Hurricane Ian has passed and is no longer front-page news – But those living in the aftermath really need your help

The news may have moved on to newer things, but the aftermath of Hurricane Ian has left many Floridians in a state of survival. Their homes have been flooded and damaged, if they still stand at all in much of Southwest Florida including Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, North Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Marco Island, Sanibel, and Captiva. This usual tropical escape paradise now looks like a war-torn nation.

It is easy to look from a distance and say “Oh well. Insurance will cover it and FEMA will help”, but the truth is that insurance companies are making massive payouts at catastrophic levels. Flood insurers are dumping the burden on home insurance saying it’s the wind damage that has caused the destruction and homeowners insurance policies are pointing the finger back at flood insurers. The fact is it could easily bankrupt companies and that would leave homeowners out in the cold.

Searching for contractors is a scary undertaking as well. Not only are looters being arrested daily but scam contractors are as well. It’s terrible to think there are people trying to prey on those already so kicked down. Many people are pulling whatever money they do have from savings or retirement accounts to try and fix their homes even ahead of the insurance checks being cut. They simply cannot wait as mold (often toxic black mold) begins to set into the soggy home remnants. Some are not so financially sound to be able to do this and must sit and wait as the line for contractor projects grow longer in wait times.

It has been over two weeks since Ian accosted the coast of Florida. Many are still without power, without internet, and trucks with supplies are having a tough time stocking stores. People have lost their cars, and many do not have transportation. Gas lines are long, and stations are sometimes out of gas.

The images you see on the news do not compare to the vastness of the damage in person. The vibe in SWFL is a mix of sadness, shock, and a rising group spirit that will not be defeated even by mother nature. Floridians are a special breed. They will overcome.

Right now, though they sure could use some help.
If you are so inclined one of the best and most direct ways you can make a difference is to support the Cajun Navy. They are bringing supplies and assistance directly to the people where it is needed.

Donate cash:

Send supplies directly instead of cash: Their wish list which can be used by logging into amazon on your own acct and then choosing off the list located at

Photo credit: Dawn Hunter of Naples, FL – Taken in the Vanderbilt Beach area.

The Red Tide Organophosphate Cleanse – How I Healed Myself

I was a medical mystery. Living here in Southwest Florida back in December of 2017 I had a sudden onset massive headache that no doctor could figure out. Many medical doctors, many blood tests, MRI’s, Echocardiogram, EKG, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage, ENT’s, Endocrinologists and more. I had reached a point where I had literally tried everything I could think of.

It wasn’t that I was getting frequent headaches, it was one solid headache for 11 months interrupted only by pain medication. When it would wear off, I was again left clutching my head in tears.

Things changed when I happened to read an article in Newsweek that said Red Tide had been plaguing Florida for 10 months. That was the exact time my headache began. I started to wonder, could they be linked?

What I found is that currently in our water is not only the yearly red tide (brevetoxin) but also the blue-green algae (cyanotoxin) both are toxic to wildlife and humans. As if that wasn’t enough, the runoff water being released from Lake Okeechobee has pesticide and herbicide chemicals in it including glyphosate (Monsanto’s popularly sold weed killer RoundUp) which can lead to organophosphate toxicity in humans and animals alike. It is a known carcinogenic that is somehow not yet banned.

I researched and called the health department and even the CDC who both told me “There is no test”. That simply isn’t the case. You can be tested for cyanotoxin via a nasal swab. You can be tested by blood or urine for the brevetoxin in Red Tide though I have yet to find a lab that offers the test needed. All three toxins are in a group of similar neurotoxic compounds which are tasteless and odorless. They can be aerosolized into the wind and carried for miles inland. Toxicity can result from breathing the toxic air, touching it via skin, or eating contaminated seafood. Organophosphate poisoning is easily tested using the Cholinesterase RBC and Plasma blood test. This test was my answer.

