Congressman Francis Rooney on Budgeting and Fiscal Responsibility

The most important duty of the federal government is to pass a fiscally responsible budget. This would be a budget which funds basic services, honors the commitments made for social security, and provides for the defense and security of our nation and its borders. For far too long we have suffered from irresponsible government spending that has failed to provide for these basic needs, while wasting our hard earned taxpayer dollars  in failed efforts to pick winners and losers, fund inefficiency ($535 million wasted on Solyndra, billions for renewable fuel standards, and funding of over $1 billion per year to prop up the failing private sector business known as AMTRAK, for example) and advance a social engineering agenda that is out of touch with all but the far left.

We need to realize that the current amount of spending is unsustainable. Our national debt will soon exceed $20 trillion dollars, which is an obscene burden that should not be passed on to our children and grandchildren. As President Reagan once said; “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.” Any budget that Congress considers must lead to an eventual elimination of the national debt.

In the FY 2017 budget, the federal government has wasted your tax dollars on: $74 million for a program that allows taxpayer backed loans to be repaid with peanuts (really, peanuts), $5 million to study the partying habits of fraternities and sororities, $3.4 million for hamster cage fight matches and $12 million by the IRS on an unused email archiving service. These infuriating examples of waste are just a few of hundreds. While this illustrates how bad the system has become, there are more fundamental issues at stake.

We need the paradigm shift reflected in the Trump budget. This budget cuts spending. It focuses on holding agencies and programs accountable for waste and duplication of efforts, while providing the funding necessary to secure our borders and rebuild our military. It is a budget for limited government. As Congress begins its budget process, I hope earnestly for, and will fight for, a conservative budget that sets a limit on spending. We owe this to the next generation.


Lee County Office
1039 S.E. 9th Place • Suite 308 | Cape Coral, FL 33990
Phone: 239.599.6033

Collier County Office
3299 Tamiami Trail East • Suite 105 | Naples, FL 34112
Phone: 239.252.6225

Washington, DC Office
120 Cannon House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.2536

Africa – I Never Knew of a Morning in Africa When I Woke Up and Wasn’t Happy

by Ron McGinty

There is no greater thrill of memories and experiences than an African safari. My first morning began with learning the ways of the wild.

The generators start at 5 a.m. sharp with the delivery of three cookies and coffee. I immediately jumped out of bed and into the shower. Instantaneously, I heard the door zipper open then close; I asked, “Who’s there?” Grabbing my towel, I gazed around the bathroom door and saw there were no cookies left. Eyeing outside into the twilight there was only three monkeys enjoying my pre-breakfast treat. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” Helen Keller.

Welcome to Africa!

I agreed with my guide, “The only man I envy is the man that has not yet been to Africa for he has so much to look forward to.” Our safari centered around following the wildebeest migration from the Serengeti plains through Kenya. The primary areas traveled were Samburu, Lake Nakuru and the Masa Mara. The tribes of this area of Kenya are primarily nomadic cattle herders. There are formal schools for the children and surprisingly found most can speak English. They may have to walk long distances to go to school during migration, consequently they walk in clusters.

The terrain varied from flat plains to mountains with elevations from 930 ft to over 6,400 ft. The resulting temperatures ranged from high 40’s to mid 80’s during out quest.

Night time is a golden gift of sounds, the animals start their choir of the vocal harmony of acappella groups. I would simply sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the symphony. Following breakfast, we are back with camera in hand for the next adventure.

The law of the jungle is real, very real. We watched the hyena pack hunt as a well-organized team of killers. A baby giraffe caught by lions; it took the mother three days to leave the site.

The most exciting event was the crossing of the wildebeest through the Masa Mara River. The crossing is so unique that only one in a thousand visitors see the actual crossing. This herd of almost three hundred thousand gathered on a bluff over forty feet above the river. Our guide told us they all go after the first is forced over the side of the cliff and that they did.

The crocodiles were gargantuan and were swimming closer. I don’t think even Troy Landry of “Swamp People” would consider getting one of these in his boat.

