If something good came out of torturous 2020, it is the tremendous generosity, outpouring of assistance and demonstration of camaraderie from people coming together to help others in need while a pandemic incapacitated our community’s health and well-being. We were all in this together. Large companies, small businesses, organizations, agencies and individuals truly stepped up to make a difference this year. Philanthropic examples could be seen everywhere we turned.
For instance, consider how Fort Myers Brewing used its resources to make a difference even as its business was affected by mandated closures and reduced capacity. The company converted a portion of its brewery operations to support the production of another type of beneficial alcohol—hand sanitizer—to help ensure front-line health care workers, first responders and the community had access to the antibacterial agent that was difficult to obtain during the pandemic. The brewery produced thousands of gallons of “wash” for Cape Coral-based artisan rum distillery Wicked Dolphin to distill into hand sanitizer. Local banks stepped up this year to do what they could to assist struggling people and businesses. Edison National Bank worked quickly and tirelessly on behalf of small businesses and nonprofits to fulfill Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Every application Edison processed and submitted for hundreds of local companies earned approval during the first round of the U.S. Small Business Administration program, essentially helping many small businesses continue to operate and keep people employed. The team at Sanibel Captiva Community Bank proved its commitment to taking care of its customers and the community, too. After a teller received a phone call from an elderly customer, she learned the woman didn’t have access to food because her caretaker was forced to leave town temporarily for work. After the woman unsuccessfully tried to order groceries online, the teller stepped in to help. She asked the bank’s courier to pick up groceries, which the teller delivered to the grateful customer. Also, when SanCap Bank’s operations center recently relocated to its newest branch in Fort Myers, creating about 2,700 square feet of available office space, management donated rent-free office space to two Southwest Florida nonprofit organizations—the Southwest Florida Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack and the Southwest Florida Symphony—to help them fulfill their missions.
As local communities struggled this year, generous employees of Creighton Construction & Development delivered acts of kindness to support frontline medical staff and first responders, as well as restaurants, families and others in need. Creighton Construction & Development founder Dan Creighton purchased $5,000 in food from Ruth’s Chris Steak House that otherwise wouldn’t have been used, and worked with the restaurant and its chefs to prepare 150 meals for disadvantaged families of the Dunbar community whose livelihoods had been affected by COVID -19. Creighton also gave out $25,000 from his own pocket, distributing $250 directly to 100 families who were significantly affected. This act of kindness inspired Creighton’s team to begin carrying out their own kind acts; Creighton associates have aided more than 3,300 people through the #CreightonCares challenge, contributing their own money to organize and execute more than a dozen special projects. Members of the Creighton team have been delivering meals, funds and more to others as they challenged local business partners to join them in their efforts.
Although Southwest Florida restaurants and food trucks were greatly hobbled by the pandemic, many owners and staffers pitched in to create, deliver and serve meals to area hospitals, teachers, children and others to show their appreciation. Many eateries fed their workers and others in the community for free during these tough times and made available pantry necessities and even toilet paper when they were hard to find. Chefs from the American Culinary Federation Caxambas Chapter of Southwest Florida and Five Star Gourmet Foods distributed thousands of free boxes of fruits and vegetables to those in need.
These examples are merely an introduction to many heartwarming instances when people came forward during these challenging times. Nearly every setback this year was offset by an example of a company that cared. We needed these moral, mental, physical and financial boosts now more than ever.
We’ve compiled some representative samples for our annual salute to Companies That Care. Please note that there are many other businesses and their employees regularly reaching out to those in need and supporting worthwhile causes than are listed here, and all are praiseworthy.
As the great and powerful Wizard of Oz says before presenting a heart to the Tin Man: “Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila− er, phila− yes, er, Good Deed Doers.” In recognition of their kindness and for making a difference in our community, we symbolically give each of these Good Deed Doers a shiny red heart as a token of our esteem and affection. Know that we all appreciate these thoughtful acts of kindness, and that we sincerely thank you.