When I got the test results back, initially I saw that my values were in green. I assumed (wrongly) that meant I was “ok”. In reading the CDC website, it clearly stated that several doctors and researchers agreed despite the lab values, that toxicity can present itself starting at only 40% of the maximum marked value. This landed me at 78% on the RBC and 53% on the plasma.

I had been being poisoned. The culprit was organophosphates. I am a Graphic Designer and Writer who works inside and am not exposed to pesticides or herbicides of any kind in a normal way. I live at 6 miles inland from the water.

Believing I had found the root cause I went about searching for a solution and thankfully, I found one. Working with my long time Chiropractor/Nutritionist who consulted with other physicians to come up with the best solution for a neurotoxin cleanse, one was chosen.

It is a 10 day cleanse that is intended to release the held toxins within the liver as well as other cells in the body.

An honest review: I have done lots of other cleanses in the past 20 years. This one I started at the end of a head cold simply because of timing with my upcoming wedding and wanting to be finally better. It made it even more difficult to tell if it was totally detox symptoms or left over head cold.

Days 1-3 It was not too bad. Slightly sniffly with a hot head, feeling tired.

Days 4-8 it felt as if I had a massive head cold or flu. I could tell it was detox symptoms because it came and went in waves rather than just sticking around. Day 6, though I work at home, I was unable to work at all and spent the day pretty much face down on the bed. Day 7 and 8 were rough too. Lots of hot Epsom salts baths trying to soak and sweat it out.

Day 9 I began to feel somewhat human again and just took it really easy.

Day 10 I was again feeling somewhat normalized. Headache now is gone.

More info on what to expect when doing a cleanse – what is a Herxheimer Reaction?

I have not had a chance to verify this change through a repeat blood test, but what I do know is that my 11-month debilitating headache is now blissfully gone and I am feeling more like myself again though I do still have other symptoms at least that massive head pain that woke me up at 3 am daily taking more pain medication is no longer. While the damage done from the organophosphate poisoning can never be undone, at least with the cleanse, I feel like I have been able to clear my body’s ability to deal with it better. Rather like changing the oil filter regularly on your car…

*If you do the cleanse and stay in Florida you will need to redo it every year or so because you are still being exposed. I myself am choosing to move out of state to save my health.

TO DO THE CLEANSE: Please contact the office of Dr. Jason Kaster Fort Myers, Florida at 239-332-2555 and let them know you would like to be considered for the Red Tide/Organophosphate cleanse. You do not have to be in the area to do the cleanse. The testing and the cleanse together I believe is $400. (More info on symptoms)

Disclaimer: Because it is such an intense internal cleanse and many of us are incredibly overloaded with toxins if you are not in the best of health otherwise it is often wise to do it as a doctor supervised cleanse rather than just trying to go it alone. My intent is to heal, not to harm anyone and I myself am not a doctor so I am not simply posting the products to use on here.


Sarah J. Barendse

Popular Misconceptions about Pawn Shops

There tends to be a kind of stigma attached to the very title of “Pawn Shop”. Over the years though portrayals in TV, movies, news media, even friends, neighbors and family the pawn industry had gained a rather seedy reputation of being a lower end genre of store which fenced goods, sometimes even stolen merchandise. It simply wasn’t viewed by most as the kind of place the majority of society shopped.

This simply is not accurate.
Lets take a look at what MYTH vs. FACT when it comes to the Pawn Industry.

MYTH: Pawn shops buy and sell stolen goods.

FACT: Pawn shops abide by all local, state and federal laws. They are specially licensed and work with the police to prevent the selling of stolen merchandise. All transactions are accompanied by the seller presenting not only a valid photo ID, but also stamping the contract with a finger print. All merchandise received in is carefully catalogued for inventory purposes in cooperation with the local authorities. The police regularly compare serial numbers against items reported stolen, enabling the return of recovered merchandise to the rightful owner whenever possible.

MYTH: The clientele pawn shops attract are sleazy undesirables.

