Freedom of Expression

by Alex Blagojevic

Alex Blagojevic

Alex Blagojevic

I remember attending a conference and hearing Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, speaking on the Benghazi attack and condemning the short video “The innocence of Muslims” mocking Islam on Youtube. She underlined how the Obama administration was right in compelling the owner of the website to remove the video from circulation, since such videos were regarded as bigotry. I could not help but use the opportunity in the Q&A session to ask Mrs. Albright if there wasn’t a double standard when it came to freedom of expression. It seems that criticizing and mocking certain groups, especially those espousing Judeo-Christian values, is deemed to be constitutional, and thus a right of citizens and the press, while doing the same in turn against other groups is seen as bigotry and “hatred.”

Apparently, there are two sets of rules— one for favorite groups and another for those who are out of favor?

My parents dealt with censorship under the communist regime in the former Yugoslavia. My own experience growing up in socialist France was not exactly smooth sailing either. Those holding to a belief system contrary to the establishment were arbitrarily singled out, defamed, and censored by the ”intelligentsia.” These practices have come here, and as a result, freedom of expression in America is under assault.

The First Amendment is being slowly chipped away in the name of tolerance and sensitivity. The word “intolerance” has taken a whole new meaning. We are told that “intolerance” will NOT be tolerated anymore! Do you see a problem with that? Who defines the terms? Who decides what is and is not intolerant and when society through the legal system and civil authorities can take action towards those identified as intolerant, hateful, and bigoted?

Obviously, some in the “elite group” believe they know better than the rest of us what falls within such definition.

In a society that is becoming more “politically correct” by the day, “infringing material,” such as writings or videos that are perceived to be hateful by the establishment, could one day be banned by civil authorities. Imagine this in America!

We thought that was the world of China or other state controlled systems, such as fascism, communism, or Islamic Sharia. And yet we are following trends that lead in the same direction. For example, some of the laws being proposed in Washington (such as Hate Speech Crime, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act), would give the government the right to shut down websites and speakers they perceive as “hateful.” The type of thought-controlled practices in totalitarian societies could soon become a reality here. Far-fetched?

Just look at Europe and Australia where similar laws are already in place. Our educational system, the media, and the courts are moving in a direction that should be worrisome to those, like myself, who are in love with the kind of freedom we thought our nation’s founding documents guaranteed.

Recently, I had the privilege of having a private lunch with a retired United States Navy Admiral and the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During our interaction, I asked him if he was aware that over 80 percent of mosques in the U.S. are built and funded by radical Muslim organizations. After he acknowledged such fact, I then politely asked him why we allow groups who openly hate our system to infiltrate our country, even our political arena.

His answer was that loving America and its system is not a prerequisite for being allowed to reside in the U.S. Furthermore, he disclosed that as long as such groups do not use force and are not an imminent threat to our national security, it is their right to subscribe to any belief system they choose.

That answer surprised me but after some reflection I understood its premise. There might be value to that rationale and reasoning (since I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech) but then why isn’t that same paradigm applied to the groups denied that same right? Why is someone who does not subscribe to the Islamic
view considered and labeled islamophobe, against gay marriage homophobe, not seeing eye-to-eye with Obama and his political agenda racist and anti-poor?

My desire is to see the same First Amendment protections that are granted to some groups, extended to all people without discrimination. Why can’t some understand that you can love people while openly disagreeing with their actions and the ideologies they uphold?

The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Isn’t freedom of expression precisely about challenging social, political, and religious ideologies, powers, and taboos?

Alex Blagojevic is a native of Paris, France and has been living
in beautiful Southwest Florida for 17 years with his son Elias and
his wife Elizabeth, who is a professional harpist with the local
symphonies and teaches music at FGCU. Alex has a Finance degree
from FSU and a Master’s degree in Theology from Biola University.

