Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Board Member Spotlight: Meet Tanya Croy

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Tanya and Granddaughter


Tanya Croy has been an active Board member of Protected Harbor since 2017. As a Collier County educator of twenty-one years, she regularly taught both mainstream students and students with varying degrees of learning abilities.

Upon retirement, Tanya wanted to continue serving people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Having been aware of Protected Harbor since its inception, it was a natural fit for her to join the Board and begin working with the special people she loves. In addition to serving as a Director, Tanya also serves on the Fundraising Committee, a vital role she enjoys because of her opportunity to interact with donors who support the mission of Protected Harbor.

What makes Tanya smile is knowing that this work is dedicated to God and to those He created. The security, training, spiritual growth, and sense of family provided to all the clients by Protected Harbor is a source of infinite enjoyment. Some of her favorite memories have been the Olympics held at one of our homes and volunteering at Trailways Spiritual Camp retreats. Those were special times of bonding and great fun with the clients.

Protected Harbor is a family affair with Tanya. Her son, Nick Ferrao, serves on the Board while lending his expertise with technology, while her daughter, Marissa Godlewski volunteers on the Marketing Committee. Nick has engrained the mantra, “bring up Protected Harbor in all your conversations” and rarely an opportunity goes by that Protected Harbor is not mentioned. The enthusiasm and heart for service shine through this family’s efforts.

Looking forward to our annual Homes with Heart luncheon in March, Tanya adds: “I am excited that Protected Harbor will be unveiling new, ambitious goals and an expansion of the types of services we offer adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Knowing we will help the rapidly increasing number of adults with special needs throughout Southwest Florida is very gratifying.”

Tanya knows where her strength and direction come from. Her favorite Bible verse is “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13


Behind the Smiles: Meet Paul

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Meet Paul

Meet Paul, a client of our “Supportive Living Program”. Paul lives independently in his own home, and the support services he receives encourage his success through training and socialization. Paul’s relationship with Protected Harbor began when he was invited to join various activities held for residents and guests. He met staff and other clients, becoming familiar and friendly with them. One event he especially enjoyed was the Christmas party held in one of our homes.

Paul could be considered a true “foodie”. He loves to bake, learn to cook new dishes, and eat lots of barbeque ribs! He enjoys the help he receives from his supportive living coach Amanda Ranalli. During her visits, she offers training that helps him navigate chores like cleaning the house, paying his bills, grocery shopping, and confirming doctor’s appointments. Amanda even accompanies him on trips to the beach and local parks.

Paul has been working at a local Publix for eighteen years. He enjoys his job and interacting with both customers and co-workers. After work, he enjoys relaxing, learning Bible verses, and cooking. Paul’s favorite Bible passage is contained in Colossians 1: 1-7 which reads in part, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Staff Spotlight: Meet Mary Osen

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Mary Osen Family

As Protected Harbor continues its growth and expansion, we have been fortunate to continue recruiting new personnel and support staff. One of the latest people to join us is Mary Osen; she began working with us last year in November.

Mary is from South Dakota, where she worked as Parish Administrator for several local churches. She moved to southwest Florida seven years ago and, like many others before her, she never looked back. Mary has family members with developmental disabilities, so when she attended a job fair and met Robin Antone, she was immediately interested. Robin described the mission of Protected Harbor and all it stands for. Mary was intrigued enough by the challenge to embrace the new position and readily accepted the offer. She is now officially a Support Coordinator for our Community Support division. Her role is to field calls from prospective new clients who may need the services offered by our organization or help with navigating the complex maze of state agencies to obtain medical, financial, or other resources.

Since joining Protected Harbor, Mary has embraced her role enthusiastically, learning to master the intricacies of her new position. Mary’s background in administration and the skills associated with it have proved useful as she also helps our office run more efficiently. What makes her job more satisfying are the opportunities to meet and get to know the clients. She finds them to be a delightful group of adults who bring a smile to her face. Mary recently spent some personal time with Cleo and Tiffany, during which she came to appreciate how well cared for and content they are at Protected Harbor.