Community Cooperative has been a prime example of how companies step up to care for the community during a crisis. During the stay-at-home order, as area unemployment and furloughs began to rise, the Lee County nonprofit that supplies food to anyone needing it saw demand for mobile food pantries increase threefold, well beyond a budget that already relies on the generosity of the community. Business partners have stepped up. Longtime business partner Will Prather from Broadway Palm Dinner Theater found himself with a silent kitchen and employees who needed work. He offered Community Cooperative food storage, his kitchen and his employees to help prepare Meals on Wheels for delivery to seniors and the homebound, freeing up space at Community Cooperative to package food for the growing mobile food pantries. Fort Myers Brewing held two drive-through food collections for Community Cooperative in recognition of the need of fellow restaurant and hospitality workers. “It is because of the significant support from our community partners that we are able to bridge the gap beyond what we could provide with our normal operating budget,” says Community Cooperative CEO Tracey Galloway. For more information or to contribute to the COVID -19 Long Term Recovery Fund, visit CommunityCooperative.com.
CREIGHTON CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Beyond the #CreightonCares challenge, Creighton Construction & Development is an active community supporter—the generosity of the company and its leadership boosts dozens of local organizations, including the Bobby Holloway Jr. Memorial Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Lee County, Hope Hospice, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island, SWFL Children’s Charities and many more. To show its support for those who have generously served our country, Creighton hosts an annual fishing tournament for its staff, clients and project partners that raises funds to benefit the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund. The company’s 2019 event brought together more than 150 anglers and 39 boats to raise $50,000 in assistance of wounded veterans and their families. As a supporter of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South, Creighton has served as title sponsor for the organization’s Law and Order Ball every year since the event was started seven years ago. This gala honors the law enforcement agencies and officers who go above and beyond the call of duty, and all proceeds benefit the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South Foundation. Dan Creighton is also a generous supporter of individuals within the community. A few years ago, he befriended a young man who was born without arms or legs, and in January 2020, Creighton gave him the gift of a condo. Additionally, when Creighton invited his friends and colleagues to rally together to help with the man’s living expenses, about $25,000 was donated through GoFundMe and direct donations.
EDISON NATIONAL BANK
As Lee County’s oldest locally owned and managed community bank, Edison National Bank has a longstanding commitment to its customers and to Southwest Florida. Over its nearly 25 years in business, the company has dispersed about $3 million into the community through sponsorships, donations and support. Edison National Bank and Bank of the Islands are also proud contributors to nearly 100 nonprofits and special causes to date that serve education, the arts, children’s welfare, wildlife and coastal habitat preservation and much more.
Corporate citizenship and service are part of the culture at Edison National Bank, starting at the top with President Robbie Roepstorff and CEO Geoff Roepstorff, both of whom generously contribute their personal time, talent and treasure for the benefit of others in Lee County. The bank’s leadership team members serve on many advisory, nonprofit and academic boards and committees, and all team members are encouraged to accept volunteer and/or leadership positions in nonprofit organizations for which they feel a strong affinity. Furthermore, Edison National Bank honors an outstanding employee each year with its Volunteer of the Year Award, and all employees who volunteer receive recognition for their volunteer hours. This spirit of generosity flows throughout the organization, with the balance of the staff donating more than 650 volunteer hours per year to local causes. Their contributions of time and talent are augmented by charitable donations the bank makes throughout the year.
Community involvement is one of Entech’s core values. Led by President Jake Spanberger and reflecting a deep commitment to clients and community, Entech is the premier IT managed service provider in Southwest Florida. The company was established on the principle of the Golden Rule. “Entech was founded with the belief that if you do good business, good things will happen to you. Doing what’s right has always been our number one core value,” says Spanberger. “This foundation helped us build and develop meaningful relationships in the community throughout the years.” Community involvement speaks to the heart of Entech’s purpose; the company takes great pride in providing IT services to more than 25 members of the nonprofit community by partnering with them to ensure the costs meet their budget. These partnerships not only include providing technology infrastructure and support, but also cash contributions and sponsoring and participating in events. “There are so many great nonprofit organizations in our area,” says Spanberger. “If we can help them fulfill their mission by offering them reduced-cost services and partnering in their fundraising events, we’re playing a role in enabling their people to do what matters. It’s the least we can do to help them make our community a better place.”