May 2014 Life In Naples Magazine

Read the May 2014 edition of Life In Naples

 

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Marijuana Drug of choice among Collier teens

by Karie Partington
Public Affairs Manager
Collier County Sheriff’s Office

kari=partingtonWhen it comes to the drug of choice among young people in Collier County, marijuana holds the top spot, according to Collier County Sheriff ’s Office Lt. John Poling. “We see other things, but marijuana is what we’re seeing the most among young people,” said Poling, who is assigned to the agency’s Vice and Narcotics Bureau.

While on the surface marijuana may seem less sinister than other drugs that are available, the marijuana teens are using today is several times stronger than the marijuana their parents may have smoked a generation ago. Cultivation methods that allow growers to control climate, water and soil levels have dramatically improved production and strength.

Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety.

These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with it. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.

In the long term, marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancercausing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations.

sheriff-with-teens

CCSO Youth Relations Bureau Cpl. Matt Vaill interacts with North Naples Middle School students between classes. Youth Relations deputies throughout Collier County provide education and encouragement to help students make solid decisions and stay away from drugs.

Poling said Collier County is also seeing an uptick in a new drug that’s appealing to teens. It’s a compound called 25I-NBOMe and has the street names of 25I, or N-Bomb.

“It comes on sheets of paper like LSD and it has similar effects,” he said.

The drug was named a Schedule I controlled substance in October by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is ingested by snorting it in powdered form, injecting it or lacing food with it, according to a DEA report. The drug and its close relatives like 25C-NBOMe have been involved in at least 14 deaths nationwide, according to the DEA.

In Collier County, first responders have encountered at least two and possibly as many as six overdoses that they believe involved 25I. Most of the patients were between 16 and 19 years old.

“Social media helps these drugs spread,” Poling said. “Kids are always looking to find the next high. Everything is at their fingertips on the computer.”

marijuana grow house

Indoor grow houses such as this one allow growers to control all aspects of plant development, including light, humidity, temperature and water, making for ideal growing conditions. This is one of the primary reasons that today’s marijuana is stronger than in previous decades.

That’s why one of the keys to addressing drugs is prevention, and that’s where CCSO’s Youth Relations Bureau comes in.

Starting with the Jr. Deputy Club in the fourth grade and the D.A.R.E. curriculum in fifth grade, deputies teach students about making good decisions and avoiding peer pressure. In middle and high school, deputies provide presentations throughout the year that teach students the harm that drugs can do. Antidrug use PSAs produced by CCSO play during the morning announcements. In addition, Youth Relations deputies interact with students throughout the day.

“We are there to educate and also build relationships and trust,” said Lt. Tony Repicky of the agency’s Youth Relations Bureau. “The way we look at it, as long as we can impact one student we are successful.”

Rainbow of Hope for Drug Free Collier

Board Member Vin DePasquale speaks about the CORE Society

Board Member Vin DePasquale speaks about the CORE Society

A recent storm that had the chandeliers swaying at Drug Free Collier’s Sixth Annual Community Awareness Luncheon provided the perfect analogy for the tempests in life that often chase individuals who struggle with addiction. The room was packed with distinguished guests, concerned citizens and strong advocates who were not about to let the storm sway their commitment for protecting our local children from substance abuse. They remained steadfast and pledged to make a difference. The collective passion generated by this group produced a magnificent rainbow of hope for our community.

This year’s luncheon raised more than $45,500 to support local prevention efforts throughout schools in Collier County. This valuable funding will be used to grow and enhance Drug Free Collier’s CORE Society, a social club with an important purpose.

By standing together against harmful substances, these students are making a difference and helping to improve their environment and our future! The CORE Society began at Naples High School in 2009 with a handful of students pledging to be drug free. Today, there are more than 400 students in 10 schools throughout Collier County who are standing up to say: “Everyone isn’t doing it!” They are positively changing teen perceptions about drug abuse in our community and are creating a new standard for their peers.

The program began with a special presentation honoring Sheriff Kevin Rambosk for his proactive efforts in protecting the children of Collier County. Sheriff Rambosk was one of the founding members of Drug Free Collier when it was established in 2005. At that time, he said drug use rates were lower than they had been in more than 20 years and no one thought there was a drug problem.