Mary now spreads the good news about Protected Harbor and the diverse services it offers. Protected Harbor has a real heart for its mission to take care of God’s special people. The training, companionship, and loving environment the clients are offered allow them to live their very best lives despite their challenges.

Outside of work, Mary loves spending time with her seven grandchildren and roaming local farm markets with her husband, Lon. Her favorite Bible chapter is Matthew 7.

Behind the Smiles: Meet Amy

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Behind the smiles of each of our clients is a unique story that began many years before joining our family. They are stories of loving parents learning the news that their precious child will be different from most others. Together they would face life-long challenges coping with the seemingly insurmountable issues associated with the diagnosis.

One family is Paula and John Clark and their daughter Amy. Paula and John did their very best to give Amy a life of normalcy and opportunity as they navigated the turbulent waters of balancing finances, caring for their daughter, searching for the best placement for her education, and planning for her future. Like many other parents, a child with developmental challenges requires sacrifice and the loss of freedoms and independence they may have otherwise enjoyed.

Never regretting their life choices, led only by unconditional love, they cared for Amy for five decades. Realizing they were becoming older and may eventually need some help themselves, the worries about Amy’s future became their focus. They prayed about it, relied on God’s guidance, and began looking for an appropriate residential environment for Amy. One that would not disrupt her familiar routine of going to church, having daily devotions, and being surrounded by people who would love and care for her as they have. Their search proved futile.

Then a chance encounter at their church and an invitation to some special events organized by Protected Harbor changed everything. Amy joined the residents of our homes in Spiritual Camp outings as well as joining the fun at our Olympics games. Amy was hooked. She felt she belonged and not just as a visitor or a spectator. She was drawn by the love and camaraderie and the excitement of a new living option. The familiar family feelings she experienced with her future “sisters and brothers” was warm and inviting. Amy could continue her daily devotions, join her Protected Harbor family in prayer and worship and most importantly, continue attending church with her mom; something she always cherished. Paula and John felt this was the right fit for Amy, and Amy enthusiastically agreed.

Today, behind her beautiful smile, is Amy’s unspoken gratitude for having received a new, secure future full of adventure. Behind Paula’s and John’s smiles is the certainty that their daughter is receiving the best care possible and that she is flourishing in her new environment.

Staff Spotlight: Meet Amanda Ranalli

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2022 was indeed a successful year of growth and expansion. We thank our faithful partners who support us financially, by volunteering, and with prayer. As a result of our success in serving an increasing number of clients in Southwest Florida, the need for additional staff became essential. We are therefore pleased to announce that Amanda Ranalli joined our team in August as our newest Supportive Living Coach.

Amanda’s focus is working outside the parameters of our residential group homes. She reaches out to clients who have greater independence but need guidance doing what we might consider ordinary daily tasks such as balancing their checkbooks or maintaining their living space. She provides training and support to help clients adapt and live their very best lives despite any developmental obstacles they possess. Amanda also performs a role in Protected Harbor’s “companion services” module, by assisting our clients in participating in activities outside their homes. Going on walks, shopping, social outings, and community activities are where Amanda’s help becomes essential.

Amanda feels that the work here really matters to those receiving her services. To her, that is priceless. It fulfills her innate desire to help others in a direct, hands-on manner. Following her interview with Robin Antone and the description of her role, she believes she belongs here at this point in her life. The smiles generated when she works closely with the men and women in her care confirm that her service is meaningful and appreciated.

Amanda was born and raised in Illinois and moved to Florida six years ago. She attended Florida Gulf Coast University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in December 2021. Shortly after graduation, she began a job doing administrative work and supervising case management in a Mental Health Clinic in Ft. Myers. This was a good beginning for this recent graduate, but she yearned for a role that would offer opportunities to work more closely with persons in need. She wanted something that made a more personal impact on someone’s life. Thus, finding Protected Harbor was the answer to prayers. While working with us, she is continuing her education with plans to achieve a master’s degree and eventually become a licensed Mental Health Counselor.

