Style Magazine - Village Edition - May 2022

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MAY '22




Renee Springstead Wealth Advisor Find out more on pg. 105


Wealth Management

W E A R E H EALTH CARE In honor of our dedicated health care workers, UF Health Leesburg Hospital and UF Health The Villages® Hospital are celebrating National Hospital Week May 8 – 14. This year’s national theme, “We Are Health Care,” marks the 82nd celebration of what is now the nation’s largest observance for health care professionals. THANK YOU to all of our heroes who are making a difference, from those on the front lines of patient care to those working behind the scenes. We are inspired by your compassion, strength and resilience that has a positive impact in every corner of our organization!


COMMERICAL RISK MANAGEMENT Delivering insurance strategies as unique as your business. We offer a full range of commercial insurance coverages: • Workers Compensation • Commercial Property • Commercial Auto • Liability • Bonds

Give me a call today!

(352) 674-4304 Barbara McDonald Commercial Accounts Manager 60176 05/01/22



TAXES IN RETIREMENT SEMINARS May 19 at 10 am Chop House, The Villages

May 24 at 3 pm Prima Italian, Brownwood

Heather Franklin Owner & Founder of American Retirement Specialists

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Palm Desert Collection by

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Kathy had a Laser ImageLift. Results are typical and do vary.

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*Patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hrs of responding to ad for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination, or treatment.

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She’s all business Confident. Ambitious. Inspiring. These words perfectly describe Robin Gump, who is Style’s 2022 Business Woman of the Year. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL


Celebration time This issue marks the 10th anniversary of Business Women of Style. During that time, many unforgettable memories have been created. Past participants eagerly share why being part of this special promotional feature has been a worthwhile investment. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL, ROXANNE BROWN, JAMES COMBS


BWOS Meet this year’s crop of business women who each have their own distinct “style” of achieving success. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL, ROXANNE BROWN, JAMES COMBS

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Juanita’s Tacos is a food truck featuring delicious cuisine.

SHRIMPLY THE BEST Five Star Seafood brings fresh ocean favorites.


TIME TO CELEBRATE It’s Business Women of Style’s 10th anniversary.

THIS ROBIN SOARS HIGH Meet Robin Gump, Style’s 2022 Business Woman of the Year.



Lake and Sumter Style Design: Volkan Ulgen On the Cover: Robin Gump

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Lake Sumter Landing Professional Plaza | 910 Old Camp Rd. Suite 142 | The Villages



Women at work

In today’s world, more women are going about their business.

Kendra Akers Doug Akers






Michael Gaulin Theresa Campbell



Megan Mericle Roxanne Brown

hat do large companies such as General Motors, Best Buy, Duke Energy, CVS Health, and Ross have in common? Please pause before you continue reading. I’d like to know how many people can answer this question correctly. OK, here’s the answer. Each of these companies has a female chief executive officer. Another fun factoid: in 2021, 41 women were running Fortune 500 companies, which is a record. Here’s another statistic to ponder. In 2020, women overtook men as the majority of the U.S. workforce. They say the best man for the job is a woman, and I think there’s some truth to that. The archaic thought process that women should spend most of their time in the kitchen and grocery store is long gone. Ladies, we’ve come a long way since the days of June Cleaver! With that said, I’m proud to bring you one of my favorite issues, Business Women of Style. This issue is even more special because we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of spotlighting talented women of Lake and Sumter counties who are businessowners,

Realtors, veterinarians, bankers, attorneys, doctors, financial experts … and the list goes on. We feel it’s important to commemorate this special anniversary. In this issue, we’ll look back at some of the women who participated in our special promotional feature and talk to past participants of our Business Women of Style, which is determined by a reverse drawing. Winners have been featured on the cover and receive a four-page story inside the magazine. Through the magazine, I’ve gotten to know many of the area’s talented female professionals. Some have even become good friends of mine. They’re strong leaders, they focus on developing others, they encourage strategic thinking, and they are excellent communicators. They’re also hardworking, innovative, and forward-thinking. I hope that you, our readers, enjoy this issue as much as I do. May everyone have a wonderful month and a good start to their summer. Don’t forget to stay cool now that the Florida humidity is rearing its ugly head. Take care and God bless.

Have a story to tell?

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Tim McRae


Melanie Melvin Shaena Long



A D M I N I S T R ATION Aubrey Akers Simmons


D I S T R I BUTION Scott Hegg


Akers Media is a proud member of


We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to

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Winner of 200+ Awards for Excellence

Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2022 by Akers Media. All rights reserved. Lake & Sumter Style is a registered trademark of Akers Media. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For back issues or billing information, call 352.787.4112. Return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts and artwork if they are to be returned. Manuscripts are welcomed, but no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. “Paid Promotional Feature” denotes a paid advertising feature. Publisher is not responsible for claims or contents of advertisements. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of Akers Media.













THE HAPPIEST OF HOURS DA I LY H A P PY H O U R • S E A S O N A L CO C KTA I L S • B E E R A N D W I N E • S M A L L P L AT E S Where friends, family and guests connect over classic cocktails and delicious apps. Enjoy live music and the occasional Smartini challenge in Fusion Lounge, our senior living community’s vibrant and welcoming full-service bar. Happy Hour daily.

This is HarborChase. Come celebrate with us. Experience a Taste of HarborChase


HARBORCHASE OF WILDWOOD 3 5 2 .6 5 6 .7 9 7 1

Jonathan Molzof, Salesperson (left) Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (right)

Gary and Belinda Scoles

P L AZ A CA D I L L AC Jonathan was very thorough and helpful in telling us about our new vehicle. He introduced us to all the service staff. A very friendly atmosphere. One of the better experiences we’ve had, shopping for a new car. — GARY & BELINDA SCOLES

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P L AZ A L I N CO L N I would definitely recommend this dealer. Excellent Sales and Service team and they followed through on all commitments. Overall experience was 5 stars! —DAVID SMITH

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Owner of Linda’s Soap Box love the downtown close-knit family-like “ Iatmosphere among the retail proprietors community. It’s a friendly place to shop and do business. ” 018 /

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View current available properties on our website!

first Accomplished student Dani Patel shoots for the stars; plans to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.


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SPRING INTO ACTION: Wekiva Falls RV Resort, located off State Road 46 in Sorrento, offers another excellent way to keep cool in the heat. The resort’s lagoon-style swimming area is a sight to behold. It features a 40-foot cement waterfall—make sure to stand directly under it for optimal coolness—and dual tube slides for children. The swimming area is also a great place to float lazily on an inner tube or throw a waterproof ball with friends.

JUST COOL IT: Though humidity will rear its ugly head this month, that doesn’t mean kids have to remain in the house glued to a computer. Instead, they can splish and splash their way to outdoor fun. Several towns in Lake County offer splash pads: the Children’s Splash Pad in Tavares is located at Wooton Park; the Leesburg Splash Pad and Pavilion is located at Venetian Gardens; Champion’s Splash Park in Clermont is located at Waterfront Park; and the Eustis Splash Pad is located at Ferran Park.

FEMALES ONLY: Billed as a Mother’s Day event just for the ladies, the Girlz on Fire Spring Triathlon and 5K begins 7:30 a.m. May 8 at Waterfront Park, 330 Third St., Clermont. The 5K will be a 3.1-mile run/walk on the South Lake Trail. The sprint triathlon will be a 440-yard swim in Lake Minneola, a 8.4-mile bike ride around the lake, and the 5K. To learn more, call 352.394.1320 or email

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FUN ON THE FARM: If you’re looking for outdoor family-friendly fun, Long and Scott Farms, 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora, just may be the place to go. The farm of 15-plus acres is hosting its Spring Fling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 7 and May 14, where guests can enjoy U-pick sunflowers, zinnias, and wildflowers. The event will also feature a craft fair, car show, giant playground, farm tours, live music, food, and more. For details, visit or call 352.383.6900.

ROCKING MONTVERDE: The popular band Groove Infusion will play for free 6 p.m. May 14 at Montverde’s Spring Concert hosted at Kirk Park, 17436 Division St. Before the concert, the park will be the site of the Saturday Market at 4 p.m. For more details, contact Sandra Johnson at 407.469.4692 or email

RISING STARS: Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-theHills will be the site 10 6 p.m. May 27-29 for the Epson Tour, previously the Symetra Tour, which is the official qualifying tour to watch rising stars of the LPGA compete at the Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship. Spectator admission and parking is free. The Epson Tour notes its mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. The Beucher family and Mission Inn Resort & Club have been supporting the game of golf for more than 40 years. To learn more about the Epson Tour, visit

PAYING RESPECT: Style would like to acknowledge a courageous and kind-hearted leader, Emogene Stegall, who died in February. She was first elected as supervisor of elections in 1972, a position she held for 44 years. In 2005, she was inducted into the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame. She possessed the qualities we all desire in our public officials--honesty, integrity, and professionalism. Rest in peace, Emogene. You were truly one-of-a-kind!

TOP ANGLERS: The Major League Fishing Big 5 Toyota Series will welcome anglers from around the country to compete on the historic Harris Chain of Lakes on May 19, starting at 7 a.m., at Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens, 201 E. Lake Harris Drive, Leesburg. The MLF BIG5 Toyota Series is noted for offering the biggest payouts for the lowest entry fees of any national tournament trail. The series is also billed as anglers’ pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the Bass Pro Tour.

MOVIE NIGHT: “Cruella” will be the free attraction during the Movies Under the Stars to be hosted 7:45 p.m. May 20 at Clermont Waterfront Park, 330 Third St., Clermont. Families are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs to enjoy the familyfriendly motion picture. To learn more, visit

DON’T MIND IF ‘I DO’: The Village Chapel – a new addition to the Clermont Historic Village, 490 West Ave., Clermont – is now available to rent for small weddings, vow renewals, baptisms, etc. Clermont Historical Society members hope the beautiful rustic venue, a dream of theirs for decades, is host to many special occasions. The non-denominational chapel was built to resemble 1880’s Clermont church styles, accommodates 35-40 guests, and features a spectacular stained glass window designed and handmade by local artist Alexandra Huggins, who owns Alternative Stained Glass. For information, call 352.432.3496, or visit

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Lucy Hage Longtime Clermont resident, businesswoman, and volunteer with various help organizations has strong passion for kids and community. INTERVIEWER: ROXANNE BROWN


My main goal as lieutenant governor: To make sure this division is making a difference and growing.

I like volunteering because: I gain valuable experience and skills and make a difference for people around me.

How I got started: I got involved in Kiwanis VITAL STATS

• Born in Cuba. • Speaks Spanish fluently.

• Husband Steven (married 40 years), two daughters, one son, and nine grandchildren.

• Graduated from FIU with a bachelor of business management and finance.

• Moved from Miami to Clermont in 1997.

• Works at Granny Nannies, Clermont.

Community organizations involved in: I have been in the Kiwanis Club of South Lake for 20 years and have been secretary and president of that club, past president and current secretary of Beta Theta, a philanthropic organization for Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), treasurer of the Cooper Memorial Library Association Board, and a member of the Southern Sisterhood Club.

Most recent achievement: I was installed as Lt. Governor of Kiwanis International last October to oversee Division 9, which includes Lake County, and to make sure the local Kiwanis clubs and the clubs we support – including Aktion Club, a service club for adults with disabilities, and service leadership and character-building programs for kids, including Key Club in high school, Builders Club in middle school, and K Kids in elementary school – are growing and working.

Know a person of interest? Tell us!

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and Beta Theta because my friend Ann Dupee, whom I miss, wanted me to get involved in the community with her.

What I like best about Kiwanis’ mission: That it focuses on kids in the community. We supply scholarships, we do Christmas presents, backpacks and school supplies for local school children, and much more.

Favorite spot in Clermont: Downtown Clermont and the waterfront. I go down there for many events.

On my bucket list: Taking a cruise to Alaska. Local leaders I admire: Chief Broadway and Sheriff Grinnell because of all the positive difference they have made in this community that they support wholeheartedly. Also, the late Ann Dupee who while living, made a huge difference in my life and that of many others.

I am inspired by: Love, community, my friends, my kids and more!

Favorite hobby: Reading books and magazines. Favorite type of food: Cuban, Italian and Japanese, but my favorite thing every day is coffee!

Three words that describe me: Warm-hearted. Friendly. Thoughtful.

Email your recommendation to

Nobody, but NOBODY, beats a Cecil Clark deal!!!! 352.787.6888 | 8843 US Hwy 441, Leesburg 3 Generations Family Owned Since 1972



Dani Patel Lake Minneola senior reaches for the stars through adversity INTERVIEWER AND PHOTO: CINDY PETERSON


• Senior at Lake Minneola High School • President of Key Club • Varsity Captain of Hi-Q Academic Quiz Bowl

My major accomplishments: Receiving the AP Scholar with Distinction not once, but twice was concrete evidence that all the work I had put into my AP classes and school overall was worth it. I also received the Ray Goodgame Outstanding Student Leader award. This award is one my highest community honors. To be recognized for that all I do outside of my education was incredible. I’m so grateful for all that my community has done for me, and I try constantly to give back.

What I want people to know about me: I am who I am because of the great people in my life. My grandfather is one

• Secretary in Student Government Association • Team Lead of Wave Learning Festival, an educational non-profit • Two-time recipient of the AP Scholar with Distinction

of my biggest inspirations. He is one of the reasons that I chose to be an engineer. Any questions I had about the world around me, he answered them patiently and completely. My aunt is another person who inspired me. When I struggled in my classes, she encouraged me to keep going and always offered her help. Any type of random question I could think of in my brain, either my grandfather or aunt would answer. I’ll never forget my little 7-year-old self having the way airplanes fly explained, at least in a way someone my age could understand.

parents encouraged me to focus on my academics even while my peers made fun of me. Thankfully my parents worked hard to move me to a better area with better schooling. In my new community, I thrived, I took harder classes that challenged me, and learned more than ever.

My greatest quality: My resilience. It is what has led me to be able to accomplish all that I have today.

Topping my music playlist:

A saying I live by is: “Per ardua ad astra,” which means, “through adversity to the stars.”

505 by Arctic Monkeys.

I keep pushing on because: I grew up

master’s degree in aerospace engineering at either the University of Florida or the University of Toronto. I have been accepted into both, but I am awaiting to hear if I received a scholarship to the University of Toronto.

in a low-income area and wasn’t always afforded the best opportunities, but my

My future plans: I plan to get my

I look up to: My grandfather. He has always encouraged my curiosity, and all that he has accomplished, despite the barriers he faced, pushes me to work hard to accomplish my goals.

Words of wisdom: Improving the lives of those around you is the first step to improving the world. Know an outstanding student? Fill us in!

Email your recommendations to

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Rockin’ Robin Style’s 2022 Business Woman of the Year, Robin Gump, has a big heart, determination, and is motivated to help others. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

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amantha (Gump) Wassell recalls being at a Sumter County gala a few years ago when the crowd around her marveled over the Style magazine cover, and without any hesitation, Samantha told her peers: “That’s my goal, to see my mom as Business Woman of the Year.” Samantha’s wish has come true as her mother, Robin Gump, is on this month’s cover as Lake and Sumter Style’s 2022 Business Woman of the Year. Robin was chosen as the winner during a reverse drawing gala hosted by Akers Media, and this year marks the magazine’s 10th anniversary of Business Women of Style. Robin, 57, is the owner of Mid-Florida Agencies, the authorized agency for Florida Blue, also known as the local Blue Cross Blue Shield. She oversees seven of her company’s locations, including sites in The Villages and Eustis. The health insurance field has been Robin’s livelihood and passion throughout her life. “Years ago, it was just a great opportunity to start on the ground floor of the health insurance business, and I have this drive and desire to help people,” says Robin. “It’s about putting clients first.” She has been known to go above and beyond in helping clients, treating them as if they were family, such as dropping everything to provide personal attention and help during

Mid-Florida Agencies’ locations in Lake and Sumter counties: • The Villages Office, 11962 County Road, 101, Suite 303. Phone: 352.259.0666. • Eustis Office, 2500 S. Bay St., Suite 1. Phone: 352.589.5550. • Mid-Florida Agencies also has three Florida Blue Medicare sites in The Villages at 2955 Brownwood Blvd., 280 Farner Place, and 2485 Pinellas Place.

times of illnesses, language barriers, and for those who lacked transportation and needed assistance. She also takes time researching for ways potential or current clients can save money on their health plans. “What I admire about my mom is her big heart,” says Samantha. “She is one of the most caring people I have ever met.” Samantha, who also is an agent with Mid-Florida Agencies, recalls a time when a couple moved to The Villages, and they were seeking health insurance. Robin reviewed the couple’s health coverage, and said: “No, you’re better off staying where you are, keeping the insurance you have right now.” “After they left, I said, ‘Mom, what are you doing? That’s not going to pay the bills.’ And she said, that is going to do more than pay the bills, because they are going to come back to us, when it’s time, and they are going to tell their friends and everybody we are looking out for their best interest.” Robin is passionate about her work and anticipates each day. She usually wakes up at 4:30 a.m., ready to savor coffee, check emails, and read online newspapers. At night, she gets by on little sleep and relies on a lighted pen to make notes when she wakes up with ideas. “My mind is always going,” admits Robin. “She’ll never retire,” adds Samantha, who notes her mom does it all so well, being a business owner, boss, mom, and grandmother. “She juggles it all.” Robin was married for 35 years before it ended in divorce. “I do believe things happen for a reason,” says Robin, and Samantha marvels over the difference in her mom’s personality. “After seeing my mom now versus my mom before, I see her now as a much stronger person, more motivated.” Robin is proud of her staff ’s dedication, and pleased they are caring, highly trained, and experienced agents who are focused on providing superb customer service. Her team’s overall goal is to help people obtain an affordable and optimal health insurance plan that meets their needs. “One of the biggest questions we are asked is ‘what’s available to me?’ So, we ask questions and make recommendations based on their answers to those questions,” says Robin. “We do what is right for the client.” The company provides health plans through Florida Blue, one of the state’s largest insurers, and all plans meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. “Our agents are

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Q&A One word that describes me: Determined. Two things I enjoy: Reading, spending time with my family. Family: Daughters Jamie Losito, and her husband Gene; Samantha Wassell and husband Daniel; grandchildren, Landon Losito, Madison Losito, Charlotte Wassell, and grandson-to-be Maxwell Wassell, due to be born in September.

