Thelma Hodges

Thelma Hodges

Thelma Hodges, longtime Naples resident and namesake of Hodges University, will be honored for her service to the community at the inaugural Thelma Hodges High Tea scheduled for March 28 from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Proceeds from the event will be dedicated to the Thelma Hodges Friends of the University Scholarship Fund. The contributions of Thelma Hodges and her late husband Earl Hodges are significant, spanning over 50 years of service in Southwest Florida. Their generous gifts of time, effort and funds have strengthened the business environment, the role of charitable organizations and families.

The Hodges’ are perhaps best recognized as owners of the Earl G. Hodges Funeral Chapel in Naples, which provided more than 40 years of business and service to the local community. The Hodges have had a number of other successful business interests both in and out of state and have been actively involved in a countless number of local causes.

Originally from Lawrence, Massachusetts, Thelma worked for many years as a Registered Nurse and was one of three original employees at the Naples Community Hospital (hired three months prior to its opening in 1956). Before coming to Naples, she was associated with the Providence Lying-In Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Thelma met Earl during a blind date for the Junior Women’s Tinsel Ball in Naples about six months after he moved to Naples.

After they married on June 26, 1958, Thelma proceeded to work for the hospital for more than 20 years and at different times was Supervisor of the operating room, central supply and emergency room.

Today, Thelma is still an advocate and active volunteer for Naples Community Hospital. In recognition of her many years of service, NCH presents the Thelma Hodges Nurse Mentor of the Year Award annually to exceptional nurses at the hospital.

Over the years, Thelma has been a mentor to many. In fact, five former employees of the Hodges Funeral Chapel went on to own their own funeral homes.

Thelma was president of the Junior Women’s Club and Visiting Nurses’ Council, as well as chairman of the Old Timers’ Association. She has been a volunteer at NCH for over 40 years, spending many years working at the White Elephant Thrift Store there.

In 2007, the Hodges’ made a significant contribution to what was then known as International College, affecting the name change to Hodges University, in honor of these incredible philanthropists and humanitarians.

In August, 2012, the city of Naples proclaimed that month as “Earl and Thelma Hodges Month” in honor of the recognition of the 50th year of the founding of Hodges’ funeral home.

Earl Hodges died in October, 2013, but Thelma continues to volunteer for meaningful causes in the community.

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is located at 280 Vanderbilt Road. For more information or to make reservations for the event, please call


The majority of our kids are drug and alcohol free!

drug free speaker


Perception is everything in the teen years. It’s a time when many young people want to fit in and often take chances based on their impression of what “everybody else” is doing. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, studies show that young people drastically overestimate use among their peers.

“You’ve never had a kid come to school on Monday, saying: ‘Great weekend! I was so raging sober,’ ” said Renee Soulis, a 30-year-veteran of FCD Educational Services and part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Instead, young kids hear all about the ones who are drinking and this drives everything, Soulis explained to local school counselors and teachers during a recent workshop that was co-sponsored by Drug Free Collier and the Collier County Public Schools.

“The more use kids think that there is, the more use there will be. These false perceptions greatly increase risks. Students are making decisions based on incorrect data and this data gets reinforced multiple times a day,” Soulis said. “So much of our time and focus is spent on kids who are in trouble. We never talk about the healthy population,” she added, comparing it to today’s airline travel: “You’ll never see a headline that says, ‘Plane Landed Safely (although most planes do).’”



To correct these misperceptions, it’s important to use real data. The just released 2014 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) gives us the real data we need and shows that most local teens are not using drugs or alcohol. As part of this survey, more than 1,200 students in grades 6 through 12 were polled from multiple schools throughout Collier County. The FYSAS is a collaborative effort between the Florida departments of Health, Education, Children and Families, Juvenile Justice and the Governor’s Office of Drug Control. It has been administered since 2002 and allows us to compare prevalence rates over the years. Although there are areas of concern, the 2014 data shows that overall substance use rates for Collier County youth are among the lowest they’ve ever been.

So, next time you hear someone saying that “everybody is doing it,” you might just want to show them the data that proves otherwise: (See Chart below.)