During her spare time, if she can find any, Amanda loves to share outdoor activities with her boyfriend, Juan. They enjoy exploring new restaurants to experience different foods, solidifying her self-described “foodie” label. At all times, Amanda never misses an opportunity to tell others about Protected Harbor, the great work done there, and the many community members who need our services. Our clients would agree!

Behind the Smiles: Meet Johnny

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At age fifty-eight and a diagnosis of intellectual disabilities and autism, Johnny was navigating life independently, with the assistance of neighbors and friends. However, Johnny’s independence was threatened when the condo he was living in was sold. With no formal life plan in place, Sylvia, his sister, and guardian, were at a loss for how to best assist her brother. Then she received information about Protected Harbor from a family friend.

Sylvia and Johnny visited Protected Harbor and met with the Case Management team. This team, partially funded by the Golisano Foundation, embraced Sylvia and Johnny, and set out to assist. They helped by finding resources, establishing life plan goals, and providing information for various funding opportunities.

Upon learning of a potential living situation suitable for Johnny, the Protected Harbor Case Management Team shared the information with Sylvia. Johnny’s family support system was able to make the living situation a reality. Johnny moved into his new house with a roommate, on August 1. This allows him to remain independent, meet new friends, have new community opportunities, and be safe. Additionally, he was able to expand his community integration by attending an Adult Day Training Program.

As a client, Johnny will continue to receive assistance and the Case Management team will remain an advocate for him. Johnny and his new roommate will also join Protected Harbor during events and outings. Today, Johnny embraces his increased opportunities. Knowing Johnny is safe and well cared for, Sylvia can rest easy with the freedom to take care of her own needs.

This is just one family; however, it is the same story for hundreds of families in Southwest Florida. There is an intense need for services and funding in our area. Families need a place to find resources and direction. Maneuvering through governmental and agency channels can be a difficult task. The Case Management Team at Protected Harbor embraces families and loved ones with the expertise to avoid crises, navigate the channels and provide hope and a better life.

Board Member Spotlight: Meet Joe Gandolfo

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Joe Gandolfo was introduced to Protected Harbor while attending the weekly Men’s Ministry meetings at First Baptist Church of Naples. There he met Jeff Buchholz who spoke about Protected Harbor with such conviction and enthusiasm that his interest was piqued.

He attended a few Prayer Breakfast events before finally visiting one of the homes. It was on that occasion that his eyes were opened to the incredible work being done in service to a group of very special people needing compassion, love, and a safe haven in which to live and flourish. He initially became a “Friend of the Board” and shortly after, a full Board Member.

Joe was born in Rome, Italy, and raised in a Christian family with faithful parents. His father served as a Pastor as well as a missionary. After the family moved permanently from Rome to New York Joe attended secondary school. He pursued his university studies to become a teacher of English and taught in NYC Public schools for three decades. During this time Joe also became involved in the travel industry, a role he still holds after retiring from teaching.

The teaching experience, coupled with his Christian upbringing, gave him a sense of empathy toward those who are vulnerable and incapable of caring for themselves. He feels that the segment of the population served by Protected Harbor is deemed by some to be unimportant, but in God’s eyes, we are all created equally in His image. Joe has loved joining the Board of Protected Harbor because it is not an anonymous governmental institution. It is a faith-based ministry run by a staff that loves God and the clients they serve. The residents are not just a number but part of a family.

Joe feels he can contribute to the ministry by introducing his vast network of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances to the mission of Protected Harbor. His success is evident in the growing number of people who have volunteered their time and generously contributed financially. Seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces is the ultimate reward.

Joe says that what excites him most are the plans for future growth and expansion first introduced by Loretta Mottram and now continuing full throttle by Robin Antone, the current Executive Director.

