GOV. DESANTIS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF FLORIDA HOMETOWN HEROES HOUSING PROGRAM 

GOV. DESANTIS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF FLORIDA HOMETOWN HEROES HOUSING PROGRAM 

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 www.floridahousing.org/hometownheroes.

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 CCSWFL.org.

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 SunshineAce.com.

Two golfers, two once-in-a-lifetime shots

Two golfers, two once-in-a-lifetime shots

Two golfers, two once-in-a-lifetime shots, resulting in back-to-back holes-in-one on a recent remarkable day at Palmetto-Pine Country Club in Cape Coral. 

For Keith Polsinelli and Dave Breitner – both of Cape Coral – their shots on the par-3, 154-yard sixth hole at Palmetto-Pine were their first aces and believed to be the first “ones” on back-to-back shots in the 52-year history of the golf course.

The February day played out like this:

Keith stepped to the tee, hit his 8-iron, and watched the ball roll into the cup. After a celebration, he turned to Dave and said, “now, beat that.”

Considering the odds of any hole in one are 12,500 to 1, Dave didn’t back off the unthinkable as he watched his 8-iron shot roll into the hole as well. And if you thought the odds of making a hole-in-one were out of sight, consider the chances of making back-to-back aces were 17 million to 1.

The rest of the day was filled with plenty of celebration and buzz around the two golfers and their unbelievable accomplishments as drinks, handshakes and pats on the back were shared.

Meals on Wheels brings Valentine’s Day hearts, smiles to SWFL seniors

Meals on Wheels brings Valentine’s Day hearts, smiles to SWFL seniors

Schoolchildren typically receive dozens of Valentine’s Day cards each year from classmates and friends. These colorful notecards are filled with heartfelt messages of encouragement, enthusiasm, positivity and praise.

Adults often just receive one or two cards from loved ones, or perhaps a colleague at work.

Some seniors, unfortunately, do not receive any.

“As children, we are overwhelmed with cards and candy on Valentine’s Day, but so many seniors live by themselves in relative isolation,” said Chris Hansen, CEO of Child Care of Southwest Florida. “Reading a Valentine’s card, even if it’s a simple message, can be a pick-me-up that lasts for the entire day.”

Students attending pre-school programs at several Child Care of Southwest Florida learning centers exercised their creativity and artistic abilities in February to create hundreds of Valentine’s cards for Southwest Florida seniors. The child care provider partnered with Community Cooperative to deliver cards on Valentine’s Day to homebound seniors participating in Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers nutritious meals each day to area residents who are seniors, disabled or chronically ill.

“It is so heartwarming for our Meals on Wheels recipients to know that extra thought, care and love was sent to them for Valentine’s Day,” said Stefanie Ink-Edwards, CEO of Community Cooperative, a nonprofit that delivers innovative food, education and social service programs in Southwest Florida. “These homebound neighbors often live alone with little interaction from the outside world. The smiles these kiddos bring to their faces are priceless!” 

The Meals on Wheels program has 32 meal delivery and transport routes in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres and Bonita Springs, supplying daily nutritious home-delivered meals, groceries, pet food and friendly safety and security checks to eligible homebound neighbors who cannot shop or cook for themselves. The volunteer delivery drivers often help their clients celebrate holidays and birthdays with extra treats.

Michael and Linda Obuck began volunteering with Meals on Wheels in 2021 after looking for opportunities to make a difference in the community.

“We just enjoy it, and we see how happy people are to see us,” Michael Obuck said. “It’s really satisfying doing something like this.”

Valentine’s cards that seniors received on Feb. 14 contained handwritten greetings, drawings with crayons and markers, stickers and hearts… lots and lots of hearts.

“That’s a nice treat, that’s for sure,” said Edward Halligan, a Meals on Wheels recipient on the Obuck’s delivery route. “And there are little hearts!”

The Valentine’s card project was the second initiative this winter at the Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center to connect pre-school children with seniors. In December, students created and delivered handmade Christmas cards and gifts at Page Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, sticking around to sing Christmas carols as residents gathered outside to sing along.

“Many of our students do not have their grandparents nearby, and so many seniors who live in our area don’t have their grandchildren nearby, either,” said Yolanda Vargas, director of the Messina Children’s Center. “We try to teach empathy, compassion and caring, and these projects are a great way to begin building a child’s character from an early age.”

For information about supporting Child Care of Southwest Florida through scholarships or to register a child, please visit CCSWFL.org. For information about volunteering or supporting Meals on Wheels or additional Community Cooperative programs, please visit CommunityCooperative.com.

