‘Powerful message’

‘Powerful message’

Human trafficking highlighted in exhibit at Phillips Gallery

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander June 24, 2015 issue

Numerous paintings created by area youths, and some adults, will cover the walls of Phillips Gallery through the end of July. The canvas paintings all share a similar, powerful message about human trafficking and its effects.

The gallery, at BIG ARTS Center, 900 Dunlop Road, is open from noon to 2 p.m. Monday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. On Wednesday, July 22, at 3:30 p.m. Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership, Inc. will hold a special reception featuring a short program and light refreshments at the gallery.

HTAP Executive Director Nola Theiss said the July event will display the students paintings from Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church, Our Mothers Home, Pine Manor Association, Lehigh Acres and Bonita Springs Boys and Girls Club in the center of the gallery .

“We will also invite the other organizations which have hosted ARTREACH programs over the last five years,” she said of The Heights Center and other Boys & Girls Clubs. “We are also interested in having community members. We especially invite Zonta, Rotary, St. Michael’s and the Congregational Church members who have supported ARTREACH.”

"People don't know how prevalent human trafficking is because it happens 'beneath the surface.' This octopus represents how predators trap their victims and take them into the darkness that's human trafficking." Our Mother's Home 2014

“People don’t know how prevalent human trafficking is because it happens ‘beneath the surface.’ This octopus represents how predators trap their victims and take them into the darkness that’s human trafficking.”
Our Mother’s Home 2014

One of the many paintings that will be featured during the Wednesday, July 22, event was created in 2014 by youth of Our Mother’s Home titled “Beneath the Surface.” The brightly colored octopus’ tentacles have a firm grasp around a different fish that all have human faces. “People don’t know how prevalent human trafficking is because it happens beneath the surface,” the description reads. “This octopus represents how predators trap their victims and take them into the darkness that’s human trafficking.”

The ARTREACH program has expanded, Theiss said as a result of the biggest human trafficking case taking place in Florida in March when 17 traffickers were arrested. She said a good number of the victims were from Lee and Collier counties.

The case broke, Theiss said, when women victims of the violent crime sought help for custody of their child. She said when the stories of the victims were found to be similar, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement became involved.

“Six victims have been identified and they are all in recovery and have jobs,” Theiss said.

Thirty-percent of children are trafficked by family members, she said, and 11 percent are sought out by strangers who offer the child something they feel they do not have or give them compliments.

The ARTREACH program began in February 2010 as an effort to help spread what kind of dangers are associated with human trafficking, as well as raise awareness of the crime. The program is offered for youngsters 8 and older over a five-day session where they spend time creating a canvas collaboratively depicting what they learned about human trafficking.

“We are telling the kids they can have an impact because they are big,” Theiss said of the canvas paintings. “They are creating actual art.”

Three or four children work together on the same canvas, which many times include a border representing a message that is told within the main masterpiece.

Theiss pointed to a painting at the gallery with feet outlining the canvas sharing the message that human trafficking has a never- ending cycle of running away and the hand within the painting represents never being able to get away.

ARTREACH began with three programs the first year and grew to 10 programs last year. The program, she said, has touched the lives of immigrant and first generation children; foster; African American; Haitian; Latino and domestic kids.

“All those groups need special attention,” Theiss said.

She said they feel it is important to also protect domestic kids who are U.S. citizens because they are also placed in situations where human trafficking can take place. Theiss said the scenario can stem from a simple conversation that is led with the question, “are you here by yourself.” The question, Theiss said most times leads to further information shared and an invitation to meet for the second time.

Each of the at-risk youngsters participating in ARTREACH receive a kit of basic supplies that they can take home. They also walk away with a large post card that has pictures of them working on the canvas, a reproduced image of the final canvas painting and an interpretation of what the painting means.

The facility that hosts the program, also receives a banner with the image the kids created.

Theiss said they recently received a grant from the Bob Rauschenberg Foundation, which awarded HTAP with the opportunity to hire an art instructor and a curriculum director. With an art instructor, she said they can now teach the kids some simple tools to become better painters.