Cherished pet: Her dog Bendel “Blue” Gump, a cockapoo, who turns 3 this month. He is the greeter and head of security at Mid-Florida Agencies’ Villages office.

Favorite cuisine: Italian.

I owe my success to: Mimi Cartledge, my mother, 77, who is very motivating. Before she retired, she was vice president of a convenience store chain in the Panhandle. She’s still going strong and doing well. She’s a great inspiration, and mom is our office manager.

Best advice from my mom: Put your family first.

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Favorite color: Blue. What motivates me: The challenge to help others.

My motto: Always put the client first.

If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead, it would be: Commissioner Frank

Best advice I’ve been given:

Reagan, the lead character on “Blue Bloods” TV show, and also Jennifer Parr, a developer in The Villages. I think it would be great getting advice from her.

Favorite quote: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible!” – Audrey Hepburn.

here to support you now and throughout the year,” says Robin, a contrast to other companies that only appear to pop up at enrollment times. The Mid-Florida Agencies’ team includes Administrative Assistant Alisa Lawson and agents Samantha (Gump) Wassell, Anitra “Nikki” Hodges, Leonel Barron, Robert Buckmann, Renata Cockburn, Peter Musella, Kevin Lester, Judy Niverson, Janet Adam, Harry Stephens, Alyssa Torrence, Mary Remson, Samuel Johnson, and Tirsa Rodriguez are all local Medicare specialists and Affordable Care Act/Obamacare certified insurance professionals who keep abreast with the latest changes to best serve clients. Robin’s mom, Mimi Cartledge, serves as the office manager. Robin says her agents know getting the right health insurance for you and your family can be nerve racking or that trying to enroll in a plan on your own can feel overwhelming. The good news is there is no need to do this alone; Mid-Florida Agencies can take care of the entire process at no extra cost. Clients often tell Robin they are thankful the agency is local and that the agents are accessible year-round. “We are your neighbors. You see us at events, the grocery store, restaurants, etc.,” says Robin, adding agents also hear appreciation from clients for taking the time to help them find an insurance plan that’s best for them. “With so many Medicare options available, it is more important than ever to make sure you get the plan that fits your needs,” says Robin. “The things to consider when choosing a

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On my bucket list: To take my family and grandchildren on an Alaskan cruise. It would be my third time to go, and I love it.

Be true to yourself.

Medicare plan is your lifestyle. Are you a year-round resident or snowbird? What doctors, hospitals are in certain networks that you need?” She says her agents are trained in searching for the best Medicare plan that can help with a client’s prescription medication needs, and if the client wants the freedom to choose their healthcare providers. Mid-Florida notes on its website that one of the best things about turning 65 is the ability for seniors to go on Medicare; however, the original Medicare has limitations in coverage, so private health insurance companies offer what is referred to as Medigap or Medicare Supplement policies. Medigap picks up where Medicare coverage leaves off, assisting with copays, deductibles, and care that the original Medicare does not cover. Medicare Supplement plans can provide very comprehensive coverage and security in knowing your health care is covered, and Mid-Florida Agencies’ agents are trained to help customize benefits specifically for you and your needs. Medicare Advantage is referred to as Medicare Part C; a Medicare Advantage Plan is an additional health plan offered to those eligible for original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Medicare Advantage can provide a low monthly premium and an out-of-pocket max to protect you financially, and there are Medicare prescription drug plans, called Medicare Part D plans, available to help seniors pay for prescriptions. Florida Blue also has individual health insurance plans for those not on Medicare. Mid-Florida Agencies’ agents are


knowledgeable on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and on Obamacare, which was the law that implemented the changes. Robin says the American Rescue Plan provided more subsidy changes, which has resulted in lower monthly premiums for clients. Regarding subsidies (a tax credit), Robin says the subsidy is based on a client’s modified adjusted gross income reported to the IRS, the taxable income. Florida Blue offers three networks through the Marketplace Affordable Care Act that range in different sizes. “They are all the same plan, and the only difference is price and the name of the policy, which has to do with the network,” says Robin. In addition to individual health plans, Mid-Florida also provides employer group insurance plans for a variety of coverages, including health, life, short-term medical, travel, dental, and prescription drugs. “The best compliment is hearing ‘I appreciate what you do,’” says Robin, regarding the times she devotes to providing educational seminars to groups on the subsidies, ACA, Medicare supplemental, Medicare Advantage plans, etc. For more information on Florida Blue’s health insurance plans, call MidFlorida Agencies at 352.259.0666 or visit


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URG | O PEN DA I L Y 11 A M -9






W I N N E R 2021

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MAY 15 – JULY 15

EARN THE POINTS for travel, lodging, dining, and entertainment when you buy with your CAMPUS Platinum Rewards Mastercard® PLUS, earn 10,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days!

Apply online for fast approval at Call 352-237-9060 and press 5 Visit to find a CAMPUS Service Center near you

Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties.1 There are costs associated with the use of this card. For specific information call 800-367-6440 or write us at P.O. Box 147029, Gainesville, FL 32614. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may vary with the market based on Prime Rate as published in the Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the last day of each calendar month. The APR is determined by adding together the index and the margin applicable to the card type and the consumer’s credit. The APR could change without notice. APR not to exceed 17.99%. Bonus CURewards points are eligible for Lodging, Travel, Dining, and Entertainment purchases from May 15, 2022 through July 15, 2022. Points on all other purchases and balance transfers will continue to accrue at one point for every dollar spent. CAMPUS USA Credit Union shall determine which purchases qualify and will not be responsible for merchant misclassifications. Points will be posted to your account at the close of each billing cycle. Cash advances and finance charges do not earn points. Mastercard and the Mastercard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated, used pursuant to a license. 1. Credit approval and initial deposit of $5 required. Insured by the NCUA.

g n i t a r Celeb



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BWOS L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 2

Local female entrepreneurs share memories of being featured in this popular advertising section. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN, THERESA CAMPBELL, JAMES COMBS

hen you’re a print magazine, there’s only one appropriate way to celebrate an anniversary. That celebration is best reflected within the pages of the magazine. Why? Because it’s a frozen moment in time only print can capture. This issue is one we’ll proudly show off years down the road because it will still resonate long after the publishing date. Style is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Businesswomen of Style. Throughout the years, we’ve featured businesswomen representing a wide range of professions, including doctors, lawyers, politicians, financial advisors, hair stylists, and more. Of course, the average citizen may not realize how much work goes into putting this section together. We bring in makeup artists and hair stylists to make these women feel beautiful and radiant. Our photographers and graphic artists design special props to enhance their photo on the page. Our writers interview them so they can share how they’ve reached success in their respective professions. Then, we host a reverse drawing party, where the Business Women of Style participants are invited to a fun-filled evening of camaraderie, food, and drinks. The lucky winner of the reverse drawing appears on Style’s May cover and receives a free four-page inside spread. Enjoy this ride down memory lane and learn why these talented women have enjoyed stylin’ in Style.

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Amanda Cheatham HAIR STYLIST

Danielle Daugherty CO-OWNER

Mia Bella Salon & Spa 352.508.7277 / 201 W. Miller St., Fruitland Park /




“It’s been wonderful. I’ve learned a lot,” Amanda says of her first year at Mia Bella. “We have a really good team. Everyone’s just super-helpful.” Hair stylist Kelsey Shirley specializes in coloring, braiding and styling. “I like the opportunities that we’re given,” she says. “This is my first job in a salon, so to be able to start in a salon that’s just so great has been really awesome.”




With its third expansion in three years, Mia Bella Salon & Spa now has customers covered from head to toe. “We have added eyelash extensions, spray tanning and a facialist,” co-owner Danielle Daugherty says. “Before, we were just hair and massage, and now we really are full service.” Danielle says clients bond with her stylists, such as Amanda Cheatham, who specializes in perms and hair cutting.


The co-owner of Mia Bella Salon and Spa in Fruitland Park with her mother, Dawn Couliette, Danielle Daugherty won the reverse draw to be the cover girl on the 2017 issue of Business Women of Style. She was photographed on the floor making a cute facial expression as her hair flowed upwards in a cascade of curls. So, what was it like being on the cover? “Honestly it was such a surreal feeling,” says Danielle. “Mostly because it was the first year of opening our business, and any small business owner knows that year is so scary. So, when we got the cover, it was just like God was reassuring us that we were doing the right thing, and everything was going to be successful. And boy was it!” Danielle says the being featured on the cover made her feel special. “It was such a neat feeling to go into a restaurant and see someone reading Style magazine and seeing my face on the cover. I don’t think I ever would’ve thought that could happen,” she says. “I think the thing I love the most about it is the support we felt as a business from the community

and from the magazine. There’s nothing like knowing people support you and your dream.” Over the years, Danielle has enjoyed seeing the different color themes and props for the Business Women of Style events. “My favorite issue was the red issue. Mostly because I really loved my outfit. And the photographer made it such a fun time,” says Danielle. “I think we laughed the entire time and I felt like I was a 6-foot supermodel when really I’m just a 5-foot normal girl.” Danielle encourages other women to participate in Business Women of Style. “I would say do it, it does so much for your business and gets the word out there for everyone to get to see your heart and your passion behind your dream,” she says. “I love the team at Style, they are so supportive and so kind. But also, it just is a way for other people to be a part of the journey with you as you were running your small business.” Danielle believes being profiled in Business Women of Style over the years has been good for Mia Bella Salon and Spa. “We try to be a part of it every year and I can’t tell you the excitement that it generates from not only the people inside our salon but for our clients as well,” she says of seeing the theme, etc. “They’re just as excited as we are.”

Kelsey Shirley


Danielle Daugherty




Dawn Coulliette

Danielle Daugherty



Mia Bella Salon & Spa 201 W. Miller St., Fruitland Park 352.508.7277 /

Mia Bella Salon and Spa, owned by Dawn Coulliette and her daughter Danielle Daugherty, offers trendy services, including intricate hair braids with pops of vivid colors. “It’s not your Momma’s braids,” says Dawn. The braids are attracting customers from other states, some who call the salon first for before they book flights. “We’ve established a name for ourselves with our coloring and braiding,” says Danielle, with the majority of clients from social media. “We’ve added full-service barbering for men, too,” says Danielle, including faux dreads. “It goes with the Viking hair, which is very on trend.” Dawn’s specialty is providing massage therapies. Aqua chi, which is a detox, and ear candling are popular, too.

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All information contained is strictly confidential. If you are neither the intended recipient or the employee or agent of the intended recipient responsible for the delivery of this information, you are hereby notified that the disclosure, copying, use or distribution of this information is strictly prohibited. All information is © 2018 Akers Media Group, Inc. DBA HEALTHY LIVING Magazine, STYLE Magazines.




Mia Bella Salon & Spa 201 W MILLER ST, FRUITLAND PARK // 352.508.7277 // MIABELLASALONANDSPA.NET




usiness is blooming at Mia Bella Salon and Spa, owned by Dawn Coulliette and her daughter Danielle Daugherty. In order to keep up with the demand, Dawn says the 11-employee salon is now open six days a week and longer hours. “This last year has been so wonderful,” adds Danielle. “The team that we have built has made a name for themselves, and the community sees us as their trendy hometown salon.” Mia Bella’s homey farmhouse setting is also being expanded with new construction at the back of the business. “We are adding four more hair stations, and a facialist room,” says Danielle, “so overall, things are booming!”



Kara Sparks Because it’s such a powerful means of advertising, several women have become regular participants in Business Women of Style. Kara Sparks, owner of Larue Kay Salon, is one of those familiar faces. For six consecutive years, she has enthusiastically signed up for the special advertising section. “It’s about women promoting women and people supporting small-town businesses,” she says. “Having been born and raised in Lake County, I appreciate being part of a publication that sheds a positive light on our businesswomen.” Kara, a 2004 graduate of Tavares High School, consistently receives positive feedback each time she appears in Business Women of Style. “People come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I saw you in the magazine.’ It’s great advertising because people learn who you are, what you do as a professional, and what services you offer. The exposure I receive is just awesome.”

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Sabrina Ciceri For local entrepreneur Sabrina Ciceri, the words “Business Women of Style,” bring back the exciting moment during 2021’s reverse drawing when she won Style’s Business Woman of the Year. “Being chosen as the Business Woman of the Year was super exciting! It was fun and made me feel honored to have the story done on my life and career,” Sabrina says. “I felt even more proud, happy and motivated about the work I love.” Sabrina recommends investing in BWOS because the exposure it generates is priceless. “It really is great for business. So many people say they saw me in the magazine, and it helps business,” Sabrina says. “And even during times we don’t need the added business, we always know the value of staying relevant and for people to know who we are.” She adds: “Competition is just around the corner and new businesses pop up all the time. I like to be proactive in my marketing…not reactive.“

Tracy Belton As a certified financial planner for nearly 40 years, Tracy Belton knows a good investment when she sees one. She’s the first to admit that advertising in the Business Women of Style is a worthy investment. “It gives me county-wide coverage,” says Tracy, owner of Belton Financial Group of Raymond James. “I have people in my Rotary Club approach me and tell me how much they enjoyed reading my article and seeing my photograph in Style magazine. I receive more comments from being in Business Women of Style than I do from any other form of advertising.” That exposure is a big reason why Tracy has advertised in Business Women of Style eight times. She also enjoys the experience of coming into the office and interacting with Style’s staff. “The staff is very professional,” she says. “The styling and photography are excellent and make me look very good. I’m always pleased with the finished product.”

Dina Simpson Owner and stylist of Renew Day Spa in Leesburg, and Renew Hair Salon in The Villages, Dina Simpson believes being profiled in the Business Women of Style issues is great for business. “We want to stay involved as it is a way to meet and stay connected with the newer and more established businesses featured in the issue,” says Dina. “The overall experience is very positive including the professional photography, digital creativity and overall layout. Each issue has been extremely unique.” Several of Renew’s stylists and makeup artists have provided the hair and makeup for the magazine’s photo shoots, too, which Dina says has been a great way to meet other businesswomen. “We have loved working with a variety of female business owners and being able to highlight them for the issue,” says Dina. “Additionally, several are clients, and it is a natural extension from Renew Day Spa.” She adds being in Business Women of Style is a win-win as it provides great business exposure. “We would definitely recommend other businesses to be featured in the issue. It is a great way to market your business to a large target market.”

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Connie Mahan Connie Mahan got a lot of attention after appearing in the 2019 Business Women of Style issue. She looked great in her all-white outfit, the theme for that year’s feature, and after winning the reverse drawing, she appeared on the cover. After that, people from all over Lake and Sumter Counties recognized her. And though it was thrilling, especially from a business sense, Connie says the attention took a little getting used to. “Looking back now, that year was already a big year for us as a company, the biggest year we’d had at the time, so to also be on the cover, was pretty amazing because it gave me the opportunity to highlight all the other things we were doing,” Connie says. “Overall, I’d say the experience was interesting because I’m never looking to be really centerstage. It was nice, but at the same time, a little overwhelming, but not in a bad way at all.” Connie says since then, what’s kept her participating in Business Women of Style is the pride Akers Media takes in publishing such a high-quality publication, and in working with the magazine staff – from advertising to editorial, photography and design. “Everyone at Akers makes it a lot of fun and does a great job, I don’t know if I would keep doing it if it wasn’t through Akers,” says Connie, explaining that because of all that, she would for sure encourage other businesswomen around the community to take part. “I think BWOS is a great opportunity for the person doing it. It’s nice to feel good, look good, and most of all, it’s nice to have that experience, that moment where you are kind of allowed to celebrate yourself.”



Felicia Wagner





There’s a reason why Theresa Morris, owner of Morris Realty & Investments, consistently advertises in Business Women of Style. For her, it’s a golden opportunity to spotlight her successful female real estate agents who come from all walks of life. “It allows us to celebrate the success of women in general,” Theresa says. “It also shows other women that they can be successful in not only real estate but in any career they pursue. Each of my female agents have had their own journeys to get to where they’re at, but they all ended up doing very well in their careers. Business Women of Style allows us to recognize their accomplishments.” Moreover, it’s an opportunity to thank their loyal customers who have helped Morris Realty & Investments achieve success. “Being in Business Women of Style is a way of celebrating our customers, too,” Theresa says. “We couldn’t be successful without them.”


Theresa Morris / Morris Realty & Investments





Theresa Morris PROOF #

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Camie Kennedy Traci Meany

Jo Leen Cooper Howe


All information contained is strictly confidential. If you are neither the intended recipient or the employee or agent of the intended recipient responsible for the delivery of this information, you are hereby notified that the disclosure, copying, use or distribution of this information is strictly prohibited. All information is © 2018 Akers Media Group, Inc. DBA HEALTHY LIVING Magazine, STYLE Magazines.

Morris Realty and Investments

NICHOLAS 352.400.8686



his year marks the 10-year anniversary of Morris Realty and Investments and from the first day, it seems Theresa Morris never had a doubt about the vision or the success of her company. “I opened 10 years ago in the downturn, maybe the worst time to open a business, but I went on true faith and I knew it would succeed.” Part of her vision was to bring together a boutique-style company with a staff of strong, independent-minded women who were also spiritually based. The women of Morris Realty all share similar values, including commitment to their clients, families and community. Each of them supports a charity of their choice and are well-known throughout the local area for their knowledge and client service. With only 12 agents, Morris Realty ranks twelfth in





production in Lake and Sumter counties for 2017. That’s an incredible accomplishment competing against major franchises with hundreds of agents! This speaks directly to the strength of the Morris team and their unique approach to the real estate industry... the Women are a true example if “Integrity, Experience, Results!” which is the Morris Realty Motto.


