Be Aware of Burglars’ Preferences

Be Aware of Burglars’ Preferences


A very recent conversation with residents at a local community homeowners’ gathering prompted me to take this opportunity to share important information regarding nationwide burglary trends.

While burglars and prowlers most definitely benefit from the cover of darkness, nationwide statistics clearly indicate that the vast majority of home break-ins occur between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Burglars do make every attempt to operate covertly and the dark of night generally enables them to do so. However, a burglar’s preference, far greater than darkness, is an empty residence.

Rigid work and school schedules make it difficult to be at home during the day and homes are often unoccupied for many daylight hours.  Criminals are observant and many of us leave our homes at a specific time each day.

It is no coincidence that national home burglary statistics show a decrease since the start of the pandemic as the number of people working from home has tripled.

With no one home, it is far less likely that the sounds of forced entry will be heard and/or reported.  Additionally, neighbors are seemingly less concerned about loud noises that occur during daylight hours.

Additionally, rental properties are more frequently burglarized than homesteads. Rental properties are less likely to be protected by security cameras and alarm systems making them more vulnerable.

Some thoughts…

Landscaping and fences allow residents to establish privacy in and around their homes. However, those shrubs and tall fences may allow burglars to gain access to your home without being observed from the street.  Consider home security when choosing tall, thick landscaping and fencing that completely obscures vision.

High-mounted security cameras, visible to all, do tend to deter criminals. Mount cameras around the perimeter of your home at heights that require ladders to move, cover or remove.

Security systems are now wireless, easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Monitored systems do incur a monthly fee, however, response time is significantly faster.

Quality locks are important as many inferior locks are easily overtaken by cordless drills and blunt force. Interestingly, experts recommend that we focus on the quality of the lock’s strike plate and the screws used to secure them.  Robust strike plates installed with three-inch screws hold up far better to most types of force.

Sliding doors are often the chosen point of entry.  They are generally located in the rear or on the side of the residence, making them less visible.  There are numerous sliding door security devices on the market including security pins, loop-locks and security bars…to name a few.  These devices are inexpensive and work well to prevent glass-door break-ins.

Lastly, be aware that hollow-core doors, while less expensive, are not intended for exterior use and are extremely vulnerable.  Solid doors, whether wood or steel, are significantly more secure, reduce street noise from entering your home and are more energy efficient.

As always, ensure that all windows and doors are covered to prevent burglars from peering inside and check to be certain that all potential entries are locked prior to leaving your home.

Perhaps the greatest form of security is an intangible one; caring neighbors. Be alert to the activity next door, across the street, down the block. Never hesitate to report suspicious activity or incidents that concern you. “See something…say something…make the call!”

Year-end donations fuel year-round programs and services

Year-end donations fuel year-round programs and services

By Jessica Stanfield

Nonprofits across Southwest Florida rely on the generosity of supporters and philanthropic organizations to fund vital programs and services, and ultimately their missions.

At the end of each year, many organizations make a strong appeal for financial support. This funding is critical to give nonprofits a running start heading into the new year. For supporters, year-end donations offer a much-appreciated tax break.

The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, was among those Southwest Florida nonprofits making year-end appeals in 2022. The community’s swift response to that appeal evoked many emotions – appreciation, joy, gratitude and even a few tears.

The focus of the Foundation’s year-end appeal was the story of a young woman in Fort Myers. The court had taken away her children because of her poor decisions. She had been working hard to regain custody of her children, though, maintaining her sobriety and demonstrating personal accountability. She moved into a new home and the court awarded her custody of the children in September.

Then Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida, obliterating her family’s home and everything in it.

“I didn’t know metal could shred,” she said. “The home I worked so hard to bring to life is just gone.”

The family’s belongings were scattered through the neighborhood. Her children only had the clothing on their backs, and days turned into weeks. That’s when the Foundation stepped in, providing gift cards so the family could purchase clean clothing and other essentials. The Foundation also helped provide something else… hope. With the future bleak and stress levels peaking, the mother didn’t turn to alcohol and drugs. Instead, she turned to the Foundation and a support network that includes volunteer child advocates and donors.