Dr. Frank Nappo, Board President presents Sheriff Kevin Rambosk with award.

Dr. Frank Nappo, Board President presents Sheriff Kevin Rambosk with award.

“That became a problem when all of a sudden we found that there were more than six emergency cases per week for overdoses of drugs in Collier County. We went from virtually 17 drug deaths in Collier County to 45 drug deaths in a year including nine juveniles which we had never had before,” Rambosk said. There was a real need to do something, he added.

So under Judge Lauren Brodie’s leadership, the Substance Abuse Coalition of Collier County was formed. Today you know it as Drug Free Collier.

Sheriff Rambosk commended attendees for their support of local prevention efforts and urged: “We need this community to say, we don’t accept anyone, particularly young people getting involved with drugs.”

Drug Free Collier Board Member Vin DePasquale followed by saying: “Substance abuse among youth is a critical problem as you heard from Sheriff Rambosk. Peer Pressure is tremendous among teens using alcohol and drugs to fit in.”

After a powerful video about the CORE Society with testimonials from students, teachers and parents, DePasquale offered a compelling personal struggle that motivates his desire to make a difference.

“The past 11 years, I’ve been greatly saddened by the loss of my son to a drug overdose. I’ve had a lot of anger with this sadness. Enough anger to go out and hunt the drug dealer down, find him and turn him over to the Sheriff to get him off the streets,” DePasquale shared.

“My interest and commitment is to the children in our community to understand the threat of drug abuse that’s haunting our community,” he said. We must provide children with the knowledge to help them make clear decisions that are in their best interest; give them a safe environment to grow and also a safe environment where they return to enjoy the successes in their life, he added. To make this possible, we need the support and commitment of our community, he urged.

To learn more visit www.DrugFreeCollier.org

Let’s Make It Your Shower Door

Glass magazine winner “Best Shower Door” in the United States

Glass magazine winner
“Best Shower Door” in the United States

Homeowners are always looking to bring out the most value in their home for as little cost as possible. Spending wisely can create a significant difference in your home
and not exhaust your budget.

MY Shower Door, a local, family owned business, has been helping homeowners throughout SW Florida since 2003 enhance their bathrooms into elegant, spa-like environments while minimizing the need for expensive remodeling projects.

“In most situations, homeowners can simply change out their old, aluminum framed shower door for the newest upscale, easy to clean, frameless type units without the long drawn out process of a full renovation,” states Bill Daubmann Sen V.P. of MY Shower Door. “MY Shower Door has built their reputation on supplying and installing the highest quality and performing frameless shower doors in the country over the last 11 years. Our sales staff is highly trained in recognizing the possible configurations that a customer may want or need and suggest the best solution for their requirements”.

MY Shower Door has upscale showrooms located in Naples, Ft Myers, Sarasota and Tampa as well as three “affiliate” stores located in Oklahoma City, OK, Grand Rapids, MI and York, PA. The showrooms are laid out with full sized displays of all the latest designs, finishes and glass types available. Here, potential customers can feel and touch actual size units and may choose which thickness of glass would be best for their purposes.

shower-door-naplesThe MY Shower Door proprietary hardware is unlike the type used by local glass and glazing shops because it has been engineered and tested to the MY Shower Door standards for weight capacity and full motion pivoting action which adds to the products’ longevity and functioning ability. Their frameless sliding doors are unmatched in quality and precision by utilizing specifically designed wheels, which can handle the weight of heavy glass doors while rolling with smooth performance.

The glass and hardware work in perfect harmony accomplishing the incredible feel of quality yet dependable water blocking functions.

MY Shower Door has also partnered with a national glass sealing and coating specialists and produced their own E Z Care Shieldglass protectant and water-repelling product, which seals the pores of the glass surface and repels water droplets from causing corrosion or staining on the glass surface. This optional coating is a four-step process and is generally applied in the MY Shower Door factory but may also be applied at the consumer’s location after an installation has been completed. The benefit of this E Z Care Shield is to keep the beauty of glass long after most untreated glass has been stained or corroded.

