Waterfront Food and Brew Festival Here May 25

Lush law and gardens stretch out to the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers

Food, beer and live music enthusiasts are invited to the first-ever River District Food and Brew Festival on Saturday, May 25 from noon to 8:00 p.m. at the historic Burroughs Home & Gardens located right on the waterfront at 2505 First Street in Fort Myers. Tickets are available at for $30. All guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend. 100% of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Uncommon Friends Foundation.

This festival is the only area festival set on the waterfront and is expected to become a popular annual event. Guests will enjoy live music from Steve Farst’s acoustic guitar and other performers, with unlimited cold beer samples and great food from eight or more independent Southwest Florida craft breweries and restaurants. Just pitch a lawn chair or blanket on the lush, shaded lawn and relax as you enjoy the expansive waterfront views, craft beers, food, and fun activities. There will be onsite seating and tables for mixing and mingling. Free parking is available across the street behind the historic Langford-Kingston home at 2500 First Street. Please visit for the latest details and information.

The Uncommon Friends Foundation is celebrating its 26th anniversary in 2019 and 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 friends Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindburgh. For more information, call 239-337-9503.

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 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.

Erin Brockovich to Speak on Clean Water Issues

The Burroughs Home & Gardens will host a panel of speakers that includes Erin Brockovich on the topic of clean water on October 3, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Burroughs Homes and Gardens, located at 2505 First St. in Fort Myers, Florida. Other panelists will represent the Calusa Water Keeper, Captains for Clean Water, and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. The panel discussion will serve as an opportunity for participants to educate the audience about clean water challenges in Southwest Florida. A press conference will follow the round table discussion at 3:00 p.m.

Ms. Brockovich is a consumer advocate and environmental activist. She is best known for her involvement in one of the largest direct-action lawsuits in U.S. history and is the subject of the 2000 film,“Erin Brockovich.”

Calusa Waterkeeper is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the Caloosahatchee River & Estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, the near-shore waters of Lee County and their watersheds through education and promotion of responsible use and enjoyment by all people.

Captains for Clean Water is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for the elimination of harmful, large-scale Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River estuaries by restoring the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water South into the Everglades and Florida Bay. Restoring the natural southern flow of Lake Okeechobee water is essential to the survival of our estuaries, the health of the Everglades, and the long-term viability of South Florida’s largest drinking water source, the Biscayne Aquifer.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. From its earliest days, SCCF has been known as a land trust with an impressive acquisition record. The story of SCCF’s land conservation efforts spans almost five decades on the islands on Sanibel, Captiva, Buck Key, Albright, York, Coconut and the Long Cut preserve on Pine Island.

“We are pleased to host such an informed group of speakers to share their knowledge with the public about a topic that affects each of the residents in Southwest Florida,” said Bob Bowcock, managing director of Integrated Resources Water.

There will be limited seating, so guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for lawn seating. There is no fee for entry; however donations are greatly appreciated and will be split between the four participating organizations tohelp defray the event costs.

The Gale McBride Pavilion is located at 2505 First Street, Fort Myers, Florida, on the property of the historic Burroughs Home & Gardens, a 1901 Georgian Revival riverfront mansion that sits on 2.45 acres overlooking the Caloosahatchee River in historic, downtown Fort Myers. The property is maintained by the Uncommon Friends Foundation, celebrating its 25th year in 2018 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that works to inspire future leaders toward excellence of character, a spirit of innovation, and a sense of purpose. Through character education, business ethics, scholarship and historic preservation, the foundation carries on the generational values of Fort Myers businessman Jim Newton and his personal friends: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindbergh. Public tours of the historic home are available by reservation. For more information, visit www.uncommonfriends.orgor call 239-337-9503.

Volunteer Docents Needed as Tour Guides at the Burroughs Home and Gardens

The Uncommon Friends Foundation is seeking volunteer docents to give historical guided tours at the Burroughs Home and Gardens located on the riverfront at 2505 First Street in downtown Fort Myers. Personable people who are passionate about history, architecture and/or storytelling with time to volunteer midday on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays are a perfect fit. Full training is provided. Interested applicants should contact Tera Miller at (239) 337-9505 or apply to

Seasonal property tours of the Burroughs Home and Gardens are now being offered by reservation only on weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Reserved tours followed by a catered lunch are $30/adult. Tours without lunch are $12/adult and $10/senior. Free parking is available across the street at 2500 First Street. For advance tour reservations, call (239) 337-9505.

The elegant Burroughs Home and Gardens is also available for weddings, receptions, private parties, and family gatherings with its new, open air Gale McBride Pavilion for up to 300 guests.

The 2½ story, 6,000 square foot, turn-of-the-century, Georgian Colonial Revival home was originally built in 1901 by John T. Murphy, a Montana cattle rancher and later acquired by wealthy businessman Nelson Burroughs and his wife Adeline in 1918. It sits on 2.45 acres overlooking the Caloosahatchee River and features stained glass windows, a widow’s walk, a sweeping veranda, and a winding, grand staircase. As one of the jewels of “millionaire’s row,” it was the scene of society events attended by the Edisons, Fords, Firestones, and other friends. For more information, visit

Volunteers are vital to the Uncommon Friends Foundation, as with most nonprofit organizations. From management assistance, to the cleaning crew, Holiday House helpers and docents, volunteers make it possible to keep the beautiful Burroughs Home and Gardens maintained, open and available for the enjoyment of the public.

The Uncommon Friends Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1993, manages the historic Burroughs Home and Gardens and is dedicated to lifelong character building among today’s youth and business leaders. For information, visit or contact Executive Director Angela Melvin at