What’s in, what’s out: Paint colors to sell a home

What’s in, what’s out: Paint colors to sell a home

Florida’s real estate market is hot. Within days of listing a property, many sellers are receiving multiple offers, oftentimes above asking price.

However, buyers are not entering bidding wars on just any old property. The same features that have attracted buyers for generations – prime location, stainless steel appliances, updated cabinetry and lots of natural light – still help generate offers today.

So how do you get potential buyers through the front door to see everything your house has to offer? Curb appeal. First impressions are everything in real estate.

If you’re preparing to cash out equity while the real estate market sizzles, focus on color. A new coat of exterior and interior paint offers a tremendous return on investment for a relatively low out-of-pocket cost.

Below are paint color tips that sellers can use to capitalize on real estate trends:

Exterior Paint Colors

The Arch Digest, a publication for architects, interior designers and DIYers, notes that “gray is continuously gaining popularity” as an exterior color in Florida because it makes homes look “modern and sleek.” Gray also comes in many hues, making it easy to mix and match.

For a home’s exterior, light gray is a trendy dominant shade when paired with medium gray and dark gray trim around doors, windows, handrails and decorative features. Similarly, a home painted in a medium gray shade looks best with white, light gray or dark gray trim.

Gray mixtures also are popular colors, with gray-blue and gray-green leading the way. They are distinctive, but not too different to draw negative reactions. Light yellow, ivory, beige, taupe and cream remain safe bets.

On the other hand, dark brown, dark gray and black are not as popular for dominant shades in Florida. They don’t reflect sunlight well and can fade under Florida’s intense, year-round sunshine. Although white does not seem objectionable, some buyers might consider it a maintenance challenge given frequent rain and high humidity in Florida that can lead to mold growth and surface stains. Rainwater falling from the roofline can splash dirt and grass clippings onto a structure, and that’s especially noticeable on a white home.

The front door is essentially the centerpiece of a home’s façade and is an ideal space to showcase creativity and personality. Bold paint colors like navy blue, maroon, dark brown, black, red and forest green can fit into many color schemes.

High-quality exterior paint typically lasts up to 10 years or more. Its lifespan can be cut short, however, based on many factors, including direct exposure to the sun, frequent moisture from rainwater and stains from mold growth or dirt. High-pressure hoses also can cause colors to prematurely fade and even chip away at the paint.

Interior Paint Colors

Inside a home, wall colors are just as important in creating the indoor equivalent of curb appeal. When potential buyers open the front door, they’ll immediately pan the room to soak in the atmosphere.

TV host and designer Joanna Gaines is among those who have touted “greige” as a trendy dominant color. It’s a mix between gray, a cooler shade, with beige, a warmer tone, to create the ultimate neutral color. Greige is versatile, elegant and timeless, as well as complementary to nearly all colors of furniture, artwork, home décor and linens.

Gray with a hint of light green or light blue can create a warm, comfortable feeling as a dominant color. Beige, tan and off-white remain safe choices for commons areas like the living room, kitchen, dining room and hallways.

Bedrooms can feature more color while still calming the senses. Blue-gray and green-gray help create a retreat-like ambiance. Avoid bright or bold color schemes that can overpower the senses, like orange, red, hot pink, purple and royal blue.

Trim colors can complement or contrast a room’s dominant color. White has been the safe choice for generations, but safe isn’t the only color that sells. A dark gray border around a window can help direct potential buyers to the view outside.

Consider a bold accent wall to contrast neutral colors and call attention to artwork or a unique piece of furniture. Dark accent walls make a wall appear to recede, thus creating the feel of a larger space. That’s especially important in a room or home with limited square footage.

When painting to stage a home, use an eggshell, matte or flat finish on walls to help hide any imperfections while also absorbing light. A fresh coat of white paint on doors, baseboards and door casings enhances elements that often are the most weathered parts of a home.

Before putting a home on the market, sellers should have three primary goals: (1) Generate multiple offers, (2) Attract buyers willing to pay above the listing price, and (3) Sell the home quickly. In 2021, Zillow research found that potential home buyers were willing to make offers 1.6% higher based on color alone. Given the hot real estate market, that could put thousands of additional dollars into a seller’s pocket, so choose wisely.

About the Author

Dan Miles is the commercial paint division manager at Sunshine Ace Hardware, which serves commercial and DIY paint customers in stores along Florida’s west coast. For more information or to find the nearest location, please visit SunshineAce.com.

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