Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Board Member Spotlight: Jeff Buchholz

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Jeff Buchholz currently serves as Protected Harbor’s board president and on the Executive and Finance Committees.  Ten years ago, Bob Schubring introduced Jeff to the ministry and encouraged him to get involved. Jeff states his reward for the long hours of commitment are the smiles of the people we serve and watching the staff go above and beyond their official duties to guide and love our clients.

The reason for giving his time and talent to this organization is because “this is what God tells us to do”. It gives him joy to help God’s Special People, and Jeff loves the people he serves with. “We are doing God’s work, this is not our ministry, it’s His and we need to listen to God to see where He wants to take this ministry.” Jeff went on to say that we are just the hands and feet that help accomplish God’s work here on earth.

Jeff lived through the ups and downs we collectively experienced during Covid. He also experienced joyful events like attending the Mighty Muscles minor league baseball game where our client Matthew threw the first pitch. However, the highlight of the year was the engagement with the Trailways campers and the spiritual aspect the campers participated in. Watching them enjoy themselves by taking risks, helping one another in tasks, and expressing their love for Christ in worship, was simply amazing.

Looking to the future, Jeff is acutely focused on our need to recruit more people to join Protected Harbor’s mission. This includes prayer partners, volunteers, and financial support. Growth and expansion are not only necessary but essential to equipping us to serve the growing numbers of people who need the services we provide.

Jeff’s favorite Bible verses perfectly describe his passion and drive: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones”. Proverbs 3:5-8

Behind the Smiles: Meet Dennis

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Dennis was the very first resident after the completion of Protected Harbor 2. As such some view him as the “mayor” of the home! He’s been a resident since February 1st of 2018.

Being a very friendly person, Dennis has adapted well to this setting and has quickly made lasting friendships. He enjoys the comradery and the activities he can engage in, in a social setting. The staff members are an integral part of his life also, as they help him complete daily chores such as getting himself ready in the morning, doing laundry, and cooking.

Outside of the home, Dennis enjoys helping out at Goodwill, where he has also made friends. Additionally, he likes playing baseball and basketball and especially going to church on Sundays. Taking long walks is another activity he enjoys, particularly in good weather.

Dennis loves to spend time with his family and joins them for dinner at Perkins where he habitually orders his favorite meal: cheeseburger, French fries, and a diet Coke. He also indulges himself with helpings of cake and ice cream whenever he gets the chance.

The highlight of the past year has been participating in the Trailways Spiritual Camp, which took place last October. He went fishing and caught a large fish, making him very proud. He’s looking forward to the next opportunity to attend again.

His favorite thing about going to church is learning about Jesus through the Bible stories. He loves church where he can participate in worship and learning.

Dennis is a great asset to the Protected Harbor family.

Friend of the Board Spotlight: Beth Burgham

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Beth and Family

                                                                          Beth, Spouse David, and Son Simon

Being a “Friend of the Board” at Protected Harbor is as important as any other position within this ministry. Each person brings their unique abilities, point of view, and talent.

Beth Burgham is one such person; she has always had a giving spirit and heart for those in need. For the past twenty-two years, Beth has taught middle school students with various disabilities. She has combined compassion with professionalism to bring out the best in each circumstance.

Beth became aware of Protected Harbor through her friendship with board member, Tanya Croy. As a result, we are thrilled to welcome her as a new Friend of the Board. The special friends who join that group enhance our mission through their generous service, support, dedication, and commitment.

Students with learning disabilities benefit from Beth’s guidance and support as she teaches alongside general education teachers. Tanya appreciated how skillfully Beth worked and how she loved the students. Nearing retirement, Beth had begun to look for ways to serve others now and remain active in the future. When the opportunity arose, Tanya eagerly shared the mission and vision of Protected Harbor knowing Beth would be a perfect fit.


We are so grateful for Beth and her willingness to come alongside our residents, staff, and board. She is excited to participate in the growth and future she sees for Protected Harbor. We are doubly fortunate that her husband, Dave, has also embraced our residents and has volunteered in some of their social activities. We also look forward to their son Simon joining us when he has time between work and college classes.


Beth’s favorite Bible verse is from James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead”. As she continues to commit herself to serving others, Beth prays her faith and work will continue to bring glory to God.

Behind the Smiles: Meet Matthew

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Matthew is a native New Yorker who has been a resident of Protected Harbor since May 2019. It’s no surprise, that he picks Matthew as his favorite book in the Bible!