Drug Use Chart

In order to keep our healthy kids healthy, it’s important to validate the positive choices that so many of our kids make each day and help them understand that they are actually in the majority and are not alone when they choose to stay drug and alcohol free. “It’s not that complicated and it starts in elementary school,” Soulis added.



Dr. Tim Portinga, Senior Clinician and Clinical Supervisor of Hazelden’s mental health clinic in Plymouth, MN also spoke to the group about his experiences in working with adolescents in treatment. As our culture condones use, the use tends to perpetuate.

“We build a house of cards and move into it,” he explained. This was of particular interest with attendees especially in light of growing efforts to legalize marijuana.

Lower perception of harm rates surrounding marijuana contribute to its overall use and directly impacts youth. Dr. Portinga explained how marijuana is “the great demotivator,” and said that one in eight teens that use marijuana will become addicted and for those who start in their early teens, one in six will develop cannabis dependency. Although most teens are not using marijuana, it’s important to clarify misperceptions.

“With such a positive reduction in overall drug use among local teens, we celebrate the collaborative work of our community in protecting our children from substance abuse,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier. “We are thrilled that a majority of our teens are drug and alcohol free and recognize that there’s still more work to do,” she added. “It’s up to all of us to be part of the solution.”

Macular Degeneration and Genetics: SHOULD YOU GET TESTED?



by Stephen G. Schwartz, MD, MBA

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible visual loss among the elderly in the US. The causes of macular degeneration are poorly understood but the disease does seem to run in families, which suggests that there may be a genetic (or hereditary) component. Genetic testing does exist for macular degeneration. Should patients have this testing performed?

This is not a straightforward question. There are two major types of genetic diseases. The first is called a simple genetic disease, in which there is a single gene that determines whether or not a person develops the disease. If the person has a “normal” gene, then no disease develops, but if a patient has an “abnormal” gene, also called a mutation, then the disease may develop. Simple genetic diseases include cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, and others. Generally speaking, it makes more sense to recommend genetic testing for patients at risk for simple genetic diseases, because the presence of a mutation suggests a high risk of developing the disease.

The other type of genetic disease is called a complex genetic disease, in which there are multiple genes, plus environmental influences, that determine whether or not a person develops the disease. This is not a question of “normal” versus “abnormal” genes, so physicians and scientists generally do not use the word “mutation” in this situation. Instead, certain “variants” of genes (often called “risk variants”) are more likely to be associated with the onset of disease. Generally speaking, it does not make sense to recommend genetic testing for patients at risk for complex genetic diseases, because the presence of one or more risk variants does not necessarily mean that a person will develop the disease.

For example, there are at least 19 different genes that are known to be associated with macular degeneration. In addition, certain environmental exposures, including cigarette smoking, and foods (or vitamins) eaten, play a role. How many “risk variants,” plus how many environmental exposures, does it take to develop macular degeneration? At this time, the answer is unknown. For these reasons, genetic testing does not give sufficient information in order to accurately predict whether or not a patient will develop macular degeneration, so at this time I do not recommend this test to my patients.

Patients who already have macular degeneration may benefit from a specific nutritional supplement, available over the counter under the names AREDS (standing for “Age-Related Eye Disease Study”) or AREDS 2. These supplements contain antioxidants (including lutein or beta-carotene) as well as zinc. There is very good scientific evidence that AREDS or AREDS 2 supplements reduce the risk of developing progressive disease in patients who already have macular degeneration.

There is some evidence that the supplements do not work equally well in all patients, and that some of this difference may be predicted by certain genetic risk variants. Should patients undergo genetic testing to determine whether they take AREDS or some other supplement?

This is an important question, because some recent scientific evidence suggests that genetic testing may be useful in order to predict which supplements are best for each individual patient. However, this recent scientific evidence (suggesting the use of genetic testing prior to starting supplementation) is not as strong as the original clinical trials that demonstrated the efficacy of AREDS and AREDS 2. This is currently a controversial subject among ophthalmologists. At this time, I do not recommend the use of routine genetic testing in patients with macular degeneration, in order to predict disease progression or to guide nutritional supplementation.

