A team of professionals with a variety of backgrounds in social work, education, psychology, arts and more. Having studied and practiced all over the United States and the world, we have come together to develop programs of education for the South West Florida community. Together we represent many years of experience working with children, families, educators and organizations in field of education and development. We all volunteer our time and effort to contribute to the program.
Maria Luisa M. Carter
M.A. in Education
Founder & President
Chief Happiness Officer 2019 (FIU)
An experienced Speech Therapist, artist and certified Psychodramatist in Brazil.
*B.A Degree in Art, Faculdade da Cidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1986-Certificate in Psychodrama Association of Rio de Janeiro – FEBRAP – 1989-
*Speech Therapy, Veiga De Almeida University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- 1991-
*Master in Early Childhood Education– Southern Connecticut State University – New Haven 1997
Also known as “Lulu”(nickname given by her students), is an expert in Holistic Education.
Lulu has a particular interest in providing services to children with different abilities and special needs. The style and environment at Outside the Box has proven to children, teens and adults with different abilities thrive. Life with Autism is a partner program and Outside the Box is committed to creatively working together with all children and families to achieve a place of success. Together with her team, she is responsible for developing, teaching and directing the services at Outside the Box – Programs and House of Gaia.
“Lulu Carter” has designed art and education programs for schools, universities and non-profit institutions in many parts of the world.”In my 28 years as an multi media artist, business woman, educator and therapist, I’ve traveled all around the world, worked in the private and public sectors and contributed to the education and development of children, families and educators of all backgrounds and needs”.
Danica is proud to serve as our Assistant Director and most proud to be the first parent to enroll in our Children's Program, "Outside the Box" almost 10 years ago. She is an active mom of her 17 year old son, Zachary, who also loves to serve as a volunteer at the House of Gaia. Danica graduated from St. Micheal's College with her degree's in Psychology and Education and also is certified in the area of Glyconutrition, working with families to improve their health and wellness. She is a teacher in Collier County, serving for 9 years, and runs the Vitamins for Haiti Program, delivering nutrition to three orphanages in Port au Prince.
In the past, Danica spent 6 years working with abused and neglected children as well as a supervisor for Easter Seals for four years. During her time at Easter Seals, she ran a program where she helped adults with disabilities get integrated into the community, providing them with volunteer work or helping them get part time jobs in the local area. Her passion is working with people and serving in areas that need the most help.
Michelle Kaplan Blake
She is the Programming Coordinator for House of Gaia, Naples, FL. She is originally from East Brunswick, NJ where she graduated High School. Michelle also graduated from Kean University with a Psychology Major and Business Minor. Two years later, Michelle graduated with her Master's of Social Work with a focus on Advanced Generalist Practice (clinical and administrative). Specialties are in Women's Trauma, Addiction, Codependency, and Multiculturalism. She holds a Master's degree in Hypnosis from the National Institute of Hypnosis. Other certifications and experience in Strength and Systems approach, Reiki, Expressive Therapy. Administratively, Michelle has also experience with Program Development, Marketing and Community Networking. Michelle worked at The Carrier Foundation in NJ as well as in the NJ Schools in the areas of Guidance and School Social Work. After a 2001 move to FL, she began working at The David Lawrence Center. The last position she held there was as a Coordinator of Employee Assistance for many local companies. Michelle has a strong desire to be the best person she can be in every way and to inspire others to do the same
She is an experienced Registered Yoga Teacher and specializes in working with children and families. In addition to teaching child and family yoga, she is also skilled at helping adults connect with their inner child. Salima’s Yoga style is creative, fun and invigorating. Her classes incorporate communication, social and coping skills through group dynamic exercises and utilizes metaphor’s related to movement. Salima’s yoga programs help increase self-control/self-regulation, self-esteem, focus, balance, strength, mind and body connection, elevate mood, and aid to improve sleeping habits.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
~ Dr. Seuss
Laura Chami is the Director of Soar Music Therapy, LLC.
Her company which is new in Collier and Lee County excels in providing music therapy services to all community members, from infancy to end of life.
Sprouting Melodies, a early childhood intervention music therapy program for infants/toddlers and their parents. Sprouting Melodies promotes bonding, creativity, learning, and socialization for children with their parents involved.
House of Gaia provideS this program 6-8 week program to the families in the Naples Community.
Certified , Instructor of Belly Dance & Hawaiian Hula
Sherry is an experienced instructor of Belly Dance and Hawaiian Hula, having been involved in these art forms as a performer and instructor for over 25 years. Recipient of the 2002 Middle Eastern & MediterraneanDanse Orientale Award, she performed as a soloist for 15 years in Greek, Persian and Middle Eastern restaurants as well as at private functions. Certified as a Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® instructor and trained at the prestigious Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, she is now busy teaching a full range of classes throughout SW Florida and is the director of the Belly Dance & Hula Connection, featuring Belly Dance, Tribal and Polynesian dance companies which are popular entertainment for special events and local festivals, as well as promoting semi-annual shows that are open to the public. In addition to teaching a variety of dance styles, Sherry sponsors workshops with out of area talent and develops programs to meet specific needs within the community; she is Past President of the Hawaiian Club on the Gulf Coast and is currently the Organizer for the SW FloridaBellydance Meetup. Her mission is to share her love of dance in a culturally responsible way and build a local community that connects globally; to honor the roots of these dances and blossom into inspired movement. To connect with Sherry, visit her website atwww.bellydanceSWFL.com.
