The Uncommon Friends Foundation reports its 2018 Uncommon Evening held on November 8 was its most successful annual fundraiser in its history. Event Chair Caryn Smith, CEO of Driven by Design LLC reports the sold-out event had a record attendance of 260 business and community leaders and grossed a record $83,500. The evening was made possible by the support of title sponsor Storm Smart and all of the evening’s sponsors.

This year’s event doubled as an awards event and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the organization’s founding and featured a 25-year photo retrospect of the Uncommon Friends Foundation and an original play written by author Melanie Payne and presented by the Laboratory Theatre of Florida that highlighted the history of the original uncommon friends.

Student scholarships totaling $20,000 were awarded to 17 deserving students, with former scholarship winner and long-time annual donor Jared Basco as the keynote speaker. The evening culminated with the Business Ethics award being presented to PBS Contractors of Naples, Florida and the Character Education Teacher of the Year award to Rachel Mas, an educator at Cypress Lake Middle School. Gray Davis was awarded a special, Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of service on the board of directors and Brenda Stewart and Jody Van Cooney were recognized for their generous volunteerism over the years.

The nonprofit Uncommon Friends Foundation is dedicated to lifelong character building among today’s youth and business leaders. It strives to inspire future leaders toward excellence of character, a spirit of innovation, and a sense of purpose. Through character education, business ethics programs, scholarships, and historic preservation of the Burroughs property, the Foundation carries on the generational values of Fort Myers businessman Jim Newton and his uncommon friends Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindburgh. For more information, visit or contact Executive Director Jennifer Nelson at 239-337-9305.

Uncommon Friends Membership Meeting 2011
Business Ethics Luncheon 2012
2016 Scholarship Recipients
2019 Business Ethics Luncheon at FGCU
2019 Uncommon Evening: Pearls of Wisdom
Business Ethics Award Recipients
Champion Teachers
Historic Images
Honorary Lifetime Membership Winners
Royal Palm Yacht Club Ladies Visit Burroughs Home
Scholarship Recipients