HTAP began on Sanibel because Theiss wanted to build awareness on the topic of human trafficking while getting the community and kids involved in spreading the message.

For more information about HTAP, visit www.humantraffickingawareness.org.

‘Tee Up for Heroes’ to benefit WWA

A fundraiser for Wounded Warrior Anglers will be held on Monday, Nov. 10, at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club, at Pelican Landings in Bonita Springs.

battle of matlachaKathy Swift, who is putting together the event, said the golf tournament, “Tee Up for Heroes,” is completely filled as of Monday, Oct. 20. She said they have 30 foursome teams participating.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said they have 10 veterans golfing in the tournament, as well as six veterans volunteering the day of the event.

“We are literally maxed out. For the first one here we are doing fine,” Swift said. “Hopefully next year, since this is the first time, we will be able to use both courses.”

The inaugural “Tee Up for Heroes” golf tournament begins at 12:30 p.m.

It will include MREs, meals ready to eat, for the golfers, to keep with the theme of the day, honoring veterans.

“A lot of these guys when they are out in battle they carry these MREs because they can be gone for a few days,” Swift explained. “So they open these packets up and that’s their meal.”

On the day of the tournament, the golfers will receive their very own MREs, or a boxed lunch, of a chicken wrap, fruit, cookies and a drink.

Instead of having the normal flag at each hole on the golf course, kids will be standing at each hole with an American flag.

The dinner, which will begin around 5 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvre, the main course, a drink, entertainment and a silent auction.

Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased at http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.org, or by calling Swift at (239) 948-8478.

Swift said she has room for approximately 50 more people.

Former private musician of President Eisenhower, John Felice, will provide the entertainment during dinner. Felice, who performed in the Navy band is 83 years old.

“Boy can he play,” she said.

The Pelican Landing Singers will also perform patriotic songs, as well as songs for each branch of the military.

The silent auction will include such items as paintings, golf certificates, a cruise, a three-day trip to the Kentucky Derby with all expenses paid, baskets of wine, and two dinners for six people at two different homes.

All of the proceeds from the tournament and dinner will be donated to Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers is very honored and fortunate to have that committee from Pelicans Nest Golf community to represent us and honor our veterans,” Souders said. “In turn Wounded Warrior Anglers can honor more wounded warriors through our organization.”

Although this is the fourth tournament Swift has held for wounded warriors, this is the first one she is hosting in honor of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Keith Campbell told me about Wounded Warrior Anglers,” she said.

Swift said she got started with the fundraisers because of her son Michael who was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“(When) I got started, my son was a wounded warrior, but at the time I did not know it,” Swift said. “All these guys need our support.”

After hearing about her son having traumatic brain injury, it inspired her to keep going, so she can continue to help wounded warriors.

Over the years, through National Coalition for Patriots, she has helped raise money for Corey Kent, a Cape Coral resident who stepped on an IED while deployed in Afghanistan.

“He was at Walter Reed for almost three years,” she said.

She also helped raise funds for wounded warrior Josh Harwig, who her son Michael knows. With the help of the community, they raised enough for a $62,000 Toyota Tundra in three and a half weeks to help with transportation because his wife was having a baby.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. was founded in 2012 by Dave and his wife Judy Souders. Its mission is to “help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service.”

The organization helps its warriors by taking them out on the water for a day of fishing. This outing helps promote a friendly and peaceful environment to help warriors heal.

Wounded Warrior Anglers also help the warrior’s caregivers by treating them to a day of relaxation at the spa.

‘Shadow Wood shuffle’

Every month I write articles for the publications Community Lifestyles – Bonita Springs, South County and Cape Coral. Here  is the December article for the Bonita Springs issue featuring Shadow Wood Country Club.

Shadow Wood: Your luxurious home away from home

Published in Community Lifestyles Bonita Springs December 2013 issue

Shadow Wood Country Club, a gorgeous Bonita Springs community, offers an assortment of amenities for its residents, ranging from golf to access to a private beach club.

