VanDyk Mortgage - June 2020

JUNE 2020

Letters From the Hart Give us a call! 239-437-4278 Or visit Corporate NMLS #3035

CUTTING CORN Caring for Dad’s Cows

stalks, we’d eat some of the raw corn. One day my granddaddy came to help, and we introduced him to the raw corn. Granddaddy loved it so much that when we delivered the stalks to the cows, he was out there fighting the cows for the corn! I literally saw him push a cow out of the way in order to grab a stalk. That is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Here’s the crazy part: As much as we hated cutting corn, my brother and I agree that we would give anything to be out there cutting corn with Dad again. I hated it in the moment, but when we were done and the cows were all gathered around the trailer, I knew it wasn’t that bad. And Dad was so proud of his cows. Eating those corn stalks made them fat and healthy. When the first calves started coming along, he was so happy. Having us help cut the corn meant a lot to him. In hindsight, it was also pretty good for us. It taught us lessons about work ethic, the value of labor, and caring for animals and livestock. Plus, it was time we spent with our dad. You can’t put a price on that.

What it actually meant was that we would go out there with machetes and hack down rows of stalks almost every week through the growing season. We were basically clearing this guy’s land for free! It was pretty intense physical labor. We’d cut down stalks, make a big pile, bring the pile to the trailer, and repeat until all 15 feet of the trailer was full of corn stalks. This was an all-day thing. When we were finally done, we brought the stalks to the field where the cows were. They were so excited to see us coming. The cows chased the trailer across the field like it was an ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood. Dad’s cows loved those corn stalks. At one point, another U-pick farm reached out and told my dad that he could have their corn stalks too. My dad never turned down free stuff. For a while, it felt like we were always cutting down corn. There was one day when I got out of high school baseball practice and I saw my dad out in the parking lot with the trailer attached to the back of his car. I spent all afternoon cutting corn in baseball pants. Cutting the corn was rough, but there were some bright spots. For example, have you ever eaten raw corn? It’s surprisingly good. While cutting the

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad. He passed away a number of years ago, so around Father’s Day, I always find myself reliving some of the memories I have of him. One of those memories involve cows and corn. Dad grew up on a farm in Ohio. All through my childhood, he would talk about wanting to get cows again. Unfortunately, we never had space for them. Then my mom started working at this place with a lot of land, and they told my dad that if he wanted to get some cows, he could put them on the company land. Dad took that offer in a heartbeat. At one point, my dad’s herd had almost 50 cows. And, of course, we kids were out there helping with the cows. We’d feed them, make sure they got their shots, and tag the new calves. As a whole, the experience was pretty cool, but there was one part I absolutely hated: cutting corn. Somehow, my dad got connected with this guy who ran a U-pick farm. He grew corn and tomatoes, and folks would go out there every week to pick their own produce. This guy made a deal with my dad where he could go out there and take the corn stalks that had already been picked over and feed them to his cows for free. Sounds generous, right?

NMLS #354676

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The Best Ways to Help Local Nonprofits


Over the past several months, families, businesses, and nonprofits have had to navigate life in this challenging “new normal,” and it can be hard to support your favorite nonprofits when times are tough. Here are a few ways you can help these important entities, even when you don’t have resources to spare right now. DONATE While many people donate generously during the holiday season, remember that nonprofits need donations throughout the year, and different nonprofits need different things. A monetary donation can often go a long way, but never feel obligated to give money, especially when your budget may be tight. Instead, consider cleaning

out your closet. What clothes, shoes, or other accessories can you part with? What about dishware or small appliances? When you clean out your home and donate unused items, you benefit those in the community who

ADVOCATE Even if you don’t have time or resources to give, you can become an advocate for important causes around your community. While it might not seem like much, sharing information about local nonprofits on social media can make a genuine difference. Nonprofits need exposure, which is greatly boosted through community support. Sharing useful information about nonprofits — or sharing their posts — increases their visibility so more people will take action.

need them most. VOLUNTEER

In a time of social distancing, volunteering may be discouraged, but nonprofits still need volunteers to operate. The good news is that many nonprofits need volunteers for positions that maintain social distance, such as driving. Food banks and kitchens need drivers to pick up donations or ingredients from donors and to deliver food to people in need, such as the elderly or those with disabilities.