In summary, there is a complex relationship between genetics and certain aspects of macular degeneration. This is an important area of research, and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is participating in a long-range genetics research study to learn more about this relationship. However, at this time, I do not recommend routine genetic testing for patients with macular degeneration.

On with the Show

Baker Park Gala’s Shining Stars

Baker Park Drawingby Kelly Merritt

One Leaf at a Time – Prelude to a Park Gala for Baker Park” on March 7 promises to be a night to remember. Once again it will take place on Baker Park grounds replete with fireworks and the joy of hundreds of people who all share a common goal: the completion of Baker Park.

Patty and Jay Baker have graciously agreed to be the Honorary Chairs while Councilman Bill Barnett is slated to be the Gala Auctioneer again this year with music by Joe Marino and All the Kings Men.

jewelry1Especially exciting are the new auction stars, beginning with jewelry genius William Boyajian’s custom designed piece from Port Royal Jewelers. Boyajian created the unforgettable donation of a custom designed pendant last year which helped raise funds for the park. At press time Boyajian was traveling on a buying trip to the largest fine gem show in the country as part of creating the one-of-a-kind necklace.

“I planned on buying some really beautiful emerald and green tourmalines and some green garnets for the necklace that I am making in 18k gold,” he says. “I like doing gem shows before I build a project since I can search out in a treasure hunt what will look great together and then buy what I need for the project.”

jewelry2Boyajian does already have what he calls beautiful loose emerald, but felt he needed more sparkling jewels to add to his final idea.

“The necklace will be able to be wrapped around the neck several times with diamond and green gems that have a casual look but can also look very formal with the right dress,” he says. “I am also planning to have several sections of the opera length necklace that come off and can be used as bracelets so that the piece can be versatile as well.”

Boyajian’s work is known for being inspired and relevant both in beauty and purpose – as evidenced in the many special items he has created for his customers. The new necklace is no exception.

“My theme for the gem encrusted necklace is all about the park, the greenway and the beauty of all our sub-tropical flowering trees and unique leaves, so I will even use some direct casts of the leaves of some of the mangrove trees and cast these models so that they can be cast in gold and set with diamonds and gems,” he says. “I got a lot of my inspirations from bike riding along the greenway since the park is not yet finished, but the greenway is great for seeing the flowering and water way beauty of the new Baker Park and Greenway.”

In addition to Boyajian’s invaluable contribution, items of the tasty variety are also on the auction menu. These restaurants have donated the following private dining packages:


Avenue5 Executive Chef John Welch will introduce six courses of personally hand-crafted culinary specialties. Each course will be paired with wines selected by their Sommelier from the Wine Spectator list of more than 400 wines.


Executive Chef David Nelson and his staff will personally prepare a five course dinner for 10 guests in the comfort of your home.


Executive Chef Maria Furetta will prepare a private four course dinner and feature wines from Tuscany and Piedmont for six guests.

And with another stunning item, fashion forward gala attendees will be able to bid on “Have We Met Yet? Let’s Meet!” luncheon and jewelry shopping experience sponsored by Kathy Bigham, President of Bigham Jewelers. Bigham invites the winning bidder and four friends, each of whom will receive a $1,000 gift certificate and enjoy an elegant catered luncheon at Bigham Galleria. After dessert, the winning bidder and guests can browse and select their jewelry. The donation is valued at $5,500.

Finally, travelers won’t want to miss out on the Somewhere, Beyond the Sea auction item donated by Preferred Travel. It is a Royal Caribbean Cruise for two in a balcony stateroom aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest and most innovative ship at sea, the Quantum of the Seas. This is the auction winner’s choice of a sixeight night Caribbean cruise only, year round (subject to availability). It includes the cruise fare, taxes and all gratuities – which makes this auction item a serious contender. The winner will have several choices with departure ports and ships including departures from Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, Galveston, Cape Liberty or New Orleans.

“Prelude to a Park Gala” tickets are $350 per person ($200 tax deductible), $500 per patron level ($350 tax deductible), tables of 10 – $5,000 ($3,500 tax deductible). Sponsors include premier sponsor The Ronto Group, design sponsor MHK Architecture & Planning including Park Designer Matthew H. Kragh, FineMark National Bank & Trust, Port Royal Jewelers, Beacon Real Estate Partners, Law Offices of Sam J. Saad, III, PA, Coleman, Yovanovich &Koester, P.A., Premier Property Mngt., Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hurst, Preferred Travel, and media sponsors Life in Naples Magazine and the Naples Daily News, Grace Lakes Florist, Naples Print Source, Taylor Rental, Inc., Wynn’s Market and Catering, T-Shirt Express and Five Star Valet.