Every day we were reminded to be back in our camp before sunset because of the danger of poachers. It is miserable to know the animals are poached for meat, hides, tusk, etc.

The African government is doing a much better job of protecting these beautiful animals, but the problem is limited resources and vastness. The protected preserves have no fences so the animals migrate into dangerous areas where hunters are allowed.

An African proverb,“Until the lion learns to write; every story will glorify the hunter.”

THE AVOW FOUNDATION dynamic and focused

Melissa Phillips V.P. Philanthropy/Avow Foundation

There are several definitions for a foundation but the most common is that it provides load bearing support and stability for structures. In other words the basis or groundwork in support of “what’s above.”  This portrayal represents the work of the Avow Foundation, the cornerstone of financial support to Avow Hospice, complimentary therapies, adult and children’s palliative care and bereavement services.

Avow Foundation’s recent Butterfly Ball specifically focused on raising resources for complimentary therapies such as music and massage. There is no charge for these services and gratitude is expressed for the therapists who provide a diversion from the usual medically focused day. Family members state that this gift is as important to them as it is to their loved ones as it brings peace and comfort to the entire family.

MELISSA PHILLIPS, the Vice President of Philanthropy/Avow Foundation has had a long and successful career in philanthropic endeavors and Major Gift planning. She prides herself in working on behalf of others in a quiet and many times off the radar way. With a Masters in Social Work, Melissa believes in extending a hand up and advocating for other. She has also built a team of professionals who share her vision and mission. Each member has a particular focus but everyone works in tandem to reach the Foundation’s yearly goals, which equates to expanding services. Melissa is happy to discuss the Foundation’s expansion by contacting her at

SABRINA KELLY BENNETT – Development Officer and Retail Operations takes the lead in overseeing the operations of “Treasures,” Avow’s
re-sale shop. With a career in luxury retail management she has used her skills to raise the profile of Treasures in the community. She has contributed a strategic plan for growth and development with this and other Foundation projects.

SANDRA LEE BUXTON – Director of Donor Relations is involved with current donors as well as introducing the Avow Foundation to those who may be new to the community. With a series of Friendraisers planned the goal is to educate Naples to the many services that Avow has to offer, not just the well known Hospice. With a background in healthcare, she can address the medical side of patients needs while introducing ways to leave a legacy. sandra,

RICK LOCASTRO – Senior Director of Development is a retired Air Force Colonel and leads our “We Honor Veterans” program. He is
working with veterans in the community to share this important story and represents the Foundation as a guest speaker at group events. With Rick’s combination of fundraising and healthcare expertise his goal is to continue expanding Avow’s role with the veterans community. He meets with veterans on a regular basis to ensure that their input is incorporated into the overall plan.

SALLY WILSON – Annual Giving Officer is an expert in raising funds and event implementation. She has thus far taken the lead on several major “friend” and fundraisers ensuring that all Foundation goals were met and the experience for guests was positive. Her main focus is to obtain resources so that Avow’s mission is carried out ensuring all patients receive needed and necessary service.

Melissa states that there will be increased Foundation visibility within the community as  educational presentation regarding Avow’s extensive
programs as well as other topics of interests are scheduled. Tours of the large beautiful campus are conducted by all team members and they love
showcasing the Lyon Center for Palliative Care, one of the few in the country. The Foundation has numerous naming opportunities as well as the option of purchasing a memorial brick for a loved one or a dear pet. Contact Kim Gorniak at 239.649.3685 to make arrangements for this service.

The Avow Foundation is now recruiting volunteers for non-medical roles including work in our re-sale shop. To make a donation of material goods for Treasures or to volunteer, call Brittni Brown-Cooper at 239.351.3683. To speak to any Foundation member call, 239.261.4404 and ask for them by name.

Naples Winter Wine Festival gears up for 2018

New Co-Chairs Bring Contagious Enthusiasm to the 2018 Naples Winter Wine Festival

Three Couples Gear Up to Raise Crucial Funds for Children in Need


Naples, FL – April 25, 2017 – The wheels are in motion for the next Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF), set for January 2628, 2018 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fl. Co-Chairing this year’s event are NCEF Trustees Becky & Lewie Card, Susie & David McCurry, and Kathy & Dan Mezzalingua. With an inspiring theme and this new team of passionate, dedicated Co-Chairs, this year is sure to be full of excitement and incredible impact for the Collier County community.