FORT MYERS BREWING
As area food banks struggle to fulfill the community’s increased need to feed local families, Fort Myers Brewing stepped up to help. The brewery hosted “Gateway CAN Do It: Food Drive Rally” to collect food and financial donations for Community Cooperative. The brewery encouraged the community to help fill a United Way box truck by donating shelf-stable food products or checks so that Community Cooperative could cost-effectively buy the food it needs. The company also donated a portion of its sales of T-shirts with a pandemic-inspired slogan, “The best beer you will ever drink in your driveway,” to benefit Community Cooperative. More than 3,000 pounds of food and $1,400 in donations were collected, enough to feed about 525 people for a week. The brewery hosted another drive two weeks later for Community Cooperative, as well as the Gulf Coast Humane Society. The company created a Gateway Strong campaign to promote food and beverage establishments within the Gateway community to help rebound, and 18 businesses in or near the Gateway neighborhood teamed up for Gateway Takeout Weekend in April, encouraging the purchase of food and drinks from local businesses. The brewery also created a Beer It Forward program so people can prebuy beers for others, especially for health care workers, first responders and laid-off restaurant workers. Most recently, Fort Myers Brewing introduced “Adyn Strong,” a limited-edition Pilsner. The company is donating proceeds to help 8-year-old Adyn Pickett and his family deal with mounting medical bills as he battles leukemia for the fourth time. Fort Myers Brewing also regularly serves as a sponsor for many community events.
GOEDE ADAMCZYK DEBOEST AND CROSS, PLLP
Naples attorney Cary Goggin, a partner at Goede Adamczyk DeBoest and Cross, routinely volunteers time and talent to help people who come to the law firm through Florida Rural Legal Services. But it was through a social media post and a call with the Collier County Tax Collector’s office that the firm learned about Ed Pearson Sr., whose mobile home in Naples Estate Mobile Home Park was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. Pearson went to the property tax office seeking his deed so he could get a new home built by a state program called Rebuild Florida. When it turned out the people who sold to him never transferred the title, Goggin embarked on a lawsuit to help Pearson obtain the title. Before the company went out of business, Pearson had significantly overpaid for his mobile home, while the company never turned it over to him. The law firm filed a petition to get it titled appropriately in his name. A social media campaign also raised money to help Pearson replace his furniture and clothing. Goggin provides pro bono services for myriad needs, including eviction defense, landlord-tenant issues, contractual issues, debt collection, personal injury defense, mortgage foreclosure defense, contract indebtedness defense, adoption and temporary child custody. All of the attorneys at Goede Adamczyk DeBoest and Cross, PLLP keep track of the hours they donate to the community and report those hours to the Florida Bar. In some cases, when attorneys’ fees are recovered, those funds are donated back to the legal services organization.
Recognizing that the lasting impacts of stress will affect productivity and recovery, Immokalee-based Healthcare Network—a nonprofit with the mission of providing quality health care to everyone, regardless of income or insurance status—offered free virtual mental health conversations for the area’s frontline health care workers in May and June. With a grant from Direct Relief, Healthcare Network is offering three free mental health appointments in person or via telehealth for frontline workers and their families, including but not limited to teachers, school employees, health care workers, protective service and first responders, grocery store workers, agricultural workers, janitors, maintenance workers and restaurant employees in Southwest Florida.
“Essential frontline workers have encountered significant stressors, often including notable psychological strain, during the pandemic,” says Dr. Emily Ptaszek, president and CEO. “The sessions provide a supportive and safe space to help frontline workers maintain mental well-being and build resilience to cope with ongoing challenges. The recovery of our communities depends on the health of its workers.” Learn more at HealthcareSWFL.org/Direct-Relief.
THE ISLAND COW
The Island Cow restaurant on Sanibel Island has been a true asset to the community, working this year to fulfill the need when the region was faced with a critical shortage of protective face masks. When they first heard about COVID-19 in Southwest Florida, The Island Cow owners Elke and Brian Podlasek and their two daughters began sewing protective face masks for their close friends who work at Lee Health. As the situation progressed, the couple’s popular family restaurant and other Sanibel businesses temporarily closed. While observing the stay-at-home recommendations, the family had materials shipped to their house and quickly began producing masks, with sales to businesses and the general public—and online donations via the Island Cow website—helping to fund materials so they could make free masks for first responders. While The Island Cow has since reopened, the Podlaseks continue to sew protective face masks in their free time. About 6,000 protective face masks have been donated to the staff at Lee Health, local fire and police departments and other first responders.