WILLIAMS 352.636.4488






DeFOE 352.516.6843


COOPER HOWE 352.267.0770


FICKETT 352.636.2167







1217 W. Miller St., Fruitland Park / 352.530.2665 /

For the women of Morris Realty, real estate comes naturally. Each member of the Morris team knows their way around Lake County, and understands the unique quality of life our natural resources and communities provide. Year after year, the Morris Realty all-star team of women does what it takes to succeed. Their agents are more active, more productive and work harder for their clients. As a result, Morris Realty and Investments consistently ranks

Kwynn Morris Realty and Investments



10135 U.S. Hwy. 441, Ste. 3, Leesburg / 352.435.4663

10135 U.S. HWY. 441, STE. 3, LEESBURG // 352.435.4663 // MORRISREALTORS.COM

Kim Ducharme Levensohn

Joan DeFoe



MORRIS L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 2



Lena Williams


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Lynn Haynes

Lauren Fickett

among the top 10 agencies in Lake and Sumter counties against much larger agencies. The agency is built on a strong foundation of honesty, integrity, knowledge and community pride. Morris Realty supports local businesses and charitable organizations. In turn, community members know that taking care of their real estate needs comes naturally to the women of Morris Realty.



















LeighAnn Berry OWNER

Prominent Fox Boutique

352.661.3170 / 4313 E. County Road 466, Suite #103, Oxford It’s little surprise that customers drive from far as three hours away to visit Prominent Fox Boutique, which is nestled in Oxford. Owner Leigh Ann Berry does more than sell clothes; she wants to make women feel beautiful in their own skin and enjoy a pleasurable shopping experience. She sells everything from casual to formal clothing and accessories. “We have a happy atmosphere that uplifts customers when they come in and makes them feel even better when they leave,” says Leigh Ann, who opened the company 1.5 years ago. “I love to help my customers mix and match their clothing until they find something they absolutely love! I see my customers differently than they see themselves and my goal is for them to see themselves in the same light I see them before they leave Prominent Fox Boutique.”

LeighAnnBerry OWNER

Prominent Fox Boutique 352.661.3170 / 4313 E. County Road 466, Suite #103, Oxford Owner Leigh Ann Berry opened the Boutique in 2017 in hopes of eventually growing and adding a website. In January of 2020 she did just that. launched the beginning of this year and immediately took off. We have shipped our clothing and accessories all over the United States. Our local customers love the fact that we offer in store pickup for their online orders so they do not have to pay shipping costs. She also made a huge announcement the beginning of the year that a second location will be opening in Downtown

Leigh Ann Berry “Growing up I would always look forward to looking to see who I knew in the Lake and Sumter Style magazine,” says Leigh Ann Berry, owner of Prominent Fox Boutique in Leesburg. “It seemed like each month there would always be someone I knew, and I just thought that it was so awesome.” Leigh Ann was tickled the first time she appeared in Style magazine as a businesswoman promoting her business. “When I was approached and asked to be in the magazine, I was really surprised and very humbled. I was honored

Leesburg called “The Fox on Fourth”. It will be located at 210 N. 4th St. unit 102. We are in hopes that this is just the first of many more locations to come for Prominent Fox! We will be having Live Facebook Sales every week to show off our newest arrivals. We are always thinking outside of the box to make things new and fresh for our customers! Having a special connection and relationship with each customer is what I believe sets us apart from all the big box stores!”

honestly, I thought to myself ‘Wow! I’ve made it!’ I was proud of myself, it was a feeling that I hadn’t felt before and I liked it,” she says. “My first issue of I showed up so nervous. I wore a white jumpsuit from my store. I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into hair and makeup, and they really made me feel like a celebrity.” Leigh Ann says everyone that she has worked with for the Business Women of Style photo shoot sessions have been so professional and easy going. “It’s like you’re catching up with an old friend. They’re all just good people. After my first issue, people were coming into my

boutique just to meet me. It was great! Some of them are still my customers to this day.” Leigh Ann believes being profiled in Style magazine is great benefit as a business owner. “I would definitely recommend Style magazine to any business owner,” she says. “It’s the perfect way to advertise in the community. It’s been great for my business, and I’ve met so many new people. I hope to continue to be a part of the Business Women of Style for as long as I can.”

Jessy Flinn As co-owner and head chef of Gourmet Today, a Leesburgbased catering service, Jessy Flinn takes pride in everything she does. That includes promoting her company in Busines Women of Style. Jessy says being part of it makes her feel great, adding that, “seeing women in the community who are also featured gives comradery surrounding successful women. I love being surrounded by strong and powerful women.” Jessy also recommends that other businesswomen, if they haven’t it already seriously consider being featured because it is a great way to network and promote business. “It’s a great way to be seen and heard, and you are seeing the new faces coming up in the business community,” Jessy says. “It’s a great way to get to know people you should probably be getting to know.” “I have picked up many clients from BWOS, and friends too,” adds Jessy. Most of all, Jessy says the entire BWOS experience is fun, from having professional photos taken, to being interviewed, to opening the May issue and seeing your own story come to life so vibrantly. “My all-time favorite theme was our two-page spread featuring the women of Gourmet Today in a massive food

fight. Such a fun photo and I’m told you can still smell the buttercream from the cake we threw on a sunny day upstairs at the Opera House (where Akers Media is located),” Jessy says. Jessy’s tip for the greatest pictorial results: “Give it a try and HAVE FUN with the photo shoots. The photographers are great about working with you and making you look and feel like a million bucks.”

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352.343.7788 |



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Our Partners

Get Your Free Quote Today! New In-house Financing Option Available

WHEN CLEAN JUST ISN’T CLEAN ENOUGH. Ultimate Contract Cleaning is now using a breakthrough commercial cleaning process with the EMist Disinfectant Spray technology. This powerful, efficient cleaning system uses an electrostatic sprayer, that administers an even coating application that spans across hard-to-reach areas typically not touched by manual application.






We care for Lake County.

Emergency care close to you when you need us most. When every second counts, count on us to be there for you at our two Lake County AdventHealth emergency rooms. It’s the most advanced care you want — when and where you need it most. If you experience any of the symptoms below, don’t hesitate to seek emergency care: • • • • • • • •

Abdominal pain Chest pain Debilitating back pain Fractures Head injuries Pelvic and urinary pain Severe headaches Shortness of breath

AdventHealth Clermont ER

Trust Lake County’s #1 ERs

AdventHealth Waterman | AdventHealth Clermont ER* *This emergency department is part of AdventHealth Orlando and this is not an urgent care center. Its services and care are billed at hospital emergency department rates.

AdventHealth Waterman

Lending as unique as your business. Mike Stephens USB Commercial Lender (352) 483-5899


“Our relationship with USB started when we had problems with our previous bank.We’d outgrown our space and were looking to grow our business with a new manufacturing plant.We like USB because the decisions are made at the local level and it just moves faster, more smoothly, and with better service.” Jason & Jonathan Mathews | AeroDoor International, Eustis


Boating Safety PAY ATTENTION. WATCH YOUR SPEED. WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET. MINIMUM SAFETY EQUIPMENT • Personal flotation device fitted for each person on board or being towed, in addition to one throwable Type IV device. • Sound Producing Device • Visual Distress Signal • Fire Extinguisher • Vessel Lights • Current Copy Of Your Boat Registration


Lake County Sheriff’s Office Peyton C. Grinnell, Sheriff For more information and valuable life saving links, visit 040 /

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 2

• It is also recommended to equip your vessel with an anchor and a sufficient amount of anchor line, a de-watering device and oar or alternate means of propulsion in case your engine fails.


From the courtroom to the studio, former civil trial lawyer Beth Croft Jewett allows her creative juices to flow as a watercolor artist.

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may. 2022




Celebration time

Come see The Villages’ version of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Enjoy food vendors, stilt walkers, and live entertainment. May 5 / Spanish Springs Town Square / 1120 Main St., The Villages

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Axes and autos


Love music and cars? You’re in luck. Renninger’s in Mount Dora is hosting its popular Guitars and Cars event, which brings together dealers and collectors to buy, sell, or trade classic automobiles and musical instruments. Live music will also be performed throughout the day.

Enjoy quality entertainment on the many stages of Lake and Sumter counties. SIPPING FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

5/6-8, 5/13-15, 5/20-22

Drive to Melon Patch Theatre and watch the delightful comedy “The Savannah Sipping Society,” featuring four unique Southern women needing to escape the sameness of their day-to-day routine. Melon Patch Theatre / 311 N. 13th St., Leesburg / 352.787.3013

May 8 / Renninger’s Antique Center 20651 U.S. Hwy. 441, Mount Dora / 352.383.6393



Bay Street Players present “Doubt: A Parable,” a powerful drama about a high school principal and nun who takes matters into her own hands when she suspects a young priest of having improper relations with a male student. Bay Street Players / 109 N. Bay St. Eustis / 352.357.7777




FEELING ARTSY? Browsing at art can calm your mind and get your creative juices flowing. The Mount Dora Art Stroll and Art in the Alley provides a unique opportunity to visit various art studios and galleries in downtown Mount Dora and see the beautiful artwork of talented artists.



British guitarist and singer Eric Clapton has cranked out timeless hits such as “Layla,” “White Room,” and “Tulsa Time.” The Clermont Performing Arts Center will bring those hits and more to the stage with Journeyman, the country’s leading Clapton tribute band. Clermont Performing Arts Center / 3700 S.Hwy. 27 Clermont / 352.394.4800

May 19 / Mount Dora Center for the Arts 134 E. 5th Ave. Mount Dora / 352.383.0880

ONGOI NG EVENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.





Clermont Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Downtown Clermont

Downtown Mount Dora Village Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Mount Dora

Webster’s Farmer’s Market 6 a.m.-2 p.m. 524 North Market Blvd., Webster

Lady Lake Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 250 Rolling Acres Rd., Lady Lake

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may.JAMS Move to the beat of one of your favorite performers at one of these great concerts or local venues!

5/6 @ noon

5/16 @ 7 p.m.

MICHELLE INGRHAM Edna’s on the Green, Wildwood


5/6 @ 5 p.m.



C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

5/6 @ 7 p.m.



Girls just wanna have … a race

5/7 @ 7 p.m.

Attention all women. Summer is almost here, so it’s time to get that beach body in tip-top shape. Here’s your opportunity. The AdventHealth Girlz on Fire Sprint Triathlon and 5K is a Mother’s Day event just for the ladies. The triathlon features a .25-mile swim, an 8-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run.

GEORGETTE JONES Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/14 @ 4 p.m. MICHELLE INGRHAM The Sunny Pint, Wildwood

5/14 @ 7 p.m. MICHAEL TWITTY Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

May 8 / Clermont Waterfront Park / 330 3rd St. Clermont / 352.394.1320

5/15 @ noon ACE SUGGS Lakeridge Winery, Clermont

5/15 @ 4:30 p.m. C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

Let us help you get the word out! To have an event considered for the calendar, send a short text description along with a color photo (if available) 45 days in advance of event to: or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

5/15 @ 6 p.m. SANDY BACK PORCH Life Church, Eustis

5/20 @ 7 p.m. BOBBY RANDALL AND THE OBO BAND Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/21 @ 7 p.m. DION PRIDE Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/21 @ 8 p.m. DENNIE AND THE JETS The Dog House, Tavares

5/26 @ 7 p.m. MICHELLE INGRHAM GarVino’s Cigars, Fine Wine and Gifts, The Villages

5/27 @ 7 p.m. BOBBY RANDALL AND THE OBO BAND Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/28 @ noon SANDY BACK PORCH Edna’s on the Green, Wildwood

5/28 @ 1 p.m. JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

6/3 @ 5 p.m. C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares







Lake County Farmers & Flea Market 8 a.m.- noon 250 Rolling Acres Rd., Lady Lake

Eustis First Friday 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Downtown Eustis

Clermont First Friday Food Trucks 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 685 W. Montrose St., Clermont

Groveland Farmer’s Market 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Lake David Park, Groveland

Plaid in the Park 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora

Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Downtown Eustis

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Embracing art After a successful career as a civil trial lawyer, Beth Croft Jewett has found joy as a watercolor artist. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

display of Beth Croft Jewett’s watercolor creations can be seen at the Studio Art Farm in downtown Mount Dora, and the artist beams sharing stories behind her contemporary pieces of florals, birds, and abstracts. She paints surroundings she finds inspiring and charming. “Florida is a beautiful state from the oaks in Mount Dora, the Indian River Lagoon in New Smyrna Beach, the Canaveral National Sea Shore, which we are so fortunate to have, and much of my inspiration is strong from the immediate surroundings of Central Florida and the east coast,” says Beth. “I believe art is a gift; it brings me an immense amount of joy.” Art is a relatively new field for Beth, who previously had a successful career as a civil trial lawyer. In 2011, when her oldest was a college senior and her attorney husband was busy on cases, Beth decided she was not going to let the empty nester syndrome faze her. “I would say I’m a late in life artist,” she says. “I sort of jumped in feet first and really wanted to get back into my passion, which was expressing myself through color and design.” Beth began by taking classes at Crealde School of Art in Winter Park and The Art

Do you know of a talented person in our community?

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL Room, a teaching art studio in Windemere. She attended watercolor and acrylic workshops with nationally acclaimed artists and studied in New York City with the Art Students League of New York. She now adores being surrounded by fellow artists at the Studio Art Farm, founded by PJ Svejda and German Lemus. “I feel that as a creative, I am best when I am with other creatives,” says Beth. “And I love Sundays because it is a great day in the city of Mount Dora, with tons of people here, and I communicate with the other artists. I am incredibly privileged to be surrounded by all these creative entrepreneurs. They are wonderful.” She’s also drawn by the fluidity, transparency, and spontaneity of the watercolor medium. During the pandemic, Beth discovered she could achieve beautiful results with watercolors by also using stencils, and creating fine, intricate lines while blowing a small puddle of paint through a straw. Creating art that resonates with viewers is her goal, and she cherishes the reaction she received on her mixed media painting of a ballerina on her back with an exaggerated knee. “This woman came in and just stared at it and tears were rolling down her eyes,” says Beth, who learned the woman was a former dancer who had suffered a knee injury. “The piece just spoke to her,” says Beth, adding that the painting was purchased as an anniversary gift by the woman’s husband. “As an artist, those types of experiences are incredibly rewarding and humbling.”

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‘The Storyteller’ By Jodi Picoult. A heart-wrenching tale of a grieving baker, an old man with a shocking secret she befriends, and her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, and how all their lives intertwine. STORY: KATHY PORTER

he Bookworm Book Club will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in October. Many times during those years, a book that was chosen months ago becomes one of immense current meaning when we read it. Such is the case with The Storyteller, a novel that is a story within a story. We first meet Sage Singer, baker extraordinaire, as she attends her grief therapy group. After three years, she is still grieving the loss of her mother. The silver lightning bolt scar on her face is a constant reminder of the car accident that eventually took her mother’s life, and the guilt that haunts Sage. She recognizes the newest member of the group as Josef Weber, the ninety-something man who comes into the bakery with his little dachshund. Sage and Weber strike up an unlikely friendship, and Weber soon divulges a long-buried secret. He makes a request of Sage that has a moral and potentially legal dilemma.

Sage adores her Polish grandmother Minka. She never talks about her parents except to tell Sage that her father was a baker and that Sage seems to have his gift for baking bread. Minka is a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz, something else she never talks about and hides the blue numbered tattoo on her arm. How the lives of these three characters intertwine is at the core of the story. As we learn about Minka’s past, we cannot help but draw parallels to the war in the Ukraine. Our hearts go out to the millions of Ukrainian mothers, children, elderly, and handicapped who are fleeing to Poland and other surrounding countries while their brave kinsmen remain at home trying to stave off the Russian army. We are appalled by pictures of bombed out hospitals, apartment houses, bomb shelters, movie theaters and the like. What will happen to the citizens of the Ukraine if the Russian army succeeds? This multi-faceted novel is very well researched and well written. The Storyteller reminds us that we can never forget what happened in World War II, and we can never permit it to happen again.

Want to read more about what Josef ‘s past experiences unearth? “The Storyteller,” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon.

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Compassionate Pet Care From Your Other Family Doctor!

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352.347.3900 // 10725 SE 36th Ave

Samantha Ponders, Erika Howard, and Michael Ponders

Lloyd Pennington, Latrina Grimsley, Melissa Virnig, Sydney and Juli Pennington

Jessy Flinn, Tammy Jackson, Tiffany Stegall, and Susan Bartelt

Kara Bartley, Patrick and Melissa McCracken

Emoni Drumwright, Javari McCon, Garrett Hudgins, Patience Garrison, Kendal Dieleman, Melz Barratt-Patton, Cameron Kaiser, Siobhan Faughnan, and Haily Smith

Liz Roberts and Susan Adams

Kelli, Bradley, and Francheska


@ VENETIAN CENTER ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. The fourth annual Taste of Lake & Business Expo was hosted at the beautiful Venetian Center in Leesburg on March 11, where guests sampled tasty appetizers, entrees, desserts, and beverages, all while enjoying live entertainment and a new outdoor beer garden with local craft beers. The following businesses were chosen as top winners of the night. Best Appetizer: McCracken’s Irish Pub; Best Entrée: Ski Beach and Grill/Eaton’s Beach; Best Dessert: Ponder’s Personal Chef Services; Best Beverage: San Jose Original Mexican Restaurant; People’s Choice: Gourmet Today; Best Decorated Booth: Prime 3.