FACT: The typical loan customer who comes in and pawns an item is local to the store and just happens to need a cash loan in the short term for unexpected expenses. It isn’t usually a lack of employment or income that drives them it, its lack of savings. They are living check to check like most of America and occasionally those checks or pay period times run a few days short.

FACT: Pawn shop shoppers are bargain hunters! Why pay retail when gently loved merchandise, which seems new anyway, is often times available at hugely discounted rates?

MYTH: Pawn shops operate as they please, unregulated.
FACT: Pawn brokering is actually a heavily regulated business. In fact, at the local or state level, most pawn brokers are required to be licensed and regulated. At the federal level, they follow rules from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms (ATF) and are regulated by the Federal Reserve Board almost in the same ways as banks. They are also required by the Patriot Act to check all customers against the Treasury Department‘s database of known terrorists. Attempting to sell stolen goods to a pawn shop really isn’t a smart move!

MYTH: Pawn shops are the last resort for people with bad credit to get loans.
FACT: Customers find that loans from pawn shops are better than borrowing money from a family or friend. Plus, it’s quick, confidential and a customer gets part of the value the pawnbroker believes the collateral would bring in if sold. Sure, the loan to collateral ratio varies depending on the type of goods pledged, but a loan of 30-50 percent of the resale of the collateral is pretty common.

MYTH: Pawn shops hope you don’t come back for your pawned items so that they can sell them.
FACT: Pawn shops have limited space to store everything. They are gaining the interest on your loan, not to steal your belongings. All pawned items are carefully catalogued and tracked. Here at First Pawn we double check by calling you if you have not come back in for your items prior to considering it as inventory and a closed loan.

MYTH: People only pawn items when they don’t want them anymore and don’t really care if they get them back.
FACT: Pawn loans are far faster and more easily granted than trying to work with a bank based on credit. Pawn loans are the only credit product that have ever been available that give the borrower short term cash, obligation free.

MYTH: Pawn shops don’t really have good brand name merchandise, its all just used junk.
FACT: We live in a fast paced, high tech society. Upgrading is the standard. We all want to keep up with the Joneses. When the new iPhones come out, the newest gaming console, or the bigger better badder TV we are where the second to last model may end up, BUT we also have top end state of the art merchandise as well, we are ready for you to come in and upgrade! Even diamonds are “upgradable”. Customers trade in their old “whatever-it-might-be” and it helps to significantly offset the cost of the newer shinier version with more bells and whistles. The fact is that shopping and upgrading at a First Pawn can save you huge amounts of money.

Tv shows featuring high end pawn shops such as Pawn Stars are helping to break the myths and present the reality of daily business in the pawn industry. It takes a vast amount of knowledge over a wide gamut of subjects, strict adherence to laws and regulations, a high level of personalized customer service and a careful inventory system to make a shop successful.

Here at First Pawn Jewelry & Loan, we take pride in our business. We appreciate our customers and want you to have the very best experience possible. If you are looking for something special or just need a little extra cash, come in today and talk with us. We are located at 889 Airport Rd. S. Naples, FL 34104. We can be reached at 239-434-7296. or by visiting

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SWFL Dining: My Top 10 Restaurant Recommendations

Whether you are new to the area or just looking to expand and excite your palate, SWFL dining offers some of the best restaurants in the world. The ambiance, the atmosphere, the weather, the people and the culture – it all adds to the overall experience.

You can look online to sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor, but nothing beats a good old fashioned personal recommendation. As a longtime resident, allow me to guide you to some of my favorite local hot spots.

