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CON’GRAD’ULATIONS!

Retirement planning that makes perfect cents.

FE ATURIN G

PAR EXCELLENCE Mission Inn will host a prestigious golf tournament.

WHAT A LOSER!

How one woman shed 78 pounds.

Meet some of the area’s 2021 high school graduates.


Superior cardiac care from leaders in health. Backed by the experts at UF Health, our cardiac team delivers the superior care you need close to home. As part of the most experienced program in the area, we perform thousands of lifesaving procedures each year, provide a full range of diagnostic services and are consistently recognized as an Accredited Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiology, delivering a proven level of expertise in advanced cardiac care.

Learn more at: TheVillagesHospital.org

Close. Caring. Connected.


THE VILLAGES ®

1560 Santa Barbara Blvd 1950 Laurel Manor Dr, Ste. 142 8485 SE 165th Mulberry Ln Dr. Glick 1501 N US Hwy 441, Ste. 1102

SPE CIALI ZI N G I N

Primary Care Cardiology Vascular Surgery URGENT CARE Nephrology 201 La Grande Blvd, Lady Lake Lab Services OPENING 2021 Brownwood ® Center for Limb Preservation LEESBURG Radiology Services 511 Medical Plaza Drive, Ste. 101 Vascular Access Center Dr. Bello 25010 US Hwy 27, Units G&H 601 E Dixie Ave, Ste. 805 Urgent Care 802 E. Dixie Ave URGENT CARE

27637 US Hwy 27 352.350.5704 fhvhealth.com


At Babette’s, we understand that whether you are shopping for one or two rooms or an entire home, it can be overwhelming. Our talented decorators specialize in making the process simple, working with you every step of the way. Scheduling a design consultation whether in our store or in your home, is the perfect way to begin planning a design vision for your home. Whether you are looking for a custom look or want to start with a pre-designed package, our design process is all about each individual customer and we really personalize it. View our design portfolio and schedule an appointment at

www.MyBabettes.com

(352) 617-6001 8345 US Highway 441, Leesburg 3691 Meggison Rd., The Villages


GET HIP!

LIVE LIFE PAIN FREE, AGAIN. At Advanced Orthopedics Institute we specialize in hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists...and golfers. If you are experiencing hip pain, playing a round of golf, climbing stairs, walking through the grocery store, even driving can be a challenge. Our experience has expanded the boundaries of possibility in joint replacement, providing you with the most effective solutions for your unique needs, so you can get back to doing what you love most. Get moving. Call 352.751.2862.

G E T A-O K W I T H AO I


John T. Williams, Jr., MD

1400 N US Hwy 441, Suite 552 | The Villages, FL 32159 phone 352.751.2862 | fax 855.420.1047 | goaoi.com

Alfred J. Cook, Jr., MD


! ING UC OD R EP OM INC

41846 STATE ROAD 19, UMATILLA, FL 32784 39 Acres with 1500 FT LAKE FRONTAGE, already zoned for Commercial along State Road 19 with Agricultural zoning for the back portion. This property includes: 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath Wood Frame Home built in 1915 with approximately 1,050 SQFT. The value is in the land. Well and Septic are on the property. The electric is connected to the Home. Shop located behind the home for extra storage. $1,395,000 | MLS#G5037483

1104 BECKER AVE, THE VILLAGES, FL 32163 TURNKEY-FURNISHED 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Avondale” Courtyard Villa in THE VILLAGE of PINE RIDGE. This block and stucco CORNER homesite with a TWO-CAR GARAGE and privacy wall is Tenant-Occupied until JUNE 2022. $334,500 | MLS# G5027614

TE IVA PR

4892 NE 123RD LN, OXFORD, FL 34484 GORGEOUS 4 Bedroom, 3.5 Bath corner homesite “Holly” Model in the Family Friendly & Deed Restricted Community of Parkwood. This FRESHLY PAINTED interior & exterior home comes with a PRIVATE backyard with white vinyl fencing, a great place for entertaining! $299,999 | MLS#G5038459

