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Hometown Hero
3 Rituals of Resilience You Can Start Today
Part of a Giving Heart
Doc Nature

Hometown Hero

Diana Riley

by Kathy Grey

When Quail West resident Larry Leppo read our call for a Hometown Hero to be featured in èBella èXtra, he wasted no time nominating Diana Riley, founder of Swinging With Purpose.

Combining her love of community and golf, Riley launched Swinging With Purpose ( in 2012 to generate funds and support for local, grassroots charities. These charities are vetted through a formal grant process the organization “swings for” every year, as Riley puts it. The organization has generated more than $800,000 in donations toward the needs of women, girls and children in the community.

The cancellation of this year’s Liberty Mutual Invitational due to the COVID-19 pandemic would have been a defeat for anyone other than Riley, Leppo says. Riley just wouldn’t take “closed” for an answer.

In the midst of crisis, Leppo says, “She could have easily canceled. But she made sure these organizations would not go without,” making the event virtual and raising $100,000 for the organization’s supported charities.

In fact, Riley says, the event raised much more than expected, “even though we didn’t have a party.”

“This year is unique because of the cancellation of the Liberty Mutual event. We went back to our beneficiaries and reassessed how COVID-19 was impacting them and how we can help. We take disbursements of our donor dollars very seriously,” Riley says.

In fact, one charity received an anonymous donation and asked that their portion of funds be distributed among the other nonprofits. This is what Riley calls Swinging With Purpose’s family approach: supporting each other through collaboration and program sharing.


In what Leppo calls “the most unchartered period in our lives,” he salutes Riley as “a quarterback, a creator and a hero. She made sure these groups will not come up short.”


Diana Riley

Indeed, Riley just launched a second round of fundraising via virtual raffle, featuring signed memorabilia from golf legends Nancy Lopez (who serves as spokesperson for Swinging with Purpose) and Jack Nicklaus, both World Golf Hall of Famers. The virtual raffle benefits Valerie’s House and Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, and concludes July 4, 2020, with a patriotic virtual celebration. Full details are available at


Although Riley is delighted to be honored as a Hometown Hero, the self-described “Plan B expert” emphasizes that she couldn’t do it alone.


“I have this amazing village that shares the commitment,” she says.

That includes a small, all-female board of directors, volunteers and members of the community that “fall in love with” the organization and its mission.

“None of this happens without them,” she emphasizes.

Still, as a business professional himself, Leppo lauds Riley’s tenacity to overcome obstacles in the most trying of times.

“She’s amazing!” Leppo says.

Indeed, she is.

Why Wear A Mask?
Are You Hungry or Just Bored?
Starting from Seed

Pathways to a New Normal


Making that first step is the first step to getting there

There’s really no such thing as a steady pathway out of this COVID-19 crisis, but there are pathways to bring us around to something that feels more normal. It’s just a new normal, as you’ve heard.

Our èBella èXtra chapter 7 salutes hometown hero Diana Riley, who refused to be stopped by the crisis and succeeded in a variation of her planned fundraiser to benefit multiple charities.

We provide an update on Charity for Change, an organization dedicated to empowering pre-K through fifth-grade children to achieve their full potential, bringing you an episode of this nonprofit’s new video series, Giver TV.

And we offer a few ways to thrive through chaos, something we call resiliency. We address things as normal as controlling food cravings and the wonders of (our new favorite term) “forest bathing” — communing with nature — and plant seeds to new-normal topics, including why wearing a mask is still recommended and the silver linings some people have experienced amidst the darkest clouds ever.

Finally, we bring you more ideas on how you can help others through these difficult times.

As summer draws nigh, we wish you happy trails and sleep-filled nights.


‘Part of a Giving Heart’

Charity for Change expands programming to continue teaching children during the pandemic

by Julia Browning


Jungle sounds and cheery tropical music resound as you zoom through a virtual cartoon forest to be greeted by “Giver,” Charity for Change’s smiling orange monkey mascot.

This introduces “Giver TV,” Charity for Change’s new virtual programming that teaches children learning skills critical to coping with the high-stress times they’re living in.

Like with many organizations across the globe, COVID-19 sped up plans Charity for Change had for expanding its virtual services.

Karen Conley, founder, president and CEO of Charity for Change, says that though the concept of creating a video series that would augment the classroom curriculum was in the works, the pandemic “put it into first gear.”

With schools being closed, after school programs canceled and much uncertainty surrounding the future of classroom education, Conley and her team knew the service was especially needed and worked fast to make it happen.

