The Richardson’s are also staunch advocates for the protection of Florida’s natural environment and resources. They are supporters of “Captains for Clean Water” and are very involved in the “Peace River Charlotte Harbor Environmental Awareness Group” simply known as “PReaCH.”If that isn’t enough, Lee and Jamie have organized support for those impacted by both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael which recently devastated the Florida’s panhandle. Patrons and friends came to support their efforts as they were personally able to deliver over 11,000 lbs. of supplies to those in need to the Panhandle alone.
Merry and Bright! We’ve made a list of our area restaurants open Christmas Day 2018. Although we’re checking the list twice, if you know of a restaurant that will be open yet isn’t listed in this post, feel free to comment. Reservations are strongly recommended as some are offering special seating’s and menus. Also, please ensure you call to verify times.
Punta Gorda Restaurants Open Christmas 2018
The Captain’s Table at Fishermen’s Village
1200 West Retta Esplanade, #55
Tel: (941) 637-1177
Celtic Ray Public House
145 East Marion Avenue
Tel: (941) 916-9115
201 W Marion Ave
Tel: (941) 637-8800
Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside
33 Tamiami Trail
Tel: (941) 637-6770
88 Keys Florida
The Wyvern Hotel
101 East Retta Esplanade
Tel: (941) 639-7700
The Perfect Caper
121 E. Marion Ave.
Tel: (941) 505-9009
River City Grill and Italia
131 W Marion Ave
Tel: (941) 639-9080 (941) 639-7655
Englewood, Venice, Cape Haze, and Sarasota Restaurants Open Christmas 2018
1400 Aqua View Lane
Englewood, FL 34223
Tel: (941) 473-0171
Rum Bay Restaurant at Palm Island Resort (take the water taxi from behind Johnny Leverock’s)
7092 Placida Road
Cape Haze, FL 33946
Tel: (941) 697-0566
Sarasota and Venice Restaurants Open Christmas 2018
411 St Armands Cir, Sarasota
10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch
Boca Royale Golf and Country Club
1601 Englewood Road, Englwood
Kumo Japanese Restaurant
17945 Tamiami Trail, North Port
Crows Nest Venice
968 Tarpon Center Dr, Venice
I have often mentioned in our monthly newsletters as I have grown older I’ve gained a greater appreciation and love for history and seem to cherish the simple pleasures life has to offer even more. Perhaps it is this time of year when our homes and towns are decorated for the holidays and we put into practice “good will towards others” that my appreciation becomes even more profound. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed throughout the years is my enjoyment of those simple pleasures the same way I did as a child.
When recently asked, “What was your favorite Christmas gift growing up?” it was a hard question for me to answer as each Christmas was exciting. Our homes were decorated, snow was falling and we were excited to see what Santa left for us under the tree. While my brother and I were blessed to receive many wonderful gifts throughout the years, getting my first electric guitar was a gift I’ll always remember. Of course if my parents had to rethink that decision they may have opted for something else as that same Christmas my brother Jeff received his drum set. We formed our first band and thought we were going to become the next Beatles like most kids during that time, but my father, whose father was a famous composer of opera from Italy, and the voice coach of world renown opera singer Enrico Caruso, quickly reminded us that if his father was still alive and “heard the trash we call music, he would destroy the instruments.”
While I was never to find fame and fortune in the music industry, as I look back on all the gifts I’ve received the one that never came wrapped in a box, but is one I carry with me every day is that of “appreciation.” That gift arrived during my childhood when a family
moved into our neighborhood and owned everything you could imagine. They had a twin engine airplane, a go cart, scooters, and a jet boat when no one even knew what a jet boat was. They had a built in pool and their home had a central vacuum system. You can only imagine the fun we had with that! After seeing everything our new neighbors owned I asked my mom if we were poor. She smiled and said, “I guess if you compare yourself to that new family maybe you are, but when you consider the fact that we have been fortunate to have 2 homes and 2 cars where most people have only one of each, I don’t think you are doing too badly.” Mom’s simple reply changed my outlook and instead of thinking what I didn’t have, I wanted to share what I did. That childhood life lesson I have carried into adulthood and has become the foundation in how we treat our friends and clients alike.
