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Men We Love, Part 2

Great guys who inspire us, a bit of whimsy and maybe something to sink your teeth into

Father’s Day is on the horizon! We’ve dedicated our June issues to Men We Love, spotlighting their insights, their interests and the issues that matter to them.

Here, we present profiles of David Lawrence Center’s CEO, Scott Burgess, and Joel Greiff, a man of many talents who pours his soul into making sure live music is heard in Southwest Florida.

We’re also celebrating National Food Truck Day, June 25, offering a weeklong excuse to honor those restaurants on wheels that made dining out possible in the last year.

And who could get through the month of June without knowing a lot about National Hollerin’ Day? Columnist Lois Sabatino puts her usual wry spin on a story that’s both personal and informative.

As we approach Father’s Day, we thank the men in our lives who have been as inspiring and empowering as are the women we celebrate throughout year.

Thank you, gentlemen, for giving us great reasons to salute the Men We Love.

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HIJINX HOLIDAYS

A Cause for Celebration

National Food Truck Day has been extended to a week

by Kathy Grey

It was, perhaps, the salvation for people yearning to dine out during the pandemic’s nearly 15-month relative shutdown — “out” being the operative word. With many people wary about indoor dining during this period, food trucks provided an option to experience creative cuisine as diners kept their distance, dining al fresco.

As we approach National Food Truck Day on Friday, June 25, now’s the time to show our appreciation, and according to www.FoodTruckDay.org, the entire week — June 20-27 — will be dedicated to the love of these restaurants on wheels.

Food Truck Mecca

Located at 2880 Becca Ave. in Naples, Celebration Park has become a Bayshore Arts District hot spot for people of all ages.

Eileen Magrath lives a stone’s throw from nearby Naples Botanical Garden, and has witnessed Celebration Park’s growth since its 2018 inception.

The combination waterfront bar and food truck park features a pavilion and open-air tiki bar. Food vendors are selected for their authentic presentations of a variety of street foods.

“The social element attracts kids and young adults … parents pushing babies in strollers,” Magrath says. She’s a vegan and says the park is reminiscent of a fair —  with better and healthier food options.

“It’s such an incredible success. It’s constantly busy. It’s on the water and has a party atmosphere with live music and dancing. It’s a social center for people to meet.”

Some Kind of Retirement

Husband and wife team Julie Dana and Ray Garcia moved from Clearwater Beach and started the popular JewBan’s Deli Dale food truck in 2015, traveling throughout Southwest Florida and blending their Jewish and Cuban food cultures.

“Two cultures, two cuisines and family fun that started as a food truck serving pastrami and Cuban sandwiches,” Dana says.

But their adoring customers cried for more, so the menu of Cuban specialties and Jewish deli favorites grew to include offerings such as ropa vieja and Dana’s “cult favorite” chicken matzo ball soup, a recipe that originated five generations ago. (It’s the only recipe she shares — just once a year. It’s so authentic, the ingredients are measured in eggshells, as measuring cups weren’t available when the recipe was created.)

The couple focused on catering and private events during that pandemic, something Dana says really took off, but “Once things started to lift again, we looked for opportunities.”

 

Though they’ll never give up the food truck (“We can’t give the food truck up because of demand,” she says), it’s on hiatus for a while as JewBan’s Deli Dale prepares for its early-July opening in The Industry of Bonita, a four-restaurant brick-and-mortar on Old 41 on the border of North Naples. At The Industry, diners will also find “the best Mexican street food in Southwest Florida,” according to Dana; aged steaks and sushi rolls; a self-serve craft beer wall; an outdoor bar, live entertainment and … air conditioning.

JewBan’s Deli Dale (“dale” is pronounced dah-leh and means “go for it” in Spanish) will resume its food truck operation once the new concept location is open.

Dana and Garcia retired in 2015 from positions with the Marriott Corporation.

“Our customers say we’re the worst retirees ever.”