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Joyce Fancsaiszki and Linda Trescot

Rylee Randolph and Mike Randolph

Zara Kolkedy and Pinkee Patel

Sam Richardson, Melvin Guzman, and Emily Johnson

M A K ING A DASH A N D SPLASH @ SKI BEACH ≈ PHOTOS: PAUL PENDERS. A morning of family fun and fitness was the highlight of the inaugural Ski Beach Dash & Splash 5K hosted March 26 at the Venetian Center. Proceeds from the benefit event will go to the new UF Health Leesburg Hospital Simulation (SIM) Center. Nursing students entering professional practice often find it challenging to transfer their classroom learning into daily clinical practices. The new UF Health Leesburg Hospital SIM Center will provide students with interactive, practice-based instruction and offer nurse educators the opportunity to meet each student’s individual educational needs.

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Terrance Manuel and Kemmerely Manuel

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Aaron Jenkins and Stephen Parks


W Live

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Congratulations East Ridge High School

Natasha Adorno-Matos

Morgenne Almonte

Victoria Damian

Ella Jackson

Wellarose Jimenez

Jessenia Jobe

Valeria Roman Nicosia

Mansi Patel

Kathryn Powell

Paola Seda

Emily Valarezo

Jaidyn Vanscoy

Benjamin Kazel

Emmanuel De La Paz

Lake Virtual

Lindsey Fiedler

Sara Gantz

Anna Haukoos

Lileas Lee

Gilberto Grace Lobsinger Kenson Moore Jimenez Perez

Ethan Rada

Rylee Stube

Caitlin White

Lake Minneola High School

Alexandra Burgess Neleh Johnson Kaluki Kithome

Vidhi (Dani) Patel

Emily Paul

Sean Massey

Leah Perkins

Ethan McDonald Anisha Menashi Bradley Montez

Amit Sagar

Shannon Manning

Keira Votava Kaitlyn Westwood Gethin Williams

Eustis High School

Cole Baxley

Alexis Love

Isabelle Stiver

Anthony Westerkamp


of the Graduating Class of 2022 Leesburg High School

John Anderson

Cameron Cockerham

Alexis Cowgill

Alicia Jiang

Hannah Mehr

Corey Phillips

Ashlyn Gray

Mount Dora High School

Ava Jezowski

Kalah Turnage Sydney Williams

Kaci Flohre

Caitlin Foley

Emily Henson Vaishant Mikhael Sevilleno

Ella Garcia

Jovanelyss Garcia

Lara Shafi

Jaquelyn Zavala

South Lake High School

Luke Anderson Masseni Diakite

Jasmine Landaberde

Kylie Dye

Adison Goss

Deja-Ray Mason Isabelle Millman Abigail Modeste

Tavares High School

Micaela Caballero Austin Collier

Lina Filkin

Olivia Giffing

Ashlyn Hutchinson

Chandani Narain

Abby Kruse

Stephanie Prodanovich

Ashley Sohit

Whitney Walczak

Umatilla High School

Jayce Desantis

Maya Diceglie

Miles Drennan

Melissa Janes

Brijesh Patel

Cali Yates

Norah Carpenter

Taylor Dailey

Laine Ford

Carol Kessinger Allison Shields


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Lena Williams 352.636.4488

Lauren Fickett

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Kim Ducharme Levensohn 352.874.5906

Lindsay Sanders 352.661.0232

MORRIS REALTY & INVESTMENTS 352.435.4663 / 10135 U.S. Hwy. 441 Suite 3, Leesburg /


Lynn Haynes

Jo Leen Cooper Howe

Theresa Morris 352.360.3736


Brittany Meany 352.348.4191


Camie Kennedy

Felicia Wagner 352.638.1264


Lake and Sumter Style’s red-carpet theme is the perfect complement for the female real estate agents at Morris Realty and Investments. These ladies continually roll out red-carpet service for their clients. When it comes to leading a successful real estate company, owner Theresa Morris and her daughter, Lena Williams, have been quite innovative. Of course, they are the first to admit that their success would not be possible without this incredible group of ladies seen here in this photo. These ladies are dedicated to serving their clients with integrity and honesty, which are the standards of practice set forth for Morris Realty and Investments.

Simply put, these female agents stand out in the marketplace by acquiring in-depth knowledge of the local market and staying up-do-date with current laws, regulations, and real estate trends. Moreover, they blend old and new real estate marketing ideas to best serve both buyers and sellers. From digital ads and mobile apps to billboards and print media, the agents give each of their listings maximum exposure. More importantly, the company’s online marketing makes each listing available statewide, nationally, and internationally. Of course, the dedicated team not only serves as advocates for their clients but are also engaged

in many aspects of community service. That’s a point of pride for these female agents, many of whom were born and raised in Lake County. By serving as board members for local organizations and participating in charities and events, they make their communities a better place to live, work, and play. The female agents at Morris Realty and Investments are experts who can confidently provide answers to clients’ questions and go above and beyond to meet their expectations. What are you waiting for? Let the Morris Realty and Investments team roll out the red carpet for you.


Heather Franklin considers herself lucky to not only be a Florida native but a lifelong Lake and Sumter County resident as well. She has seen our community grow and change throughout her life and is excited to be able to contribute to her community and residents. With more than 50 years of combined experience, American Retirement Specialists makes it their mission by“Caring for your Health and your Wealth during your most important stages of life” and Heather will continue to do so. With a holistic, relationship-based approach and fiduciary obligations, she will place your interests first when establishing your customized financial plan with clear goals and objectives. Her goal is to protect, enhance, and simplify your life, by placing you on an exciting and fulfilling path to achieve financial freedom to pursue and enjoy what matters most to you.

HEATHER FRANKLIN American Retirement Specialists

352.460.4390 / 1300 Citizen's Blvd, Leesburg /


Angela Ugarte Nurse Practitioner (APRN)

Dr. Christina Yi Plastic Surgeon

Alexis Bowhay Physician Assistant (PA-C)

VILLAGE INSTITUTE OF PLASTIC SURGERY 352.259.8599 / 607 CR 466A, Fruitland Park /

When the time comes for a new look or feel, a visit to Village Institute of Plastic Surgery (VIP) may be in order. VIP offers something for everyone by way of head-to-toe plastic surgery and aesthetic procedures, injectables (e.g. fillers and Botox), microneedling, lifts, laser treatments and more. There, you will find an entire team waiting to help make desired

transformations, including VIP’s three female providers who, as fellowshiptrained nurse practitioner, Angela Ugarte, puts it, are there “to help you find your beautiful,” inside and out. Dr. Yi, a breast and body aesthetic plastic surgeon, says looking and feeling good go hand-in-hand, further explaining that: “Aside from just the physical changes, what really

changes most after a procedure is the way patients carry themselves and the confidence they gain.” Alexis Bowhay, a fellowship-trained physician assistant, wholeheartedly agrees, adding: “When people look in the mirror and feel proud of what they see, it has a domino effect; every aspect of their life is positively impacted.”


Rose Connell

Liz Bowman



Fay Sellers Denise Hegarty

Where can I find a company where personal insurance is indeed that … personal? Look no further than The Villages Insurance, an independent insurance agency offering the resources of a large firm with the personal attention of a small firm. The agency provides financial services to help clients retire with confidence or enhance and maximize their current retirement; commercial insurance to protect business owners and their employees; and personal insurance to provide coverage for homes, automobiles, golf carts, boats, RVs, motorcycles, and other items. Licensed to operate across Florida, The Villages Insurance concentrates on residents (primary or seasonal) across its nine locations in The Villages. The agency has a 24/7 emergency response team and a claim advocacy team to assist clients through the claims process. Denise Hegarty and Rose Connell are sales managers specializing in personal lines insurance with a combined industry experience of 32 years. Denise and Rose go above and beyond to provide superior coverage counsel and advice through their respective teams of insurance professionals. “Our sole focus is to put our clients in a position to make “informed decisions” about their insurance program,” Denise says. “We do this by listening to the needs of those we serve and answering the many questions that arise.” Rose agrees. "The decisions we make are done with the client's best interest in mind and we strive to provide exceptional experiences,” she says. “We give them peace of mind by helping them protect the assets that they’ve spent their entire lives working to achieve.” Many of the company’s nearly 100 employees live in The Villages, giving them a clearer understanding of their client's environment. “I think that’s why much of our new business comes from referrals,” Denise says. “Also, clients who moved away from The Villages remained with us because they appreciate our excellent customer service.”


JAIME BACH Jaime & Company Real Estate 352.459.5272 /

Jaime Bach, owner of Jaime & Company Real Estate, wants you to think of two things when you’re considering her to list or buy an existing home, or build a custom home; A level of attention that only a boutique Realtor® can provide, and her personal passion for the community. Spending several years in local planning and zoning, she has an intimate knowledge of the Lake County real estate environment. Additionally, raising two children in Lake County, Jaime also has a deep appreciation for the unique communities and amenities that provide such a great quality of life for homeowners and their families. Her clients also benefit from her close relationship with Kevco Builders – Lake County’s #1 Custom Home Builder – providing the flexibility of being able to offer reduced commissions if a homeowner is interested in listing their current home for sale with Jaime while building a custom home with Kevco.


When it comes to buying or selling a home, your choice of Realtors can make a difference in your outcome. With this in mind, Kerri Leininger with Micki Blackburn Realty is a consistent multimilliondollar producer. She is confident in her proven ability and skills because she has learned from the best! “I really care about people and want to help them navigate this immense world of Real Estate.” Whether Selling or Buying a home, Kerri understands the importance of knowing what each of her customers is wanting to

achieve and has patience in the process. Kerri, former 20–year owner of Clermont Travel Service, sold her business following 9/11. What followed was a great blessing in her later life… She came on board as a bookkeeper with Micki Blackburn Realty. After Micki noticed her potential, she suggested Kerri become a licensed Real Estate Agent. Six years later, Kerri is truly appreciative to be part of such an outstanding Brokerage adding, “I truly enjoy helping people, and seeing their home buying or selling goals come to fruition.”

KERRI LEININGER Realtor® / Micki Blackburn Realty

Real Estate by Kerri / 352.267.9794 /



Owner / D & R Kitchen and Bath Remodel 407.318.4343 / 1207 Bowman St., Clermont /

Diane Wilson began her company, D & R Kitchen and Bath Remodel, at the onset of Covid two years ago when people were seeking her design and remodeling expertise in transforming their homes with more beautiful, updated, and functional use of space. “People want to love their homes, they want to feel comfortable and enjoy their homes,” says Diane, who listens to customers wishes as she designs with a creative and professional touch, everything from revising kitchens with better flow and more counter space and providing modern bathrooms with freestanding tubs and seamless glass showers. Based on Google reviews, Diane has received compliments for being there for her customers every step of the way, and for being honest, transparent, and kind. “They love my designs, products, and the outcome of my jobs,” says Diane, who is the “D” in her company name and the ““R” represents her grandmother, Rosa. “She was my biggest inspiration in life.”


What a glorious day it would be if a physician chose to heal patients by identifying the root cause of disease instead of prescribing pills to treat symptoms. That’s the concept behind Ellis Integrative Family Practice, which is owned by Gretta Ellis, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). “I provide primary care along with natural approaches to overall health,” Gretta says. She offers food intolerance testing, bioidentical hormone therapy, IV therapy, and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to treat gut health and autoimmune conditions and reduce inflammation. She also offers platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to treat joint pain. “I love what I do because I get to fix the root cause of illness,” says Gretta, a 2004 graduate of South Sumter High School. “It’s all about our overall health and making lifestyle changes for prevention of disease. Our standard American diet is toxic and is a big factor to illness and the disease process.”

GRETTA ELLIS Ellis Family Integrative Practice

1865 Nightingale Lane Suite B, Tavares / 352.508.5418


For Roxanne Stafford and her daughter, Alexa, staying small has led to big results. In September 2021, the mother-daughter team celebrated the 30th anniversary of their Wildwood-based company, Window Reflections. “We do a lot of volume, but we’ve always maintained the smalltown, family mentality of offering superior customer service,” Alexa says. “There’s nothing more enjoyable than having a satisfied customer leave you a message bragging on what a wonderful job we did.” Roxanne’s passion for creating beautiful customer window treatments burns stronger than ever. “I’m just as excited to wake up and go to work than I was 30 years ago,” she says. “I’m not there as a salesperson; I’m there as a designer.” Window Reflections custom make all drapes, valances, and cornices on-site, and is a Centurion Priority dealer for Hunter Douglas blinds, shades, and shutters. “We want all customers to end up with treatments that not only fulfill their functional needs but are also beautiful,” Roxanne says. “We want to bring happiness to their home.”

Alexa Stafford

Roxanne Stafford

WINDOW REFLECTIONS 352.330.2055 / 103 N. Main St., Wildwood /


“I am living my best life because I am living my purpose,” says Amanda Neil, Owner, Nurse Practitioner of Ultimate Health Direct Primary Care. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in 2020 that Nurse Practitioners could be independent with their own practices, Amanda made it her mission to offer affordable, 24-hour access to Primary Care. “The biggest compliment that I have gotten is that I care,” says Amanda, who removed the barrier of insurance. Instead, patients pay a monthly flat fee to cover medical care issues, including routine and preventative care, lab work, chest X-rays, EKG, etc. “We are here for you,” says Amanda. “Our most popular service is weight loss of a 1,500-calorie diet, intermittent fasting, and fat-burner shots, a once-aweek shot that melts your fat. One of my successes is Sandi Moore. She started with my clinic and now she looks amazing! Most people have come to me because they saw Sandi.” Patient + Provider – Insurance = Ultimate Health


Nurse Practitioner / Ultimate Health Direct Primary Care 352.901.6582 / 733 N. Third St., Leesburg /


MALENA DOYLE-SCHICK Owner / Malena and Magda’s Boutique

352.729.2121 / 402 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora /

Malena and Magda’s Boutique is celebrating its 10th year in Mount Dora, and the shop has garnered raves for being a darling boutique with beautiful, comfortable, one-of-a-kind chic fashions and accessories. “I’m really happy with my place,” says Malena, adding that the best part is interacting with customers. “I sell a lot of cotton clothing from Peru and Florida. My customers love the clothes, the styles, and they come back for more,” she says. Customers appreciate that the 100% pima cotton fashions are pre-shrunk and dryer friendly. Malena says the fabric makes the clothing comfortable in the Florida heat and to wear to the beach or on cruises. The boutique has additional clothing lines with apparel that is under $40, and it’s the place to go for the Incredible Sun Visor, Nicole Lee purses, and Montana West concealed carry handbags. “When I find something that I love, I buy it,” Malena says of her boutique’s merchandise.


Becky Pilipow Rachelle Neck

Becky Pilipow and Rachelle Neck love helping customers celebrate life’s special moments—whether it’s a birthday, a career milestone, an anniversary, or a gathering of family and friends. Becky and Rachelle are co-owners of Edible Arrangements, a company that has become wildly popular for its fresh fruit arrangements and chocolate-dipped fruit boxes. However, in the past few years, they’ve created more ways to wow the taste buds of their increasingly growing list of satisfied customers. The company now offers fresh fruit smoothies, gourmet-flavored popcorn, gourmet nuts, party platters, cheesecakes, brownies, cupcakes, assorted cookies, and flower bouquets. “Our assortment of freshly made gifts is just what you need to create spontaneous moments of goodness filled with extra sweet memories and lots of smiles,” Rachelle says. The company offers same-day delivery. If you’re looking for some sweet savings on delicious fresh fruit gifts, be sure to stop by our location or give us a call.

EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS 352.391.1334 / 3509 Wedgewood Lane The Villages /


STEPHANIE ANN RICHARDSON Licensed Agent / New York Life 352.340.8798 / 115 E. 4th Ave. Suite 214, Mount Dora /

Licensed Agent Stephanie Richardson values developing relationships with her clients and helping them meet their goals and needs, whether it’s life insurance, disability, longterm care, and in making financial preparation for wealth for their children. She says building a legacy and protection for their children through insurance is what many clients seek for their families. “I love helping my clients feel secure in their lives,” says Stephanie. “The best compliment is hearing I have a huge heart. Helping clients understand their options and achieve their goals are what make this career so rewarding.”

Stephanie joined New York Life over two years ago, and started in the EXIT REALTY building on 441, and due to her exploding growth, she now has her main location above Cody’s on 4th in downtown Mount Dora. Pleased that the company supports community activities, she is just as committed to Mount Dora events and organizations, such as Kiwanis, which is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time" I am proud to be a Kiwanian. “I’m grateful for all of the people in the community that have supported me, encouraged me,."


When customers step inside Em’z on Fifth, they will find a huge selection of stylish women’s clothing, including casual and resort wear in all colors and sizes, unique jewelry, hats, shoes, and lovely scented candles perfect for gift giving. Owner Clara Schneider says what she takes the most pride in offering, however, is good old-fashioned customer service, which at Em’z translates to wrapping, special orders, delivery, shipping, altering, no hassle returns, and anything else one could possibly need. “We do everything that when growing up, your small-town boutique did,” Clara says. “My goal is to make women look young and beautiful and feel important and confident.” “We’re all about making our customers happy,” she adds. Em’z on Fifth is open seven days a week, and offers after hours shopping for women’s celebrations, by special appointment. “If women want to come and bring a few friends after closing, we supply the wine and they can shop,” Clara says. “Whatever the celebration, we’re game.” To preview merchandise, visit Em’z on Fifth on Facebook and Instagram.

CLARA SCHNEIDER Owner / Em'z on Fifth

352.735.4451 / 200 W. 5th St., Mount Dora /


Kenkay Solar, a longtime familyowned solar company that is powered by Women in Solar, takes pride in offering topquality installations of residential and commercial solar systems to customers throughout Central Florida. And now, they have a second location in the panhandle. “Our customers are our number one priority, and we make sure that every one of them is completely satisfied with the end project of their install,” says Jazmin Felix, the company’s CEO, adding that Kenkay’s entire office team is available for support. Office Manager Emily Gaulin adds: “I like talking to and getting to know each customer on a firstname basis, and I love hearing about their endeavors regarding solar projects and beyond.” Additionally, Jazmin says Kenkay is focusing on attracting and training more women in the trade fields of sales and solar installation, areas that in the past were dominated by males. “We are pretty much all over the United States now, empowering women to be in this type of industry, and we are there to support them, as well,” Jazmin says.