Conley herself is a star of the show. Transforming into “Charity Karen,” she joins Giver and fellow mascot, “U2Can” (a toucan) on screen, to teach children about topics like kindness, perseverance, self-control and citizenship — the themes of the first four episodes.

They utilize “social-emotional learning,” or SEL, which focuses on emotional literacy, decision-making skills and managing emotions such as fear and anxiety — all coping skills recommended by psychologists.

“The idea is to equip them with skills to help them be resilient and deal with the scary parts of the unknown, the challenges and the changes,” Conley says.

The videos, around 8 minutes long, are hosted on Charity for Change’s YouTube channel ( and its website (

Episodes include activities that families can do together, such as creating a gratitude tree, where children write down all they’re thankful for. Occasionally, the show has guest stars like Sen. Kathleen Passidomo who cameoed in an episode to talk to children about what it means to be a good citizen.

Each video focuses on four principles present in all Charity for Change curriculum: encouragement, character, giving and gratitude.

With many of the children they serve living in low socio-economic areas, without participating in Charity for Change through school, giving would not be a part of their life, Conley explains. Through Charity for Change, children earn real money they then donate to charities they’ve researched.

“From no fault of their own, they don’t have the opportunity to give abundantly and to help others,” she says. “This program levels the playing field. Giving is not just about money, it’s about giving your heart, smile, time… It’s all a part of a giving heart.”

Conley says the team plans to continue making videos and expand the range of content.

“The pandemic has really caused us to pause and look at what we’re doing, and focus on building the most efficient way to reach the most children,” she says.

“On the positive side… it brought the board and our volunteer groups together to brainstorm and build something different. That was empowering to me in a time of crisis.”

3 Rituals of Resilience You Can Start Today

Expert tips for reframing your mind to deal with disruption

“Rituals that create resilience are vital to your pivot,” says author, speaker and resilience expert Adam Markel.

Markel, author of “Pivot: The Art & Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life,” shares tips to help those facing massive change and disruption in light of COVID-19. (Practically all of us, right?)

He recommends “reframing.”

“One aspect of resilience is how you are able to take in some idea, some experience and see it differently than the way you default to seeing it,” Markel says. “We all have a way of thinking about things and giving meaning to things based on the way we were programmed — on our upbringing and early childhood experiences, including trauma.

“Right now, for instance, many people are thinking ‘I don’t like the unknown. The uncertainty is driving me crazy.’ Or worse, ‘My life (or my business) is going down the tubes,’” Markel says.


Here’s how you can start reframing today:

1. Shift into neutral

Markel describes this as the ability to look at situations and not ignore the reality, but remove judgment about what is good or bad.

“This allows you to widen your field of vision so you can see other options by asking one question — What is the creative opportunity here?”

2. Recalibrate a route to where you want to go

For members of any business, Markel explains, at a point, they might recognize that they are not where they planned on being. But it’s important to realize that things are still okay.

“In your car, your GPS doesn't berate you because you made a wrong turn. It just figures out how to get where you're supposed to go,” he says.

3. Ritualize your recovery “map”

“Research looking at the highest-performing athletes and business folks finds the common denominator in their success is commitment to recovery,” Markel says.

Markel looks at recovery in four areas: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. He recommends implementing small changes, things you can do daily to allow recovery to occur, such as practicing self-care rituals throughout the day and making time specifically to recharge your batteries using relaxation methods that you enjoy.

To learn more, take Markel’s resiliency quiz here:

Doc Nature

Exploring Mother Earth provides human healing

by Leif Johnson

The jury is in: Nature is good for you. 

A growing body of research is finding that exposure to natural environments is vital to your physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

There’s a problem, though. 

With over half of the world’s population (80% in the U.S.) now living in urban areas that largely lack green spaces, we are entering an uncertain time, and we’re running a risky experiment.

As a species, the vast majority of our stay on Earth has been spent in natural settings. Physiologically speaking, we are not adapted to urban living, where we are constantly subjected to a barrage of loud noises and fast-moving objects. Like a pair of skinny jeans, it’s a mold we’re not shaped for, yet urban areas entice us with an abundance of stimuli: “Look here!” “Buy this!”  Everything is competing for your attention, often leaving you exhausted.   

Nature offers the opposite. Nature doesn't care that you’re there, what you’re wearing or what you drive. It’s not trying to sell you something. It just is. 

Nature is the original judgment-free zone, providing a low level of stimuli: the rustling of leaves and fragments of sunlight; a bird doing something unusual; a dorsal fin breaking the surface of the ocean. 


Relinquishing ourselves to these environments provides numerous benefits, including decreased levels of stress and depression, a lower Type 2 diabetes risk and a more resilient immune system (i.e.: faster recovery times in hospitals). 