For the past 20 years our lives in Florida have been nothing short of amazing. We feel with so many wonderful things to do and places to enjoy, our move to Florida feels more like a reward. Just like the child who was excited to open their presents on Christmas morning, we get the same euphoric feeling when we can share the wonderful “gifts” our community has to offer with those who are considering a move to Florida. Often times people tell us,
“You both should work for the Chamber of Commerce. You’re so enthusiastic about your community and you make us feel right at home.”
While we never take any day for granted, this time of year makes me appreciate our community and those who give so much to make it so special even more. Just look around and see the warmth you receive from store owners, restaurateurs, strangers you meet on the street and the efforts of scores of volunteers whose tireless efforts can be seen in our parks, weekend farmers markets, craft fairs, not to mention our year round concerts, events and more.
As we say to those we meet in our real estate business, “Our friendships don’t end at the closing table,” and it is with that appreciation that this month’s message is one of gratitude for the friends we have, the blessings we’ve received through those friendships, and the thankfulness to all those whose efforts make our community so very special.
May this holiday season bring you and your family an abundance of peace, joy and good health, now and throughout the New Year.
– Gary and Gail Cardillo
Many years ago, my high school English teacher told our class, “If you can fill your one hand with the number of close friends you have, consider yourself fortunate.” I guess I was one of the lucky ones, as I’ve been blessed with many friends who are very special to me. While I never take them for granted, for some reason this season of Thanksgiving makes me appreciate those friendships even more.
One person whose friendship I have valued for years is Marilyn Smith-Mooney, whose list of accomplishments could span several lifetimes, and her contributions and love for her community is second to none.
From her early years growing up on Long Island, NY, Marilyn possessed an entrepreneurial spirit. For 30 years she had a private sector career focused on architecture/interior design and construction and in fact owned a commercial construction company, something not very common for a woman to own in a male dominated industry. Later she took those creative skills and became the first woman in Executive Management for the #1 cosmetics packaging company in the US.
Not one to follow just one passion, Marilyn had a “secondary career” as an FAA Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor, which earned her the Amelia Earhart Medal for outstanding leadership in the international non-profit organization of licensed women pilots (The Ninety-Nines,Inc.) founded by Amelia Earhart.
In 1993 Marilyn took her skills with her, following her heart in a move that took her to Punta Gorda, and it didn’t take long for her presence to be felt. To this day Marilyn holds one of the longest tenures on the Punta Gorda City Council, serving from 1996-2008,having been re-elected for five terms. She served twice as Vice Mayor and in 2001 became Punta Gorda’s first woman mayor since the city’s founding in 1887.
During her 12 years on City Council, Marilyn’s service to the community included serving as the city’s representative to the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Charlotte County Tourist Development Council, Punta Gorda Housing Authority, Enterprise Punta Gorda, Arts and Humanities Council and the Charlotte County Domestic Violence Task Force. She is a graduate of leadership Charlotte and Leadership Florida and was the first recipient of Charlotte County’s Visitor and Convention Bureau “Tourism Ambassador Award” for her commitment to increasing tourist development.
As if this isn’t enough to make your head spin, Marilyn’s city council and other community-wide efforts and achievements cover a broad spectrum of unique initiatives that include downtown, neighborhood and economic development, infrastructure improvements, hurricane recovery, business and event development, mentorship programs, children’s services, charter review committee, financial management as well as a tremendous investment of time and financial support of numerous school, park and non-profit organizations.
After her integral role on City Council, Marilyn served as Executive Director for the Tetrault Family Foundation from 2008-2016 when the Peace River Botanical Gardens was first conceived. The goal was to help ensure the people of Charlotte County would become recipients of one of the largest botanical gardens in Florida. What started as a volunteer position turned into the role as Executive Administrator of the partnering non-profit organization founded to manage the gardens. While the Tetrault family continues to develop the balance of this 27-acre property, when completely funded by the Tetrault Family Foundation it will comprise a $30 million gift to the people of Charlotte County and Punta Gorda.