Jazmin Felix CEO

KENKAY SOLAR 352.460.0402 / 413 E. Alfred St., Tavares /

Emily Gaulin Office Manager


Sharon Bassett, owner/broker of Bassett Premier Realty, has been representing sellers and buyers in Central Florida for 26 years. Her real estate knowledge goes beyond negotiating and closings for her clients. She also brings experience in home building, home designing, and home remodeling. “From real estate to design to construction, I understand the entire process,” she says. “Experience matters. No matter if the customer is buying or selling. I bring a solid background in professionalism, proficiency, and integrity to achieve the goals of my real estate clients.” Now, Sharon has an opportunity to help even more clients discover the American dream of homeownership. She is partnering with Ocala-based Baxton Homes to build affordable homes in Marion Oaks for first-time homebuyers. They will accept VA, FHA, and USDA loans. “I’m proud to work alongside Baxton Homes, a company that has a solid reputation for ethics, integrity, and community service,” Sharon says.

SHARON BASSETT Owner, Broker / Basset Premier Realty

352.307.2925 / 10935 SE 177th Place Suite 201, Summerfield


Lyndsi Johnson

Amy Chappell

Business Relationship Manager

Maria Gonzalez

Mortgage Banker, Vice President

Branch Manager, Vice President

Barbara Yaussy

Brooke Morris

Branch Manager, Assistant Vice President

Regional Area Manager, Vice President


352.323.9000 / 903 W. North Blvd., Leesburg /

Stylishly dressed in the color of money, these female lenders of Lake and Sumter counties are the top-performing “rock stars” of SouthState Bank with expertise in residential, consumer, and business lending and development. “One thing we are known for is having local people that live and invest in our communities,” says Brooke Morris, regional area manager. “People feel we are a part of their lives, not just their banker. Our employees want to be a partner with our customers. We care about their businesses growing and their children succeeding. We support the local fairs,

schools, and different programs that improve our communities. Helping our clients make their financial dreams come true is the most rewarding part of our jobs. When our customers are successful, the bank is successful. That’s how we all win.” SouthState takes pride in being a community bank. “We are a part of their lives,” adds Amy Chappell of the bank’s mortgage customers. “For example, I will close on their mortgage loans and be invited to the wedding and baby showers, and then end up doing their children’s loans one day.”


The real estate red carpet rolls out for none other than Connie Mahan and her stellar team at Connie Mahan Real Estate Group. Having opened their doors 11 years ago this summer, #teamcmreg is known as the number one name for residential real estate sales and consulting in south Sumter County. The main reason behind that success? Broker/Owner Connie and her team’s unwavering dedication to going above and beyond for customers, community, and most importantly, each other. “I am incredibly blessed to have developed and maintained the relationships we have, and our philosophy is simple: everyone and everything matters,” Connie says. “In this incredibly noisy world, it’s more important than ever to ensure everyone feels heard and knows we are continually focused on doing things right.” With that, Connie Mahan Real Estate Group concentrates on staying on top of the latest real estate trends, market data, community news, and all it takes to be the number one source for all things real estate. “2022 is off to an amazing start, and it’s just the beginning,” Connie adds.


Broker, Owner / Connie Mahan Real Estate Group 352.569.0233 / 218 N. Florida St. #1, Bushnell /


METES & BOUNDS TITLE COMPANY 352.242.1881 / 180 E. Highland Ave. Clermont /


Since opening Metes and Bounds Title Company 17 years ago, Susan Walker has come to realize there are many components to running a successful company. One of the most important is assembling talented and dedicated employees. Susan and her team have laughed together and cried together. They’ve spent time outside of work going on cruises, eating dinner, and celebrating birthdays. In short, they’ve created a bond, resulting in a happier workplace and happier clients. That bond has certainly been evident through triumph and tragedy. Three years ago, Susan’s 25-year-old daughter,

Kalynn Curl, died of a brain aneurysm. Kalynn was an employee at Metes and Bounds Title Company. “My co-workers held me up and helped me get through that,” Susan says. “They are an amazing group of women.” Recently, Susan’s husband, Robert Walker, endured a difficult battle with coronavirus, keeping her out of the office for six months. Her employees successfully ran the company in Susan’s absence. “They took the reins and ran the company together,” Susan says. “I knew they would do a fantastic job while I was away.” Susan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, spent 13 years

working for a multi-million-dollar property investment firm before opening her title company. In addition to building long-lasting friendships with clients, one of the joys she derives from the job is seeing women thrive in the workplace. “I love to empower women,” she says. “I let each of my employees be who they are instead of molding them into the person I want them to be. I think that helps them succeed under my leadership.” Susan also enjoys providing her employees with ongoing education. Each of her transaction closers are state licensed. “We are considered the title experts in our community,” Susan says.

L-R: Christina Milbourne, April Torri, Kim Bolderson, Susan Walker, Nevada Lambeth, Stacy Harvey, Gigi Gingras, Delena Adams, Michele Snively, Tammy Taylor, Cayla Milbourne, Jo Lynn Nicholson and Carol Kneller


KAREN M. RISCINTO Broker, Owner / Florida Lifestyle Realty Group, Inc. 352.250.3166 / 211 N. Baker St., Mount Dora /

Florida Lifestyle Realty Group, Inc. has returned to its Mount Dora roots and Owner/Broker Karen M. Riscinto could not be more thrilled. "Mount Dora is a very unique town. It not only caters to the local residents but to the many tourists that visit. It is truly SOMEPLACE SPECIAL.” With that, what Florida Lifestyle Realty Group brings to the table is a full-service mentality with an added twist.“We’re a full-service brokerage, but we also offer an interior decorating service”. “I can help someone with renting & managing their HOME, buying or selling a HOME, or decorating or re-envisioning their HOME.” “We’re a one-stop shop,” she adds. No matter the type or size of the transaction Karen goes above and beyond. “I want to be able to sleep at night knowing I did the best for my clients as it's one of the single most stressful decisions they will ever make, so I make sure that they are getting the right home and best deal possible". “For me, it’s not about the price of the house, but getting my clients what’s truly right for them.”


For Laura Pratesi, Doctor of Audiology and owner of Citrus Hearing Clinic, LLC, helping patients overcome hearing and balance issues is a passion she holds close to her heart. “I am a bilateral hearing aid user myself and that’s what got me interested in becoming an Audiologist,” Dr. Pratesi says. “It’s the best feeling in the world to know I am making a difference.” Dr. Pratesi, the youngest person to have graduated from Auburn University’s Doctor of Audiology program in 2012, has worked in a variety of clinical settings. She recently celebrated her own practice’s four-year anniversary. She and her staff treat patients of all ages. They do hearing tests, work with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and manage tinnitus (ringing in the ears), plus they do vertigo assessments and balance therapy. Dr. Pratesi is also a big advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community and sits on the board for the Hearing Loss Association of America support group that meets each month in The Villages.

DR. LAURA BRADLEY PRATESI Owner, Doctor of Audiology / Citrus Hearing Clinic, LLC 352.989.5123 /



Owner, Executive Chef / Gourmet Today, Inc 352.978.1203 / 2022 Tally Road, Suite 102, Leesburg /

The coronavirus pandemic shutdown was a horrible blow for the full-service catering company, Gourmet Today, Inc., but at the same time Jessy Flinn and her husband Kevin fought to keep their Leesburg-based company going. “We’re back, we’re stronger, and we’re ready to take the next year on,” says Jessy, who has devoted time to experiment and explore eclectic international foods, recipes from vintage cookbooks, and more gluten-free and vegan options. Gourmet Today lives its company motto and tagline: “Rare Service. Well Done.” “I’m trying to make sure my base for clients and myself is as broad as possible,” says Jessy. “We do a lot of corporate catering and work with a lot of local businesses, professionals, and we do a lot of personal celebrations and showers. I love it all and I love themed events. I love being able to create an entire experience with food, staff, and costumes — that really is my favorite!”


Lake Centre Home Care is a skilled home health agency that services Lake, Sumter and Marion Counties. In January 2017, CEO Shayna Grunewald, MBA, was tasked with opening the Leesburg based agency and growing the patient population. In just five years, the agency has grown exponentially. In September 2021, Lori Davis, MBA, joined the team as the COO. The two Leesburg natives have joined forces to continue to expand the female-led agency into one of the top skilled home health providers in Lake County. Lake Centre Home Care provides skilled nursing, physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. Our clinicians see all acuity levels of patients including IV meds, PICC lines, orthopedic and cardiac surgical aftercare, wound vacs, and much more. “Look for an exciting expansion in the coming months,” says Shayna. “We are adding private duty care over the next year. Great things are happening in Leesburg!”

Lori Davis

Shayna Grunewald MBA, CEO


LAKE CENTRE HOME CARE 352.315.0050 / 310 Market Street, Leesburg /


KIM VARNADORE Agent / State Farm Insurance

352.343.5181 / 17941 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora /

For 16 years Kim Varnadore and her team have been protecting Florida families and small businesses by practicing State Farm’s mission: “to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams.” Kim and her team focus on listening to what’s most important to their customers, educating them on solutions to protect the things they work hard for, and creating a plan to meet their individual insurance and financial services needs. “Many customers struggle with fear of the future; fear of losing the things they’ve worked hard for. They want to protect their family and their future. If we know what’s important to our customers, we can help address those fears,” says Kim. Kim and her team educate others on the roll insurance plays in day to day life, and as a result often hear, ‘No one has ever explained insurance like this to me before.’ “We love our customers and our community. Our motivation is to make a positive impact on others while we serve people and protect families through the products and services we provide.”


When the Tavares Chamber of Commerce needed a little help three years ago, Erika Buigas happily stepped up. Today, as president and CEO of the organization, Erika is making huge strides. “Our main goal is to promote, advocate for and support our local business community in any way we can,” Erika says. “Finding new and creative ways of bringing people together, getting them talking and doing business with each other is a challenge, but it’s something that excites me.” Erika adds: “Personally, I feel it’s important to do what you can for the place you call home.” Erika says the love and passion she feels for community, her drive for excelling in everything she does, and her passion for helping others was instilled early on by her mom and aunt’s life examples. She also appreciates her three teenagers for standing by her side and always cheering her on, and loves being involved in city events. “We’re the county seat, so there’s always something exciting and fun going on and I love that,” Erika says.


President & CEO / Tavares Chamber of Commerce

352.343.2531 / 300 E Main St., Tavares /


ROBIN SMITHGALL President/Owner / Sentinel Crisis Solutions 352.502.2693 /

“When disaster strikes are you prepared?” That’s the question Sentinel Crisis Solutions Owner/President Robin Smithgall and her husband Ken, vice president, ask every one of their clients. With the ever-increasing threats to businesses from natural and man-made disasters, your state of readiness is key. Sometimes it’s hard to picture the risks, and that’s where Sentinel Crisis Solutions can help, Robin says, adding that she and Ken have been empowering companies to identify, understand and plan, before disaster strikes, so that your business can survive and thrive. According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses fail to re-open after a disaster. Sentinel Crisis Solutions’ team of experts, however, provide services that include business continuity planning, threat risk and vulnerability assessments, crisis/ emergency response training exercises, and strategic planning. Sentinel’s clients include, federal, state, and local government agencies, private businesses, health care, schools, churches, and individuals. Robin adds: “Born and raised here, the community is more than a business, it’s home. Let’s build resiliency that is real and long lasting together!”


Bridgette M. Bennett, an immigrant woman from Jamaica, is living the American dream because of opportunities afforded to her since arriving in the United States as a child. She is married with two children, is heavily involved with helping her community, and owns the Bennett Law Center, opened in 2011, where she works as a highly sought after immigration and business law attorney. That picture of success however, follows an intense 10-year fight, and $30K in legal fees to keep her husband from being deported. Not wanting anyone else to experience that, Bridgette quit her corporate job, went back to school and earned a law degree. Today, Bridgette is overseeing a massive expansion to her firm – which includes a 2 story commercial building in downtown Groveland. The building will also house her new venture, the “Reggae Café,” a coffee shop featuring 100 percent Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica – and story after story of immigrant families living out their ‘happily ever after’ because of her and her team. “When people are thinking about immigrating to America, the things I’ve been able to do, is what they have in mind, and helping them achieve that is a true blessing,” Bridgette says.

BRIDGETTE BENNETT, ESQ. CEO & Founding Attorney / Bennett Law Center 352.557.8989 / 302 W. Orange St., Groveland /


Melissa Tuttle Licensed Aesthetician

Marianne Ramos

Andrea Flynn

Licensed Aesthetician

Certified Physician Assistant

OCALA PLASTIC SURGERY 352.750.0019 / 11950 County Road 101 Suite 205, The Villages /

Are you ready to awaken your natural beauty? Then consider Ocala Plastic Surgery, which has proudly served The Villages for 20 years. Licensed Aestheticians Marianne Ramos and Melissa Tuttle, as well as Andrea Flynn, Physician Assistant, are passionate about inspiring confidence by helping clients look and feel their best. As aestheticians, Marianne and Melissa offer medical-grade skincare treatments

such as chemical peels, microneedling, and microdermabrasion. Andrea, PA-C, provides Botox, laser resurfacing, laser hair removal, and dermal fillers. Andrea was voted as the top Physician Assistant in Lake and Sumter Style’s 2021 “Best of the Best” competition. All three women understand the importance of listening to and educating clients, which are the foundations for giving them the results they desire.

“I enjoy restoring confidence and making people feel good about themselves,” Andrea says. “For me, helping clients achieve beautiful skin is rewarding because when people look their best, they express that to the world,” says Marianne. Melissa adds: “I appreciate the one-onone relationships I develop with clients and the trust I’ve earned in allowing me to treat their skin.”


Erica Lebo is a strong businesswoman who in only three years with the Foundation, has led it to unprecedented success in support of life-saving healthcare in our community. She, her team, and an incredible support network of creative and talented women and men from the hospital and community have reinvented fundraising for the foundation that is less dependent on in-person events. In turn, they’ve doubled monies raised year-over-year for the hospital’s vital mammogram voucher program. Currently, the Foundation is raising $1 million toward a new nursing education and simulation center. “Training new nurses for the future is mission critical. Nurses touch lives and touch the future.” Erica, a strong competitor who enjoys the philosophy and intensity of Crossfit® workouts, believes her most important role with the Foundation is to provide support whenever there is a new healthcare need in the community. And like Erica, the indicators are ‘strong’ she will be successful.

ERICA LEBO, MBA Executive Director/President / UF Health Leesburg Hospital Foundation 352.323.5501 /


Erica Harden APRN

Jocelyn Eslinger APRN


VILLAGE HEART & VEIN 352.674.2080 / 8575 NE 138th Lane Suite 203, Lady Lake

Julie Howard APRN FNP-C

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. They also say you can tell a lot from a photo. Yes, the three advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) pictured here are as friendly and caring as they appear on this page. Julie Howard, Erica Harden, and Jocelyn Eslinger are proud employees of Village Heart and Vein Center, a practice that has gained a stellar reputation for providing comprehensive cardiac and vascular care. Simply put, when it comes to helping patients with cardiac problems, their hearts are in the right place. Julie, Erica, and Jocelyn embody and embrace the role of compassion in health care by going above and beyond to make patients feel more comfortable when they’re in pain, feeling ill, or simply afraid of the unknown. Their reassuring presence makes medical treatment more bearable for patients—whether they’re undergoing a simple diagnostic test or a procedure to treat a blockage. Their patientcentered approach helps improve outcomes. The designation of APRN means all three women earned a master’s degree in nursing. They each possess vast knowledge, stay abreast of the latest cardiology trends, and provide appropriate care for each patient’s individual needs. Julie, Erica, and Jocelyn all enjoy working for a practice that fosters an environment of professionalism and teamwork. Village Heart and Vein Center, which was opened in 2011 by Dr. Georg Couturier, offers a full complement of services the address the wide range of patient needs—from cardiology and heart failure management to vascular disease and electrophysiology. At Village Heart and Vein Center, a team of physicians, physician’s assistants, and APRNs possess the skill and knowledge to ensure any cardiovascular or peripheral artery disease problem is thoroughly examined, completely understood, and successfully addressed.


Sandy Merkel Owner

Jenny Murin Custom Handmade Pottery

Gwen Hertz Merilee Tutcik

Wire Wrapped Jewelry

Kathy Sage Acrylic Pop Art

Mosaics and Abstract Art

GILDED MATILDA'S Artists Merilee Tutcik, Gwen Hertz, Kathy Sage and Jenny Murin are among 50 artists who make Gilded Matilda’s a fun place to buy an eclectic mix of local art, retail gifts, unique handcrafted home décor, pottery, garden décor, jewelry, and more. Its inspiring atmosphere has made it a local tourist destination too. “Thanks to the fabulous artists that call Gilded Matilda’s home and thousands of customers that have supported Gilded Matilda’s, we are now in our sixth year of operation,” says owner Sandy Merkel. “The

352.476.5531 / 315 N. Main St., Wildwood /

vibe is eclectic and like what you would find on Duval Street in Key West.” “We pride ourselves on being a part of the community and giving back in a variety of different ways,“ says Sandy, who notes Gilded Matilda’s gives to local charities and provides a wide variety of art classes with some not offered at other venues such as needle felting, sea glass and watercolor, charcuterie board resin, steampunk mixed media, and more. To learn about all the art classes and register, check


Tracy M. Belton CFP®, CDFATM

Megan Conger JD, AAMS®

BELTON FINANCIAL GROUP OF RAYMOND JAMES 352.253.5244 / 531 W. Main St., Tavares / /

With 39 years in the industry under her belt, Tracy Belton, a Certified Financial Planner, decided it was time to bring on her partner, Megan Conger. Prior to becoming a financial advisor Megan began her career as an attorney in New York City where she practiced law for five years before returning to Lake County to join Tracy at Belton Financial Group. “I was happy to have the opportunity to partner with Tracy. There’s a lot of overlap between law and finance so we’re excited that my legal background adds value to our client experience and offers another side of financial advice,” Megan says. The all-female, dog-friendly office is a place where the team wants their clients to feel welcome. “We love taking care of our clients. We’re very protective of them and treat them like family,” Tracy says. “It’s like having five women who really care that mom and dad are OK if something happens to one of them.” The goal at Belton Financial Group is to help their clients achieve the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of by creating wealth through comprehensive financial planning, specifically tailored to meet each client’s unique needs. Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.