E RS HO

D! DE LU EC S &

14329 SE 170TH ST, WEIRSDALE, FL 32195 10 GORGEOUS ACRES with LOTS of TREES! Build your DREAM HOME in this excellent location close to The Villages, Lake Weir, & Grand Oaks Resort. $175,000 | MLS#G5033687

S! ER AM E DR

4813 CR 103G, OXFORD, FL 34484 MINI FARM homestead boasts a 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath home nestled on 2 ACRES w barn close to The Villages. A PERFECT home for the equine loving family featuring ceramic tile, plus a BRAND NEW upgraded kitchen with Granite Countertops & Stainless Steel Appliances. $470,000 | MLS#G5040432

10110 SE 179TH STREET, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 CHARMING Split 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath “Chestnut” model with a HUGE enclosed lanai located in Spruce Creek South 55+ Gated Golf Community. Home is in immaculate condition and MOVE-IN READY. $164,500 | MLS#G5040431 ! ING LIV RY T UN CO

10135 SE 178TH PLACE, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 LOVELY 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath Move-

In Ready “Pecan” home in Spruce Creek South, a 55+ Active Adult Gated Golf Community. Newer AC, Roof, Water Heater & W/D. $145,000 | MLS#G5040701

15 MALAUKA TRAIL, OCKLAWAHA, FL 32179 LOVELY Split 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath Block & Stucco home located near Lake Weir in Ocklawaha. Offering a GREAT VALUE with a GRAND living room and natural lighting that opens up to a LARGE backyard. $162,500 | MLS#G5040682


ESS SIN BU

Y! NIT TU OR P OP

1540 CR 44A, WILDWOOD, FL 34785 MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE! This TURN-KEY, specialty restaurant offers INCREDIBLE POSSIBILITIES in the bursting area of Wildwood, FL! Harmoniously REZONED to Neighborhood Commercial (NC), comes thoroughly REMODELED from top to bottom, inside and out! This VISIBLE & HIGH TRAFFIC CORNER location offers 1.23 ACRES to ADD-ON. $319,995 | MLS#G50386

Y! AD RE N I VE MO

14626 SE 91ST AVE, SUMMERFIELD, FL 34491 JUST LIKE NEW! Completely updated & remodeled 2 Bedroom, 1.5 bath with Den. Featuring NEW Electrical & Plumbing, Drywall interior, metal roof, with inside laundry and ADA Ramp included. This is a GEM! $113,450 | MLS#G5039880

5031 SE 115TH STREET, BELLEVIEW, FL 34420 ATTENTION INVESTORS! GREAT LOCATION with SIX Beautiful ACRES ZONED R-3 with Retention pond, TOPO and ENGINEERING reports available. Perfect for Multi-Family and close to shopping, restaurants, medical and much more! $344,900 | MLS#G5031672

Sharon Bassett, Owner/Broker 352.307.2925 / BassettPremierRealty.com Spruce Creek Professional Plaza / 10935 SE 177th Place, Suite 201, Summerfield


MAY'21 V.17

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CONTENTS 1 of 2

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FEATURES

076

She means business

The write stuff

Meet Sabrina Ciceri, Lake and Sumter Style’s 2021 Businesswoman of the Year.

As an educator, Melanie Wagner spent decades spreading and cultivating seeds of knowledge. Today, she’s planting in a different way, and her fanbase of readers is growing.

STORY: JAMES COMBS

033 SPECIAL ADVERTISIN G SEC TIO N

The 2021 Business Women of Syle Meet some of Lake and Sumter counties’ most successful women.

STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

084

Hand up instead of handcuffs A program offered by LifeStream Behavioral Center and the Clermont Police Department helps finds adequate treatment for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. STORY: JAMES COMBS

t e e M Covid

090

Par for the course Mission Inn’s popular El Campeon golf course will host the LPGA’s Symetra Tour this month. STORY: JAMES COMBS

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ANNUITIES 101 RESERVE YOUR SEAT TODAY!

