NORTH PORT — Every ball Braves catcher Sal Giardina signed at the recent North Port Chamber expo had a spiritual message.

Under his autograph, Giardina wrote “EPH 2:10,” which is the Bible verse Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

For hours, Giardina signed baseballs and met fans a the Toledo Club Apartment booth at the annual expo at the George Mullen Activity Center in North Port. Giardina felt welcomed as the expo theme featured “all things” Atlanta Braves.

“We love it here,” said Giardina of the $125 million stadium that opened nearly a year ago. “North Port has been good to us.”

As hundreds entered the expo, they had the chance to meet members of the 2020 Leadership North Port is sponsored by the North Port Area Chamber. Each month, members spend a day learning about behind the scenes of nonprofit groups, hospitality, health care, the judicial and criminal system, parks and recreation and more. Before graduation, each class fund raises for a nonprofit group.

Members of the class sold $5 tickets for a “party in a Tote” worth $500 of alcohol, wine glasses and more. They also sold tickets for a wheelbarrow loaded with tools, gift certificates and Cuban cigars valued at more than $600.

“The money we raise through will benefit the Child Protection Center,” said member Jackie Normand, who along with classmates Kenneth Rappuhn, Chris Porter and Paul Patterson, sold tickets to help with child abuse intervention services.

Inside the expo, Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty Realtor Linda Curran spread the word about the Homes for Heroes Foundation.

“The program is designed to help police, firefighters, teachers and veterans with a discount when buying a home,” she said. “It’s relatively new in North Port, but the program has been around for a while. We want to get the word out that this is available for those who qualify. My husband Ted and I have valuable information about how to save money through the Home for Heroes program.”

Homes for Heroes offers a savings of about $700 on every $100,000 of the purchase price of a home. The qualified buyer receives a check to buy items needed for the new home. There are additional savings in lender fees, title service and the home inspection.

Nearby the large Coldwell Banker booths, Cullen Steger explained how he could save customers money on computer repairs through his business Digital Detective — a full service technology company offering software, hardware, data and security support.

Steger said while his business is in Sarasota, his family name is well-known in North Port. He not only grew up here, but his parents Tim and Mimi own Total Martial Arts & Fitness, 14906 Tamiami Trail.

“We will be opening a storefront in North Port within the next two months,” Steger said. “North Port doesn’t have a computer repair center.”

Steger said once established in North Port, he’ll create a not-for-profit group to help families without computers.

“It’s time to bridge the digital divide,” he said. “Students need computers to do their research and homework and not every family can afford a computer. I will rehab computers. I will collect donated computers and consign or give them to families in need. I’d love to partner with the city, the schools and even Comcast if possible to make it this a local program for those in need in North Port.”

For more information on Digital Detective, call 941-416-8655.

For more information on the Homes for Heroes, call 941-496-2757.

For Leadership Englewood tickets, call 941-564-3040.


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