Dawn Bush, a local realtor and multi-million-dollar producer with Berkshire Hathaway in Mount Dora, added weddings to her repertoire in 2020. Her new area of expertise goes hand-in-hand with the opening of The Barn at Southern Oaks, a oneof-a-kind rustic, but elegant 4,080 square-foot, fully air-conditioned wedding venue in Umatilla. The beautiful white barn was a true labor of love built by Dawn’s husband of 30 years and their two sons bringing her vision to life. The venue can accommodate up to 175 guests for wedding receptions and other events

including bridal and baby showers, 50th wedding anniversaries and more. It sits on 21.5 acres of land, lushly landscaped by beautiful oak trees perfect for wedding ceremonies, that also houses a fully furnished bridal suite, and a unique silo bar on the outside patio to enhance the experience. “I wanted to offer something that was affordable and elegant, so that our community and our young people could have a beautiful local place to get married,” Dawn says. “The whole thing is a true representation of a family vision brought to life.”

DAWN BUSH Owner / The Barn at Southern Oaks

352.800.1409 / 40410 Le Grande Street, Umatilla /


Kristin Jamieson loves taking the stress out of buying a home. As a local mortgage lender, she works with clients face-to-face, eliminating both uncertainty and those dreaded customer service lines manned by voiceactivated computers. Kristin, branch manager of The Kristin Jamieson Mortgage Team, lives and works in Montverde. In 2021, she helped 546 families in Lake and Sumter counties buy or refinance their mortgages. “I enjoy helping families through their biggest financial decision of their lives,” Kristin says. “Most people only buy a home two or three times in their lives. I enjoy being a source of information for them. Because I live locally, I have a good understanding of property values and the local economy.” Kristin has resided in Montverde for eight years. “We under promise and overdeliver,” she says. “We’re the highest-reviewed lender in the area. Where we excel is outstanding communication to all parties in the transaction.”

Kristin Jamieson NMLS #1097663

THE KRISTIN JAMIESON MORTGAGE TEAM Powered by Success Mortgage Partners, Inc | NMLS # 130562 16903 Lakeside Drive Suite 1, Montverde /



“We like to ensure people really have something that one, we hope they never have to learn the value of because it means they’re healthy, and two, that if needed, it’s in place.” Mid Florida Agencies, the Local Florida Blue Agency 352.259.0666 11962 CR 101, #303, The Villages

Robin Gump says her biggest worry is that sometimes people don’t know what they need until they need it, and by waiting until then, it may be too late. That’s why Robin - owner of Mid Florida agencies, the local Florida Blue agency that covers The Villages, and all of Central Florida, including Eustis, Belleview, Ocala, Leesburg and more – takes great care when it comes to determining what type of health and/or life insurance is best suited for a client and tailoring a plan to fit individual needs and budgets. She says the best thing a person can do for themselves is ensure they have proper coverage for any scenario before the time comes to activate it, and that’s exactly where her team comes in. “We like to ensure people really have something that one, we hope they never have to learn the value of because it means they’re healthy, and two, that if needed, it’s in place.”

“Our job is to know the laws and the rules regarding the ACA because it’s based on income now, not your assets,” She adds. Explaining that she and every one of her agents are local, so they know the community, the doctors, the networks, etc. Robin's agents are trained year-round to remain educated on the latest laws and updates regarding the industry. Additionally, people can be certain that as clients of Mid Florida Agencies, a family-run office, they are treated as one of their own, and never looked at with dollar signs in mind. “My passion is getting the right plan in place for every individual,” says Robin. “And the motto I live by, and what I always tell my agents, is that we take care of and do what is best for the client and commissions will take care of themselves. Word of mouth is everything.


Leigh Ann Berry Owner

Mckenzie Berry Sales Associate

PROMINENT FOX BOUTIQUE U.S. Hwy. 301, The Preston Place in Oxford /

After opening Prominent Fox Boutique in Oxford in 2017, Leigh Ann Berry spent several years helping women feel empowered and confident with her impressive selection of stylish clothing and accessories. Unfortunately, the coronavirus forced her to close that store in 2020 and temporarily relocate to downtown Leesburg. But now, Leigh Ann, a lifelong Oxford resident, is happy to announce she’s opening another location inside The Preston Place in Oxford. Her daughter, Mckenzie, 18, will work alongside her. “Having Mckenzie will help me offer clothing that the younger generation wants while still satisfying the clothing styles of my generation,” Leigh Ann says. “We’ll have men’s clothing, women’s clothing, and children’s clothing.” Leigh Ann is excited to open another store in Oxford, where she has developed many meaningful friendships throughout the years. “I love making women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin,” she says. “It’s my daily prayer that Jesus shines through me every day and that others can see Him through me.”


Dr. Heather Bigard was unanimously chosen as the seventh president of Lake-Sumter State College, and she’s making history as the first female to hold the position. “I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the College,” says Dr. Bigard, who has been at LSSC since 2016. As president, she wants to increase access to higher education for all adult students to have equal opportunities for success, including underserved populations, such as first-generation college students. “We look at our work as the bridge to the future. Students come to us with a future in mind and we’re here to get them started,” says Dr. Bigard. “Sometimes we are a destination and sometimes we are a launching point.” LSSC is now in its 60th year of providing higher education in Lake and Sumter Counties. Over the years, donors to the LSSC Foundation have helped countless students pursue their education. “Last year we gave out almost $1 million in scholarships and we couldn’t do that without the support of our local community.”

DR. HEATHER BIGARD Incoming President / Lake-Sumter State College 352.787.3747 / 9501 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg /


Having spent almost 10 years as a dental assistant, Jessica Tewksbury knows what it is like to protect the well-being of patients. Now, Jessica is offering that same degree of protection to medical practices of all kinds. Today, Jessica is a key part in the Healthcare Division at Merrill Insurance who specializes in Risk Management in the medical field. By providing policies for Professional Liability, Commercial Property, General Liability, Life Insurance, and more, she allows physicians to focus on their work and not have to worry about protecting their assets and livelihood. “My job is to protect your medical practice as if it were my own practice,” she says. “I’m an insurance partner rather than your agent.” Jessica is equally proud to work for a wellestablished company like Merrill Insurance, an independent agency that has served the community since 1925. “I’m fortunate to work with a fantastic group of people,” she says. “We all take pride being a significate part of our community for so many years.”


Commercial Agent / Merrill Insurance

352.589.5200 / 1520 S. Bay St., Eustis /


Want to achieve a beautiful, natural glow in the comfort of your own home? Then simply call SPRAY Mobile Tanning, which is owned by Lindsey Mallory. Lindsey comes to your home and performs airbursh tanning, a safe alternative from the sun’s harmful UV rays and ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds. “This is the safest way to tan,” says Lindsey, a 2009 graduate of Leesburg High School. “I specialize in quality spray tans.” Lindsey has expanded her company to serve Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, Oxford, Mississippi, and Jacksonville, Florida. She also teaches certification courses to ensure every artist has the skills and confidence to build a safe and profitable spray tanning business. “I love bringing out the inner glow in people,” Lindsey says. “Spray tanning provides an instant confidence boost. I tell people I’m a hot mess but their spray tan won’t be!”


Owner / SPRAY Mobile Tanning

Type “SPRAY Mobile Tanning” to visit her Instagram and Facebook pages /


Dale Odom and Cindy Newman are passionate about helping clients find and sell homes. They have something else in common. They’re the top-producing real estate agents in Micki Blackburn Realty’s Sumter County office. Dale, who serves as both a Realtor and office manager of the company, has been with Micki Blackburn Realty for 22 years. She is a consistent multi-million dollar producer. “Dale treats real estate as a full-time job rather than a part-time job,” says Micki Blackburn, owner of the company. “She works long hours and loves what she does for a career.” Cindy became a Realtor six years ago after working for an accounting office. She is also a multi-million dollar producer. “At first, Cindy didn’t want to leave the accounting industry, but now she tells me the best move she has ever made is getting into real estate,” Micki says. “She just wishes she had made the career change earlier.”

Dale Odom Cindy Newman

MICKI BLACKBURN REALTY 352.793.8084 / 211 N. Market Blvd. Webster /


After Amanda Nethero helped a friend with business marketing, she became sought after by more small business owners and nonprofit groups seeking her expertise. Her company, New Heights Communication, is now a booming business, and Amanda enjoys helping others with their public relations, social media, email marketing, and event planning. “Let us take your business to new heights” is her company’s tagline. “For some, social media and email marketing is not their wheelhouse, so that’s when I come in. They appreciate that it’s taken off their plate so that they can focus on their business,” says Amanda, noting social media marketing is the most in demand. “With social media, if you’re not out in front, you do get lost,” says Amanda, who delights in seeing businesses blossom because of New Heights Communication. “I love seeing the transformation and watching the growth,” she says. They’re thrilled that people are on their page, transferring over to their website, and that they are getting phone calls and emails.”

AMANDA NETHERO Owner / New Heights Communication

407.433.6048 / /



352.633.0703 / 9580 U.S. 301 Wildwood /

Women desire to feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside. Dr. Uzoma K. Nwaubani helps them achieve both. In February 2020, she opened NUWA WORLD, the only practice in Wildwood with a fellowshiptrained urogynecologist. Though she specializes in gynecology, urology, and pelvic reconstructive surgery, Dr. Nwaubani also offers aesthetic services such as weight management, body sculpting, vaginal revitalization, skin tightening, and muscle strengthening. “We’re a women’s center that is dedicated to the total health of women,” she says. “Women can come here and talk about their problems without being judged, and they feel that people are really listening to them. I see myself in these women because most of the problems they come in to have treated I’ve gone through myself.” NUWA WORLD is a solo practice, allowing Dr. Nwaubani to deliver personal care with a personal approach that is difficult to find in large group practices. “I fix a woman’s most intimate parts and help them feel good about themselves,” she says. “At my practice, we celebrate each woman’s uniqueness.”


Renee Springstead is a Wealth Advisor at Fross and Fross Wealth Management. Many residents in and around The Villages rely on her to manage their assets while they enjoy their retirement dreams. In establishing a relationship with her, widows are not overwhelmed by financial matters following the death of a spouse. “I work with a diverse group of people,” she says. “I love working with new retirees and helping them develop a financial plan so they can enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle with the money they accumulated.” To simply say, Renee enjoys her relationships with clients is an understatement. She embodies the company’s motto of “Friends and Family Investing in Life Together.” In 2020, she formed a group called “Tea-Time with Renee” for her female clients. The group meets quarterly to not only learn about finances but also to engage in fun activities like wine tasting and making chocolate. To quote Renee, “When you go into work each day and live that motto, it’s extremely rewarding”. Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.

RENEE SPRINGSTEAD Wealth Advisor / Fross & Fross Wealth Management

352.205.7800 / 910 Old Camp Road Suite 90, The Villages /


KARA SPARKS Owner, Laru’e Kay Salon & Boutique 352.508.9542 / 252-A N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora

Co-owner/CEO of Central Florida Roof Rescue, LLC 352.346.8919 / Mount Dora

Kara Sparks is the epitome of a woman who does it all. She is a wife and mother of three, a long-time hairstylist, and a business owner of not just one company, but two. As co-owner of Central Florida Roof Rescue, she oversees and manages the entire company alongside her husband, Mike. Their Veteran-owned company continues to grow with her, while Mike serves our country as he is needed. Additionally, Kara, a hair stylist for 15 years, recently closed her former salon on 441, and in March, opened the doors to Laru’e Kay Salon & Boutique in the heart of downtown Mount Dora. The beautiful storefront serves as a hair salon for established customers, and as a fashion boutique with something for everyone, including everyday clothing, athleisurewear, jewelry, and accessories for men, children and women of all ages and sizes. Kara says the merchandise she carries is fun, comfortable, trendy, affordable and meant to complement everyone’s inner beauty. “I really wanted a place where anyone can come shop, find something they like, and leave feeling happy and great about themselves,” Kara adds.


As a restaurateur, Mary Cutlip knows she’s doing something right when vacationers to Florida make a special visit to her restaurant. “I get quite a few out-of-state customers because seasonal residents go back to their home state and tell their family members and friends to come here,” she says. She opened Mary’s Kountry Kitchen in Tavares 15 years ago. Her restaurant has received prestigious honors, including being named “Best Diner” in Lake and Sumter Style Magazine’s “Best of the Best” competition and The Orlando Sentinel’s “Foodie Awards.” Her handmade Black Angus Beef burgers are to die for, and she spends 40 hours a week meticulously preparing desserts such as coconut cream pie, blueberry pie, and chocolate cake. Customers also rave about fried chicken night on Thursdays, as well as fish fry and prime rib night on Fridays. “I love my customers, and they become family,” she says. “I love that they can come here, be comfortable, and make good memories.”

MARY CUTLIP Owner / Mary’s Kountry Kitchen

15945 County Road 448, Tavares /


When Liz Cornell opened TB Financial Group in 2013, her goal was to create a new industry standard by offering transparency. For her, transparency means educating clients throughout the entire financial planning process. Now, she hopes to create a higher standard for elected officials. Liz recently filed to run for the Florida House District 25 seat. It’s an opportunity to better serve Lake County, a place that’s near and dear to her heart. Liz is a lifelong Lake County resident and 2005 graduate of Leesburg High School. “I love the community because it has done so much for me personally and professionally,” she says. As a state representative, one of her top priorities would be creating business growth and attracting more companies from the financial services industry to the area. “Kids grow up here and want to leave because opportunities are limited,” she says. “I want to create more opportunities not only for them but also graduates from the University of Florida and University of Central Florida. This will help drive Lake County’s economic and employment growth.”



LIZ CORNELL Owner / TB Financial Group

352.350.1161 / 3261 U.S. Hwy. 441 Fruitland Park /


Annmarie Trent Processor

Melanie Hicks

Jennifer Larsen Closing Agent

Post Closer

Brokers Title of Leesburg has been handling real estate closings since 1999. During real estate transactions, they help Buyers and Sellers through one of the most stressful times in their lives. Brokers Title has a combined experience of 70 years, and partnerships with many Realtors and Real Estate Professionals. “People are usually so excited about buying a house. It’s very infectious,” says Jennifer, who is in her 10th year with the company. “To me, this is the best job I could possibly do.

Ninety percent of the people are so happy when they come to the closing. I get to be there with them when they’re signing away.” Brokers Title of Leesburg has the experience to make the closings go smoothly. The all-female company is led by Dawna Hosier as Managing Member. “We are proud to be a family-oriented office,” says Jennifer. Not pictured: Dawna Hosier, Managing Member Bonnie Rackley, Policy and Recording Manager

BROKERS TITLE OF LEESBURG 352.728.6707 / 9800 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg /


FLORIDA RETINA INSTITUTE Locations in Mount Dora, Lady Lake, and Clermont /

There’s a reason why Dr. Jaya Kumar wakes up each day excited to go to work. She has the privilege of helping people improve their vision. As a Vitreo-Retinal surgeon, Dr. Jaya Kumar is a highly trained physician who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation and medical or surgical treatment of diseases affecting the back of the eye. “It’s rewarding to help patients achieve functional independence,” Dr. Kumar says. “This is a challenging profession but also a very rewarding one.” Dr. Kumar completed a four-year ophthalmology residency at Duke University and a two-year fellowship in Vitreo-Retinal surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She has been practicing at Florida Retina Institute for four years. “Vision loss can be frustrating, that’s why our patients are very grateful for the level of care we provide them. Being able to see better can be lifechanging for them.”




252 A Donnelly Street, Mount Dora, FL @laruekay_boutique | | 352.508.9542

A Better Approach to

Melanoma PA I D




ore than 59,000 people worldwide die each year from metastatic malignant melanoma. For almost half a century, this aggressive disease has been resistant to radiation. However, research led by Dr. Norman Anderson at the Robert Boisonneault Oncology Institute has shown that giving frequent, very low radiation doses can eliminate all signs of the disease, reduce side effects significantly, and extend patient survival, for a small fraction of the cost of other treatments. More than 20 years ago, Anderson had successfully treated a man whose metastatic melanoma had produced 23 brain lesions. Today that man remains cancer-free, with no adverse radiation effects. That discovery led to a study with 19 patients, whose melanomas together had metastasized to the brain, other areas of the head, neck, lung, abdomen, liver,

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pelvis, and extremities, along with lymph nodes. They had all exhausted their other treatment options. Each patient received twice-daily, low-dose radiation, and all experienced complete remission. In addition, the repeated radiation may have led to an immune response that eliminated tumors outside the treatment area. “The use of twice-daily treatment for malignant melanoma is a radical change from what is considered ‘state of the art,’” Anderson says. He adds that their improved survival is significant, especially without the use of immune or targeted therapy. “The occurrence of further disease elsewhere over time is markedly diminished, if not eliminated, now approaching and beyond 10 years for some patients.” Dr. Anderson adds that further study may determine whether immunotherapy, combined with this approach, can lead to a cure. Call RBOI to learn more.

by the numbers

106,110 Estimated melanoma cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021

Moles: Benign, or Melanoma? When examining moles, use the ABCDE rule: A=Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other. B=Border: Edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

Skin Cancer: Know the Signs The marks on our skin change over time, from aging or from seasonal variation, but also from skin cancer. How can you tell when you should see your doctor? Learn your skin patterns. Skin self-exams work best in a well-lit room before a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror for hard-to-see places like the backs of your thighs. Examine all areas, including your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and back. Changes in how your skin looks or feels could be a cancer warning sign. Signs include skin that is red, swollen, scaly, or crusty, that feels itchy, tender, or painful, or that is oozing and bleeding. Key warning signs for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas include a new growth, a spot or bump that grows larger, or a sore that doesn’t heal within a few weeks. Key warning signs for melanomas also include mole changes. Tell your doctor if something doesn’t look right.