Nature is a powerful medicine, and you don’t need to lose your cell service to benefit from it. Walking or just being in natural settings for as little as 20 minutes has proven to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower blood pressure. 

It’s called “nature therapy.”

So, go experience the outdoor therapy options near you and enjoy!


Leif Johnson is a biologist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management and ecology and studies how people benefit from wild places. 

Why Wear A Mask?

It’s still important to wear a mask, even as things seem to slowly shift “back to normal”

by Julia Browning

Though all 50 states have started to reopen in some way — and with Florida being among the first to open gyms, parks, restaurants and shops — the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing a mask out in public.

Particularly in areas where it’s difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, wearing a protective cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric is one of the best ways to slow the virus’ spread, according to the CDC.

“I feel fine, why wear a mask?”

It’s true that wearing a mask is most important for those who are sick, as it keeps their contagious COVID-19 positive breath and saliva away from others.

But the tricky part about COVID-19 is that a significant amount of people infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic, according to CDC studies.


Asymptomatic patients who have COVID-19 can give it to others without knowing it as they have no symptoms. The only way to know if they have the disease is to be tested. And even then, there’s a risk as early research indicates that a common test for COVID-19 may produce up to 30% “false negative” results.

Less than 3%

The Florida Department of Health reported that 10,423 people in Collier County had been tested as of May 19. That’s 2.7% of the county’s 2019 census population estimate of 384,902 people. That means less than 3% of the county has been tested.

Lee County tested 21,326 people as of May 20, according to the Florida Department of Health. With a population of 770,577, the number of residents tested is also about 2.7%.

A significant number of coronavirus positive people don’t show symptoms for days or weeks after they’ve been infected, the CDC reports. No symptoms does not mean no virus. Those who are presymptomatic can still spread the virus through contact.

Wearing a mask can prevent the seemingly dormant virus from spreading to another person, who has the potential of experiencing different, more dangerous symptoms.

For the CDC’s general guidelines about how to best protect yourself and others, visit To learn about best practices for cloth face coverings, click on this page’s internal link.  

Keeping Your Mask Clean

If you don’t wash your mask, you risk infection from bacteria and viruses, says dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Mullans. Here she answers questions about the best way to wash your mask.

How often you should be washing your face masks and what is the best way to wash?

Mullans: Masks should be washed every day in hot water with laundry detergent and white vinegar, which has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Dry them on higher heat settings in the dryer. I recommend having multiple masks, in case the fabric wears out from washing and drying with heat.


How can we avoid face irritation from masks? 

Mullans: Since repeated washing and drying may cause fabric masks to deteriorate faster, and because some people are sensitive to fragrance, I recommend using a mild, fragrance-free detergent, such as Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free and Clear.

Are You Hungry or Just Bored?

How to curb food cravings during quarantine

by Glenn Mandel

We’ve all felt hunger. It’s the sensation we get when we want to eat food. It’s a physiological mechanism designed to tell us when we need to have sustenance. However, in the Western world, food is in plentiful supply all around us and our interpretation of hunger has become confused.

Broadly speaking, hunger can be viewed in two ways. Firstly, physiological, also known as stomach or true hunger, is where you are genuinely hungry because you feel low in energy and haven’t eaten for a long time. In other words, your body needs food. Secondly, psychological, or mouth hunger, is where you fancy something to eat. This is when you have a craving.

What are cravings?

Cravings can lead to a preoccupation with food. We want food, especially ‘bad’ foods, more than we did before. When we restrict ourselves from eating the foods we desire, it can have a bad effect on our mood, which increases temptation and when you then eat something you crave, you enjoy it even more. This can cause a negative cycle of mood changes, leading you to want to snack more. Then, you recognize the intense pleasure next time you have a craving and the cravings become harder to curb.

Food triggers

The trap continues. Just thinking about food triggers the behavior you want to avoid, like eating unhealthy foods when you’re not hungry. It’s especially hard as food is constantly around us, particularly as we spend more time than ever at home. It’s such an important part of our social lives, we see advertisements for tasty foods everywhere and it’s frequently the topic of conversation.

None of this helps when you’re trying not to think about unhealthy food. Harder still, we often use food as a reward. When we treat ourselves, junk food is a frequent reward of choice.

How to curb cravings

The nutrition team at the nutrition brand Huel ( put together a list of a few practical tips to help you curb your cravings. Over time, as you take control of your cravings, you’ll realize that you don’t actually need the food you’re craving, and the frequency, duration and intensity of the cravings will soon diminish.