Before arriving in Ft. Myers, Matthew was a resident of Sunrise Group Home in Miami. Once his mother learned of Protected Harbor, the choice was made to have Matthew come live with us.

With staff guidance and support, Matthew has embraced new independence. You may have seen recent announcements featuring him completing a 5k run as well as throwing out the first pitch at a local Mighty Mussels minor league game! He loves running as it gives him an independent feeling of freedom and energy. However, interacting with fellow residents and staff also gives him joy.

Besides running track, Matthew enjoys group sports such as baseball, basketball, and activities like bowling, exercise classes, companion services, STARability functions, and PTO. He has the appreciation, shared by the other residents, of enjoying a private room and bathroom, giving him further feelings of independence. It is never a dull moment when Matthew is around. Behind his smile is the joy of living and sharing in a loving and caring “family”.

Behind the Smiles: Meet Tiffany

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Tiffany is a well-rounded creative young lady, whether it be expressed through music or art. She has a meticulous eye for detail which became obvious once she began experimenting with small pieces of colored glass while creating her first mosaic piece. Her artistic skills caught the eyes of her fellow residents who lavish her with praise and accolades once they see her completed work. This is also true when she plays the Indian flute. What she struggles to express verbally, can be easily understood through her artistic expression.

Tiffany loves to read and learn. In addition to her involvement with the regular training programs offered, she is teaching herself the Japanese system of writing using Chinese characters known as “kanji”. This is an obvious transition for her, as she can use her innate artistic abilities to design perfectly crafted characters while being amazingly able to remember what each one of them means. Along with kanji, she is fascinated by Japanese culture, literature, and art.

When not involved in didactic activities, she loves being outdoors. Tiffany is an avid bicyclist who has been known to take seven to twelve-mile rides alongside staff and peers. Her favorite local trail is the John Yarbrough Linear Park, a short distance from one of our homes. She also enjoys walking and working out to guided video sessions. Maintaining good health is obviously important to her.

Animals find a sensitive friend in Tiffany. She enjoys the beauty of creation and has a special soft spot in her heart for its many creatures. In fact, she rides horses as part of the Special Equestrians program offered to our residents, loves visiting the zoo with her grandmother, and keeps track of the many small animals that saunter around our grounds. Tiffany is often found sitting on a bench by our nearby lake surrounded by and enjoying the beauty of nature.

Above her desk, she has a note that reads: “Remember to Pray. It is the most important skill of all”. We are honored to have Tiffany as a member of our Protected Harbor family and be a part of her growth as she develops her many skills. We are also encouraged by her willingness to be involved in spiritual activities as she grows in her faith.

Behind the Smiles: Meet Ashley

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Ashley is one of Protected Harbor’s residents who contributes greatly to the smooth running of the house she resides in. She has made herself an important part of the prep and cooking team, becoming an integral participant in the success of the daily family dinners.  She loves living at Protected Harbor and regards it as her home and her fellow residents her brothers and sisters.

Much like several of her peers, Ashley volunteers in the Food Ministry of McGregor Baptist Church when school is in session. Her supervisors there praise her for her diligence on the job and occasionally invite her to work with them in the kitchen for other special events at the church. When she is not working, Ashley loves to spend time solving puzzles on her iPad, or engaging in an exciting game of Candy Crush. She chooses apps and games that help sharpen her decision making and thinking skills. She recently took up disc golfing, an activity her housemates also love. They are all looking forward to visiting an actual disc golf course to play their first non-virtual round.

Ashley loves her family and looks forward to holidays or special occasions giving her the opportunity to spend time with them. She is an avid Ohio State fan, proof of which is in her choice of attire: jersey, pants and even earrings with all the markings of the Buckeyes. All other teams need not apply!

Dennis, a staff member at Protected Harbor 1, observed that “Ashley is one of the best workers I’ve seen. She is always on the lookout for something to do and always provides excellent help when it comes to preparing meals. I can always count on Ashley to be ready to help out.”


Friend of the Board: Meet Pat Schubring

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Pat and her family

The familiar letters P.S. represent the Latin phrase “postscriptum”, which indicate an afterthought, a last-minute sentence added to a completed letter. However, at Protected Harbor we have our own very special P.S. in the person of Pat Schubring who is far from an afterthought, or a last-minute addition. In fact, Pat has been a valuable asset alongside her husband, Bob for many years, collaborating with and fundraising successfully on behalf of the residents and staff!

Pat and her husband became interested and eventually involved with Protected Harbor over ten years ago through their friendship with George Pappas whose daughter Cleo is still a current resident. Initially Pat saw how God was using Bob in this ministry, but wasn’t sure what her role should be, until she began spending time with the men and women with special needs. Seeing their grateful expressions and the magic spark that evolved into smiles, she became hooked!