For information or a last-minute invitation to Baker Park Gala on March 7, contact Baker Park Gala Chair Delores Sorey at or 239.263.2673. For general Baker Park information, visit


 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

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

With spring just around the corner, many of us are starting to think about “spring cleaning”! Here in Southwest Florida, even snowbirds participate in this annual purge before heading north for the summer. The question becomes, what is the easiest and most financially beneficial way to get rid of our stuff?

Up north, we often have family nearby that would be more than happy to adopt our gently used items. Also with the beginning of warmer weather, it is not uncommon to see garage and yard sales popping up in neighborhoods all around us. However, in Southwest Florida, there are many local non-profit resale shops willing to take our spring cleaning belongings off our hands.

One of our clients recently moved from a seasonal rental home into a newly built and fully furnished/decorated home. Since the items in their rental home had been purchased just one year prior, the couple was aware of their value and considered sending their things to family members in the Northeast or paying for storage.

When I advised them of the cost involved, they contemplated consignment. I challenged the client to instead consider donating their belongings to a non-profit and using it as a tax write-off.

Receiving a tax deduction for donated items is not only a good financial decision; it is also beneficial for the community. Most non-profits who have resale shops will pick the items up for free and will give the home owner a tax receipt for the value of their donation. For instance, $20,000 worth of furnishings could represent up to $7000 in tax savings. At a consignment shop, the homeowner would be hard pressed to receive any additional savings or benefits, plus they would most likely have to pay tax on the money they made from their sale.

A few local non-profits that make a great deal of their annual budget through resale are: Options Thrift Shoppe – benefitting the Shelter for Abused Women, The Salvation Army, St. Matthews House and Conservancy Resale, to name a few.

In conclusion, my advice on spring cleaning is… when in doubt, toss it out!

New Trustees Add Wealth of Experience

to Naples Children & Education Foundation

The Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF), today announced the addition of the following Trustees, effective immediately: Rick Kash, Becky and Lewie Card, Nancy and Joe Masterson, Debbi and Bill Cary and honorary Trustees Rosann and Bill Nunnelly.

Collectively, they bring over five decades of business experience and non-profit leadership, along with a tireless dedication to enhancing the lives of children in Collier County.

“It’s an honor to be able to tap into the experience of such reputable leaders to support the children in our community,” said Bob Clifford, Chairman of the Board. “The driving force that energizes and unites NCEF Trustees is their commitment to blending decades of business, social, and civic experience with new and fresh ideas.”


New trustee Rick Kash brings both social work and business experience to NCEF. A native Chicagoan and alumnus of DePaul University, Mr. Kash is currently Vice Chairman of the Nielsen Company (NYSE) with more than 40,000 employees in 105 countries.

Before that, he founded the strategy consulting firm The Cambridge Group, which was purchased by Nielsen. He is the author of “The New Law of Supply and Demand” and “How Companies Win,” and Co-Founder, along with Harvard University, of Genus Oncology, a cancer research company focusing on MUC1 protein. Recently, the National Cancer Institute named MUC1 as the second most important target in cancer research among a total of 50 targets.

“I am very proud to be asked to be a part of NCEF, a group of patrons joined together for a synergistic outcome of serving at-risk children,” said Mr. Kash. to Naples Children & Education Foundation.

Becky and Lewie CardBECKY AND LEWIE CARD

After attending a Vintner Dinner at the NWWF, Becky and Lewie Card selected NCEF to help raise funds for Collier County children’s charities. They have demonstrated their commitment to the Foundation’s mission by attending 13 annual Naples Winter Wine Festivals.

“My wife Becky and I are part-time Naples residents and we were looking for a way to get involved and give back to the local community,” said Mr. Card.