Response to that story was immediate and impactful. People wanted to help her and families like hers, and they wanted to help a local organization with its boots on the ground providing hope, comfort and resources during a period of incredible need. First Horizon Bank offered a $20,000 donation. Members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which so graciously donate their time and expertise in advisory roles, offered a collective $20,000 match to inspire other community members and businesses to donate. And they did, providing another $41,214 in monetary contributions.

All told, the year-end appeal raised $81,214. To a small nonprofit, that’s a difference-maker. Because Hurricane Ian hit right before the start of high season, the Foundation decided to cancel several fundraising events, including the signature Voices of Hope Gala. Proceeds from these events help the Foundation accomplish its mission of ensuring that every abused, neglected or abandoned youth in Southwest Florida has a voice as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems. The nonprofit also raises funds that help meet a child’s health, educational and social needs.

Now, with another year underway, we need to continue rallying around vulnerable children who simply need people in their lives who care about them. Things like an afternoon of mini-golf and ice cream with a volunteer child advocate might not seem like much, but it is to these children. A pair of clean socks, shorts and a T-shirt are often taken for granted, but not for the mother and children whose home and livelihood were destroyed.

Donations at any time of the year, for any charitable cause, make a huge impact in Southwest Florida. We are blessed to live in a community that doesn’t just respond to challenges; we overcome them.

About the Author

Jessica Stanfield is Executive Director of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit

Marine discovers art, optimism following lung cancer diagnosis

Marine discovers art, optimism following lung cancer diagnosis

Marines like Murray Bryant are taught to tough it out. Grind through the pain.

In early 2021, Bryant noticed he would sometimes lose his balance, and his golf game wasn’t up to par. Something just wasn’t right.

Rather than grin and bear it, Bryant visited a doctor.

After a few tests and visits to different doctors, he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, which had spread up his body and into his brain. Within a matter of days, physicians at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Lee Health and Advocate Radiation Oncology collaborated to develop an individualized treatment plan that included infusions of cancer-fighting drugs and radiation oncology.

“There are several factors that give cancer patients the best chance of survival, including expert physicians, state-of-the-art technology and an early diagnosis,” said Dr. Arie Dosoretz, managing partner at Advocate Radiation Oncology.

“No one knows your body better than you do. If something doesn’t feel right, get a medical opinion as soon as possible.”

That quick decision led Bryant to Dosoretz’s office, where cancerous lesions involving his brain were treated with stereotactic radiation, a form of radiotherapy that precisely targets and kills cancer cells in one to five treatments while minimizing treatment to healthy surrounding tissue. That often means patients experience fewer side effects like fatigue, nausea, skin changes and hair loss.

At one point, cancer patients had to undergo many weeks of radiation treatments. Advances in technology, however, mean skilled physicians can effectively destroy cancer cells in just a few visits, sometimes requiring only a single treatment.

“My goal is to get patients out of here,” Dosoretz said. “I want them to be at home doing whatever they love to do – not spending time in the doctor’s office.”

While Bryant was undergoing treatments, he hung up his golf clubs in favor of a paintbrush. The Fort Myers resident discovered liquid acrylic art, or fluid art, which is an abstract painting technique. It allowed Bryant to express his creativity while resting, a key component in recovery.

“I try to achieve some beauty in the art that I do,” Bryant said. “I’m not looking for accolades. I just enjoy seeing my results.”

With help from his daughter, Bryant has sold some of his canvas pieces on Etsy and continues painting for enjoyment. Now more than a year removed from his treatments, Bryant is back enjoying life as a retiree in Southwest Florida.

“My golf game still sucks, but other than that, I feel fine,” he joked.

Like all cancer patients, Bryant is continuing to stay in touch with doctors and recognizes he’s in good hands. Despite the close call two years ago, he isn’t overly concerned about a recurrence.

“Oh no,” Bryant said. “God’s got me and knows where to find me when he wants me.”