 
 

HUMOR

Say it Loud, Say it Clear
National Hollerin’ Day has more meanings than one
by Lois Sabatino

Of all things, National Hollerin’ Day falls just before National Kissing Day rolls around. That’s a good thing, because after the hollerin,’ you may want to kiss and make up. 

Which reminds me of when Dick and I were married 62 years ago. 

When you’re a kid, all googly-eyed over somebody, you want to hug and kiss. You’re not thinking about how your sweetheart’s family’s emotions will influence you forevermore.

For instance, my parents were very quiet and never hollered unless something was really, really major. It was usually my mother who had a hollerin’ fit, and then the tension could be cut with a knife for days, which was no fun at all for the rest of us — particularly for my father.

On the other hand, Dick’s mom and dad could holler, scream and rave over something, and five minutes after an Italian screaming fest, it was like nothing happened.

I remember it began one night when my in-laws, Jerry and Virginia, came over for dinner for the first time. 

I had slaved over the stove, as a bride did in those days. Everything was fine through the first course as I played a Sinatra record on our new phonograph. (Remember, this was 62 years ago). And then, Jerry said something that got Virginia’s hair to stand on end. Her eyes scrunched and her mouth turned down as the hollering began flying across the table.

I stood there as the second course (some kind of pasta I’d seen in Good Housekeeping) turned to mush.

For a few minutes, Sinatra was drowned out, and then, snap! The record changed, and “Spanish Eyes” started to play.

The hollerin’ evaporated. 

“Jerry, they’re playing our song,” Virginia cooed, and with that, my in-laws got up from the table like nothing had happened, and started dancing cheek-to cheek.

It was a miracle.

After the song, dinner progressed well until we got to dessert, when Jerry made the mistake of running off at the mouth, and Virginia started hollerin’ again. 

“Quick, Dick,” I croaked, “Put ‘Spanish Eyes’ back on!” And with that, the evening was saved. 

 

It’s nice to know that hollerin’ is something special nationally, held down at Spivey’s Corner, a little town of 448 folks in Sampson County, North Carolina. It was named by Old Man Spivey, who changed its name from West Crossroads after the West family no longer owned all the surrounding land.

The center of town is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 13 and U.S. Highway 421. It’s a quiet place most of the year, until the first Saturday in September, when people from all over the world show up for the National Hollerin’ Contest, first held there in 1969. 

It’s a special event inaugurated to revive the almost lost art of hollerin’— a sophisticated vocal tradition that served as a means of long-distance communication (and a form of entertainment) before the telephone.

For years, it was held on the third Saturday in June. In 2013, it switched to the second Saturday in September and became the Hollerin’ Heritage Festival. People of all persuasions gather for the festivities, listen and dance to live music, ooh and ahh over a big car show and eat to bursting over some of the best southern food since Old Man Spivey was a kid. 

If you’re wondering what it is, hollerin’ is a special way of singing, often without words. It was the way slaves communicated in cotton fields, expressing their feelings and communicating with each other, and the way prisoners on chain gangs did, too. 

 I’m just sorry Jerry and Virginia never danced to “Spanish Eyes” at Spivey’s Corner.

 

Lois C. Sabatino is a consultant in public relations, community relations, special events, fundraising and motivational training. She was the first female executive at United Technologies.

 
 
 

MEN WE LOVE

With Faith Comes Hope

DLC’s CEO Scott Burgess leads a purpose-driven life

by Kathy Grey

It’s not easy to distinguish Scott Burgess, the man, from Scott Burgess, CEO of David Lawrence Center (DLC), the Naples mental health treatment provider. They are one in the same, inextricably intertwined, driven by faith and hope.

At 52, Burgess reflects on his childhood and what influenced him to choose a career in the mental/behavioral health sector.

“From grade school, I had an affinity for developing relationships with people struggling with challenges. People felt comfortable sharing things with me, allowing me to help them.”