While I have always been intrigued with history, as I’ve grown older I find myself envisioning the sacrifices so many made to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. Whether I’m traveling or I just come into contact with a Veteran, I make it a point to thank them for their service, which I know is a passion Marilyn embraces as well. Founded in 2001, the Military Heritage Museum almost went bankrupt some years later and Marilyn was approached, due to her business acumen, “to run it like a business, not something for fun”. As current Board President her goal has been to relocate the museum into its own building where it could “enjoy the dignity it deserves while bringing history alive.” If you have never been to the Museum currently located in Fisherman’s Village, you need to put this on your “must do” list as the veterans who devote their time bringing “history alive” share their impassioned stories as if these moments in history occurred yesterday.
When people ask me what makes Punta Gorda so special, I tell them it is due to the vibrant Chamber of Commerce and the area’s community organizations and non-profits, most of which Marilyn is an active member. Not only is Marilyn a member of TEAM Punta Gorda, the Punta Gorda and Charlotte County Chambers of Commerce, the Isles Civic Association, Historical Society, Visual Arts Guild, the Punta Gorda Elks Club and a host of other civic and non-profit organizations, but she is a Supreme Court-certified Mediator for the 20th Judicial Circuit!
While she has been locally, regionally and nationally honored for her volunteerism and leadership in addition to a host of other awards, Marilyn’s philosophy is to “make a difference at the grassroots level.”
As a recipient of the Rotary’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, Marilyn was characterized as someone who was “passionate about her community, placed a high value on mutual respect, ethics, integrity, social conscience and responsible leadership. She regards volunteerism as both a responsibility and opportunity to give of one’s self to improve the world and mankind.”
When asked how she would like to be remembered, Marilyn responded by saying, “As someone who does her homework and always calls people back.”As a friend, you couldn’t ask for someone more loyal and caring. While her handprint can be found throughout the City, the lives she’s touched like mine are even more expansive. She is not only a wealth of knowledge but has a wicked sense of humor.
I feel the best way to summarize Marilyn is with the quote, “She’s never met a stranger,” as her contagious personality is as big as her heart. If you are fortunate enough to meet this amazing woman who I call “friend,” you will not only be entertained, but you will be captivated as she brings “history alive.“
As we celebrate this month of Thanksgiving, let us reflect not on our differences but for those special friendships in which we’ve been blessed.
It seems like yesterday when I was in elementary school and how I look back to those years with a special fondness. The class projects we worked on together, the field trips we took to places like the Wonder Bread factory where we saw how bread was made and to the Coney Island Aquarium with its vast display of marine life that featured an impressive electric eel demonstration. I think of the excitement we had acting in our school plays and who can forget those countless games of dodge ball during recess! Those were indeed great times. It was a time when riding your bike to school gave you a sense of new found freedom and when your teachers felt a bit more like extended members of the family. It was also a time when moms and dads were able to participate more in your school activities, and who can’t say how excited you were when you looked from the stage during your school play to see the loving support from your parents in the audience cheering you on? Did we have our occasional schoolyard fight or little clicks, sure we did, but overall there was a comradery that carried us through our high school years, creating some very special memories and friendships that are with me to this day.
With the fast paced world in which we live, and so many families relying on two incomes to support their households, it seems like the tenderness of those years I experienced have been compromised. The world of social media, video gaming and the vast offerings we can download from our cell phones, which by the way I’ve been told are more sophisticated than the first space craft that landed on the moon, have changed the way we interact with each other. Rather than calling, today’s generation prefers to skype, text, facetime, Instagram and tweet. Combine this with a family dynamic that is seeing more “quality of time” being compromised, any teacher you speak with today will tell you they are experiencing an educational setting far different than the one in which we grew up.