A native of Chattanooga, Mr. Card is a third generation business owner, published author, and chairman of Card-Monroe Corporation (CMC), the world’s leading manufacturer of custom built tufting equipment for the carpet, rug, and artificial turf industries. His family’s firm history dates back to 1937 when two brothers named Cobble began building tufting equipment for chenille bedspreads. Principals Lewis Card Sr. and Roy Card, (nephews of the Cobbles), joined the firm in 1950, drawing from both the wisdom of experience and emerging technologies, and literally changed the way carpet is made. When the original company was sold to Singer Sewing Company in 1981, Mr. Kash founded CMC and today continues to shape the history of the tufting industry with its technological innovations across six continents.

Nancy and Joe MastersonNANCY AND JOE MASTERSON

Nancy and Joe Masterson have been family business owners of a consumer and industrial food products manufacturing company headquartered in Milwaukee, WI since 1980. Today, their two sons spearhead the company as president and head of sales, and their daughter is a member of the board of directors.

Before purchasing the Masterson Company, Mrs. Masterson received her Bachelor of Science from University of Illinois in 1965. Since then, she has been active in many charitable and civic organizations. After the family business was purchased, she was named Vice Chairman of the Board and continues to serve the family business in that role today.

Together, the Mastersons travel around the world, visiting a wide variety of vineyards while developing an extensive wine collection, sharing their time between their homes in Barrington Hills, IL, the Northwoods of Wisconsin, and Naples, FL.

“When we first attended the NWWF seven years ago, we were so impressed and moved by NCEF’s goal to helping at-risk children,” said Mrs. Masterson. “Our eight grandchildren are the most important part of our lives, so we are thrilled to be asked to become a trustee and to help disadvantaged children in our Naples community, working with an outstanding organization like NCEF.”


Debbi and Bill Cary first attended the Naples Winter Wine Festival in 2013 and were blown away by the impact the Festival had on thousands of children in need. Since then, they have been active supporters and look forward to joining NCEF as Trustees.

“We are thrilled to be included among such esteemed colleagues supporting the Festival and its founding organization, NCEF,” said Debbi Cary. “As parents of two grown children, we couldn’t sit back knowing that so many children are in need. It’s been heartening to see and witness the impact of this organization on the community.”

Now retired as the President and Chief Operating Officer of GE Capital, the financial services unit of the General Electric Company, Bill currently serves as a director of Synchrony Financial (SYF-NYSE) and Rush Enterprises (RUSHA-NASDAQ) and is a past member of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Fairfield County and of the Global Board of BuildOn. Debbi is a former community banker and has been active in philanthropy in Northern California, Darien, CT and Naples, FL.

Rosann and Bill NunnellyROSANN AND BILL NUNNELLY

The new honorary NCEF trustees are Naples and Nashville residents Rosann and Bill Nunnelly. They are the owners of three family owned businesses, including the well-known West End Discount Liquors & Wines in Nashville. In fact, the Nunnellys and their staff offer a combined experience of over 150 years in the wine and liquor business, and, concurrently, over 50 years of combined experience in the restaurant business.

“Rosann and I believe that children are our future and they must be provided with services and resources they need to excel,” explains Mr. Nunnelly. “We have been attending and donating wine to the NWWF since its second auction in 2002, so it is a real honor to be asked as an honorary trustee to the festival’s well managed founding organization, NCEF.”


The Naples Children & Education Foundation, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is committed to improving the educational, emotional and health outcomes of the underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 40 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing around 200,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel. For more information about NCEF, please visit

Understanding #socialmedia

Today, on the news and in conversation, social media is likely mentioned several times in any exchange between people and in any information delivered by the media. Hashtags. Facebook. Twitter. Almost every news program and personality has a tagline to their Twitter account and Facebook page.

Just what is social media and how does it affect you in daily life? Social media differs from ‘regular’ media in one major way: it is interactive. When using the web to access regular media such as news or a web search, the information is presented for consumption. When going to a social media site, interaction is usually required if not mandatory. I will discuss the different types and benefits of social media so that you can make more informed decisions as you venture into this new realm of communication.