Choosing a caring profession was “part of my faith background,” Burgess says. “There’s a ministerial side of this profession. I grew up going to church, exposed to a Christian faith. And that value system helped drive a lot of my thinking and decision-making.”

Path Finding

In his high school junior year, Burgess took a psychology course that resonated with him — “about behaviors and how people think and act. I found it helpful in life.”

As a college sophomore, he was drawn to psychology course offerings and chose it to be his life’s work.

“I never looked back. You know the saying: ‘Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ There’s a tremendous alignment between faith and what we do in this world for those who have significant needs.”

With a B.S. in psychology from Illinois State University and a master’s in counseling psychology from Concordia University, Burgess has a certification in clinical research trials from the University of Chicago and attended Harvard Business School’s executive education program. He’s also a licensed clinical professional counselor.

Following a 21-year career in Arlington Heights, Illinois, he joined David Lawrence Center in 2014 as CEO.

Scott, Josh, Renae, Connor and Paige Burgess

Daily Living

His workdays begin with a review of overnight emails about developments within DLC’s 24/7, 365-day-a-year operation. The needs never subside. When an emergency arises, he gets a phone call, day or night.  

He spends his days in “a series of meetings, partnership calls … supporting our 330 staff members, leadership and services across the continuum of care for a wide variety of people, children through seniors,” Burgess says.

“There’s always someone who needs support and advice. We’re meeting with partners about how we can leverage care — the sheriff’s office, hospitals, school systems, faith-based organizations and other health care providers. How can we further enhance and advance what we do for people to turn a corner and get them the help they need?”

He works tirelessly, building bridges so the needs of the community are met with appropriate support. He goes home (after stopping at the gym to exercise three to four days a week), gets a bite to eat and takes an hour to feed his own body, mind and soul.

Scott Burgess

Inspiration

A self-proclaimed eternal optimist, Burgess is inspired by both his heavenly and earthly fathers.

“With God, nothing is impossible, and my strength comes from Him,” Burgess says.

And then he describes his earthly father, “a servant/leader” who taught him this: “You only have one name, and you always want to be spoken of in high regard.”

“You only have one name, and you always want to be spoken of in high regard.” ~ Al Burgess

Burgess and his wife, Renae, have instilled those values in their children, Josh, 27; Connor, 25; and Paige, 21.

Imbued with faith, the Burgess kids, now adults, grew up in the church. He and Renae encourage them to stay connected with their faith. And they do.

“They all have very compassionate hearts. They’re aware there are a lot of people out there who are suffering. I’m very proud they’re leaning in on some of the big issues.”

Moving Forward, Nourishing Self

Burgess holds complex responsibilities in a complex world, and remains resilient because of his faith. When he feels like a hamster on a wheel, the words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” comfort him.

“I don’t have to do everything with my own strength. I am extraordinarily blessed to have an amazing support system,” he says, crediting God; his wife (and sounding board), Renae; his parents; his children; and his David Lawrence Center family — all who keep his batteries charged.

“You have to recognize when your batteries are getting low and how to recharge them,” Burgess says, adding, “Everyone has been affected by the pandemic.”

If you need help, Burgess urges, ask for it, because seeking mental health care shouldn’t be different from seeking medical care.

“The pandemic has opened up a dialogue,” Burgess says. “There is no health without mental health. Holistically, it’s all intertwined.”

Ultimately, he hopes society will embrace, without guilt or shame, the critical need for mental health care, and that humanity will move toward unity and away from division.

“I hope we come to recognize how much we need each other, need that interpersonal connection and need real community.”

MEN WE LOVE

Dedicated to Community Harmony

Joel Greiff creates a caring forum for our music world

by Melanie Pefinis

Compassion, Connection and Giving

As the assistant dining manager at The Marbella at Pelican Bay, Greiff uses his energy and social nature to benefit the seniors he serves. He is proud that The Marbella staff could continue serving its residents, and he’s glad his music website kept him in contact with musicians — many who have become friends — during this difficult year.