KGT Remodeling is all about building dreams, and the best part is that they don’t limit that to homebuilding. Owners Theresa and Greg Ulrich are committed to helping children who need a boost the most. “When you’re given things, you should really give back,” says Theresa Ulrich, whose community efforts extend in past years to her volunteer work with the Naples Area Board of Realtors’ community involvement committee. “The last few years, we have collected gifts for Toys for Tots but, to be honest, our team mostly fills the boxes ourselves. We have fun with it, imagining the children opening their gifts.” Most of KGT Remodeling’s fundraising efforts focus on children. Whether it’s fundraising at the Club Pelican Bay Golf Tournament and Banquet for college scholarships or bringing its antique truck Henry or car Betsy to act as a unique backdrop for fundraising photos, KGT Remodeling feels good doing its part. One of the most memorable volunteer efforts for KGT was when the team helped St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church prepare 40,000 meals in 60 minutes or less. In its latest efforts, KGT helped Sunshine Kids with its October pumpkin contest and also getting the word out about the nonprofit’s handmade fabric mask fundraiser. Sunshine Kids seeks to improve the quality of life for young cancer patients, and the masks can help everyone lessen the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Each year, Lee Health invests in education, programs and services for the betterment of the entire community. This year, the health system contributed more than $530 million to help strengthen health and human services throughout Southwest Florida. Contributions come in the form of wellness programs, education, community health programs, unpaid Medicare and Medicaid, charity care and discounted care for the poor and uninsured, as well as the cost of providing special programs throughout the community. Lee Health partners and collaborates with local organizations such as the United Way, Harry Chapin Food Banks and many others. Its Lee Community Healthcare clinics provide low-income and underinsured families much-needed access to primary care. The Child Advocacy Program at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida provides support and education to more than 106,000 people in Lee and Collier counties. Additionally, Lee Health supports wellness through free health fairs held in local schools, shopping centers, businesses and festivals. Through its Healthy Life Centers, it offers services and education to support healthy lifestyles, early detection of disease and chronic disease management. It offers screenings, classes, workshops and seminars on a variety of wellness topics, and is staffed by personal health advocates and health guides who assist individuals in-person to help navigate their health care needs.
Lipman Produce, an Immokalee-based wholesale distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables and America’s largest field tomato grower, has made many noteworthy contributions to the community this year. When the pandemic struck, Lipman Produce donated hand-washing stations to place around Immokalee. In August, Lipman Family Farms coordinated and gave away 1,200 free backpacks filled with school supplies to the elementary and middle school children of Immokalee, and recently distributed 700 backpacks to Immokalee children during the Collier County Sheriff Office’s “National Night Out” event. The company also provides scholarships for graduating Immokalee students. Of course, Lipman also is a big supporter of the annual Farm City BBQ, where it is the exclusive sponsor of the Immokalee salad each November. Jaime Weisinger, government and community affairs manager for Lipman Produce, is a past chair of the local barbecue event and loves representing the region’s agriculture community.
In March, Naples Area Board of Realtors, in response to emerging community needs caused by safer-at-home restrictions, initiated the NABOR Helps program. Staff and members of NABOR put forth additional effort, even while they were adjusting to work-from-home changes and exploring ways to serve their members in this new pandemic environment, and the program grew in size and scope to make a huge impact in several areas. It will continue to respond, as needed. So far, the NABOR Helps program has completed these initiatives and partnerships: The Meals for First Responders and Healthcare Professionals Program in April provided a fund of more than $12,000 for takeout meal credits for any Collier County first responder or front-line health care worker to enjoy at one of five local restaurants; the Farm to Neighbor Program in April facilitated delivery of 800 crates of fresh corn to Collier County organizations that supply meals to residents in need, in a combined effort with U.S. Sugar and Duda Fresh Farm Foods; a school supplies program in May donated $500 worth of school supplies to the Benison Center in Immokalee, and an additional $200 in school supplies donated by OfficeMax were delivered and distributed through the Immokalee Foundation; a hand sanitizer program in May donated gallons of hand sanitizer to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; the Hurricane Relief Program in June paid the $4,000 cost of shipping 24 pallets of bicycles and office equipment donated by the Bennison Center to several schools in the Bahamas; and the Waterway Cleanup in July with Florida Realtors hosted three cleanups as members and staff came together to clean up Rookery Bay, the Vanderbilt Drive area and the corner of Pine Ridge and Airport-Pulling road.