Helpful tips for controlling the crave:

  • Eat regular meals and stick to a schedule. Don’t make a habit of skipping meals because you are “trying to be good” or because you feel guilty about what you ate earlier.

  • Listen to your body. Eat regularly and only when you are genuinely hungry. Observe bodily sensations to learn the difference between physiological and psychological hunger.

  • Identify what’s causing your cravings. Keep a food and feelings diary by jotting down what you eat and when, and how you feel before and after. This may help you identify triggers and problem times of the day, and to recognize if you're snacking for comfort, boredom or loneliness.

  • Find a hobby or interest. If you are snacking for comfort, eating will not make the problem go away. Do something to occupy yourself to avoid nibbling. Try chatting with a friend, exercising, watching a movie or having a relaxing bath.

  • Make eating a separate activity. Many people snack while doing certain things. Consequently, the activity becomes a signal for a craving. For example, watching TV and snacking. To curb this, only eat at mealtimes and get out of the habit of eating while watching TV. When at home, confine eating to the kitchen or dining room.

  • Have regular drinks. This will help to keep you feeling full. Hot drinks are particularly useful as hot liquids empty from the stomach slower than cooler ones, and occasional sugar-free sodas can help to satisfy your taste buds.

  • If you get the urge to eat, look at the time and wait half an hour before having something.

  • Brush your teeth or use minty mouthwash after meals. The minty taste will help curb cravings. This is especially useful after your evening meal, as we often associate cleaning our teeth as the last thing we do with our mouth for the day.

  • Adopt an eating strategy to help with discipline and to maintain a routine. For example, some people find intermittent fasting useful as it minimizes the window for permitted eating.

  • Snack sensibly. Fruit and berries are a great choice and will help curb sweet cravings. Sugar-free jello is also a great snack.

  • Don’t let a slip-up lead to more. If you do succumb to a craving, avoid the mindset of, “now that I’ve eaten that, I may as well make the most of it.”

Starting from Seed

Let Naples Botanical Garden’s DIY series bring out the inner green thumb in you

Now more than ever, Southwest Floridians are venturing out — into their own yards — and embracing the art of growing delicious and nutritious food.

Starting with a packet of seeds, Patrick Deja, Education Program Assistant at Naples Botanical Garden, takes you through the step-by-step process of beginning a garden of your own. Click here for the instructions and video, and get growing!

Look for the Silver Lining
How Readers Can Help
That’s ‘Edu-tainment!’
What’s for Dinner?

How Readers Can Help

Compassion is the key to giving in trying times

Charitable organizations need help more than ever in this undeniably unprecedented time. From messages of hope to messengers delivering meals, these organizations need volunteers, nonperishable foods, gas cards and so much more.

Some ways you can help

Because of the pandemic, many Make-A-Wish children have had their wishes postponed until at least this fall.


Tammy Lynn, the regional director of Southwest Florida’s Make-A-Wish chapter, says the community can keep the kids inspired by sending them “Messages of Hope.”

Here’s what you can do:

1. Create your creative “Message of Hope.”

2. Post on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #WishesAreWaiting. Or email the photo or video to Tammy E. Lynn, Southwest Florida Make-A-Wish Southern Florida ( and she’ll upload it to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida’s social media channels.

3. TAG the local chapter (@MakeAWishSFLA) and two or more friends, asking them to join in the movement.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few examples of messages that have been shared, both locally and nationally.


Ryan Reynolds:


Wish Alumna Marina:

Meals on Wheels volunteers provide daily, nutritious home-delivered meals and friendly “safety and security” check-ins to eligible homebound neighbors who cannot shop or cook for themselves. These neighbors include seniors and adults under 60 who have disabilities or are chronically ill. Meals on Wheels serves more than 1,000 elderly and homebound citizens.

Drivers are needed to deliver Meals on Wheels, particularly in summer and early fall. To drive a delivery route takes around an hour and a half, with 12-20 drop-offs. Fill out the application at

That’s ‘Edu-tainment!’

This chapter’s picks each have an educational component

Sometimes the brain needs more stimulus than pure entertainment can provide. Here are entertainment avenues with an educational aspect, so that while you’re unwinding indoors, you can learn a new skill or subject.


ArtSmart: Adventures in Pointillism

ArtSmart, an Artis─Naples initiative to encourage curiosity and creativity through interactive presentations and hands-on art experiences, has gone digital.

Now, with The Baker Museum closed, you can participate in ArtSmart at home through videos on Artis—Naples’ YouTube channel with Curator of Education Jessie Wozniak. 