FacebookFACEBOOK is the largest and most popular social media platform. It is a form of social networking, joining people into online communities. If you are not on Facebook, you can be sure that your kids or grandkids are. With over 1.5 billion registered users, Facebook is the primary site for people to share photos and messages on the web. Facebook users must register, and all connections between users must be approved by both parties. Besides keeping up with the lives of your family and current circle of friends, Facebook allows you to connect with people you may know based on schools attended, towns lived in, places worked for and also through mutual friends. You may want to create a Facebook account to observe family members and friends, participation is always optional.

youtubeYOUTUBE is another popular site that may not be consider social media but is, as all the videos are uploaded by people (and sometimes organizations) for sharing and discussion. Whether it is a baby’s first words or steps, a family dog doing tricks, a piano recital, a soccer game or a wedding—it can be found on YouTube. Viewing and searching videos on YouTube is free, but to upload or save favorite videos a free account is required. Next time you need to know how to make guacamole or pesto or replace your car’s rear-view mirror, look it up on YouTube!

flickerFLICKR AND instagramINSTAGRAM are photo sharing websites. Flickr was launched in 2004 and contains an extensive library of personal and professional photos. You can search for photos by resolution, date, content and even camera type. You can upload and share photos in albums that are public or by invitation only. Flickr can be accessed on any mobile device as well as on a desktop or laptop. Instagram, started in 2011, must be accessed through an app on a phone or tablet, it does not have a website. Instagram’s main advantage is the ability to snap photos, post them directly on Instagram and immediately share them on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Instagram also has the capability to edit and manipulate photos directly with a number of filters within the app.

twitterTWITTER is a messaging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets.” A free account allows one to post tweets that are available for others to read. You can use Twitter on a computer, smart phone or tablet, and you can follow the Twitter feeds of several people at once, they appear in a sequential timeline. Since all tweets are limited to just 140 characters, which is exactly the length of this sentence, most posts are succinct and to the point. If you’d like to see my Twitter account, it is @naplesmachelp.

LinkedinL I N K E D I N is probably the most misunderstood social media service. We have all received the email that starts with “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” It is a site for business and professional networking. To join LinkedIn, one creates a free profile. Then one is allowed to extend invitations to others to join their LinkedIn network. Existing LinkedIn members can invite others to join, and it is a much more closed community than is Facebook. With LinkedIn, the networks created can have rewarding effects for those members who are seeking to expand their market exposure to promote themselves and their business. Resumés can be added to a profile, and employers also post job openings and opportunities on LinkedIn.

Google+GOOGLE+ is the most recent entry to the social media arena. The biggest identifying feature are the ‘Circles’ of friends used in Google+. A user may have a Family Circle, a Work Circle, a Friends Circle and so on. The name of ones Circles are never visible to others, though the members of that Circle can be visible or hidden by the Circle’s creator. Google+ is seen by many as a fresh take on the social networking scene, and is becoming a viable alternative to Facebook. Remember that a Google+ account is another way that Google tracks your activities for marketing purposes.

WikipediaWIKIPEDIA is a form of a social wiki, which means that the contents is generated, edited and monitored by members of the Wikipedia community. Remember that although Wikipedia bills itself as an online encyclopedia, it is user-generated and the contents can be biased.

Whether you decide to tweet, upload videos or just watch, social media is a part of daily life. All major entities now have a Twitter feed, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The vast array of social media outlets offer much more interaction than most people are interested in, yet the options offered do have something for everyone.

Jeff Bohr
Naples Mac Help
239.595.0482 |

March 2015 4H Collier County

by Mary Ellen Cash

4h1The Collier County 4H organization is the largest youth group in the county. The total number of youth participating in School Enrichment Programs, Special Interest/Short Term Programs, Day Camping Programs and Community Clubs numbers 6613! The 4H vision is to create a world in which youth and adults learn, grow, and work together as catalysts for positive change.

Youth in 4H report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, an elevated level of engagement in school, and are two times more likely to plan to go to college to pursue a degree in science, engineering, or computer technology than their peers.

Florida 4H is the statewide youth development program of the University of Florida IFAS Extension and the only program with direct access to technological advances from university research.

4h2The 4-Hs signify *Head (managing, thinking), *Heart (relating, caring), *Hands (giving, working) and *Health (being, living). The state sponsored program empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. Students participate in hands-on, discovery learning educational programs.