2.3% Lifetime risk of developing melanoma of the skin


C=Color: Color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or may have patches of pink, red, white, or blue. D=Diameter: Spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about pencil eraser width). E=Evolving: The mole’s size, shape, or color changes. Also check to see if a spot looks different from all the other spots on your skin. If you see something that doesn’t look right or that causes you concern, tell your doctor.

3 million The estimated number of non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year

Patient-centered radiation oncology close to home

93.3% 5-year survival rate among all people with melanoma of the skin, from the time of initial diagnosis

The Villages 352.259.2200 Ocala 352.732.0277 Timber Ridge 352.861.2400 Inverness 352.726.3400 Lecanto 352.527.0106

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healthy living MIND. BODY. SPIRIT.

When it comes to raising money for charitable causes, avid cycling enthusiast Tracy Draper has no qualms about going for a spin.

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A path to kindness A local woman introduces a fresh spin on raising scholarship money. STORY: JAMES COMBS


ustis resident Tracy Draper knows how to peddle—or, in her case, pedal—goodwill. In 2014, the avid cycling enthusiast completed a 35-day, 3,059-mile bicycle ride from Malibu, California to Amelia Island, Florida. She raised more than $15,000 for Hope for Warriors, a nonprofit organization that assists veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds during war. It was a grueling but rewarding ride. And Tracy learned a valuable lesson: When there’s a wheel, there’s a way. That’s why Tracy was undeterred when, in December, her husband encouraged her to organize a riding event to raise scholarship money for students attending Lake Technical College. Though she only had a little more than two months to plan, the Mount Dora LIVE IT Ride, held March 5, was a success. The event attracted 222 cyclists from as far away as California and Canada who experienced the county’s scenic roads and geographical features such as Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in peninsular Florida. More than $10,000 was raised in scholarship money. “I’m proud to raise money for Lake Technical College because the school helps launch students into successful careers,” Tracy says. “Plus, there’s a growing need to have more skilled workers in the workplace.” During the event, cyclists had their choice of embarking on

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration?

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a 19-mile scavenger hunt or longer rides of 30 and 65 miles. The ride started at Gilbert Park in Mount Dora and took participants to Wooton Park in Tavares, where they were treated to sweet potatoes with sea salt, peanut butter banana wraps, and frozen grapes. She plans to organize another Mount Dora LIVE IT Ride event in 2023. “It’s a special feeling to see people of all backgrounds come together for a common cause and have lots of fun,” Tracy says. Tracy remains an avid cyclist despite experiencing several medical issues. In 2015, she underwent knee surgery and then two weeks later suffered a stroke. Doctors implanted a device to close the two holes in her heart that triggered the stroke. In 2017, she had bunion surgery on her left foot. She also suffers from stenosis and bone spurs in her spine. Despite those ailments, Tracy rode nearly 11,000 miles in 2021, a personal best. She competed in challenging races such as the Triple Bypass in Colorado, which takes riders through the Rocky Mountains, and the Cheaha Challenge in Alabama, featuring 9,714 feet of climbing. “It’s hard to describe the thrill of bicycling,” she says. “The wind in your face and the sweat dripping down your arms bring such an enjoyable rush.”

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310 Market St., Leesburg | Phone: 352.315.0050 | Fax: 352.315.0059 | HHA299992424


Hope for the hopeless Three victim advocates for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office assist crime victims by providing them with empathy and respect, current and timely information, and ongoing support and assistance. STORY: JAMES COMBS

loody noses. Hurtful words. Controlling behavior. For Jessi Laytart, those are painful reminders of spending four years with an abusive boyfriend. Her rocky relationship came to a head one night in 2016. After a heated argument, Jessi’s boyfriend ran her over with his car, leaving her hospitalized for several weeks. Fortunately for Jessi, someone whom she refers to as an “angel” came to her rescue. That angel was Sharon Howard, who at the time was a victim advocate with the Citrus County Sheriff ’s Office. Sharon helped Jessi get admitted into a shelter for abused women. She stood by Jessi’s side during court proceedings. She helped her cope with the emotional devastation resulting from years of abuse. “She really saved my life,” Jessi says.

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Once she got her life back in order, Jessi paid those good deeds forward. She spent two years as a house manager for a homeless women’s shelter.


“Doing that was very rewarding,” Jessi says. “I taught women how to thrive rather than just survive.” In the aftermath of a violent or criminal offense, victims are forced to cope with physical pain, psychological trauma, financial loss, and a criminal justice system that is confusing and overwhelming. Victim advocates like Sharon help alleviate those burdens. Today, Sharon is victim services manager for the Sumter County Sheriff ’s Office’s victim advocate program. Sharon, along with Ashley Martinez and Susan Cook, who are also victim advocates for the program, provide crisis intervention, emotional support, and information about available resources while also helping crime victims navigate the legal system. Each is passionate about supporting society’s most vulnerable people. And they enjoy providing crime victims with the necessary tools to help them recover.


“We see people on the worst day of their lives,” Sharon says. “We talk to them for months or years and follow them through the criminal justice system. Watching them as they build resilience and strength makes this job so rewarding.” Sharon, who has nine years of experience as a victim advocate, and Susan, who became a victim advocate six months ago, operate out of the Sumter County Public Safety Center in Wildwood. Ashley, a victim advocate for four years,

Ashley Martinez, Susan Cook, and Sharon Howard

works from the Sumter County Sheriff ’s Office in Bushnell. Each underwent a 40-hour victim services practitioner designation training course. However, knowledge is only one component of being a successful victim advocate. It takes a big heart and sincere compassion to stand by people in their worst moments. “Being a victim advocate is more about personality and who you are as a person versus knowledge,” Sharon says. “Anybody

can learn what we do as far as victim rights and what Florida statues says about victim rights, but it’s really about having a caring attitude and desire to help people.” They work with victims of all crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, homicide, property crime, child molestation, robbery, battery, and elderly abuse. Their role as victim advocates comes with a tremendously varied job description. A day’s work may consist of reading incident reports, making referrals


to counselors, and informing victims about services they can access for shelter, food, transportation, and financial assistance. They also help people apply for victim compensation, which is offered through the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Injured crime victims may be eligible for financial assistance for medical care, lost income, and mental health services. Similarly, financial assistance is offered to seniors over 60 who are victims of property crime. “One of the things I love about the victim services compensation program is that it provides a lot for seniors,” Susan says. “If seniors are a victim of a property crime—like having a lawnmower stolen—it could impact them financially because they might be on a fixed income. The victim compensation program can help them get their lawnmower replaced. I have a father who lives in The Villages, so it’s nice knowing seniors are being taken care of.” Of course, the job comes with emotional stress. As victim advocates, they are exposed to trauma through the stories of the survivors they help—whether those stories are heard in person or over the phone. They are also on call 24 hours a day to provide immediate assistance to deputies. As a result, they may be called to the scene where a homicide or sexual assault occurred. Other times, they may go to a home where a child drowned or drive to


the site of a fatal traffic accident. They must maintain mental resilience while de-escalating the situation and providing emotional stabilization to the victim’s family and friends. “Homicides involving children are definitely stressful,” Sharon says. “By the time we arrive, family members and friends of the victims are already there. People ask me, ‘What do you say to someone in that situation?’ The most important thing is we don’t say anything. We listen and validate how they’re feeling. We also provide them information on

what happens next because many people are not familiar with the criminal justice system. That immediately gives them a little peace.” Providing that sense of peace helps them overcome emotions from witnessing horrific actions perpetuated against crime victims. “The job can be tough, but it’s all worth it when we guide them through the process and make sure they have services and information available so they can build strength to carry on,” Ashley says. “We know our work is worth it when they send us pictures and cards or drop off baked goods. Sometimes, we receive random phone calls months or years later to thank us.” There are moments when Sharon, Susan, and Ashley lean on each other for support. They spend time together outside of work enjoying lunch, swimming at local pools, or having pedicures together. “We support each other by talking things out and sometimes crying together,” Susan says. “We also have peer support with deputies because they have to see the same things we do. But at the end of the day, we all try not to focus on what happened but how we can help crime victims and what we can do for them. After all, that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we love doing.” For them, it’s a job that makes a difference—and changes lives—every day.









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Juanita’s Tacos, a food truck company, has been on a roll with its tasty and flavorful Mexican food.

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A MOVEABLE MEXICAN FEAST Owner of Juanita’s Tacos in Summerfield perseveres to be an inspiration to her daughters, proves food trucks have class to boot. STORY AND PHOTOS: CINDY PETERSON

uanita’s Tacos in Summerfield may not look like a big deal, but don’t let it fool you. This family-run food truck is bursting with authentic Mexican flavors and prides itself in having fresh and innovative food options on the go. “My mom grew up around Mexico City which is where all the flavors of Mexico come together,” says Laura Lopez, Juanita’s daughter. “A lot of her inspiration comes from there. There is an immense amount of variety which is what we want to bring to our food truck. It’s a fusion of all the flavors, smells and spices.”


Juanita Aguirre was born in Michoacán, Mexico and grew up cooking with her family. She married and had her first daughter, Laura. Around 1997, her husband traveled to America, The Villages to be exact, to see if he could find work and establish a better life here. When Laura was only one, Juanita joined her husband, leaving behind her family and her country. “It was very difficult to leave my country and family, but we wanted to find better opportunities,” Juanita says. “I wanted a better life for my daughter.” When the family first immigrated to The Villages, Juanita worked as a housekeeper, cleaning homes for various families. However, she was injured when she fell through an

Juanita Aguirre



corn tortillas


cups shredded beef (birria) prepared


cup shredded mozzarella cheese


cup birria broth (shredded beef broth)


cup chopped onion


attic roof, causing a compression fracture in her lower back. “She couldn’t walk for quite a while and unfortunately the owners disregarded the issue and didn’t help her out with any medical,” Laura says. “She could have given up, but she didn’t. She could have just sat at home and cried about the situation, but she got herself back up and went back to work.” FINDING HER PASSION IN FOOD

After her accident, Juanita was looking for other ways to provide for her family. The Villages at the time was doing a lot of construction and Juanita met a group of five construction workers who asked her to make some authentic Mexican food and they would buy it from her. “They said, ‘if we like it, we’ll give you a call,’” Juanita says. “Well, they liked

it and I got a call to sell food to their entire company.” Juanita would prepare the food in containers and sell it from the back of her car, soon becoming very popular among the construction sites. She began saving her money until she was able to purchase a small truck with a food storage service bin on the back. Business was booming and she finally had enough to purchase her very own food truck. “I wanted to build up my own business to help provide for my family,” Juanita says. “They are what motivate me to keep going.” PUSHING THROUGH HARDSHIP

While moving the business into a food truck was Juanita’s dream, she says it was basically like starting over from scratch. “With the food truck, we had a stationary location because there are more

Chopped cilantro for topping


Dip corn tortillas into the birria broth and place on a warm grill or skillet to give it a slight crunch. Fill the top with a handful of mozzarella cheese and let it melt. Add desired amount of shredded beef (birria). Top with onion and cilantro then fold over tortilla with a spatula and serve with a side of birria broth for dipping.


Get a high-quality beef round and cut into 2 to 3- inch squares. Marinate the squares in a blended sauce of chile guajillo, garlic, salt, and other preferred seasonings for 4 hours. Transfer to a large pot and slow boil for 3 hours. The broth is built from this cooking process and is used in making the quesa tacos. Shred the beef with two forks when fully cooked.

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Laura Lopez, Juanita Aguirre, and Leslie Lopez

rules about where you can set up,” Juanita says. “We lost most of our customer base that we had built up over the years because they didn’t know where to find us. It was very discouraging. Our worst day we made $50 the entire day.” Juanita made the decision to leave The Villages and try her luck near the Market of Marion, which didn’t pan out either. However, they crossed paths with the owners of DJ & Gina’s Lounge in Summerfield, who offered them a spot near their lot. “We’ve been here for six years now, and they have been so good to us,” Laura says. “We’ve worked hard to build our customer base back and people have really responded. We get a lot of people from Texas and California excited because they finally found authentic Mexican food and not Tex-Mex.” AN INSPIRING LEGACY

Laura and Leslie have watched their mother work hard and achieve her goals even when life got tough. When the pandemic hit and the food truck had to be shut down for several months, Juanita reinvented herself yet again and began making custom cakes out of her home. “She is such an inspiration to me,” Leslie says. “Seeing how hard she works motivates me to work hard. When I

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don’t feel like working, I have no excuse because she works through pain and hardship to get stuff done. I’m now starting my own business as a result.” Laura has also seen first-hand how her mother has persevered.



large ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and cut into half-inch pieces or use frozen mango chunks



cup sugar


cups of ice Tajin seasoning Chamoy sauce Tamarind candy for serving


Blend the mangos, ice and sugar in a blender. Add more sugar to taste for a sweeter drink. Pour some of the blend into a cup, layer with a little chamoy sauce, add more mango blend then more chamoy sauce and so on until the cup is full. Top the drink with tajin seasoning and tamarind candy and serve chilled.

H UA R AC H E and let warm. Remove from skillet and top with lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, and sour cream.


Elongated thick corn tortilla 12


cup mozzarella cheese



cup refried beans




cup seasoned pork (pastor) or choice of meat



cup shredded lettuce


cup diced tomato

Marinate choice pork in a mix of chile guajillo, garlic, pepper, salt, apple cider vinegar, cumin and achiote for 10 hours. Once fully marinated, transfer to a pot and cook thoroughly, about 30 minutes.


Half an avocado, sliced 1

tbsp diced onion


Drizzle of sour cream


Place tortilla on a warm skillet and top with mozzarella cheese. Allow to melt. Add refried beans and choice of meat

“I’ve watched my mom over the years really grow, even as an adult, and continue to reinvent herself despite her ailments,” Laura says. “She continues to push her boundaries and really shows us that there is a new level to reach for yourself every day.” ALL ABOUT THE FLAVOR

Juanita loves incorporating new flavors and dishes to the menu to reflect the fusion of Mexican cuisine from her home country. One of the most popular items on the menu are the handmade tacos and quesa tacos. “We hand make all our corn tortillas which makes them more authentic,” Juanita says. “Our quesa tacos are a new item and people are loving them.” Traditional tacos come with your choice of meat topped with cilantro and onion. The quesa tacos are dipped and grilled in birria broth (shredded beef broth), then topped with mozzarella cheese, shredded beef, onion and cilantro. It also comes with a side of birria for extra dipping goodness. Another popular item is the handmade pork or chicken tamales which are filled with masa corn, filled with choice of meat, and steamed inside corn husk. They also come with a side of their signature, freshly prepared red sauce which is guajillo based. For Juanita, it’s all about simmering the flavors into the meats and making sure everything is fresh. “We drive to Orlando to get the best meats without fat and high quality,” Juanita says. “It’s important to us to not only make it taste good, but to look good too.”

Wash and dry 1 pound of whole dry pinto beans and place into a large pot with water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. When beans are tender, drain. Transfer them to a heated frying pan and mash.

Other menu options include burritos, quesadillas, shredded beef platter, tortas, huaraches, sope, fried pork dinner, nachos and tostadas. Juanita’s specialty is the Juanita Plate, which offers diners a little taste of everything including sautéed chicken, shrimp, steak and pork with a side of rice, beans, salad, and corn tortillas. They also offer specialty smoothies like strawberry, mango strawberry and the mangoneada which is a mango smoothie mixed with chili sauce and chili powder for a sweet and tangy taste. “We are so grateful for this opportunity to be here and for our customer,” Juanita says. “We have been so busy we are now only open Saturday and Sundays and that keeps us going. One day I hope to own my own restaurant, but until then, we are going to keep pushing forward.” IF YOU GO

JUANITA’S TACOS FOOD TRUCK 16535 SE 99th Ave. Summerfield Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. 352.516.5804

Hey, readers! Do you have favorite recipes or know a chef we should profile? Comment on this article or send story ideas to

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GOLD STAR FLAVOR Recently opened Leesburg restaurant offers fresh to order top-notch seafood and other tasty dishes at affordable prices. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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ernell Parker says she has eaten at Five Star Seafood many times since it opened in December 2021. In fact, she’s declared it one of her favorite seafood restaurants in the area, especially when it comes to one dish she swears by. “I order the shrimp rice bowl, but with a piece of grilled tilapia on top. It’s my favorite,” Vernell says. “The food here is so fresh and delicious and seasoned very well. It’s also very fairly priced, and everyone who works here is extremely polite and friendly.” For Five Star Seafood’s owners Marwen Chalghoumi and Mohamed Gharsalli, Vernell’s words are exactly why they are so passionate about what they bring to the table. “We feel so proud when we hear such positive things from people about our food, but we don’t ever stop giving it everything we have,” Marwen says, adding that he believes strongly in consistency. “We feel a responsibility to make sure everything is cooked perfectly and tastes good the first time someone comes in, and always after that.” The menu at Five Star Seafood, located at 7609 U.S. Highway 441, includes many seafood options, including fried jumbo shrimp, tilapia, basa or catfish cooked in a variety of ways, oysters, shrimp scampi, scallops, calamari rings, mussels, crab legs, shrimp salad or pasta, and more. Additionally, the restaurant features other dishes including 100% beef burgers and fries, chicken tenders and wings, gyros, fried gizzards, and liver, plus Cuban Sandwiches or Philly cheesesteaks made with steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, or oysters. And, if that’s not enough, there are a wide variety of sides and desserts to choose from as well as fresh squeezed orange juice, smoothies and milk shakes to wash it all down with. Marwen says even though the menu is extensive, what guests can count on at Five Star Seafood is quality. “Everything is cooked to order. We have nothing pre-made and we follow our own in-house recipes so that the taste and flavors are always the best they can be,” says Marwen. “During lunchtime, I’m always in here asking customers if everything is good, talking with them and getting to know people in our community.” While there recently, Style photographer Nicole Hamel and I sampled a few menu items, including very delicious calamari rings with boom-boom sauce, the seafood platter, which consists of a very large portion of fried Basa fish and shrimp served with fries – the pasta Alfredo topped with shrimp and grilled chicken served with a perfectly toasted and buttered roll and corn on the cob, and a steak and grilled chicken rice bowl featuring rice, black beans, sauteed green peppers, onion, and mushrooms.