My top 10 SWFL dining recommendations span Naples, Fort Myers, Marco Island and Estero


  1. Seasons 52. If you are looking for fresh inspired cuisine that is always in season, Seasons52 is the place for you. Elegant delicious fare, a great wine and beer list and a relaxing upscale atmosphere. They are located at 8930 Tamiami Trail North, Naples,  FL,  34108 and can be reached by calling (239) 594-8852.
  1. USS Nemo. Amazing seafood with a creative twist. USS Nemo’s menu is unlike any other. Tucked into a small strip of shops this is a local favorite easily missed by tourists. If you are tired of the “same old, same old” – Venture into Nemos. Seating is limited, so call ahead for reservations.  USS Nemo is located at 3745 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, FL and they can be reached at 239-261-6366
  1. Cru. In the mood for rich and decadent? Cru is the place. Their ever changing menu allows their master chefs to really get creative with the food. There is even a back bar which wraps around the cooking area creating the feel of a live cooking show. Your mouth will water watching the outgoing plates being prepared. Tables are also available which are far more private for romantic dinners. At Cru, you choose the experience. Cru is located at 13499 S. Cleveland Ave. Fort Myers, FL 33907 (In the Bell Tower Shopping Center) and can be reached at 239-466-3663.
  1. Veranda Restaurant. Looking for a bit of the old south? Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Fort Myers. The Veranda will take you away from the hustle & bustle of everyday life to a bygone era of Antebellum charm. Relaxed yet upscale, the Veranda is one of Fort Myers oldest restaurants and a must experience. Steak, seafood and some of the most elegant deserts on the planet. They are located at 2122 Second Street Fort Myers, FL 33901 and can be reached by calling 239-332-2065.
  1. Rumba Cuban Café. Though small, this cafe has amazing food. Fresh as fresh can get and very homemade. If you go once, you will go twice. This hidden gem is loved by locals and seasonals alike. Rumba is located at 1265 Airport Pulling Rd. South, Between Davis Blvd and Estey Ave. Across From Naples Motor Sports, Naples, FL 34104. They can be reached by calling 239-659-2996.
  1. Wahoo’s (Formerly Jack’s River Bar and Grille). Located on Naples Harbour, Wahoo’s boasts an island getaway feel. This location allows you to sit outside and take in our gorgeous Florida weather while sipping a cocktail waterfront. Take break from boating, enjoy lunch with friends, or a reserve a sunset dinner with family. This hidden tropical get away has fantastic food and hearty portions. They are located at 475 North Road Naples, FL 34104 and can be reached by calling 239-213-1441.
  1. Verdi’s American Bistro. Located on the world renowned Marco Island this bistro steak house continually holds top ratings. Elegant yet comfortable Verdi’s has a transitional look and feel. Homemade food utilizing the freshest local cuisine available. Chef Upham is constantly expanding his skills and is continuously praised by our diners. Verdi’s is located at 241 North Collier Blvd, Marco Island, FL 34145 and can be reach by calling 239-394-5533.
  1. The Blue Coyote. Located at the Sanibel Island Golf Club, they are open to the public. Dining at the Blue Coyote is a full on taste experience unlike any other. Extra ordinary lighting, gorgeous art, and a relaxed yet upscale environment all set the stage for the unmatched culinary creations. If you are looking for a restaurant on Sanibel that is self-proclaimed as “Slightly less island and more sophistication”, make a reservation at the Blue Coyote. They are located at 1100 Par View Drive Sanibel Island, FL 33957 and can be reached by calling 239-472-9222.
  1. M Waterfront Grille. Waterfront luxurious dining. The M has it all. Location, ambiance and an incredible menu of cutting edge continental cuisine. Fine dining with a relaxed flair. Take in the views and leave feeling fully satisfied. The M is located at 4300 Gulf Shore Blvd. Naples, FL and can be reached by calling 239-263-4421.
  1. Roy’s. Roy Yamaguchi, world renowned chef, launched his own chain of high end steak house restaurants. We are lucky enough to have one located right here in Bonita Springs. Inspired bites and enticing cocktails. Roy’s is a staple that is not to be overlooked. They are located at 26831 South Bay Drive, # 100 Bonita Springs, FL 34134 and can be reached by calling (239) 498-7697.

 Live nearby the best SWFL dining

Once you fall in love with this area and our local cuisine, you may consider buying a home. To inquire about available properties in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and surrounding Southwest Florida, contact me, Rick LaVan of Treeline Realty Corp at 239-848-7403.

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