As a young child, it was pretty cool to say you knew a fireman or a policeman, and with this newsletter being focused around a back to school theme, I wanted to reach out to two good friends of mine, Officer Joe Angelini and Officer Terry Chow, who proudly serve our community as Officers with the Punta Gorda Police Department, to gain their insight on some of the challenges they face today in protecting our children.
Officer Angelini serves as School Resource Officer for Sallie Jones Elementary School and in addition to protecting the children of this fine elementary school, also teaches a course in “Bullying Awareness.”As early as kindergarten, Joe makes this one session class mandatory for all grades from kindergarten through 5th. He has the children sign a contract entitled “Grit Pledge,”where they promise to be good role models, be forgivingand compassionate of others and to “speak up instead of being a bystander. “
For the very young children, Joe reads “The Juice Box Bully,” a very interactive book that teaches the children how to stand up for others. For the older children, Joe has developed a very effective power point presentation that includes the effects of “Cyber bullying,” something as children my generation would never have understood. Joe said, “While bullying can manifest itself in many ways, simply stated a bully is someone who continues to act after being told to stop.” He continued by saying,
“in a bullying scenario, you have the victim, the bully and the bystander, and you don’t want to be a bystander and do nothing.”
Perhaps one of the most effective analogies Joe uses in showing compassion towards others is his use of two apples. During his presentation Joe takes one of the apples and drops it several times on the desk, the other is untouched. Visually they appear the same, but once the skin of the apple that has been dropped is peeled back you the bruising that came as a result of the abuse. Joe’s message to the students is, “You don’t know what someone has gone through in their lives they are keeping inside, so try to be more understanding if their ways are different than yours.”
Terry Chow, Resource Officer at Charlotte High School and now Punta Gorda Middle School, has seen how change in the family dynamic and social media have resulted in some children not only becoming more aggressive with their classmates, but challenging their teachers and school administrators as well. Terry said it starts with the home and if kids are being allowed to challenge their parents, give in to their children’s demands, combined with various social media sites that are more tolerant of confrontational behaviors, that is going to be carried into the school setting.
A question everyone has on their minds is school shootings. When I was growing up we had our school yard fights, but no one ever thought about bringing a gun to school and shooting up his classmates and teachers. Both Joe and Terry responded by saying, when you look into each case, there has been some psychological history or perhaps a copycat behavior that has been either ignored or not acted upon. Terry said a parent should look at changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, the activities their children are participating in, the friends they keep and what they are watching, as the media hype today has been very polarizing.Both Officers said they are seeing more children today being raised by single parents or grandparents, which in many of these cases results in the absence of a “father figure.” Joe said, he fostered the “Watch D.O.G.S.” program which stands for “Dads Of Great Students, and is an innovative father involvement educational initiative of the National Center For Fathering.”
Joe said they look for “dads” to come to the school to spend some time with children with no father figure, who will become role models for these children. He continued by saying,
“Moms were always involved, but now we are trying to get Dad’s more involved in the children’s school activities.”
Both Officer’s Angelini and Chow have told me for years how the Punta Gorda Police Department prides itself in being able to answer any call in under 5 minutes. They said while the schools have taken great steps in securing the entry into the buildings, they have created a security presence they feel will deter an “active shooter” situation. While these officers have been trained to go aggressively “right to the threat,” they also stress the importance in training the student body and staff in how to respond in an “active shooter” scenario and on August 9th, Officer Chow conducted an “Active Shooter” presentation held at C.P.A.C located on the Charlotte High Campus.
In closing, the back story that always seems to be missing is the passion and love for the children these Police School Resource Officers have that never seems to be reported. Both of these officers not only protect and defend the residents and children in our county, but they have coached some of our children and have given tirelessly of themselves to many non-profit organizations apart from their police duties. Their story is not just about making our children safer, it is about their love for community and a desire to give these children every unobstructed chance to pursue their dreams to the fullest; and they will never end a conversation with you without saying, “Please let me know if I can ever do anything for you or your family,” something we don’t hear enough of these days.