Deuteronomy 6:5 is one of his favorite verses. ‘You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Behind the Smiles: Meet Deb

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Meet Deb

Like each of our clients at Protected Harbor, Deb brings her own unique personality and experiences to the group. As a native Floridian, who has never lived elsewhere, she loves the beauty and the weather, except of course during periods of heavy storms.

Deb enjoys the camaraderie with the other ladies and living at PH2 fills her with joy as they share smiles and laughter. She also appreciates the help she receives from the staff, admitting she particularly needs guidance when it comes to sticking to her budget!

Her daily routine consists of a morning cup of coffee, playing games on her phone, working out with online videos, and helping with house cleaning. Her TV choices are Cup Cake Wars on the Food Network and watching Game of Thrones.

As an avid animal lover, the surrounding area gives her plenty to keep her occupied. Bird watching particularly intrigues her; she enjoys researching the species of birds she observes. Spending time with her family and walking through weekly Farmer’s Markets round up the spectrum of her interests.

Deb was born on December 1st, so it’s no surprise Christmas is by far her favorite holiday. The beauty of living in Florida is that she can enjoy her birthday month swimming at the beach or in a pool. She was able to do a lot of swimming at the last Trailways Camp, an event she will always remember. This past year she also asked to be baptized, a decision she is very proud of.

Her aspirations include traveling to Alaska one day and having the opportunity to see animals not normally seen in Florida. Learning Latin and Greek are two other ambitious goals she has expressed achieving. Deb doesn’t have a favorite Bible verse but loves reading all the Gospels.

Staff Spotlight: Athena & Mark Priquette

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Mark and Athena

Mark and Athena Priquette joined Protected Harbor in August as our newest Direct Support Professionals working with the clients residing in our homes. They met and married while living in Italy. After their first child was born, they discovered an intimate and personal relationship with their Savior; a realization that changed their lives forever.

Mark served in the Air Force, which demanded they often move geographically. During this time they began fostering children and caring for people in need. Since retiring from their careers, they prayed for an opportunity to do mission work. The answer arrived when they read about a need for staff at Protected Harbor.

Their prior experience as house parents for several years gave them the impetus to learn more about our ministry, eventually joining our staff. Their love for people with special needs, coupled with a keen ear to listen for God’s direction gave them confirmation that this move was God’s plan for their lives.

Since arriving, Mark and Athena have treated this less as a job and more as becoming part of an extended family. They can love one another, enjoy communal meals, laugh, play, teach, learn, and engage in the many activities that fill our clients’ daily lives.

When they have time off, the Priquettes will continue to pursue interests they had before moving to Florida: traveling, working on their home and land in Kentucky, attending their home church, and visiting family. In fact, there are five grandchildren anxious to vie for their attention at home in Bowling Green, Kentucky!

Their favorite Bible verse can be found in I Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are all thankful for this couple and grateful for their service to the Protected Harbor family.

Behind the Smiles: Meet Tiffany

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Meet TiffanyProtected Harbor is blessed with a governing Board that includes directors from varied backgrounds, professions, and life experiences. Similarly, the clients residing in our supported living homes represent equally diverse backgrounds and life histories.

Tiffany is one such resident who despite being reluctant to share much about herself verbally, expresses herself beautifully through art. She absolutely loves drawing, painting, and crafting mosaic pieces, which she is very proud to display. Tiffany’s talent inspires her roommates to emulate her and create their own art pieces.

Additionally, Tiffany enjoys the outdoors and is especially happy to live in Florida, where she enjoys perennial spring or summer, void of the cold brought by winter! She also enjoys attending classes at Goodwill where she experiences an environment outside her home, with different people, that expands her social sphere.

When asked about her favorite food, Tiffany’s immediate response is pizza. She’s certainly not alone in that! She also enjoys the Japanese restaurant Kumo, where she delights in observing the chefs create interesting dishes right before her eyes.

Tiffany has many other “likes”; she loves Christmas (her birthday is coincidentally in December), and she mentions the Bible as her favorite book. Her current wish is to visit an art museum where she could gather new inspiration for her own creations.