Throughout her years of service to Protected Harbor, Pat has smiled, laughed, prayed and wept alongside the residents, remaining committed to the mission because of the love she developed for them. One memory that has remained indelibly embedded in her mind was seeing a former resident, Anne Marie, who was ill and unable to ambulate freely, being helped by volunteer Key Club students. Pat had invited this club of high school students to visit one of our Protected Harbor homes. They joyfully helped Anne Marie get to her feet and walk so she could participate in the games the others were engaged in. Behind the tenuous smile on Anne Marie’s face was the deep gratitude for being shown love and inclusion by what were mere strangers just a short time before. Pat cherishes that memory in her heart to this day.

As a member of the Naples Kiwanis Club, Pat has introduced numerous members to Protected Harbor over the years and engaged many in volunteering and donating. She has also extended her reach by involving three Key Clubs from three different local high schools: Barron, Gulf Coast and Palmetto. The students have volunteered by decorating for Christmas, baking cookies, doing various craft projects and celebrating life with the residents. All thanks to Pat’s leadership.

Her tireless work in coordinating our annual Prayer Breakfast as well as actively fundraising has kept her busy and engaged each year.  Making sure all she is involved in becomes a success, Pat aspires to see the mission of Protected Harbor grow and evolve in order to serve even more of God’s special people by creating opportunities for them to engage with each other, the community and the Lord.

Pat and Bob have been married for 21 years, have three children and seven grandchildren. They met on a construction site in Naples and were married in a lovely garden downtown, but five years later they remarried in a religious ceremony at First Baptist Church Naples. They both enjoy dining out with friends as well as traveling. One of their favorite trips was to Israel. Pat explained that this was a life changing experience for her, being able to walk where Jesus Himself walked many years ago.

Pat still spends time in the construction management field as well as in the interior design industry, all while volunteering at Protected Harbor, enjoying her family and being involved in church activities. Despite all the busy hours, Pat still manages to bake her ubiquitous chocolate chip cookies which she freely shares with family, friends and her very grateful customers. We are thankful that Pat Schubring is no P.S. afterthought, this a lady on a mission for God!

Board Member Spotlight: Meet Pat Ellis

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As older parents of an adult son with developmental disabilities Pat and Whitey Ellis had reason to be concerned and interested in finding a home where their son Dennis could later live with the kind of love and support his parents have provided throughout his life.  God heard their prayers and was already at work, preparing a place for Dennis’ future.

Friends, George and Athena Pappas also have a daughter with special needs. When Pat Ellis first met George he had already begun envisioning a safe living environment for adults with disabilities. While attending a meeting with George and others, Pat heard the idea of building a home where men and women who could not care for themselves independently was discussed. The idea was one that struck a note with Pat personally as the mother of a young man with a developmental disability.  She knew deep in her heart that this was not just “any” project, but a God thing.

In 2010, the idea of Protected Harbor became reality. When Pat and her husband, Whitey visited the first project, they were both impressed with the result. Not only was the spacious home beautiful, each resident having their own private bedroom with en suite bathroom, but it was clear the focus of all things would be “Christ centered”.  

“When I walked into the first Protected Harbor home after it was built, I was impressed with how well GOD worked to make Protected Harbor become possible for people with disabilities to find a loving and caring Christian home allowing them to live life at its fullest and be the best they can be.”

Even though this first home was designed exclusively for women residents (and the two staff couples that would also reside there), Pat enthusiastically joined the board of Protected Harbor. Then in January of 2018, a second, home was completed and Pat and Whitey’s son, Dennis became its first official resident. It is no surprise that Dennis loves it there. He frequently enjoys weekend visits with his parents but always reminds them when it’s time to take him “home” (to Protected Harbor). 

Not surprisingly, as Pat began her work on the board, she realized how many people were unaware of Protected Harbor or its purpose. She also became aware of the insurmountable challenges ahead as the need for financial support as well as suitable personnel became more pressing. 

Her work on the fundraising committee is one way she can  get the word out. With her special connection she is able to share the story of Dennis and Protected Harbor with everyone she meets.   Her message is simple but compelling: “Our Christian homes bring Christian values to this work, and the loved ones being served are treated with respect, dignity and are genuinely loved.” And then as a personal note she adds: “My son Dennis will continue to have a better life and so will so many others like Dennis who are seeking their forever home. My work is not just for Dennis, but for all the homes and all those who live there.”