352.350.1161 TBFinancialGroup.com

MAY 4TH & 20TH

9:30 a.m. Brownwood Hotel & Spa 3003 Brownwood Blvd., The Villages

*Seating is very limited and by RSVP only TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters.

Elizabeth Cornell

Certified Annuity Specialist®

CEO & Founder


MAY'21 V.17

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CONTENTS 2 of 2

DEPARTMENTS

first

017

THE HIT LIST 018 PERSON OF INTEREST 022 OUTSTANDING STUDENT 024 MY FIRST TIME 026

agenda

022

024

026

117 119

115

TO-DO LIST 116 LOCAL TALENT 119 ATTRACTIONS 120 HI, SOCIETY 122

healthy living

120 136

133

INSPIRATION 134 HEALTHY SPIRIT 136

menu

143

144

134

150

148

IN THE KITCHEN 144 FORK ON THE ROAD 148 SPIRITS 150 DINING GUIDE 152

CON’GRAD’ULATIONS!

columns FROM THE PUBLISHER 014 AT YOUR SERVICE 015 FINAL THOUGHT 172

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Meet some of the area’s 2021 high school graduates.

CON’GRAD’ULATIONS!

Meet some of the area’s 2021 high school graduates.

MAY '21

LAKE & SUMTER

PAR EXCELLENCE

E ON TH R C OV E

172

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 1

Mission Inn will host a prestigious golf tournament.

WHAT A LOSER! How one woman shed 78 pounds.

BUSINESS

Retirement planning that makes perfect cents.

FE ATURIN G

PAR EXCELLENCE Mission Inn will host a prestigious golf tournament.

WHAT A LOSER! T H E S U CC E S S B E H I N D T H I S S P U N K Y E N T R E P R E N EU R .

OF THE YEAR

How one woman shed 78 pounds.

Lake and Sumter Style

Village Edition

Photo: Douglas Tyler Model: Sabrina Ciceri

Photo: Nicole Hamel Model: Liz Cornell and Steve Schneider


CUSTOM CHANGES BENEFIT YOU

AMERICAN FAMILY HOMES

Let’s get started. Call me today.

Mike Neace: 352.589.6004 Award Winning Home Designer, Builder, Licensed Contractor CHANGE IS GOOD

At American Family Homes we believe you deserve your new home, your way. This includes custom changes that make your home personal and special to you. That’s always been part of the American Family Homes experience. Bring us your ideas. Let’s collaborate on style, color and design features to create an energy efficient custom home, within budget, just the way you want it.

KNOW YOUR BUILDER

“Designing and building a custom home is a long process. A thousand decisions need to be made, one just as important as the next. The first decision you need to make is to hire the right builder with the right experience. Don’t underestimate the importance of the relationship with your builder. American Family Homes is Committed to Quality and 100% Satisfaction. We invite your inquiry today.” - Mike Neace

CUSTOM HOMES “ON YOUR LOT” FROM THE $200S OFFICE/DESIGN STUDIO 312 South Bay St. Eustis

“Committed to Quality & Satisfaction”

AmericanFamilyHomesInc.com State License Number - CBC058306


FROM THE PUBLISHER

Women at work Let’s take a moment to cheer and celebrate the evolution of women. adies, we’ve come a long way. Need proof? Turn on your television and watch one of the sitcoms of yesterday that portrayed women as docile housewives and housekeepers with no role in the workforce. What a stark contrast to the reality of today! The 1950s and early 60s brought us June Cleaver of “Leave it to Beaver.” June was the prototypical housewife whose favorite hobbies included needlepointing and cake decorating. Edith Bunker of “All in the Family” stole the spotlight in the 1970s. Despite her angelic persona, she was a totally subservient housewife who catered to her husband’s every whim. And let’s not forget two of the most beloved sitcom housekeepers of all-time: Alice from The Brady Bunch and Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show. Alice always served up groovy