In the first video, Wozniak explores pointillism, an art form in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. Viewers are then taught how to make their own pointillist creations at home.



Refresh the language you abandoned in high school, or immerse yourself in a new one, with daily lessons you access anywhere on your phone. The app makes language learning simple and pain free and it is free to download for all smart phones.

Rookery Bay

Rookery Bay is bringing the outdoors in by providing virtual tours, worksheets and videos that make learning about our regional backyard fun. It’s not just for kids: It’s for everyone. Rookery Bay’s Facebook page is covering everything from growing your own mangroves, to aquatic invertebrates, to learning about the role of oysters in our estuaries.


Coursera offers a wide array of courses for free, including the popular class at Yale, “The Science of Well-Being” from Yale University. The class helps you gain a better understanding of well-being and fostering habits to promote a happier lifestyle. Or, if you want to learn about Ancient Rome or a number of other skills, this website has it.


Artful Distancing

Gulfshore Playhouse is hosting virtual live events to take viewers behind the scenes of their favorite productions, answering questions like, “What does it take to mount a smash hit show on Broadway?” Tony-winning producers Sandi Moran and Ken Davenport lead the weekly discussions. Register by visiting


Masterclass of SWFL Jewish History

The Jewish Historical Society is presenting ‘Masterclass of SWFL Jewish History’ on Zoom to teach fascinating and fun facts about local moments of importance for Jewish culture. To sign up for these ‘Zoominars’ and email list, visit


COVID-19 UPDATE: MAY 26, 2020:

A message from Lee Health President & CEO, Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA:


"We are seeing cases of COVID-19 rise in our community. On the one hand, this is not surprising since more people are getting tested. On the other hand, however, we have to take any increase in cases seriously and watch our numbers carefully to ensure we have the capacity, personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies we need to care for our community.


This past weekend, as I was out and about in our community, I noticed people not heeding the advice of the CDC—not wearing a mask or face covering and not keeping a safe distance between themselves and others. These are the critical actions and behaviors that we need to incorporate into our daily lives to decrease the possibility of a second wave of cases. So, while reopening our community is a welcomed sight for so many reasons, we cannot relax our efforts to protect ourselves and each other. Please continue practicing physical distancing, good hand hygiene and wear a mask when you are out in public."

Look for the Silver Lining

Somewhere, the sun is shining ... make it shine for you

Silver linings are everywhere, even as many people choose to continue to stay at home for their health and the health of others. A Southwest Florida middle school art teacher and a Naples knitter shared their silver linings.

The Teacher

One interesting thought (is) how much I love being at home and noticing, with some critique and self-reflection: Is there something wrong with me? LOL. I’ve decided, no. Maybe I’ve been training for this. Maybe there is something ‘wrong’ with me, but if there is, ah well.

My days are filled with purpose and gratitude. I am surrounded by the place I love, filled with the presence of treasures. I am able to continue my work with a fair amount of challenge and creativity.

Shorts, no makeup. Tracking down students who need help with our new digital art lessons, seeing them get on board in this reinvention of what we do, and feeling like matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed; they are merely transformed. I have learned so much in this period of online learning and I hope my students have, too. I hope and pray we all have. ~ Kellen Beck Mills


The Knitter

I am getting through these hard times with a new hobby I picked up from the December issue of èBella magazine.

The “Everybody Has a Story” article was about a knitting group at Pelican Bay. They needed knitted pockets for blankets to donate to cancer patients. The ladies asked me to join them at their weekly meetings.


Now at home, I’m still knitting pockets, blankets and chemo caps to donate. I’m also working on blankets for my family. ~ Linda Fischel

What’s for Dinner?

Everyone needs a great stew recipe. Here’s one.

Recall the savory flavors of home with this recipe that requires just one pot and so many ingredients you probably have in your pantry or fridge. This recipe has been refined over the years. Don’t hesitate to give it your own special twist.


Beef Stew


1 lb. kabob-style lean beef

Salt and pepper to taste

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, minced

8 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup white wine

1 6-oz. can tomato paste

4 bay leaves

6 cups water

3 celery stalks, chopped

4 chopped carrots

4 peeled and chopped potatoes

16 oz. bag frozen peas


  • In a large pot, heat oil and cook minced onion until clear.

  • Add beef and brown.

  • Season with salt and pepper.

  • Add garlic and simmer till beef has very little pink left.

  • Add wine, tomato paste and bay leaves.

  • Simmer 10 minutes.

  • Check level of salt and pepper to taste.

  • Add water, celery and carrots

  • Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for one hour.

  • Add potatoes and peas and cook 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.


Serves 4.





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