the fund has bought football and baseball uniforms, paid for class trips, bought prom and Quinces dresses, paid for trips to the hairdresser, eye glasses, class rings, birthday presents, clothes and countless other things, big and little, that meant all the world in that moment.
One year, five siblings came into foster care; normally these children would be split up among two or three foster families. Luckily, one foster family was willing to take all five of the children, but they did not have enough beds. The Conch Republic Foster Children’s Fund purchased the extra beds so those five brothers and sisters were able to sleep under the same roof.
Another year, a twelve year old girl went to camp using the fund to pay her airfare. She met a new best friend and was adopted by the friend’s parents. She went home from camp with her new sister and new parents.
Today, the fund is administered by Wesley House Family Services, which contracts with the State of Florida to operate the Foster Care Program in Monroe County. If a case worker communicates a child’s need in the morning, a check is cut by noon. . . still as true to the original purpose, today, as it has been for fifteen years.
We invite you to join the Conch Republic Royal Family in any capacity you wish. You may run for Royal Office for the season, or support someone who is running.
Remember, each vote costs one dollar, and every vote goes, intact, to a child in foster care. Not one penny is taken out for expenses or administration or anything else. Every penny of every dollar goes where it belongs.
Remember, vote early, and vote often in the “world’s most honest election!”
Support the Conch Republic Royal Family and help change a child’s life.
All Donations are Tax Deductible.
Checks can be made out to Wesley House Family Services Inc.;
specify for Conch Republic Foster Children’s Fund.