The company website, www.myshowerdoor.com is a great tool to use when trying to search to see what styles are available and to see completed installation of their work.

All photographs of shower doors on this site have been installed by one of the MY Shower Door or “affiliate” locations and are not “studio” or “stock” photography taken from a manufacturer or the Internet. On this site you can request an estimate AND subscribe to receive a discount code to use for a purchase of a new frameless shower door.

The Daubmann family has been recognized locally, regionally as well as nationally for their excellence in their industry as well as their community involvement. This year they have been identified as one of the 50 “Companies To Watch” by the State of Florida’s Economic Development Council because of their rapid growth as they have gone from 22 to 55 employees in a nine month span. In 2010, Glass Magazine, awarded them their highest honor by selecting their completed Naples installation as “The Best Shower Enclosure in the United States.”

If you would like more information on either a shower door estimate or knowing about which cities are still available for the “affiliate” program of stores, call 239.596.3255.

Business leaders share expertise with TIF students

Belynda Belvilus, Junette Derosier, Ilbia Perez, Lynecee Romelus and John Costigan

Belynda Belvilus, Junette Derosier, Ilbia Perez, Lynecee Romelus and John Costigan

Students of The Immokalee Foundation learned some valuable lessons from area business leaders during the organization’s third annual networking reception at the Hilton Naples. Dressed to impress, 30 high school juniors and seniors participating in TIF’s Career Development Program interacted with some of the area’s top business leaders, sharing their goals, ambitions and how they plan to achieve their life vision.

The business executives provided valuable insight about their own experiences and provided real-life lessons important in helping students prepare for their own transition to college and beyond.

Prior to the afternoon’s reception, students were treated to an etiquette luncheon and training by Dawn Magaril and Dirga Buwana, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.

After, students were ready to practice their skills and were prepared to ask questions about their prospective career paths. They worked the room, introducing themselves to more than 30 professionals in a variety of leadership positions from companies including Edison State College, Arthrex, Coldwell Banker, Hilton Naples, The Print Shop, McKenney Home Care, Collier County Sheriff ’s Office, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Central Bank, Bay Colony Golf Club, NCH Healthcare Systems and Gravina,
Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and Public Relations.

In addition, several TIF board members, ambassadors and mentors gave their encouragement and advice to the students they support all year long.

Monique Williams, Maria Leon, Anita Munoz-Trejo, Maria Jimenez Sebastian and Ellen O’Neil

Monique Williams, Maria Leon, Anita Munoz-Trejo, Maria Jimenez Sebastian and Ellen O’Neil

Each student gained priceless networking knowledge of how to share necessary and interesting details in a concise and compelling manner. They created and exchanged
business cards, which included their college major, in hopes of making connections that could further their potential job opportunities.

The face-to-face interaction is crucial in helping these future business leaders build confidence. Plus, socializing with such a diverse group of businesspeople allows them to understand the wide variety of options available to them in the workforce.

Maria Sebastion-Jimenez, an Immokalee High School junior, wants to major in nursing at Edison State College. She was happy to be a part of the day’s activities, “Today’s event has allowed me to meet new people and feel more comfortable.

The business leaders have inspired me to reach for my goal and not give up.”

Jovenel Benjamin, a member of TIF’s Take Stock in Children program, has dreams of attending Edison, then transferring to receive a degree in mechanical engineering.  He was particularly interested in learning more about internships at Arthrex, “It’s great to meet people with connections and beneficial to have confidence when meeting new people.”

Arthrex’s Connie Byrne was equally impressed with the students, “There’s a lot of smart kids; I like to see new talent. Once they finish their secondary education, I would love for them to return to the area. It’s important for them to know about job opportunities in Southwest Florida, such as Arthrex.”

The business leaders provided insights into making connections and building enduring and mutually beneficial relationships that are crucial to securing a job and advancing in a career.

“These kids are like sponges,” said Jerry Thirion, of Bay Colony Golf Club. “They want to improve and go further. TIF is a tremendous help.”