This compassion for his fellow human being led him to collaborate with the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

“There is a festival called Summerfest in Wisconsin, and I wanted to recreate something similar here in Southwest Florida,” Greiff says. “But I thought, ‘Let me do it for charity.’ Harry Chapin was a musician, for God’s sake. Let’s get involved with the Harry Chapin Food Bank and create a music festival.”

Summerfest in Milwaukee is the world’s largest music festival, hosting more than 800 bands on 11 different stages over a three-day weekend. While Greiff didn’t envision an event of this scope, he was sure Southwest Florida provided enough diverse talent to put together an exciting first lineup.

In its 2020 inaugural year, Harry Chapin Relief Music Festival and Food Drive saw seven bands playing at Coconut Falls in Fort Myers. His financial goal was $10,000. With ticket sales, silent auction and raffle proceeds, the event exceeded expectations, raising more than $14,000 for the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Joel Greiff and flamenco fusion guitarist Gato Solea

“Music makes people happy.”

These are words Joel Greiff lives by. They are also the inspiration behind his mission to unite musicians, venues and music lovers in Southwest Florida.

His website, swflthingstodo.com, is the only unified place for anyone looking for live music in the area — musicians looking to post their gigs and music aficionados looking for a favorite local band or curious about a new sound.

“I set out to build a website listing every venue offering live music every day of the week,” Greiff says.

 

A Giant Calendar of Music

Visitors to the site can scroll through it to find out where to hear rock, jazz, salsa, blues or instrumental music Monday through Sunday. The site spans Collier and Lee counties and includes bars, restaurants, community venues, special events and showcases.

Greiff is planning an overhaul to the site that will allow the bands and musicians a portal to access the calendar and list their own events as they arise.

“There is a real big music scene here in Southwest Florida,” he says. “But I was frustrated to find there was no one way to find out who was playing where. You could go to a newspaper and see some events listed, and then grab a free monthly and see some other entries. I wanted to unify all the places offering live music into one easy-to-use site. It is basically a giant calendar of music.”

Because COVID restrictions impacted the entertainment industry, performers could not play live, and concerts and festivals were canceled. But thanks to Greiff’s site, fans could easily find information on virtual events, Facetime concerts and online performances by their favorite bands.

“It functioned as a social media meeting place,” he says.

Joel Greiff with the Ben Allen Band

Still, the pandemic hit home for Greiff and his friends.

“When I got the idea for the festival, I told Willie Miller and AJ Mullins of the Collaboration Band,” Greiff says, “They were both eager to help plan the next festival, whenever that might be. Turns out they both got COVID last year.”

AJ died of the virus in June 2020.

That shock has inspired both Greiff, his friend, Miller, and other collaborators to come back greater than ever for the next festival to benefit nonprofits.

Spreading the Love

Greiff, who is easily spotted in his omnipresent pink garb, sports a “Real Men Rock Pink” breast cancer awareness T-shirt. He’s a walking billboard for spreading his love of music and his need to bring awareness of social issues to the forefront wherever he goes.

When asked what motivates him, his response is as “rock ’n’ roll” as his passion. In the words of Elvis Costello, he replies, “My mission is to pump up the entire music scene in Southwest Florida.”

With a background in the performing arts, Melanie Pefinis works behind the scenes as a writer and TV producer in radio, film, TV and print. Her international travels fuel her professional and personal passions.

ONE WITH NATURE

Capturing the Moment

Dennis Goodman shares the art of nature photography

Among the exceptional experiences to be had in Southwest Florida is a walk in nature, capturing the bounty of beauty that surrounds us, in photos.

Professional photographer Dennis Goodman has taught classes that focus on developing the “eye,” plus skills and techniques needed for achieving spectacular images in nature. Here, Goodman addresses catching great bird photos, insights that can be applied to nature photography in general.

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What makes a great bird photo?

by Dennis Goodman 

Like every photo, it needs to be interesting and much more than just a picture.