Your Guide to the Perfect Virtual Happy Hour


I f you can’t see your friends in person to clink wine glasses or whiskey tumblers, never fear: A virtual happy hour can bring all of your closest pals right into your living room. The concept is simple. Using online meetup programs like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or FaceTime, you can drink with friends across the country without leaving home. If you don’t want to get out of your sweatpants but want to sip a classy cocktail, this is a win-win. But, you can also ditch the sweats and go all-out for

you choose, make sure everyone has downloaded it and encourage your buddies to do a test run to ensure they can be seen and heard. 2. Theme it up. Every party is better with a theme, and VHH is no exception! Considering the decade, Roaring ‘20s is a popular choice, but you can go with whatever floats your friend group’s boat, whether that’s Kentucky Derby or "Harry Potter" (alcoholic butterbeer, anyone?). 3. Write your menu. While you could just drink whatever beer or half-open bottle of wine is sitting in your respective refrigerators, where’s the fun in that? To really class up your VHH, chat with your friends about the ingredients you all have on hand and come up with a themed cocktail menu to “order” from on the big night. 4. Dress to the nines. Since you’re in the privacy of your own home, you can try out your wackiest, fanciest outfits without public judgment. If you’ve always wanted to try on a Roaring ‘20s flapper dress or a Roman toga, now is the time! Remember, if you go with the "Harry Potter" theme, your bathrobe could easily pass as a wizard’s robe in a pinch. 5. Drink! You’ve planned perfectly, so now it’s time to enjoy each other’s company. Plus, there’s one final perk: Since you’re drinking and giggling on your own couch, you don’t need to worry about a designated driver or an Uber to get you the handful of steps to your bedroom. You’ve got this!

the full virtual happy hour (VHH) experience. Here are five short steps to VHH success.

1. Pick your platform. In the days leading up to your VHH, your friends need to agree on a single platform. Once

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The Secret to Success Through the pandemic and statewide shutdown, AmiJo and the Brookes team were waiting for updates, day by day, like everyone else. But even when things were uncertain, they managed to innovate and switch to curbside pickup. I didn’t realize how different preparing food to-go was compared to preparing food for customers dining in. “It changes the whole way you run your business,” AmiJo explained. “It changes the way you do your orders, the way you prepare your sides, everything. It all changed overnight. But by the second day, my staff had made it work. They’d noticed what we needed for efficiency and what people were waiting for and adapted to it literally overnight. “We've been bobbing and weaving with the times. But it’s really cool what we’ve got going on here. We’ve got the best staff that’s ever been made. They don’t need to be micromanaged … It takes a few tries to work out the bugs, but for the most part, we’ve been leaning heavy on our people, and they come through every time.” What do you recommend? When people think of Brookes, they usually think of Sissy Nuggets, named for Sissy Beecroft. Though, if you're like me, then you might still call them “Susie Nuggets,” which was the

other locations, such as Tampa. She didn’t elaborate, so we can only speculate as to what Brookes has in store for us. It was really good to connect with AmiJo and shine a spotlight on such a valuable place in our community. I was glad to hear that one of my favorite restaurants is doing well. AmiJo expressed a lot of gratitude to the community. “It’s really cool to see in times of adversity, our community stands up for those who need it,” she said. “We’ve received a crap ton of love and support. Big thanks to everyone who has been there for us during this weird time.” This interview was also the first time I was able to break some big news, which was awesome. I couldn’t get AmiJo to tell me more about what the future has in store for Brookes, but my money is on a food truck. Make sure you follow Brookes Restaurant on Facebook to stay informed about their status and their future big announcement. If you haven't already, then make sure you’re following my Facebook page at That’s where you can find my full interview with AmiJo and all the Facebook Live videos I’ve done recently.