Anthony "Kumo" Tineo
Certified Ballroom & Latin Dance Instructor
Anthony has studied and trained at various dance schools in the art of Ballroom and Latin Dance and has over a decade of teaching experience which ensures quality you can count on.
This level of training and dedication helps to keep him humble with a deep understanding & love of this art expression. Anthony believes dance is a great vehicle to help others conquer fears, raise self confidence, get to deeper connection and live a more balanced healthy lifestyle.
Vagner Fontes "Alauie Capoeira"
Mestrando Vagner Fontes has over 25 years of experience teaching capoeira in his native Brazil, in Europe, and in the United States. He founded AluaieCapoeira USA in 2016 in Austin, Texas, alongside Mestrando Je (UK) and Mestrando Marcinho (Brazil) with the goal of continuing to promote the art of capoeira internationally. After relocating to Southwest Florida in 2018, Mestrando Vagner hopes to bring positive growth the community through the teaching and practice of Capoeira.
Some of Our Volunteers...We are grass root non-profit. We have many volunteers!
They are a group of kind people with hearts ready to help, ready to make the difference in the world, people that have a need to care and simply ACT!!!
As you may know in contrast to programs based on more traditional charity principles, our projects are based on community building / self-help principles. That means that there is little distinction between “volunteers” and “participants.” Volunteers aren’t so much “helping someone out” as they are taking part in the exciting opportunity to help build global connections through community development.
Jacqueline Johnson (Volunteer Coordinator)
Has been a volunteer for several years for House of Gaia. She is an author, motivational speaker, theatre major; an artist of many modalities. She enjoys creating unique hand crafted items such as accessories, costumes, fun ornaments and charms.
She is also a songwriter, poet, musician and singer. Her zest for life is contagious, always shinning through, as she shares her heart with a smile wherever she goes.
Lislane Bruce (2017) & Lulu Carter
Mother and daughter originally from Brazil founders of Beegaia/ House of Gaia work philanthropically for over 8 years, 24/ 7 to keep the organization active, organized, and happy. “This is a LABOR OF LOVE , very contagious! we have being working very hard to promote, teach and spread something unique what we like to call seeds of love! We are creating a place where money is important but is not what rules the place, we have dedicated over 6 years of our lives, our days and weekend time to serve this community and the other International House of Gaia projects. There is nothing that will stop us, this kind of programs is essential to our modern society today, our programs teach communication skills, peace and conflict resolution, we teach about values and the importance of being kind to each other, more than an art center, we want to create a place and bring programs that makes a difference in this world.” Lulu Carter.
Lis and Lulu had their own preschool in Brazil, Lis is family psychologist with 30 years of experience. Both have being working together for 24 years. “We like to inspire others how to think outside the box and we would like to think we set an example for present and future generations of the importance of family union.” Lis Bruce.
Lulu’s step father. Motivated to help the family, Roberto helps Beegaia / House of Gaia with account and computer matters. He is retired from a Brazilian National Bank. Worked as an executive at IBM in Brazil, he brings his gifts for all Gaia’s computer and administrative issues. Thanks to Roberto our books looks good, organized and and our computer data base is healthy!
She was one of the first volunteers for our program once we started with Outside The Box- Programs! Suely is very enthusiastic and she loves to share her high energy in our events, she helps with what is needed. She coordinated the Rice and Beans event at the Salvation army in 2011, an event created to fund raise for rice and beans to Haiti. She had participated and volunteer for many of our events like 350 at the park, 10-10-10 at Mercato. She coordinated with Isabel Backus a support group called Heart Connection, to bring more joy and compassion to our local community. She is our 911, our emergency number, we can call her anytime and she is always willing to help out. Our nonprofit is very lucky to have her in our team of volunteer!
Cherly Lynn Patton - FAMILY DRUMS
“Do what you do with all your might. things done in half are never done right”. That describes her devotion to all she does for Gaia. She started as one of our students taking drumming class, today she teaches drums to children, she also participated in the Holiday around the world 2011 and 2102,Asian Fest in House of Gaia’s in 2013 art booth and art classes for special needs. She shares a special and friendly energy!
Florida resident for over 30 years and a member of House of Gaia since 2010.
Anna is a caring and compassionate soul who develop a program to honor the life of her son Dylan, on which she donates backpacks and books to homeless people in our community.
Today she inspires many people to be part of our 'global unconditional loving non profit community called House of Gaia'.
Damian discovered he had a love of traveling to different parts of the world. Damian is very passionate about learning new cultures and their culinary practices. 2016, was an especially inspiring year. Along with involvement in the Rotary, he alsodecided to partner with the Non-Profit Organization, House of Gaia, and traveled to an orphanage in Haiti. To this day, that experience has truly altered his life forever.