“All We Need is Love” is the theme that the 2018 Co-Chairs have chosen, and it represents the devotion to children and the community that is at the heart of each and every Naples Winter Wine Festival. Since the event’s inception in 2001, the Festival has raised more than $161 million for its founding organization,the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), which has awarded grants to more than 45 non-profit organizations that have impacted the lives of over 200,000 children. Guests of the Festival will join in this charitable mission as they raise their paddles during the Festival’s famed live auction, part of a weekend that features a myriad of masterpieces created by the top wine and food talent from around the globe.

Becky & Lewie Card were instantly enthralled by the Naples Winter Wine Festival and impressed with the work of NCEF upon moving to Naples. In looking for a way to give back to their new home, it immediately became clear that the impact of the Festival and NCEF was second to none. Becky and Lewie have always been seriously committed to serving underprivileged populations in their local communities. While living in Chattanooga, Lewie held leadership and board positions for the Urban League of Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the University of Chattanooga Foundation and The House of Refuge. Becky is a retired dentist, and Lewie is a third-generation business owner and chairman of Card-Monroe Corp. (CMC), the world’s leading manufacturer of custom built tufting equipment for the carpet, rug and artificial turf industries.

Susie & David McCurry have attended 15 of the 17 Festivals, and became NCEF Trustees in 2009. Susie has served on the Grant Committee for five years, and chaired the Committee for the past two years, thoughtfully leading the process of grant allocations and interactions with local charities. Their involvement with organizations benefiting children is not limited to NCEF. David, a former professional football player, coached sports and worked in education, serving on the Board of Naples Players and tutoring at St. Ann School. Susie worked in pre-school education and administration, and has extensive experience chairing fundraising events such as the St. Ann School Foundation Gala and the American Cancer Society Bucket List Bash. In Iowa, they support various charities such as Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center; Grinnell College Global Learning Program & Facilities; and Williamsburg Community Recreation, School, and Historical Buildings.

Kathy & Dan Mezzalingua have been Trustees of NCEF since 2015. Their work with NCEF is part of a lifelong dedication to advancing educational opportunities and providing health services for those in need. Together, they are the major donors for two K-11 schools in St. Kitts, West Indies; Dan has been a trustee of multiple higher education institutions such as Syracuse University, St. Bonaventure University, and Ave Maria University; and Kathy taught in Syracuse public schools. Additionally, Kathy is President of Saint Agatha Foundation, which supports women suffering from breast cancer by taking on the costs of surgery, medication and treatment not covered by insurance for “women who cannot afford their disease.” Dan developed, as well as managed, a family business that manufactured coaxial cable connectors for the cable TV industry with plants around the world. He had previously formed Octagon-Scientific, Inc., which developed one of the first convertors for cable TV use.

“The Co-Chair team is already hard at work—and this year’s theme really brings home the reason we are so determined to build on the Festival’s legacy with another spectacular event,” said Lewie Card, 2018 Naples Winter Wine Festival Co-Chair. “We are ready to share the love to the children of Collier County and make this another year of life-changing impact for those in need.”

Ticket packages to the Naples Winter Wine Festival, limited to 580 guests, start at $10,000 per couple. A $25,000 package is also available that includes reserved seating for a party of four at a vintner dinner and under the tent. To inquire about tickets to this exclusive event, please contact Barrett Farmer at or239-514-2239.

About the Naples Winter Wine Festival

The Naples Winter Wine Festival is the most successful international charity wine auction in the world, bringing together renowned vintners and chefs with wine enthusiasts and philanthropists for a three-day Festival that raises millions of dollars for underprivileged and at-risk children. Every dollar raised under the tent funds the Festival’s founding organization, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), whose annual grants and strategic initiatives have provided more than 200,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel.  For more information, please visit