Diamond Douglas, Amigo, Momen Khalifa, Marwen Chalghoumi, Amin Alla, Sara Benaissa and Shary Griffin

We also tried the Cajun seafood dinner that came with crab legs, mussels, shrimp, corn, and potatoes, and lastly, a beef gyro. Of course, we couldn’t finish all that, but what we did get to eat before getting to the point of no return, was absolutely delicious. “Being from Maine, and therefore, an avid seafood lover, I really enjoyed sampling different ways the shrimp was prepared in various dishes,” Nicole says. “The grilled shrimp in the steak and shrimp rice bowl was my favorite, but my overall favorite dish was the pasta Alfredo topped with chicken and shrimp.” Nicole adds, “I really liked the Calamari rings and the boom boom sauce, as well.” Umatilla’s Cece Wilson, a huge Five Star fan, recalls on her first visit, she ordered a burger to go. She says she took a bite on her car ride home, and after doing so, circled back and ordered another one for later. “It was that good,” Cece says, adding that “they have a real charcoal grill which is why the burgers taste so good, and they have the best cheesecake.” As for experience, Marwen and Mohamed have 40 years in the restaurant business combined. They also own and operate two Sam’s Fish and Chicken restaurants; one on U.S. Highway 27 in Leesburg, and the other in St. Petersburg. Still, Marwen says they decided to open Five Star because of the local demand for high quality, yet affordable seafood. “I feel like this area desperately needs a really good seafood place, so we decided to come here with the best food and service around, but with very reasonable pricing, as compared to other places,” Marwen says. And if that’s not enough, Five Star now has a drive-thru window for added convenience when it comes to take-out, plus they do online orders and delivery using Door Dash, Grub Hub, and other services. “We do our best to make sure our customers are happy and treated well. We are happy in Lake County, we appreciate all the business we get, and are looking forward to more people coming in and giving us a try,” says Marwen.


FIVE STAR SEAFOOD 7609 US-441, Leesburg Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday-Sunday 352.460.0549

Let’s do lunch or dinner Tell us about a great restaurant by emailing


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From classic diners and lakeside restaurants to fine dining and everything in-between, Lake County’s culinary scene is booming. Your favorite meal is sure to be served with a side of hospitality. Denotes locations where you can find Lake & Sumter Style

A S TAT U L A Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940 ASTOR Blackwater Inn 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US SR 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 SR 40 352.759.3551 Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.2802 BUSHNELL Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000 Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877 CLERMONT Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

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Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431

Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118

Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225

Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337

Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565


Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924

Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036

Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688

Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925 El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884 Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818 G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411 Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825

Southern on 8th Kitchen & Bar 801 W. Montrose St. 352.394.7777

Goomba’s Pizzeria 2395 S. Hwy 27 352.989.4403

The Outpouring Coffee 2560 E. Hw.y 50 352.989.4406

Green Mountain Pizza 303 Hwy. 50 352.432.3380

Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295

Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884

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The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939

JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600

Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929

La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910

Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001

Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718



Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575 ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227 Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 Mystic Ice Cream 1217 W. Miller Blvd. 352.812.1366

Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027

NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051

Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255

Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595

Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288

Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028

LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256 Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. CR 44 352.589.9100 Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022 Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949


The Rose Plantation 200 Rose Ave., Fruitland Park 352.805.4340 G R OV E L A N D Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999 Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988 James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050 Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499 Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335 Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill 860 S. Hwy 27/441 352.751.5640 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 LEESBURG Breakfast Station 2229 Citrus Blvd. 352.315.0291 Brooklyn’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020 Coffee Snob 1101 W. North Blvd. 352.460.4570 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442 Donut King 708 S. 14th St. 352.805.4888 El Ranchito Restaurant 911 W. North Blvd. 352.314.9339 Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989

Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177 God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447 Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 CR 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Main Street Cantina 205 W. Main St. 352.435.7279 Mamma Mia Pizza 755 North 14th St. 352.326.0101 Mammoth Oak Brewing Company 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.326.0100 Mrs. T’s Place, Southern Restaurant 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Mystic Ice Cream 314 W. Main St. 352.812.1366 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293 Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680 Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093 San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174 Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Brick & Barrel Public House 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069 The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Wings Ranch Restaurant & Bar 10601 US 441, C12 352.901.6193 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777


Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555

Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313

Chengs Chinese Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678

Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499

The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535

Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

Lake House Bar & Grill 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823

China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965

RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.5272


Barnwood Country Kitchen & Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903

Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675

O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157

Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000

Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939

Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225

Sakura 265 Colony Blvd. 352.205.7393

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327 Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444


J.K. Thai Garden 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.4700

Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500

Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577

Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093

Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911

MINNEOLA Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232

Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 Olive Branch Grille 115 W. 3rd St. 352.729.6734 One Flight Up 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.735.1446 Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669 PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092

The Bavarian Haus 433 N. Alexander St. 352.735.8387 The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 The Pizza Shop 925 E. First Ave. 352.735.3411 Vincent’s Italian Restaurant 5914 Orange Blossom Trl. 352.735.4578

Puddle Jumpers 111 W Ruby St. 352.508.5862 Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829 Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744 Tavares Ice Cream 214 E. Main 352.508.5342 The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585

Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800

Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077 Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500

Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St., Tavares 352.508.5783

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200



Pho Saigon 11707 N. US Hwy. 301 352.492.9423

Amelia’s 1105 Lake Shore Drive 352.750.8265

Legacy Restaurant 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475


Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027

Del Franco’s Pizza 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Lisa’s Kountry Cafe 23911 CR 46 352.735.3380 TAVA R E S Bella Nona Pizzeria 280 Silverado St. 352.508.9370 BTW (Burgers, Tacos & Waffles) 115 E. Main St. 352.508.9287 Fish Camp Lake Eustis 901 Lake Shore Blvd. 352.742.4400 Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137 Kalua Hale Beach Bar 181 S. Joanna Ave. 352.609.5910

Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208 BlueFin Grill & Bar 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.571.5344 Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627

VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887 Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar 3003 Brownwood Blvd. 352.626.1500 U M AT I L L A

Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600 Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824

Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250 Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145 Gators of Umatilla LLC 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293 Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223 Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577 Marco’s Pizza 5806 Seven Mile Dr. Ste. 101 352.571.2400 O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 2468 Burnsed Blvd., 352.626.1059 Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077 Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555

NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994

Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 SR 19 352.669.3922

Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004

The Brick & Barrel Public House



Starving for a delicious meal? Then let The Brick and Barrel Public House satisfy your appetite. Located in beautiful downtown Leesburg, this restaurant never fails to exceed expectations. Customers will be impressed by the diverse menu, which features everything from flatbreads and hand-cut steaks to seafood and fresh salads. In addition to great food, be sure to cozy on up to the bar and enjoy craft beer on tap, handmade cocktails, and wine. Catering is also available. Great food. Great service. Great times. You’ll experience it all at The Brick and Barrel Public House. 209 W. Main St. / 352.431.3069

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Guru Restaurant CLERMONT HILLSIDE TERRACE, 2400 S. U.S. 27, SUITE 101, CLERMONT 352.241.9884 | GURURESTAURANTCLERMONT.COM Owned by Chef Uday Kadam, Guru has a following of fans who savor the delicious, award-winning Indian cuisine inside the restaurant’s beautiful dining room filled with Indian décor and tables with linen tablecloths. Guru earned the prestigious Best Entrée award at the 2021 Taste of South Lake & Business Expo for its Chicken Tikka Masala, featuring boneless chicken pieces cooked in a Tandoor oven with tomato sauce, onion, aromatic herbs, spices, and served with Basmati rice. Guru also has tasty appetizers, Naan breads, vegan dishes, and a wide array of entrees, including Palak Paneer, a dish of homemade cubes of cheese cooked with spinach and fresh spices; Lamb Vindaloo of choice lamb cubes marinated in vinegar with potato and a blend of spices; and Tandoori Chicken Tikka, where the chicken is marinated in mild spices and yogurt. Additionally, Indian alcoholic beverages of Taj Mahal and Kingfisher are served at Guru, and the restaurant caters private functions, parties, and provides many delivery options for orders made online at

La Palma Mexican Grill

Monday through Saturday 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday Noon to 6 p.m.

Open Daily 11am–9pm

1690 CITRUS BLVD., LEESBURG | 352.323.1444 | LAPALMAGRILL.COM The entire staff invites you to a delicious dining experience at La Palma Mexican Grill. The recipes used for the restaurant’s unique dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Mexico, combined with culinary inspirations from California and Louisiana. Homemade Mexican entrees such as Tacos Azteca, carnitas, fajitas, Chori Pollo, tamales and more, are flavorful and prepared with only the freshest of ingredients. Sit comfortably in the beautiful dining room, the festive bar, or outside on the patio deck with a serene view of the grounds and of the fun wild animals that can be spotted in the trees. Enjoy fast and friendly service, reasonable prices, three-for-one margaritas all day, every day, and a party room, available by reservation, for large parties or meetings. Full menu at AK! Call for daily specials. BWWAA

Lunch Specials 11am–3pm

Margarita Mondays! Enjoy $5 margaritas all day every Monday.

’clock It’s five ohere! somew

Marco’s Pizza 5806 SEVEN MILE DRIVE SUITE 101, WILDWOOD 352.571.2400 | MARCOS.COM The most delicious dishes are made with lots of love. That’s certainly the case at Marco’s Pizza, which is owned by business partners Peter Hiles and Roger Mellen. They opened the restaurant last April off County Road 466A in Wildwood and already have plans to open five additional locations. And why not? Everyone loves pizza, but they appreciate a quality pizza much more. At Marco’s Pizza, everything is made daily, including the dough and sauce. In other words, everything is fresh and never frozen. The popular three-cheese blend is another aspect that makes the pizza so satisfying. Marco’s Pizza also offers calzones, specialty pizza bowls, subs, salads, and wings. Expect to always be welcomed by a warm, friendly staff whether you dine inside the restaurant or call for delivery.

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Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Full Gluten-Free Menu

Open Daily 11am-9pm

Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 352.753.2722 | 304 US-441, LADY LAKE Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant in Lady Lake has the distinct honor of calling itself a true family-owned restaurant. In fact, five generations of family members have represented the restaurant since its humble beginnings in May 1962. As many generations of customers have dined there throughout the years thanks to the outstanding service and scrumptious dishes such as Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, Delmonico steak, and lasagna. This food savvy family prepares everything from scratch, crafting everything with love to satisfy your taste buds.

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 U.S HIGHWAY 27, LEESBURG | 352.319.8093 | RODELLOS.COM Chef Amadeo Avila invites you to enjoy authentic and fresh Italian cuisine in a friendly, comfortable dining environment at Rodello’s Italian Restaurant. The recipes used for his dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Italy—the restaurant is named for a city in the old country—with new culinary inspirations that Chef Amadeo has learned during many years in the restaurant business. Flavorful, homemade Italian entrees such as Pistachio Crusted Lamb, Salmon Saltimbocca, Lobster Ravioli, Shrimp Risotto, and many others are classics and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. The lunch menu features personal pizzas, calzones, subs, and pasta. Sit in the spacious dining room or enjoy drinks or desserts like delicious gelato in the cozy lounge, which features a full bar, wine menu, and an array of specialty cocktails. Always look for new features on Chef Amadeo’s menu, available on the restaurant’s website,

Custom-made, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food.

Subway SUBWAY.COM LADY LAKE | 208 W. GUAVA ST. | 352.750.4929 EUSTIS | 469 PLAZA DR. | 352.357.7827 MOUNT DORA | 18870 U.S. HWY. 441 | 352.735.4376 LEESBURG | 2013 CITRUS BLVD. | 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 4 | 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, SUITE 4 | 352.314.8847 THE VILLAGES | 1580 BELLA CRUZ DRIVE | 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165TH MULBERRY LANE | 352.750.9991 1070 LAKE SUMTER LANDING DRIVE | 352.205.8535 349 COLONY BLVD. | 352.391.1657 WILDWOOD | 480 W. GULF TO ALANTIC HWY. | 352.748.8800

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The Ranch 10601 U.S. HIGHWAY 441, LEESBURG | 352.901.6193

Open 7 Days a week: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Wings Ranch restaurant, located at 10601 U.S. Highway 441, in the Publix shopping plaza near Lake Square Mall, is known for its cool western vibe and chicken wings Slavko Grguric has perfected over the years, but there’s more! The menu includes international and unique food selections like Schnitzel and Chevapi, an eastern-European delicacy made from pork and beef, Lobster Bisque, Fish and Chips, specialty burgers, Pork Chops, Ribeye, Prime Rib, Peel and Eat Shrimp, and a variety of from-scratch soups. The Wings Ranch also sports a full bar with happy hour every weekday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and live entertainment Friday and Saturday evenings from 4:30 p.m. to close. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Carry out and dine-in are available. For more information, menu updates, and live entertainment schedules, visit Wings Ranch on Facebook or call 352.901.6193.

Live Entertainment: Friday-Saturday 4:30 p.m. to close

The Rose Plantation

Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

200 ROSE AVE, FRUITLAND PARK | 352.805.4340 THEROSEPLANTATION.COM Enjoy an early 20th Century dining experience at The Rose Plantation, located in a home built in 1917. This charming and delightful restaurant on Fountain Lake serves up outstanding dishes with a side of elegant ambiance, starting with the glass-enclosed garden room and veranda, eclectic china, live piano, fine silverware, linen tablecloths, and the rose garden out front. The chefs are given creative freedom to make memorable dishes such as grilled scallops, half-roasted duck with sweet potato mash, rack of lamb, and crab cakes with cauliflower puree, black bean, corn relish, and key-lime avocado crema. All dishes are upscale in both quality and presentation. Customers can also choose from 140 varietals of wine. The restaurant, which seats 128 guests, includes private dining rooms for small parties. Four additional dining rooms will be added within one year.

Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday Taking reservations from 4:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Would you like to see your restaurant in our dining section? CALL US AT 352.787.4112

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With over 29 years in the local community, Cardiovascular Associates of Lake County is your

Partner for Life

Contac t us dir ectly to see cardiac one of our s assess pecialists to and im prove your ca vascula rdiac and receive r health and the compa personal touch y ssionate o tender u and your heart n eeds.

J. Henry Lesmes, MD, FACC A founding member of CVA in 1992, Dr. Henry Lesmes specializes in Invasive Cardiology and Cardiovascular Disease and holds certifications in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease. He and his team of five cardiologists and three nurse practitioners together strive to provide quality, compassionate patient-centered care as their top priority while introducing cutting-edge procedures to this community. Dr. Lesmes serves as an active board member of the American College of Cardiologists Florida Chapter, ensuring that adequate cardiology services are available in Lake County.

352.742.1171 //

1879 Nightingale Lane, Suites A-1 & C-1, Tavares, FL 32778



A piece of my heart My nest may soon be a lot emptier, but wait, I like the nest full! STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

ach time pregnant, I could not wait to meet my future baby. It was a time of planning, excitement, and daydreaming about what he or she would look like, and how wonderful it would be to hold the precious new life in my arms. I lived that experience three times and after each birth, the joy and love that followed was immeasurable. Just watching each baby grow, learn, and change daily, and witnessing the way it happens with such precision, is truly a miracle. The only thing is that with each milestone, the next one seemed so far away. When they are babies, toddlers, kindergartners, and so on, it is extremely hard to imagine them as teenagers, high schoolers, or oh my God, full-fledged adults. But believe me, and if you are a parent, you know that it’s a mind trick, or maybe a time trick, I don’t know, but those 18 years just sneak up on you. They go so fast, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Personally, this year has been dominated by preparations for the final high school graduation of one of my own. Verifying grades and credits, check. Senior photos, check. Ordering graduation announcements, check. College related decisions, check. Senior

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trip forms, check. Searching for prom and graduation attire, check. Trying to curb senioritis, check. Controlling my motherly emotions, not so much. After all, it’s my tiniest baby, my little curly girlie, who will be walking across the stage to get her diploma. Thinking ahead, this graduation also marks a new milestone for my husband and I because it means one day soon, we’ll actually become empty nesters. Our next chapters without daily interaction with one or more of our children have yet to be written. That’s hard to imagine. So far, our oldest moved out, attended college, secured a job, is married, and has a place of her own. Our middle child, and only son, is still living at home due to the crazy economy, but he is working, attending college, and counting down the days when he can get a place of his own. Our third has a job, she’ll be starting college this fall, and is also staying with us for now, but just how long will that last? Eventually, they’ll all be gone, it’s inevitable, and while part of me is proud of them and kind of looking forward to it, I’m dreading it too. All these years, good and bad days alike, my children, to some capacity, have been part of my daily existence. I know I’ll survive, and it will be fun demanding, I mean, anticipating, a visit from any or all of them, but I also know that each time one of them leaves, they take a piece of my heart with them.


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