The students realized that good social skills make a big difference in the business community.

Anita Munoz-Trejo, a senior at IHS, aims to attend Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in health science. She said she learned the importance of good manners, which will help her be more confident when dining at a business event.

Junior Edwin Herard learned something equally significant, “It’s important to major in something you love, follow your heart, set goals and prioritize yourself.”

Louise Penta, a TIF board member and mentor to four students, is in Immokalee three to four times a week, “These kids are so polite and want to learn; they’ve come such a long way.”

The day was made possible by the generosity of Hilton Naples and Shula’s Steak House, who were underwriters of the Career Development Etiquette Luncheon and Networking Reception. In addition, TIF corporate sponsors include Arthrex, Hope Society; GE Foundation, Corporate Matching Sponsor; Fifth Third, Founding Sponsor; Porsche of Naples and Naples Jaguar, Education Circle; Naples Illustrated, Media Sponsor; and Kevin Johnson of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, Success Circle Sponsor.

Jeff Jerome, Shula’s Steak House, said, “Shula’s like to give back to kids and we support TIF’s mission as it’s a great organization for young people – they are offering a better future for our future business leaders.”

The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence. To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.
Liz Allbritten is executive director of The Immokalee Foundation and can be reached at liz.allbritten@immokaleefoundation.org.

Making The Move – May 2014

 Jim Henderson President of William C. Huff Companies and national speaker for estate downsizing and lifestyle transitions

Jim Henderson
President of William C. Huff Companies and national speaker for estate downsizing and lifestyle transitions

Over the past few years, our company has evolved into a logistics specialist for estate owners who have museum quality art, priceless heirlooms and expensive wine  collections. Just as we have engaged our staff in training for handling priceless art from conservation experts Gordon Lewis of The Fine Art Conservancy and Mervin Richards from the National Gallery of Art, we also felt compelled to become experts in handling fine wine collections.

Recently, our company hosted Claude Robbins, founder of the International Wine Guild, to present a series of “wine pairings” in West Palm Beach, Miami and Naples. In addition to the educational wine tastings and pairings, Robbins trained our staff in proper wine handling and storage. We learned a great deal about wine that many  connoisseurs may not even know.

I learned that in Europe most wine is actually created to be paired with a very specific food but in America, wine is produced primarily to be consumed. As I learned about the three types of wine pairing – complementing, contrasting and marrying, I quickly realized how much more there was to learn. For example, in marrying a wine to a particular course, the same wine should be used in cooking as is served with that course. Robbins noted a chef in Paris used an ultra-expensive Rothschild wine to “marry” a course when preparing his meal. Personally, I always thought that I was supposed to use the “cheap” wine for cooking but now know better.

Some other fascinating facts: more than 50 percent of all wines over 15 years old are probably bad and American wines have a shelf-life of less than 10 years. The most destructive thing to wine, over time, is vibration. Truck traffic or even road vibration from other vehicles near your home can turn wine bad in a matter of months.

At William C. Huff Companies, we are installing shock proof flooring in our new wine storage area inside our warehouse to prevent vibrations and ensure best practices are utilized.

There is much more to learn about wine and the best way to be educated is to go to the experts, I suggest visiting www.internationalwineguild.com. If you have a chance to  chat with Robbins or any of his staff, mention the William C Huff Companies as we are planning on co-sponsoring several two-day educational seminars in Naples this coming fall.

Comprehensive Logistics for Elite Estates
Offices in Naples, FL and Barrington, NH
800.231.3557 or 239.263.8081
jim@wchuffmoving.com – www.wchuffmoving.com

Chef’s Column – Cool and Crisp

Shulas Cool and CrispAt Shula’s Steak House Naples it’s not only about the beef, we also offer an array of cool crisp salads to begin your dining experience. Made with the freshest local produce and delicious dressings the salad course is a must have to complete the perfect meal. My favorite salad that we offer at Shula’s Steak House Naples is the Tomato and Mozzarella Chop.

