Steve Stefanides, is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Contact him by email at

Friends of mine from all over constantly ask me why I choose to live here where I do. I can imagine that is a similar question asked of so many almost every day. There is an appropriate answer to that question no matter where one lives.

For some, it may revolve around the opportunity of employment. If the person you’re asking has recently won one of the mega-lottery jackpots of late, then it may not be as important. I can assure you that I keep throwing those two dollars a couple of times a week at those elusive numbers, but no matter what I do, or how many times I promise the All-Mighty I’ll be worthy of those numbers, they just don’t seem to pop up. That’s okay, because I probably might not be too good at keeping that promise and eventually I know I’d have to answer for that.

I’ve never been privileged to have children, and I think that might be one of my greatest regrets. Had I had children, the thought of having them closer to their grandparents might have been one of the reasons to move. Unfortunately, I lost that connection due to the passing of both my  parents early on in my life.

My sister traveled the world as an educator in most American international schools, so I wasn’t about to worry about her. I too traveled extensively for work responsibilities and my younger brother had a stable job back in New Hampshire, so it was easier to have him come on occasion to visit or for me to fly up there. Unfortunately, he passed from us last July due to the same disease that took our parents, early on in their lives.

Climate can be a major factor for those of us who grew up where the winter months can be quite angry at times. So being completely honest with you, I can’t say that hasn’t been a factor in my choice of 

South Florida. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy winter sports in New Hampshire. I was a lousy snow skier but did enjoy the warmth at the base of the mountain ski lodge and a few adult beverages after trying to stay upright on those skinny fiberglass or wooden (depending on your age) leg breakers we used to dangle from our feet.

I did enjoy snowmobiling far better than skiing. My little brother would enjoy my machine even more than I did so, on occasion, it was somewhat difficult to find it at home. If I did, it was a rare occasion when I could find it fully gassed up and without a mechanical problem. But that’s okay, for I would give all I have today to have him here to swap stories and enjoy a spring training game with the Red Sox come March.

It really doesn’t take a lot of reflection for me to produce an answer as to why I live here. Yes, I miss family and friends from back home. During my 40-year career, I worked remotely from my employers, so I never had to move for work related issues. I had grown tired of cold weather, and who wouldn’t love our wonderful temperatures here?

However, the real reason centers on the wonderful folks who make this community what it is. These last two weekends demonstrated the quality, generosity and kindness of our community. Two different organizations came out to raise monies for their individual charities and the response from the community was overwhelming, especially from our businesses and residents.

First came the men and women to support the Marco Island Police Foundation. If you’re not a member, you should join. It was established in 2001 to support the community’s law enforcement professionals in their times of need, and has morphed into one of the most generous and giving groups on the island in support of the men and women who serve it. Should an officer or his family have a need arise due to sickness, injury or other malady, the foundation comes to their aide. They also provide scholarships for officers and their families to allow them to continue their educational pursuits.

The second weekend saw another 125 golfers show up to support the years-long commitment to Christmas Island Style. A group of 30-plus members form the core group of volunteers that help run the various Christmas activities on the island. From tree lightings, Santa’s arrival, the Christmas Boat and Street Parades, the holiday banners that adorn the light poles along Collier Boulevard, to the angels that have welcomed travelers to the island for years, that group works year-round to prepare for the holiday season for all to enjoy.

It is that volunteer effort that makes our holidays so wonderful, bringing smiles to young and old alike. Through events such as the Wayne Purvis Christmas Golf Tournament and the “HO-HO-HO Let’s Raise Some Dough” event this Saturday evening at the Lutheran Church, our community goes all out to help no matter the cause.

Yes, it’s folks like you and your neighbors that make this a wonderful island to call home.


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