name of the previous owner. It’s only been 15 years since the name changed, so I’m sure I’ll finally get it right eventually. AmiJo confirmed that the Sissy Nuggets are the most popular thing on the menu. This doesn’t surprise me. When my family ordered Brookes for carryout, my wife and kids were all demanding Sissy Nuggets and waffle fries. But if you’re ready to get out of the Sissy Nuggets box, then AmiJo recommends the burgers too. Try the Flame Burger if you want a little spice. Their pot roast is also “ridiculous good,” to quote AmiJo. I didn't even know they had pot roast before talking to AmiJo, so that's something I’ll have to try in the future. Looking to the Future In May, restaurants were allowed to open up to 25% capacity with outdoor seating. Brookes opened up to that capacity, allowing them to have 38 people in the building. Even as things started to creep back to normal, AmiJo and Brookes didn’t stop innovating. They tracked down a tent for the parking lot so they could have outdoor seating and serve more customers. “Everyone here is made of sugar,” AmiJo explained. “Getting rained on would be detrimental to our health.” During our interview, AmiJo also teased that Brookes might be able to do events in

Testimonial From The Hart

“Thank you, Tim Hart, and your AMAZING team as always for handling this transaction and getting us to the closing table! Y’all are amazing. Thank you, Jessica Notartomas and Eric Seuffert from Brightway Insurance, for getting my buyers an amazing insurance quote and saving them tons of money. Thank you, Sean at First Class Home Services, for always doing an amazing inspection (new construction inspections are a must!) and being amazing, especially during the pandemic!

“It’s closing day for an amazing family that also happens to be amazing friends of mine! It’s been a crazy ride, but we are officially here! Thank you for trusting me and Tim Hart along the way! “This family officially bought their FIRST home, and it is BRAND-NEW! The best part is they are saving a boatload of money by firing their landlord too! And to top it off, I fought to get their closing costs covered by a builder that was refusing at first because we wouldn’t use their preferred lender ... but the builder caved and covered closing for them. “I hope you guys enjoy this home for many years to come!

“If you are looking to buy and or sell here in Southwest Florida, definitely give me a call and let’s save you a ton of money! I have an amazing team that will

help you every step of the way.”

–Ashley White RE/MAX Realty Team

Trivia Question: Who are Sissy Nuggets named after?

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Be the first to answer the question on Page 3 by emailing and win a gift card!


Inside This Issue Tim Hart, NMLS #354676 8280 College Parkway Suite #101 Fort Myers, FL 33919

Give us a call! 239-437-4278 Or visit

What’s a Cow’s Favorite Food? PAGE 1

Help Local Nonprofits in Challenging Times

Your Guide to the Perfect Virtual Happy Hour PAGE 2

Testimonial From the Hart PAGE 3

Get the Dish on Fort Myers' Favorite Restaurant PAGE 4


Dishing With AmiJo of Brookes Restaurant

AmiJo and her mom, Sissy, run this Fort Myers staple. It was a lot of fun to talk to AmiJo and see all the great comments from people who love Brookes as much as I do. Here are a few tidbits from that conversation. The Backstory of Brookes Brookes has been around for a long, long time. I’m 43 and I used to go into Brookes when I was a teenager! It's locally owned and operated, and a few different families have run the establishment. AmiJo and her family are the third owners of the restaurant, and AmiJo’s grandmother, Dallas, is the soul of Brookes. “She was a spitfire,” AmiJo said. “Before Brookes, she was a bartender around town. We still carry her spirit here. Firm but fair, that’s how she was. But a real goofball, too.” When I asked AmiJo for a story about Grandma Dallas, she shared a tale that proved just how much of a goofball her grandmother really was. I’ll direct you to the video over on Facebook for that wild story.

It’s been a hard time for restaurants. While the pandemic has been hard for everyone, it’s devastated the restaurant industry. I don’t think we realize how much these places mean to us until suddenly we can’t go to them anymore. Recently, I started doing Facebook Live videos to spotlight great people and places in the Fort Myers community. At the top of my list was AmiJo Beecroft of Brookes Restaurant.


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