The Pierce Family
When Rachel Pierce’s youngest daughter, 3-year-old Daphne, was born in 2019, the well-known morning news anchor was on her way to becoming a full-time artist. With three other kids running around, she’d often be found with a baby on her hip, as she filled canvases with her signature beachy scenes. “Daphne has gravitated toward art from a young age,” Rachel says. “She loves painting with me.”
This fall, during Hurricane Ian, Rachel and her husband, Matthew, evacuated their Sanibel home, which was destroyed in the storm. They packed up the kids to stay with family in Texas. Her two-story studio on Sanibel was severely damaged, but Rachel renovated the space and took the opportunity to add a home store for her new collection of chairs, linens and gifts, covered in her Gulf-inspired artwork.
Arts and the environment play a major role in the Pierce family values. “Teaching them to respect nature is so important,” Rachel says. The kiddos attend The Sanibel School, which is currently holding classes at San Carlos Park Elementary, and they often attend camps to learn about the sea creatures their mom paints. All four kids love the coastal allure of their island hometown. Her 7-year-old son, Rory, loves shelling with his mom as she combs the beach for inspiration. Twelve-year-old Lydia is the crafty one, who makes resin trinkets for friends, and 10-year-old Piper is known to leave “piles of Piper” all over the house when making collages or sewing. “She makes art out of everything,” Rachel says. —Jaynie Bartley
The Sura-Girgis Family
Radiation oncologist Dr. Sonal Sura-Girgis maintains a packed schedule with up to 60 patient consults, follow-ups or procedures daily at her four GenesisCare clinics. But when she clocks out by 4:30 p.m., she shifts her focus to family. Just before the pandemic hit, Sonal migrated to Naples from New York with her husband, Nader Girgis, and their littles, 7-year-old Anaya and 4-year-old Kai.
Here, the four maximize their time together through rituals. On Friday nights, they spin a wheel to nail down dinner plans, frequenting locales like Bar Tulia and Truluck’s. They love to visit museums and the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, and vacations to New York and Miami inspire fashion-forward Anaya and broaden the kids’ worldview. “We get out and expose them to different cultures and environments so that they don’t forget that this is almost a utopia and there are very different places in the rest of the world,” Sonal says.
After indulging in a recent trip, Sonal instructed the kiddos to pay it forward by volunteering for a soup kitchen or donating their toys. “I’m constantly reminding them that what they have is not what everyone has,” she says. The mom engages them in her world, too. A board member of the Cancer Alliance Network, Sonal recently took her kids to a breast cancer walk. As they walked, she explained the disease to her children and her role in combating the illness with patients. “I think it’s important to spend a lot of time with your children,” she says. “That relationship we have is very important to me, and I think it’ll help guide them to be better people—at least to their best potential.” —Gina Valentino
The Fuller Family
Spoken word artist Ruthia Fuller and her husband, Dray, know the impact words carry. They produce and perform in hard-hitting videos addressing mental health, racial injustices and political division on their YouTube channel, The Fuller Nation.
Still, Ruthia most wants her children—2-year-old Sire and 6-year-old Sarai—to remember her actions. “I model for my kids giving back and helping people,” Ruthia says. When she’s not dressing influencers and actors on commercial sets, the wardrobe stylist spends time with her family giving back to her community. The couple volunteered for their former church in Fort Myers for five years, visiting ailing members in the hospital to be a source of encouragement. Over the holidays, the family donated toys to Cape Coral’s Hoops on a Mission nonprofit. In January, Ruthia and Dray performed during the NAACP of Collier County’s MLK Day parade in Naples to celebrate the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The kids take style cues from their mom, too. You might find them in matching herringbone looks or preppy purple coordinates. They pose in monochromatic ensembles for editorialized holiday shoots and videos about Black history for their more than 45,000 followers on Instagram. In their YouTube video, “The WORLD Needs to SEE This,” inspired by John Maxwell’s book Change Your World, the duo rhymes about equality, acceptance and love. As the video concludes, baby Sire is strapped to dad’s chest and Sarai smiles up at mom, as Ruthia and Dray preach: “We will see change while this generation is alive.” —Nila Do Simon
The Soldavini Family
Callhan Soldavini’s first-born, Saqqara, hit a turning point over the holidays. As the 1-year-old learned to walk, Callhan and her husband, James, discovered the tyke loves feeding the giraffes at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. “We live next door and got the membership, so she’s doing that weekly now—it’s so cute,” Callhan gushes. “The Golisano Children’s Museum (C’MON) with her cousins has become another staple.”
Callhan grew up in Naples, and for this young mom (with another baby on the way), there’s no place like her hometown. A public interest attorney with the nonprofit Legal Aid Service of Collier County, Callhan moved back to Naples from Chicago in 2019. “I couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family,” she says.
The chic mom also serves on the boards for Naples Pride, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and Pads 4 Refugees, which provides feminine hygiene products to women in need. The latter hit close to home with Hurricane Ian, where Callhan saw the overwhelming need for these products, which are not typically included with government aid. “It’s eye-opening,” she says.
As she continues to explore Naples through Saqqara’s eyes, Callhan says it’s the little things that make their time together so precious. “I love taking Saqqara with us everywhere,” she says. “It’s nice to have her and relive everything I used to do growing up here.” You might find them biking as a family through Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South, where a helmeted Saqqara takes it all in from her front-mounted bike seat as she smiles—just like her mom did as a little girl. —N.D.S.