It is quick and easy to prepare and sure to be a crowd pleaser at dinner parties or a family meal.

We start off by gathering our ingredients; because everything is cold it is just a matter of combining them. Take one large ripe tomato and chop into approximately one inch by one inch cubes. (One tomato per person or one cup)  We cut the fresh mozzarella in the same manner as the tomato approximately ¾ cup. Then we add ½ a cup of diced red onion, julienned fresh basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Lastly one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and toss together. Finish with a balsamic glaze once plated.

At Shula’s Steak House Naples we lay the chop salad over a bed of mixed field greens, although this dish can stand alone or with any SHULA CUT® steak. Enjoy!

Shula’s Steak House At The Hilton Naples 5111 Tamiami Trail North | 239.430.4999

Ask The Artspert – May 2014

Dear Artspert:

I’ve always wondered, what is pastel? Is it the same as chalk?

Signed,
Dusty

Dear Dusty,

Richard Segalma, Ciara and Alima

Richard Segalma, Ciara and Alima

One of the great misunderstandings about art is the notion that a pastel painting is created with chalk. While both come in stick form, they are vastly different but are often confused as being one in the same. Chalk, which can be used as a temporary artform on sidewalks, is simply ground limestone with added coloring. Pastel on the other hand is the purest art medium of all and is the crushed earth elements (i.e. pulverized rocks) compressed into a stick for easy conveyance to a heavy paper.

Since each color in a pastel set comes from a different source the artist must select the exact color he or she wants. A master set of pastels can actually include up to several thousand varying shades of every color in the rainbow plus shades of black and white.

While, your eye may mix the colors of a pastel painting there is no physical mixing of colors to achieve a third color, such as in painting with liquid forms of medium like
oils or acrylics.

Pastel paintings may seem very fragile but if created on the proper paper and given the care due any work of art, pastels can actually outlast an oil painting. Mary Cassatt pastels created in the late 1880s are as alive and vivid today as they were when she created them. Pastels cannot fade since they are pure pigment. Direct sunlight will do more harm to the paper than to the pastel. Another concern is whether or not the pastels will eventually fall off the paper, especially if the work is dropped. While some “dusting” may occur, damage done to an oil painting that is dropped can be more significant.

One issue about pastels, and their close cousins of oil pastels, charcoal and conte crayon has always been that they must be behind glass. When Plexiglas was first used as a substitute in framing works on paper, these pastel forms were not acceptable choices because the Plexiglas could create a static bound with the medium and pull elements  of the painting away from the paper. That problem has been solved with the introduction of Optium Plexiglas, which is anti-static, uv filtered, and non-reflective as I  mentioned in a previous article.

The pastel medium dates back to the 18th century but is very much alive today. There is even a Pastel Society of America founded in 1972, based in New York City which hosts an annual competitive show in September at the National Art Club in Gramercy Park, NYC. (www.pastelsocietyofamerica.org).
Sincerely,

The Artspert

Dream Big, Win Big

Castilla Roofing TeamThe American dream is personified in its success stories. One of those is the story of Juan Carlos Castilla. He came to America in 2002 from Peru after graduating from Catholic University Santa Maria having studied economic science. Despite an impressive professional degree he obtained at the age of 22 and an early desire to become a diplomat in Peru, Castilla wanted to come to America.

And for Castilla, the American dream would not be paved with gold, but with roof tile and shingles. Today he owns one of the most respected roofing companies in town, Castilla Roofing. The American dream was an epic journey for Castilla. He arrived in The States on a tourist visa – landing in Miami with less than $100 in his pocket. The
first paychecks he received he used to pay back the money he owed for his visa and travel expenses. For a long time, Castilla had no shelter, no food – he looked for odd jobs riding his bike going door to door asking for work. In the beginning he lived in Ft. Myers, often having to sleep outside in the elements.

“Every night I searched for food and I lived in an abandoned house – that was my shelter,” he says. Southwest Florida nights can get cold too, and in coldest days of
winter he could barely move his fingers.