NAPLES BOTANICAL GARDEN
Mental health and substance abuse professionals have played a major part in keeping the community healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this important role, staff and clients of David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) received complimentary access to Naples Botanical Garden starting in mid-July. The program, Partners in Mental Wellness, is made possible by Christine Williamson and the Galliford-Mulard Foundation. Time spent in nature yields extensive health benefits, which is why this initiative includes family members of staff and clients so that entire families may connect with the Garden’s collections during the program’s run through Dec. 31. A kickoff to Partners in Mental Wellness included a Garden to Table luncheon drop-off for the staff at DLC on July 15. Donna McGinnis and Garden staff presented Scott Burgess and DLC staff with individually boxed, Garden-inspired lunches. These special lunches were handcrafted by Executive Chef Jack Raben of Fogg Café at Naples Botanical Garden. More than 130 DLC employees registered for the lunch drop-off, with many more staff benefiting from the access program.
NAPLES THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER
Naples Therapeutic Riding Center’s new mental health and wellness program for frontline health care workers is truly telling of the nonprofit’s responsiveness to community needs. When the program recently launched, it was very well received with nurses and doctors from NCH, as well as nurses from Avow, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Aston Gardens and more. NTRC has expanded its mental health outreach programs over the last several years—previously, the organization focused on therapeutic riding for special needs such as physical and learning challenges, but with the expansion of its campus and a new covered arena, it can now do more. It started partnering with social service agencies such as David Lawrence Centers, Pace Center for Girls, Avow, Valerie’s House and the Shelter to bring non-mounted equine groups to more people who can be helped from the mental health benefits of being around a horse. Through donor support, these free mental health programs are run by the charity’s clinical staff combined with NTRC’s certified instructors. NTRC hired its first mental health professional in March, and can now manage the clinical aspects of programs similar to this new frontline worker program, which doesn’t have to be tied to an existing nonprofit. Also, NTRC expanded Operation Strides, a program just for veterans, service personnel and military families that is similar to the new frontline program and not tied to another nonprofit.
NORMAN LOVE CONFECTIONS
As a family-owned company, Norman Love Confections shares its sweet success by participating in a wide range of charitable giving efforts that touch the lives of people here in Southwest Florida. In addition to giving inkind products to more than 200 local nonprofit organizations for events and fundraisers, Norman Love Confections is involved as a board member and donor for the Gulf Coast Humane Society. Norman Love also supports Barbara’s Friends, Heights Foundation and Valerie’s House, to name a few. Mary Love also donates her time at mobile food pantries for Community Cooperative. This year, the Loves joined Frontline Foods to provide sweet rewards: Norman Love Confections and FineMark National Bank & Trust gifted a four-piece box of decadent artisan chocolates to all 4,500 nurses at Lee Health during National Nurses’ Week. Additionally, Mary and Norman stopped by the hospital on Easter to provide treats to the employees. Quite frequently, Norman will host patients of Golisano Children’s Hospital for special treat days, making sundaes and sharing smiles. From health care to the homeless and hungry, each cause is special and personal to the Love family. Their hope is that over the years, the pretty jewelry-like box in the little green bag represents community as much as it does chocolate, because giving back is the best way Norman and Mary Love know to share the love.
OFDC COMMERCIAL INTERIORS
Strong B2B relationships have helped OFDC Commercial Interiors become one of the fastest-growing companies in Southwest Florida. Business-to-community relationships also remain as strong as ever for the 46-year-old company. Over the past 10 years, the Fort Myers-based business has donated more than $325,000 to charitable causes in Southwest Florida. Donations, to name just a few, have provided Christmas meals to needy families through Community Cooperative, enhanced health care to pediatric patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital and funded scholarships for students attending Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College. The company also contributes in-kind goods and volunteer hours to help organizations, such as when OFDC donated furniture to Pace Center for Girls, Lee County and loaned its box truck and manpower to SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. The company’s culture of generosity and community volunteerism is championed by President Joe Gammons, who serves on the FGCU Foundation board of directors and is a trustee emeritus for the Lee Health Foundation. Gammons also encourages his team to lend their professional talents by serving on a variety of boards and committees dedicated to bettering the region.