dinners for the Brady family, while Aunt Bee was, in Opie’s words, “the best cook in Mayberry.” Each of the aforementioned women provided us with plenty of laughs and even gave us pearls of wisdom. However, their respective sitcoms reflected the culture of the times. Since those shows, women have evolved from housewives to highpowered professionals. That’s why it brings me great joy to introduce this year’s Businesswomen of Style. I cannot lie. This is my favorite issue. While I respect June Cleaver for cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming the living room while wearing pearls and high heels, seeing women venture outside the home and take the business world by storm really inspires me. This year, we’re introducing readers to a diverse group of optimistic, visionary women who represent a wide range of professions. In some cases, these women have excelled in traditionally male-dominated industries because

they possess leadership qualities companies seek. These ambitious women fulfilled their career dreams. And they make a big difference in what they do. Of course, I’m in no way demeaning housewives. They have the responsibilities of watching children throughout the day, making sure every inch of the house is tidy, and being the glue that holds their family together. Their work is never done, and they are often grossly underappreciated even though their work may be more demanding than a job outside the home. June Cleaver would certainly agree. Keeping the Beaver out of trouble was a full-time job in itself. Truth is, June, like all women, are superstars and should be recognized as such. Until next month,

Have a story to tell? We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to editorial@akersmediagroup.com.

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Kendra Akers Doug Akers

OWNER/PUBLISHER kendra@akersmediagroup.com

DESIGN

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AT YOUR SERVICE

PRESIDENT doug@akersmediagroup.com

PHOTOGRAPHY

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EDITORIAL

Michael Gaulin James Combs

SENIOR DESIGNER michael@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER james@akersmediagroup.com

Volkan Ulgen Theresa Campbell

ART DIRECTOR volkan@akersmediagroup.com

STAFF WRITER theresa@akersmediagroup.com

Megan Mericle Victoria Schlabig

GRAPHIC DESIGNER megan@akersmediagroup.com

CON’GRAD’ULATIONS!

Meet some of the area’s 2021 high school graduates.

Douglas Tyler Roxanne Brown

DIGITAL ART DIRECTOR douglas@akersmediagroup.com

Anthony Rao

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/ VIDEOGRAPHER anthony@akersmediagroup.com

Joe Angione Nicole Hamel Kathy Porter

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER nicole@akersmediagroup.com

CON TRIBUTIN G ED IT OR Gary Corsair

SALES

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M A RK ETIN G

Tim McRae

VICE PRESIDENT, SALES tim@akersmediagroup.com

Mike Stegall

SENIOR ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE/ SPECIAL PROJECTS mike@akersmediagroup.com

Melanie Melvin Shaena Long

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING melanie@akersmediagroup.com

ADVERTISING COORDINATOR shaena@akersmediagroup.com

SPONSORED BY

Meet some of the area’s 2021 high school graduates. 2021

PAR EXCELLENCE Mission Inn will host a prestigious golf tournament.

STAFF WRITER roxanne@akersmediagroup.com

CON TRIBUTIN G WRITER S

CON’GRAD’ULATIONS!

MAY '21

LAKE & SUMTER

STAFF WRITER victoria@akersmediagroup.com

WHAT A LOSER! How one woman shed 78 pounds.

BUSINESS

Retirement planning that makes perfect cents.

FE ATURIN G

PAR EXCELLENCE Mission Inn will host a prestigious golf tournament.

WHAT A LOSER! T H E S U CC E S S B E H I N D T H I S S P U N K Y E N T R E P R E N EU R .

OF THE YEAR

Wings on water

How one woman shed 78 pounds.

Lake County is a premier seaplane destination.

MAKING TRACKS

Explore miles of lush hiking trails.

BURSTING WITH CHARM Small towns with big personalities.

Hot off the press! The latest editions of Lake & Sumter Style, Village Edition Style, and Welcome to Lake County.

