For those of you not familiar with Young Life, while it is described as a Christian based organization where staff and volunteers alike contribute their time to mentor and assist middle and high school students based on Christian values and principles, it is much more. Kids of all faiths, race and ethnic backgrounds are welcomed into an “authentic environment”where they can talk about the challenges they face in everyday life.
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.