Cape Coral Police Chief Tony Sizemore, Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter, and Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno

At a press conference at the Cape Coral Police Department on Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a June 1 launch of the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program.

The program was created to help Floridians in more than 50 professions purchase their first home. Funding will be available to residents, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, health care professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.

The $100 million program will aid eligible professionals with down payment and closing cost assistance to help first-time, income-qualified homebuyers to purchase a primary residence in the community they serve.

Mayor John Gunter and Gov Ron DeSantis

The governor also announced his support for the almost $363 million appropriated for affordable and workforce housing in the 2022-2023 budget, the highest total in 15 years.

To qualify, homebuyers must connect with a participating loan officer, have a minimum credit score of 640, provide certification for one of the eligible occupations and meet the income threshold for their county. Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount up to a maximum of $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year deferred second mortgage. 

The Florida Housing and Finance Corporation administers the program. It is geared toward expanding on Florida’s existing housing programs to reach critical workers and those who have served our country. 

For more information, please visit

Teacher draws energy, motivation from students

Teacher draws energy, motivation from students

There are many reasons an employee might call out sick, like a cough, fever, cold or allergies. Or perhaps a child or spouse is ill and they need to provide care.

Certainly, having kidney dialysis is a valid excuse to miss work.

Not for Pam Goldsmith, though.

“As long as I can get to work, let me work,” said Pam, an early childhood educator at the Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center in Fort Myers. “I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. That’s all I know.”

Two years ago, Pam suffered kidney failure. At first, she went to the hospital for dialysis three times per week, but found the environment depressing. It also meant missing work. Instead, she began an at-home dialysis program. Although it lasts longer – eight hours nightly for seven days a week – the at-home treatment means she doesn’t have to miss work. Pam works a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift at the early learning center, which allows her to schedule any doctor’s appointments before she starts work.

In addition to a failing kidney, Pam also has diabetes and high blood pressure. Kidney dialysis is a physically and mentally exhausting process, and some have wondered how Pam can muster up enough energy to teach a class of spirited toddlers.

“They give me the energy,” she said. “The children motivate me to keep working.”

And she has. Through cold and flu season, the pandemic, family health issues and other challenges, Pam has been showing up to work nearly every day since Child Care of Southwest Florida hired her in June 2000.

Pam’s commitment to showing up to work every day, as well as the dedication of her colleagues, also means parents can show up to work every day. Working parents need reliable child care, and Child Care of Southwest Florida implemented numerous safety protocols early in the pandemic to help protect the health of students and staff. Florida law requires specific student-to-staff ratios, so healthy, reliable employees are critically important to maintain daily operations.

A kidney issue isn’t the only challenge Pam has overcome. She doesn’t drive. Her family, friends and colleagues gladly step in, though, knowing how important it is for her not to miss work.

“Pam gives us energy, too,” said Yolanda Vargas, director of the Messina Children’s Center. “For eight hours every day, she pours her heart and soul into the children here so they can receive a high-quality education. It’s incredible to think that after Pam leaves in the evening, she still has to go through eight hours of kidney dialysis. And then she’s back again the next morning for another day.”

Pam overcame a learning disability to graduate from North Fort Myers High School in 1988. She attended vocational school to earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and later completed the early childhood education program at then-Edison Community College.

Today, Pam leads the Lions class at Messina Children’s Center, focusing on reading, math and social skills to help students prepare for kindergarten.

Pam is beginning the process of qualifying for a kidney transplant while continuing dialysis at home and working full-time. Although she occasionally needs “a minute or two” to catch her breath or get a drink of water, Pam said the overwhelming support from her colleagues and Child Care of Southwest Florida’s leadership team has helped fuel her desire to keep teaching.

“That’s why I am sticking with them,” she said. “They’ve stuck with me.”

About the Author

Chris Hansen is CEO of Child Care of Southwest Florida, a nonprofit early childhood education provider with five accredited learning centers in Lee and Hendry counties. For more information, please call 239-278-1002 or visit

The right paint color can turn a bedroom into a sanctuary

The right paint color can turn a bedroom into a sanctuary

Surprisingly, the living room or kitchen is not the room in our homes where we spend the most time.