There are three primary program areas: science, engineering and technology, healthy living; and citizenship/leadership. All programming is designed to help students build skills that will increase their personal confidence and competence while building character and self-sufficiency. Collier County 4H partners with Collier County Public Schools to fund after school programs in Animal Science, Agriculture in the Classroom, Archery Club, Animal Husbandry or Livestock groups whose animals are auctioned annually in the County Fair. Marine Science and Aquatic Sciences is a favorite. A total of 311 children learned about Sport Fishing and 75 worked on Environmental Science as part of the 4H in the Classroom program. Weather & Climate attracted 373 students. Each year students learn about State laws and  regulations governing fishing, and wet lands preservation. There were 300 students involved in Arts and Crafts, to include Sewing and Clothing & Textiles and 248 participated in Public Speaking. Food Prep and Cooking had 14 participants and 6 students learned about Breads & Bread making.

4h3The highest number of participants were in the Junior Master Gardener program, 1486 and Plant Sciences-Gardening with 329 active members.

The newest and most requested program is Robotics. Last year 218 students built their own robots. Many more students would like to continue in this program. The second phase is the actual programming of the Robot. All programs are limited due to funding.

The funding for Collier County 4H is done through the 4H Foundation. Individual clubs raise funds by selling baked goods, doing car washes, and are now planning a 4H Cookbook. The largest fundraising by the foundation is done through the Farm City BBQ, where the students sell bags of vegetables. If you are interested in helping to support and grow 4H in Collier County contact Jim Ruesink, President of the 4H Foundation, at the IFAS Extension, 239.252.4802.


I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
And my health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country and my world.

Dedicated supporters help TIF make a difference



by Steven Kissinger

Since 1991, The Immokalee Foundation has worked diligently to empower Immokalee’s children. Through programs focused on education, vocation and life skills, the foundation is helping hundreds of students pave their path to success. However, the foundation doesn’t do it alone; we rely on the help of the community to help us make a positive difference in the life of a child. We are never disappointed. Year after year, sponsors, donors, mentors, board members, businesses, volunteers and more give of themselves to help TIF continue enriching the lives of Immokalee’s youth.

Community support has always been crucial to the success of the organization. When Parker Collier and other concerned citizens of Collier County founded TIF 24 years ago, their goal was to garner enough financial support to make an impact in the lives of Immokalee citizens.



And make an impact they did. With the generous help of philanthropic citizens, companies and assistance to initiatives in education, career development and health care in Immokalee. In the late 1990s, TIF began to concentrate its efforts more on education, believing education was an integral part of the economic development of Immokalee.

TIF began to provide its own scholarships and mentoring in 2009 through its partnership with Take Stock in Children, a statewide program that provides deserving students an opportunity to fulfill their potential and attend college. TSIC helps increase high school graduation rates by holding students to a pledge to stay out of trouble, keep their grades up and consistently meet with a mentor. These volunteer mentors – often community members passionate about making a difference – meet with their students on a regular basis, providing invaluable support, guidance, accountability and friendship.

Over time, new programs were introduced and today, in addition to TSIC, the foundation offers Immokalee Readers, Career Development and College Success. Immokalee Readers is an intensive reading intervention program targeting the bottom 17 percent of readers from kindergarten through third grade. The after school program matches elementary students with high school-aged tutors for enjoyable and productive reading lessons.

Through the Career Development program, TIF aims to increase awareness and knowledge of career paths through an array of career panels, seminars and industry-targeted tours. One popular event is TIF’s annual networking reception. Here, local business executives from companies such as Arthrex, Hilton Naples, The Ritz-Carlton and NCH Healthcare Systems provide valuable insights and real-life lessons important in helping students prepare for life beyond high school.

Understanding that college isn’t for everyone, the Heavy Equipment Mechanics program at the Immokalee Technical Center was launched as part of the CDP in 2010 thanks to the guidance of Don Fites, the former CEO of Caterpillar. Fites was instrumental in developing a collaboration with the public and private sectors to raise funds for the program. With the support of The Caterpillar Foundation, the Fites Family Charitable Trust, Kelly Foundation Inc. and Kelly Tractor, and The District School Board of Collier County, HEM was born.