Shadow Wood Country Club Director of Membership Danita Osborn said the community, which began in 1998, is one of four communities in The Brooks. It was originally developed by the Bonita Bay Group and is now owned by the residents.

There are a combination of coach homes, custom estate single family homes, traditional single family homes and condos, comprised of 1,481 homes in the spacious and elegant Shadow Wood community.

Bob Nemec, a resident and realtor, said he is working with some of his clients who are on their fifth home in Shadow Wood.

“It’s really a testimony to the community because everything we have to offer,” he said. “It evolved into a very special place.”

Bob’s wife, Nancy, said the “Shadow Wood shuffle” happens often as residents move into a condo and then upgrade to a larger home.

The Nemec’s moved into Shadow Wood in 1999. The couple traveled to Florida from Illinois in search of property. After several trips, they fell in love with what Shadow Wood had to offer, as well as the close proximity to Naples and Fort Myers, and dining and shopping.

BonitaOsborn said Shadow Wood has two 18-hole golf courses, as well as another offsite golf course for its members. The North and South courses are designed by Bob Cupp, and Arthur Hills designed the Preserve Course just five miles down the road. All three courses have been designated as Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuaries since 2006.

“We belong to Shadow Wood Country Club, we enjoy the club; we both love golf and it’s a big part of our life,” Nancy said. “It’s a really comfortable place to be. The people are wonderful and warm and happy to be together.”

She went on to say that they really enjoy everything they do socially at the club.

“It’s a great place to gather,” Nancy said. “We enjoy a lot of good times at the club.”

A 30,000 square foot clubhouse was recently renovated in 2012, voted as the best renovated clubhouse of the year by Golf, Inc. Magazine. The vast and stately clubhouse includes two outdoor dining areas, four dining rooms, a men’s and women’s locker room, card rooms and a golf pro shop.

Nancy said the usage of the club by members has risen by 40 percent since the renovation was completed in November 2012.

“Our membership has grown considerably this year – and that is a testament to everything we have in Shadow Wood,” she said.

The club also boasts nine lighted Har-Tru tennis courts in their tennis complex, which includes a tennis shop and snack bar.

“We have an incredible tennis program, it’s very popular with members,” Nancy said.

Osborn said Shadow Wood also has several miles of walking and jogging trails that wind throughout the community and into the preserves.

Residents can also become members of the Commons Club, located right outside of the gates of Shadow Wood.

Commons Club Membership Director Daniela Jacob said they have a private beach club, state of the art fitness and spa facility, and a Rosy Spoonbill restaurant, as well as a variety of social programs.

Jacob explained that there are three different membership levels, gold, silver and bronze, that are available to every community homeowner. The memberships include nonrefundable equity contributions and annual dues.

The private beach club is located off of Bonita Beach Road and Hickory Boulevard, Jacob mentioned. Chairs and umbrellas are provided to the members, as well as fresh warm sandwich options at the beach club.

Nancy said they enjoy having access to the beach club.

“We love to go to the beach and watch the sunsets,” she smiled.

The fitness and spa facility has certified personal trainers and group fitness classes, which includes aqua classes. Jacob said they just partnered with the Bonita Health Care Center to provide physical therapy on a self pay basis. The spa includes an esthetician and many other beautifying and relaxing services.

There are also many social programs for the members of the Commons Club. Jacob said they offer such activities as lectures and classes, day and overnight bus trips, as well as concerts.

The restaurant Rosy Spoonbill overlooks a natural preserve and waterway. Jacob said although the menu focuses on seafood, they offer some homestyle meals as well. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Lunch service will be added beginning mid-January Tuesday through Friday. Jacob said reservations are recommended.

“Shadow Wood is a great place and we hope lots of people will check us out,” Nancy said.

For further information on Shadow Wood Country Club, amenities, golf and tennis programs and more, visit ShadowWoodCC.com or call 239-992-6000.