Making an impactful connection with new friends and fellow Christians has become Pat’s most rewarding work now.  Her optimism shows when one speaks to her. She looks forward to the continued growth and expansion of Protected Harbor as they seek to build more homes for those in need. Because all those involved share her view that this is a project designed exclusively to honor God and the special people He created she believes that God will touch the hearts of new friends and generous people who will join in this mission.

Despite the current challenges presented by the pandemic and the frustration of having to inhibit the residents from living their usual routines outside the homes, Pat remains optimistic and forward looking. With so many more families needing the care and the services offered by Protected Harbor, facing the challenge of providing more homes as well as the funding necessary to accomplish it all is an ongoing effort. But as Pat and Whitey often reflect on happy memories of enjoying dancing, playing tennis and many travels around the world, these days can be described as one of peace knowing their son will be safely taken care of in a loving, Christian home for the rest of his life.

Resident Spotlight: Ken

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Newest resident, Ken, from Michigan, enjoys his sunny new home and newfound friends at Protected Harbor.

Our newest resident, Ken, comes to us from Michigan. He moved to Southwest Florida earlier this year with his oldest brother, Doug. Ken had previously lived in a group home and is excited to live in one again and hopes to eventually find a job, like he had up North.

Since joining the Protected Harbor II home, he has been embraced by the other residents for his calm demeanor and very sweet personality.

Because Ken has difficulty speaking, Protected Harbor Board member and Speech Language Pathologist, Alyssa Hayes, has already begun working with him regularly and finds him to be a good student.

Ken, the middle child of five boys, grew up happy and active as a child earning dozens of Boy Scout badges. He remembers his mom as a good cook and has wonderful memories of family meals. When both his parents passed, his brother, Doug, took the mantle of caretaker.

Now, Ken gets to create new moments with his Protected Harbor family. Ken has bonded with longtime Protected Harbor resident, Dennis, and the two of them can often be found sitting together on the front porch. Sometimes Ken and Dennis sit happily together in silence, while other times Dennis will regale him with stories and anecdotes about the Goodwill program, where Ken hopes to work soon. Ken usually responds by smiling and contributing an occasional word of interest.

Ken, along with the other residents, is looking forward to the lifting of the quarantine rules so he can enjoy activities like bowling, bike riding, and softball with the other residents. He also enjoys live music, anything related to scouting, and even his speech therapy sessions.

Ken sits with longtime resident, Dennis, on the front porch, their favorite spot of the house.

The house helped celebrate Ken’s 66th birthday on September 28, festooning the house with balloons and decorations. The celebration included his favorite foods like pepperoni pizza, cake, ice cream, and Sprite. He was surprised by his brother, Doug, who arrived with the gift of a recliner, a welcomed addition to his new room.

House manager Chadwick Duncan said, “It has been a pleasure having Ken come to live with us. He is a very warm and happy person with an endearing and calm demeanor. The other residents took to him immediately and he has fit right in. It has been a blessing for him and us.”

Resident Spotlight: Jake

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Resident Jake, an avid sports fan, smiles big with his jersey on.

Meet Jake!

Jake has been a resident of the Protected Harbor II home since 2018. Since he moved in, he has been loving his additional independence. In the last 2 years, Jake has become more communicative with others outside of his immediate family, experienced shared responsibilities of a home, and established an independent discipline of a routine.

Jake is always trying to make people laugh. Not a dinner goes by where Jake doesn’t get at least one chuckle out of his housemates. He loves adventures and the beach, attending church groups, and playing basketball.

Residents and staff members would describe him as the busy type. He is interested in many things and is always up for anything. Often times, you can find Jake rooting for his favorite sports teams, the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics.

Jake enjoys staying active by running on Protected Harbor’s treadmill, playing tennis and soccer, dancing, and boxing. His favorite hobbies include creating art and researching various topics. Lately, he has been most interested in learning about colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Jake stands in his Publix uniform after attending orientation.

Before COVID-19, Jake worked at his family’s commercial cleaning business twice a week, but he has always had a goal to work at Publix. With the help of Protected Harbor’s support staff and Adult Day Training (ADT) classes, Jake went to his interview prepared. He was offered a position, and the staff worked with his Waiver Support Coordinator and Job Coach to help Jake be successful.

Shortly after attending his orientation, the state went into quarantine and Publix made the decision to postpone his employment. Jake now looks forward to beginning his dream job once things return to normal. We are very proud of Jake and pray that he will soon be seen at his local Publix serving the public, gaining new skills, and building new friendships.