Light

Understanding light is among the most difficult challenges photographers face. The angle, hue and intensity of your light source will make or break your picture.

I prefer sidelighting or backlighting and morning or evening light.

The ideal time to shoot outdoors is either early, late or on a slightly hazy day. The most common mistake I see amateur photographers make is shooting in harsh, direct sunlight: say, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The “magic hour” occurs just after sunrise and before sunset, when light is soft and color is fully saturated. That’s also when birds are most active, scurrying to gather food.

Photo credit: Dennis Goodman

Proximity and Position

The most critical factor of capturing great images is getting as close as you can to your subject without scaring it away.

Most photographers take pictures at the eye level of the subject. Learn to experiment with the angle you shoot from to give your photographs a whole new perspective and a “wow” factor. Some of my favorite shots were taken lying down, even with my subject.

You want your subject to be the attention of the photograph and not have a lot of background interference. It is very important to make changes and adjust your position or level to create a pleasing background.

Focusing on the eyes of your subject is the most important rule when photographing wild animals. That is what creates the mood or feeling of the photograph.

If you’re taking pictures of shorebirds from your full height, you can’t adequately convey what it is to be a shorebird. You need to lie down in the mud with them, eye to eye.

Photo credit: Dennis Goodman

Composing the Image

Filling the frame with the subject really brings out the details in your image. Also, try to show the environment to give your viewer the sense of being there and experiencing taking the picture themselves.

Try to include in the frame some of the natural surroundings to give the image perspective. A slight movement in one direction will present a more desirable, less distracting background.

 

Camera Equipment

Unfortunately, camera gear is the most important part of wild bird photography.

Forget about taking pictures of birds with a point-and-shoot or a DSLR with a wide-angle lens. If you want to photograph wild birds, prepare to invest in a fast DSLR camera and one or more telephoto lenses.

 

Tips

  • Get close, be patient and wait for the best light.

  • Show us birds having fun, not just sitting around.

  • Focus on their eyes.

  • Pay attention to the background.

  • Adjust your elevation.

  • Scout locations based on knowledge, rather than guessing.

  • Take a few minutes, especially when at a new location, to observe the activity around you.

  • Don’t be afraid to go out and photograph in bad weather. You will be surprised by the many opportunities.

  • Enable continuous shooting and take lots of shots.

  • Buy the longest focal length lens you can afford.

  • Shoot with both eyes open.

Dennis Goodman is an established area photographer ­­­­­­­­­­­­who offers fine art photography as well as large format printing for clients, artists and other photographers. He and his wife, Kristin, recently relocated their businesses to 941 Fourth Ave. N., in the downtown Naples design district. To learn more, visit www.dennisgoodmanphotography.com

Some Suggested Locations

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel; Tiger Tail Beach, Marco Island; Estero Lagoon; Bunche Beach, Fort Myers; Venice Area Audubon Rookery, Venice; and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, north of Naples and east of Bonita Springs.

Fun Facts

  • In 2013, food trucks numbered 3,281 and grew to almost 6,000 in 2018.

  • According to IBISWorld, trucks numbered 23,873 in 2020.

  • Food truck owners must complete 45 government-mandated permits and licenses to be allowed to operate.

  • The average startup cost of a food truck business is between $50,000 and $60,000.

  • HurricaneConcessions.com reports that the most popular food truck fare includes barbecue, sliders, tacos, pizza, cupcakes, grilled cheese, international cuisine and lobster rolls.

If You Go

Celebration Park
2880 Becca Ave., Naples

Vendors: Islands Seafood, GiGi Gourmet, Mega Sabor, Zen Fusion, The Great Foodini, Rudino’s Pizza & Grinders, Nawty Hogg BBQ and Gyros 2 Go

 

JewBan’s Deli Dale Food Truck

Find them on Facebook, inquire at 727-272-4576 or email jewbansdeli@aol.com.

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