It’s the bedroom.

In fact, we spend nearly half of our lives there!

In addition to sleeping seven hours daily, the average American spends another four hours in bed watching TV, using their cell phones or just laying down, according to a survey from Slumber Cloud.

A generation ago, we didn’t put much thought into the paint colors on our bedroom walls. After all, our eyes are closed when we sleep.

However, as studies find that Americans are spending more time awake in the bedroom, interior designers are focusing on color as a key element in creating dreamy designs.

So what colors work best in a bedroom? Neutral colors help create a quiet sanctuary that is cozy and serene, as well as timeless and versatile. Colors are scientifically proven to affect one’s mood, so that’s why color choice in the bedroom is extremely important.

“Your bedroom should be a restful retreat, a place for you to escape and unwind,” said Ace Hardware design expert Katie Reynolds. “The paint colors you choose are an important way to create a comfortable and relaxing feeling in this space.”

Color experts note green hues help individuals feel peaceful, restful and refreshed. It was no surprise in October when Benjamin Moore announced its 2022 Color of the Year was a shade of green. Benjamin Moore describes October Mist 1495 as a “gently shaded sage that quietly anchors while encouraging expression through color.”

“As the spaces in our homes continue to evolve, we uncover more opportunities to express our individuality and leverage the power of color to design environments that serve different functions and styles,” said Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s director of color marketing and development. “October Mist 1495 and the corresponding Color Trends 2022 palette reflects an effortless harmony of colors, while inspiring unique combinations for any paint project.”

Benjamin Moore, one of the nation’s largest paint manufacturers, developed Color Trends 2022 following a year-long exploration into design, art, fashion, cultural and environmental influences around the world. The color palette features refreshed primary colors, luminous pales and botanical hues, invigorating the senses and giving root to personal style.

Neutral colors have often been criticized as bland or boring, but there are many opportunities to express individuality, creativity and style in a bedroom with neutral colors. Using October Mist 1495 as a primary color, for example, DIYers can personalize, colorize and harmonize their bedroom space through the following:

  • Accent walls: In a bedroom, an accent wall is usually behind the bed. A darker hue there can create a sharp, modern look that firmly stamps the bed as the room’s centerpiece.
  • Linens: Pillow, blankets and comforters can feature bright or bold colors. Contrasting colors can create a sense of dimension without overpowering one’s senses.
  • Furniture: Dark brown bedroom furniture is timeless, but black, white and off-white dressers and nightstands are trending. It’s important to consider furniture color when choosing paint color for a wall.
  • Accessories: Picture frames and artwork offer opportunities to break up the monotony of a neutral wall. Art that carries a central theme, such as nature, can be carried forward to bedding and linens.

Master bedrooms should be painted in a flat or matte sheen, which minimizes reflection of light.

Meanwhile, satin sheens have historically been recommended for children’s bedrooms because they are durable and easy to clean.

Eleven hours per day is a lot of time to spend in a bedroom. That’s why it is important to turn it into a sanctuary, with color as the central element.

Benjamin Moore’s Colors of the Year

  • 2022 – October Mist: Evoking the silver-green stem of a flower, October Mist creates a canvas for other colors – and your imagination – to blossom.
  • 2021 – Aegean Teal: An intriguing, balanced and deeply soothing blue-green, Aegean Teal invites us to reflect and reset.
  • 2020 – First Light: A refreshing alternative to white or beige, this soft, airy pink flatters any space and plays well with other colors.
  • 2019 – Metropolitan: A stylish gray with cool undertones, Metropolitan reflects the modern sophistication of 21st century design.
  • 2018 – Caliente: A vibrant, charismatic shade of red, Caliente is strong, radiant and full of energy.

About the Author

Dan Miles is the commercial paint division manager at Sunshine Ace Hardware. For more information or to find the nearest location, please visit

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