Being involved and giving back to the community are core values for Priority Marketing. The company is passionate about supporting local nonprofit organizations and charitable causes, offering a discounted nonprofit rate or donating its services. Priority Marketing has donated an estimated $2.6 million for in-kind services to numerous community organizations over the past 28 years. One of its most prominent nonprofit clients, SWFL Children’s Charities, is a great example of how the company’s pro-bono and discounted services have helped an organization raise its visibility and reach its fundraising goals, especially to manage event services for its signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. To date, Priority Marketing has donated $730,439 or 6,136 hours in professional services to support the organization. Additionally, Priority team members volunteer their personal time and give financially to support the organization during the festival and throughout the year. Furthermore, the company has had the honor of aiding more than 200 mission-driven organizations with pro-bono or discounted services, developing comprehensive campaigns to help reach desired goals, including driving awareness, generating dollars and volunteers and earning well-deserved publicity. The company’s generosity extends throughout the community in many ways, and members of the Priority Marketing team volunteer their time for community causes, ranging from serving as board members for local charities to giving of their time and talents. In addition to providing creative solutions and helping craft important messaging for businesses and organizations whose operations have been turned upside down from the pandemic, Priority Marketing has been sharing complimentary resources, including free downloadable toolkits and guidelines for communicating to customers, clients, employees and donors during a crisis.
SANIBEL CAPTIVA COMMUNITY BANK
“Community” is in Sanibel Captiva Community Bank’s name for a reason. Since opening its doors in 2003, the bank has given more than $1.4 million to support 300 nonprofit community causes—from Golisano Children’s Hospital and PACE Center for Girls to Blessings in a Backpack and Habitat for Humanity. Every member of the bank’s board of directors is involved with charitable organizations, and more than 65% of their employees are nonprofit volunteers who log in 1,000-plus volunteer hours annually. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, they recently donated more than $100,000 to help 12 Southwest Florida nonprofit organizations serving children and feeding people in need related to COVID-19. The financial gift supported the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, Blessings in a Backpack SWFL, Valerie’s House, PACE Center for Girls-Lee, The Heights Foundation, Hearts to Home, Senior Friendship Centers, American Legion, Children’s Education Center of the Islands, Sanibel Sea School and the Sanibel School Fund. To support the business community throughout the pandemic, their small-but-mighty team processed more than 750 loans totaling nearly $70 million under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. These loans helped local small businesses, nonprofit organizations and independent contractors support payroll and related costs, helping save more than 9,000 jobs in Southwest Florida and protect the vibrancy of the local economy.
A leader in the development of Southwest Florida and a steward to the community it serves, Stevens Construction has proven to be a company that cares. Last year, Stevens Construction gave nearly $90,000 and 500 service hours back to the community. Stevens Construction has participated in Toys for Tots since 2008 and also supports Builders Care, Hope for Kids Care, American Heart Association, BIG ARTS, Pace Center for Girls, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Pan-Florida Challenge for Hungry Kids and Bonita Springs Utilities’ school supplies drive. Additionally, Stevens Construction recently implemented a new benefit to team members, encouraging team members to take a day off work to support their charitable organization of choice. Individually, company founder and President Mark Stevens has served on the Horizon Council for 14 years and is currently the treasurer. He also served two terms as president of the Lee Building Industry Association. Dan Adams, Stevens’ vice president of South Florida, has served since 2006 on the board of directors of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, where he is past president. Adams also has served on the Chamber’s Foundation board of directors since 2018. Stevens Controller Terri Sobeck has served on the board of directors for Dress for Success since 2014 and currently is the treasurer. Marketing Director Jodi Huntoon has volunteered for Builders Care signature fundraiser BBQ, Bands and Brew since its inception in 2010, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Fort Myers.
Stickboy brought together a group of businesses in February, and by July, the group called Emerge SWFL had collaborated to save struggling businesses more than $55,000 during the year. The original focus for Emerge SWFL was to stimulate the economy in Southwest Florida by connecting, empowering and bringing awareness to the many organizations dedicated to supporting regional growth. And then COVID-19 happened. As a technology company, Stickboy is an essential business, keeping companies working with seamless remote setup and 24/7 technology help. It started offering some IT services for free so businesses could remain operational. But the award-winning custom software and IT firm could do more. So, it did. During the beginning of the pandemic, Stickboy launched a website for Emerge SWFL in order to have one platform for business owners who needed to find free services as well as valuable, up-to-date information and resources they could use during uncertain economic times. Companies such as Vectra Digital, Naples Network Services, Fieldr, Cigent and Two39 Group are key members of Emerge SWFL, and free services through those companies continue to include IT support, remote employee setup, business phone systems, home cybersecurity services, job listings and website audits. In June, Emerge SWFL partnered with the SWFRTP, Two39 Group and Fieldr to host a free, two-hour virtual expo that brought in more than 75 attendees, including 30 vendors and nine speakers.