Juan Carlos Castilla

Juan Carlos Castilla

After a few nights sleeping in the abandoned house every little noise would wake him.

“I began doing roofing work and whatever I did, I had to do it right because I was so hungry – and when I found that job in a roofing company I promised myself I would never be hungry again,” says Castilla. “When I was in those years with no money I survived on crackers and instant soup – and I didn’t speak the language so coming
here was like moving to China with $70 in your pocket; it was hard but it was an adventure.”

Castilla credits his resurrection with a family of strangers. “One night, this big guy with a huge cigar knocked on the door of that abandoned house and I freaked out – living on the street you had to run from bad people who wanted to hurt you or had to do with drugs, but you also had to run from police because they don’t want you
to sleep on the streets. Half my body was out of the window but the man said, ‘It’s a really cold night’ and he brought a blanket for me. He told me, ‘I’ve been seeing you coming here every night on your bike, sleeping in this house’.

The stranger had a mechanic shop in Ft. Myers and the next morning, Castilla went to see him.

“I said, ‘Sir, you helped me last night – thank you’, and his wife had prepared a hot meal for me – I started crying when she gave me the food and I ate it so quickly,” says Castilla. “I told them I had no money to pay them, but I asked them to let me wash the dishes and they were so kind, they wouldn’t even let me do that.”

Juan Castilla and Son

Juan Castilla and Son

Castilla insisted on washing the man’s cars and he helped cleaning the shop to pay for the food the man and his family provided. Eventually he found a job in a labor company and finally had enough money to afford a little tiny room.

“I moved up quickly and learned fast, so they made me a crew leader in the company, and then at his next company in Naples I made supervisor,” says Castilla. After that in Dec. 2006 I formed Castilla Roofing and in 2007 welcomed my first customer.”

Castilla drove around knocking on doors of homeowners who had roof problems to get business. ‘I noticed you have a broken tile – can I fix it for you?’ Castilla would say.
“Some of the people were happy to see me and others would threaten to call police and tell me to leave,” Castilla says, laughing. But he went everywhere, traveling all over for Florida looking for work, a journey that would help him build a reputation and name as a trustworthy, hardworking individual.

Castilla always wanted to be his own man, so rather than work for contractors, he preferred working directly with homeowners, a model that worked for him and still does.

His experience with some contractors shaped the way he treats his own employees. He was once doing stucco work and some of the days worked in excess of 16 hours – yet the man only paid him $50 – and that was after taxes.

“That’s why I believe in treating people as well as possible, with justice and fairness because I was there and I know how hard it is,” says Castilla.

“My motto is work hard, be honest and try to do the right thing because when you work hard, dreams can come true.”

Castilla Roofing does a lot of commercial work and works closely with boards of directors of homeowners associations – most of the company’s work is on big projects, for example one recent project encompassed 25 large buildings.

The Castilla family works as a team, with Juan Carlos working closely with his brother Ramon Castilla who as operations manager is charged with managing all the safety and field operations for Castilla Roofing. The sons credit their father Oscar Castilla for his role as principal business advisor in the company. Both Ramon
and Oscar served in the Peruvian Army.

Castilla is a proponent of charitable work and he is often invited to speak to young people. Last time he went to Peru he spoke to a group about motivation, following dreams and goals and how to accomplish them.

But perhaps his biggest influence now is on his 18-month old son Marcelo Castilla. Castilla says his son is the joy of his life and the biggest reason he pushes himself. “I want to give him the best life ever, provide for him and treat him with love and respect, because while anything can work if you have respect, if you don’t have that nothing is going to work,” he says.

For the future of Castilla Roofing, Castilla has lofty goals. He wants to the most successful roofing company in Southwest Florida and open branches of Castilla Roofing in more places. His motivation is more than just making money – Castilla takes pride in providing work to others who need it.

“Before I was so focused on being somebody in life and growing in my professional life and that was my focus, to grow the company,” he says. “But my son has made me understand that family is the most important thing.”

For more information on Castilla Roofing, visit www.castillaroofing.us or call 800.578.0035.