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Uncommon Friends 2018 Scholarship Winners

2018 Uncommon Evening Sets New Records

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. Read more

Russell Budd Bart Zino Kimberly Ortegon Mark Simmons

PBS Contractors Wins 2018 Business Ethics Award

PBS Contractors of Naples, Florida received the 2018 Business Ethics Award from the Uncommon Friends Foundation at its annual Uncommon Evening Gala held Thursday, November 8 at the Burroughs Home & Gardens on the Fort Myers riverfront. PBS Contractors is a luxury residential and commercial builder and remodeler serving South Lee and Collier Counties and was represented by Russell Budd, CEO/Owner, Bart Zino, Kimberly Ortegon, and Mark Simmons.

Brian Rist, President and CEO of title sponsor Storm Smart, presented the Business Ethics Award to PBS Contractors before an audience of business, education and community leaders and student scholarship winners.  Other finalists in attendance were Chris-Tel Construction of Fort Myers, represented by President Howard L. Wheeler II and Priority Marketing of Fort Myers, represented by President/Creative Director Teri Hansen, APR.

Known as a concierge builder that puts people before profits, PBS Contractors has been on a mission since its founding in 1986 to build better lives for its team, its clients, and its community. At the cornerstone of PBS are 28 guiding principles that it refers to as, “The PBS Way.” Rather than defining corporate values, they instead defined fundamental behaviors that, in turn, guide the day-to-day ethical actions and choices of their 35 employees. For example, Fundamental #2 is, “Do the right thing. Always.” and Fundamental #5 is “Honor Commitments.” Everyone at PBS Contractors, from entry level to senior management, lives and practices the 28 fundamentals daily to guide decisions and actions, resulting in extraordinary customer satisfaction and superior structures. For more information, visit www.pbscontractors.com or call (239) 643-6527.

Dr. Karen Serrell and Rachel Mas

Rachel Mas was named the 2018 Character Education Teacher of the Year. She is an educator at Cypress Lake Middle School, where she teaches Spanish and Intensive Reading. She holds a BA in Education from Florida SouthWest College (2009), has served in the United States Army for 15 years, and is currently an Army Reservist in Cape Coral, Florida, serving as her unit’s Equal Opportunity Representative and UPL chairperson. She believes character education is just as important as students’ core disciplines in their overall education and development.

Marilyn Stout presents Lifetime Achievement Award to Gray Davis SWFBT

Gray Davis was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of service to the Uncommon Friends Foundation, including seven years serving as the chairman of the board of directors (2009 to 2016). Davis is Agency Executive/Senior Vice President of McGriff Insurance Services, a member of BB&T Holdings, the fifth largest independent insurance agency in the United States and the world.He was instrumental in raising donations to build the Gale McBride Pavilion in 2015 and also in establishing the Hilliard Student Scholarships to Florida Gulf Coast University. He holds an MBA in finance from Walden University and an Executive MBA from Babson College and is a veteran of the United States Navy and a retired member of the United States Marine Corps.

Board chair Marilyn Stout recognized the many contributions of both Brenda Stewart and Jody Van Cooney, who have voluntarily served in scholarship, board, PR, and various capacities over the last twenty years and who have been of enormous help to the Foundation.

Caryn Smith, CEO of Driven by Design Marketing & Publishing, chaired the 25th anniversary event. The evening’s title sponsor was Storm Smart; other major sponsors were: Conditioned Air, Florida Weekly, Home-Tech, Inc., Edison National Bank, Kiwanis of Cape Coral, and The News-Press Media Group.

Uncommon Friends Foundation Elects New Officers

John Albion

The Uncommon Friends Foundation held its annual board of directors meeting June 28 at the Gale McBride Pavilion at the Burroughs Home & Gardens, 2505 First Street in Fort Myers.

Vice President and an Uncommon Friends Foundation co-founder John Albion, a director at Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Property Southwest Florida, was elected president. After a record seven years at the helm, Gray Davis, agency executive, senior Vice-President at BB&T Oswald Trippe and Company, stepped down as president and into the role of immediate past president.

Helena Dabrowski, director of Finance at Sunshine Ace Hardware, was elevated from treasurer to vice president and City of Cape Coral Council Member Marilyn Stout was elected as treasurer. Hunter Martin, a group vehicle repair manager at Enterprise Holdings, agreed to remain as secretary.

Newly elected board members include Kerri Goldsmith, a financial advisor with HBKS Wealth Advisors, and Joanne Robertson, director of administration and community relations for the Lee County Tax Collector’s Office.

Returning board members include: City of Fort Myers Council Member Gaile Anthony; Alexandra Bremner,  an educator at Allen Park Elementary School; Tom Gunderson, stockholder, Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.; Tom Hoolihan, Jr. an owner of Tommy Hoolihan’s Resort Lifestyle Center; Lee County School Board member Pam LaRiviere; Dr. Karen Serrell, Professional Development and Leadership Specialist, School District of Lee County; Caryn Smith, CEO, Driven by Design; Brenda Stewart, retired legal assistant; and Ted Todd, principal at Ted Todd Insurance, Inc.  Executive Director Angela Melvin is an ex-officio member of the board.

Uncommon Friends Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1993. The Foundation is dedicated to lifelong character building among today’s youth and business leaders. The Foundation also manages the historic Burroughs Home and Gardens. For more information, please visit https://uncommonfriends.org/ or call 239-337-9503.