SUNSHINE ACE HARDWARE
Sunshine Ace Hardware, one of the largest family-owned home improvement and outdoor recreation retailers in Southwest Florida, designated Children’s Miracle Network as its primary charity partner in 2020. Associates created a series of fundraising campaigns that have allowed Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to expand research and training programs, purchase new equipment and pay for uncompensated health care to make sure no child is turned away because of finances. Sunshine Ace also partnered with NCH Healthcare System and community physicians to provide care packages to frontline health care workers at the height of the pandemic. The company later tapped into its purchasing pipeline to help secure N95 face masks, antibacterial soap, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, coveralls and shoe safety covers for all staff, patients and visitors at NCH and Lee Health to ensure they are fully protected.
TARGET ROOFING & SHEET METAL
Target Roofing completes hundreds of roofing projects each year and ranks among the fastest-growing companies in Southwest Florida. Beyond a commitment to its customers, however, is an even stronger commitment to the community. Company culture prioritizes philanthropy and volunteerism, lending its resources, time and talents to two primary causes: housing and hunger. The company regularly donates supplies and labor for Lee BIA Builders Care’s construction projects and volunteers at Community Cooperative’s soup kitchen, mobile food banks and Meals on Wheels as drivers. To date, Target Roofing has provided more than $250,000 in direct donations, supplies and labor to multiple causes benefiting our community. Off the clock, employees also volunteer their own time for causes near and dear to their hearts, including animal welfare, veteran affairs, affordable housing, education, health care and youth sports.
TRINITY COMMERCIAL GROUP
Estero-based Trinity Commercial Group, an industry leader in the retail real estate market, has a team of professionals who give back to the local community where they live and work. TCG’s partner board participates in reviewing area charities and providing appropriate funding where warranted. A “Pacesetter” for the United Way’s annual funding drive, TCG has had 100% participation in team members donating to the nonprofit organization to benefit local agencies in need. Each year, a select group of high-performance businesses jump-start the annual United Way campaign by becoming a Pacesetter. Companies such as TCG accept the challenge to set the standard for leadership and community support by annually locking in their increased campaign donations. In addition, Trinity Commercial Group employees donated their time to pack meals last fall for Meals of Hope and pre-package food kits this fall for Harry Chapin Food Bank, and are participating in the Heart Ball fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
Companies don’t have to be big to care, and sometimes, a personal experience becomes the motivation for giving back. Case in point is TwinCutZ, a full-service professional barber shop with locations in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples. In February 2018, TwinCutZ owner, founder and barber Sean Casey was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Struggling to make payment for medical bills, Casey wanted to create something to raise money and awareness to help those who are fighting the same fight. He partnered with another barber, who also had cancer, and brainstormed on how best to connect, support and create health awareness throughout the hair industry. This collaboration was the birth of Fade Cancer, their brand of customized T-shirts to fight cancer. Fade Cancer donates a portion of every T-shirt sale to Hairstyles for Hope and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Hairstyles for Hope helps individuals battling cancer with assistance for medical bills and St. Jude gives excellent medical attention to children battling cancer who cannot afford treatment. Both have seen firsthand how important it is to be supported during this time. Additionally, TwinCutZ hosts an annual free back-to-school haircut day for students and supports Community Cooperative with a backpack drive.
Waterside Shops in Naples feeds hundreds annually by donating $30,000. In partnership with California Pizza Kitchen, hot pizzas, boxed lunches and take-and-bake pizzas were distributed to essential workers throughout Southwest Florida and individuals in need, including The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. Volunteers from the Senior Center delivered food to the elderly in need and families at Lee Health Child Development Centers and NCH daycare received hundreds of take-and-bake pizzas to cook at home with their children. The recipients included Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Collier County EMS, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Lee Health, Naples Fire & EMS, NCH, North Collier Fire Station, Physicians Regional Hospital, The Senior Center at JFCS, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children and Youth Haven.