Get yours Subscriptions: Order a subscription of your favorite magazine to be delivered directly

to your home for just $84. Each subscription includes 12 consecutive issues of Lake & Sumter Style and Village Edition Style. Choose 2 or more magazines for $108 per year. To order, call 352.787.4112 or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Change of Address: If you are a seasonal resident or have moved, send your address change request to general@akersmediagroup.com or mail us at: Subscriptions at Akers Media, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749. Back Issues: Order a single issue by mail for $8. To pick up a back issue from our office, please call 24 hours in advance.

ADMI N IS TRATION Aubrey Akers Simmons OFFICE MANAGER aubrey@akersmediagroup.com

DI S TRIBUTION Scott Hegg

Digitize your life Visit the Apple or Android app store today and download the Lake & Sumter Style online magazine app for your mobile device.

DISTRIBUTION MANAGER scott.hegg@akersmediagroup.com

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Lake & Sumter Style. Published monthly by Akers Media, 108 South Fifth Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2021 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.

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first PEOPLE. COMMENTARY. NEWS.

Kendyl Cardwell enjoys the sprint to the finish line.

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THE HIT LIST

OH MY HEALTHY GOODNESS! Craving a healthy, but tasty snack, and not sure where to go? You may want to try OMG Juice, one of Clermont’s newest specialty spots, which celebrated its grand opening on March 29. At OMG, which stands for ‘Oh My Goodness,’ people can stop in for juices, smoothies, acai bowls and wellness shots; all geared toward satisfying one’s sweet tooth while focusing on keeping healthy, boosting energy and building immunity. According to OMG’s website, their juices are hand pressed from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and come in several combinations. Smoothies are offered in blends of favorite fruits and vegetables that can be consumed as refreshing snacks, or a meal replacement if paired with a protein. Bowls are available in choice of fruit blended with acai or pitaya to create a smoothie in a bowl topped with fresh seasonal fruit, granola, coconut flakes, and drizzled with honey or agave. Wellness shots are described as essentially condensed pressed juices designed to build immunity, give you a jolt of plant-based energy, or naturally reduce bloat and rev your metabolism. The new spot is beautifully decorated and has a spacious sitting area for customers who want to enjoy their goodies there. Online ordering and to-go options are also offered. OMG is located at 1042 State Road 50, Unit 1060, Clermont, between Pet Supermarket and Fitness CF in the Clermont Regional Plaza. Hours (subject to change) are: Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Sunday. For more information, visit www.omgjuicefl.com or follow OMGJUICE_FL on Instagram.

FEMALES ARE GIVING FIREARMS A SHOT In last June’s issue of Lake and Sumter Style, we ran a feature story focusing on the increasing popularity of guns among females. As you may already know, gun sales soared in 2020 amid social unrest and fear of heightened crime during the coronavirus pandemic. Many first-time buyers were women. Here are the 10 most popular handguns purchased by females in 2020, according to the Well Armed Woman, a membership and training organization.

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• Sig Sauer P365

• Glock 19

• Smith and Wesson M&P Shield

• Springfield Hellcat

• EZ 9 millimeter

• Smith and Wesson M&P Shield

• Smith and Wesson M&P

• Glock 43X

•.380 Shield EZ

• Sig Sauer P238

• Glock 43

• Ruger SR22


JAZZY On May 11 and 12, visit Lakeridge Winery for Jazz on the Vineyard Green, an event with live jazz music, free tours and wine tasting with admission, and food and beverages available for purchase. Events will take place Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lakeridge Winery, 19239 US 27 N. in Clermont. Live music will feature Robert Harris, The Dave Capp Project, and more. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Visit lakeridgewinery.com or call 800.768.WINE for more information.

Bobby Blackman

A SQUIRREL WITH LAKE COUNTY ROOTS

Kate DiCamillo photo: Courtesy of KateDiCamillo.com.

