A few weeks after Florida Keys officials closed the island for the new COVID-19 pandemic of the time, Mike Forster began mobilizing to feed those who were known to be in need. .. Restaurant worker.
Start by organizing your shipments 10,000 pounds of meat From the frozen food giant Cargill Protein for Keys Food Bank in April 2020, Forster then Started offering free meals Servers, bartenders, cooks, bassers and other keys are waiting for the staff of his popular Islamorada restaurant, Mangrove Mike.
“Unfortunately, we think we’ll have a very good turnout,” Forster said a few days before the service was ready to go.
That effort has led to greater efforts to create a non-profit organization to feed those in need of the 120-mile archipelago, which is hungry for tourism.
According to friend Tony Hamon, 61-year-old Forster died of COVID-19 pneumonia early Monday morning.
“Mike left the planet at 4:15 this morning,” Hamon posted on his Facebook page.
Forster was now the Commissioner of Monroe County.He helped Five terms of the Islamorada village council, And was the mayor twice.
Born in Virginia Beach, Forster grew up in South Florida and attended the Gulliver Preparatory Academy in Kendall. He moved to Keys in 1990 and managed and owned several restaurants before opening Mangrove Mikes.
He is also known as one of the most popular key leaders in the hospitality industry, raising money when a sick person, a family member of a deceased community member, or a key is hit hard. Was further known for its philanthropic work. Disasters such as COVID-19 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“Islamorada loses one of the kindest and most affectionate members of the community. He is a friend of all and has returned as much as he can to those in need. US House of Representatives Debbie Mucarsel Powell wrote on social media on Monday.
Michelle Coldillon, Mayor of Monroe County, issued the following statement:
“Mike passionately dedicated everything to the Florida Keys. He gave everyone food, love, encouragement, positive words, and hugs. He regarded us all as one key family. Mike never said, “We can’t do that,” but always “Understand what we can do.” He fought hard to maintain the quality of life for everyone in order to maintain a life in Keys with housing, fair wages and environmental protection. He showed his love for the Keys environment and people with all his heart and soul. Sleep peacefully, my friend. “
Not only is Forster remembered as a constant defender of those in need at Keys, he accompanied Hamon, Honorary Pastor of the Island Community Church in Islamorada, on several missions to Uganda.
Hamon said Uganda was another call to Foster and launched a program to provide shoes to poor children in African countries.
“We put on shoes for children who had never put on their feet,” Hamon told Miami Herald / FLKeysnews.com on Monday.
Hamon has been informing Keys of Forster’s condition almost every day since he was transferred from Mariners Hospital in Tavernier to Baptist Hospital in Kendall on August 20, where he was ventilated and sedated two days later. rice field.
According to family and friends, the vaccinated Forster showed signs of improvement over the years. But last Wednesday, Hamon told his followers that things had gotten worse. Forster still needed 100% oxygen from the ventilator and continued sedation.
“That means his lungs are badly damaged,” Hamon wrote on September 1.
Immediately after the news of Forster’s death was reported, compliments on social media continued.
“This morning I’m speechless and heartbreaking. My true friend, community leader, and all died this morning from complications after the fight against COVID,” said Keys’ Florida fish. Bobby Dube, a board member and spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Commission, writes. “The keys will never be the same! This guy has the greatest heart and has always given back to our community-high school, fundraiser, fishing tournaments, etc. He is especially all law enforcement agencies Assisting the first responder, his generosity over the years has surpassed the top. RIP Mangrove Mike! “
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.