TIF’s College Success program provides ongoing mentorship and academic advisement for students on a post-secondary path, helping them to set up individual academic plans to ensure graduation. They learn and develop important life skills such as financial responsibility, time management and study habits.

Most importantly, we are making a difference. One hundred percent of the students who participate in TIF programs graduate from high school, and 97 percent of those students go on to a college or vocational post-secondary path. Plus, about 75 percent of those students go on to graduate. We are giving students a chance to reach heights they never thought possible.

Community partnerships, dedicated supporters and volunteers, board members and more are essential to continuing our mission. Every person, family and business supporting TIF plays a crucial role in helping Immokalee’s children achieve their dream of economic independence and we are grateful.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit

Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at steven.

An Eclectic Mix of Music for your March Enjoyment

Claudia Pozin Director of Development - Southwest Florida Classical South Florida - 88.7

Claudia Pozin
Director of Development – Southwest Florida
Classical South Florida – 88.7

March is a month with extraordinary variety in the musical opportunities for you and all of your guests. Begin the month with French Choral Music and you can end the month with sentimental journeys either with Rebecca Richardson or Jodie DeSalvo. In between you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or the Ides of March – but if you have a choice I would definitely suggest St. Patrick’s Day.

For those that love Choral Music–you will want to begin the month with a concert at Trinity-by-the-Cove at 4 p.m. on March 1 – Faure’s Requiem will be performed featuring Boyd Jarrell, baritone and Michele Byrd, soprano.

Cambier Park will be busy with concerts – the Naples Concert Band performs twice – March 2 and March 23 both at 2 p.m.; and the Naples Jazz Orchestra will be performing on March 2 and March 16 both at 7 p.m. So March 2 you can spend the day downtown Naples – concerts at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. –wander around downtown, enjoy the galleries, have some dinner and then finish the evening off with Jazz at 7 p.m. –right back in Cambier Park.

Bower Chapel on the campus of Moorings Park has some interesting offerings this month –on March 3 their concert series will feature the “Bean Pickers” in a bluegrass hoedown – this group features a wide variety of American traditional music. (Note – if any of you went to Naples schools – you might recognize the bass player – he used to teach art!). Back at the Bower Chapel at the end of the month you will hear a wonderful vocalist-Rebecca Richardson and she will take you on a sentimental journey of the music of the 40’s and 50’s. The concert will feature tributes to the vocal groups of those years. If you would like to stay in the sentimental/romantic mood then made arrangements to attend a Night of Romance with Jodie DeSalvo at Artis-Naples. Jodie’s programs are always a treat and her personality brings a lot of joy
to all who attend.

For the classical music devotees’ Beethoven and Strauss are on the program on March 5-7 p.m at Artis-Naples; Classic Chamber Concerts will
feature Two Stylish Piano Quintets on March 9 at 8 p.m. at the Sugden Theatre.

One can never get enough Beethoven – so return to Artis-Naples March 15 or 17 for a concert featuring Beethoven and Mozart. But if Beethoven is not your favorite-Classic Chamber Concerts will feature Brilliant Mendelssohn on March 16 at the Sugden Theatre at 8 p.m.

But in keeping with the idea that Naples has something to suit everyone’s musical interests- the first musical written by the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein – Oklahoma! will be playing at the Sugden Theatre presented by the Naples Players – March 4 through April 4. This much loved musical opened on Broadway on March 31, 1943 and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances.

The musical has been revived and won an Academy Award in 1955 for the film adaptation. It also won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944. Artis-Naples will feature a film musical –Singin’ in the Rain as a part of their Pops series – March 10-14.

But probably the most well-known in March is St. Patrick’s Day – which is March 17; recognizing the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland. In 1903 St. Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first St. Patrick’s Festival was held in 1996. In Ireland by 2006 it had become a five day long festival. So you can be Irish (if you are not) for one day and join the thousands that celebrate the “wearing of the green.” The official parade in Naples will be on March 14 – down Fifth Avenue.

So whatever you chose to do – from blue grass to jazz to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – remember to always keep your personal concert hall with you – 88.7FM.