The family movie Flora & Ulysses has been streaming on Disney+ for a few months now, but did you know it was based on a children’s novel by the same name? And did you realize that the book was written by Lake County’s Kate DiCamillo, a 1982 Clermont High School graduate? The movie is about a 10-year-old comic book enthusiast (Flora), who saves and befriends a squirrel (Ulysses) turned superhero and finds that he can

Kate DiCamillo

communicate with her via a vintage typewriter in her house. In a post on her official Facebook page in February, Kate reveals her inspiration behind the character of Ulysses and the why behind a squirrel superhero: “In 2012, the year before Flora and Ulysses was published, a friend and I were driving from Austin to Houston when suddenly a giant squirrel appeared on the side of the road. Squirrels had loomed large in my imagination for so long that I almost thought what I was seeing wasn’t real. But there he was: a giant squirrel (in the form of a statue/ roadside attraction). We turned around, of course. I got my picture taken with him, of course. It was a miraculous, unexpected, hilarious gift – encountering that giant squirrel. In the same way, the movie adaptation of Flora and Ulysses...is a miraculous, unexpected, hilarious gift. I love this movie so much. I can’t wait to see it again.” When watching the movie, pay close attention, you may spot Kate in her cameo appearance. Enjoy!

Other books by Kate DiCamillo include “Because of Winn Dixie,” The Tale of Desperaux,” “Raymie Nightingale,” “Beverly, Right Here,” “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and “The Magician’s Elephant.”

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THE HIT LIST

GET MESSY! Acrylic paint poured on old vinyl records is a creative way to be artistic, and the Leesburg Center for the Arts, 429 W. Magnolia St., Leesburg, has been doing acrylic pours with students for years. “We are now expanding to make pour parties happen for adults,” says Maria Stefanonvic, executive director of the CFA. Billed as a “Special Messy Adult Artbreak,” participants are encouraged to wear their best rags, bring their own drinks, and wear a mask. All supplies are included in this art project. The cost is $15 for members/$20 for non-members. To learn more or arrange a private pour party with your friends, contact director@leesburgarts.com.

JAKE AND ELWOOD, STILL CROONING The coronavirus pandemic curtailed entertainment at clubs and recreation centers for the Leesburg Blues Brothers Tribute impersonators, but that didn’t stop Jake (Dave Koenig) and Elwood (Larry Bansworth) from donning their black suits, hats, and performing outdoor driveway concerts at local residences, including several homes in The Villages. The Blues Brothers draw attention everywhere they go. “I think besides the usual, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ and ‘Hey! It’s Jake and Elwood,’ we hear that we look just like them, or act just like them. That’s always an honor to hear,” says Larry. “I feel humbled because of how many fans the Blues Brothers generated. We are impersonators and it feels so good to see someone see us and almost freak out realizing who we are and the smiles they make. It’s an honor to play such iconic characters.” Larry adds: “Our black suits are like superhero costumes!” The best way to learn about the pair’s public appearances is to follow them on their Facebook page: Leesburg Blues Brothers Tribute.

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NAMESAKE In 1884, Edgar L. Ferran moved his wife Lucy and their four children to Eustis from Indiana in hopes that the Florida warmer climate would help Lucy’s chronic bronchitis. Today, Eustis’s famous waterfront Ferran Park was named after the Eustis pioneer and businessman. The couple had their fifth child in Eustis, and between 1908-1910 built a two-story, 3,200 square-foot house in the historic city. The house, which in 2019 was added to the National Register of Historic Places, includes original crystal chandeliers and wood floors, sliding pocket doors, a massive butler’s pantry, 20 by 30-foot basement, and 800 square-foot attic.

Ferran Park, the first park constructed in Eustis, began with the purchase of land between Clifford Avenue and Orange Avenue in 1913, followed by construction of a concrete retaining wall 250 feet out into Lake Eustis that extended about 950 feet along the shoreline. Once the wall was complete, the area was filled with sand from the bottom of the lake to create the park which today offers visitors a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Eustis, walkways that are decorated during holiday seasons, and a playground. Sources: Daily Commercial, eustis.org

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PERSON OF INTEREST

PEO PLE

Karen Elliott Executive director of Rafiki Foundation is on a mission to save African children. INTERVIEWER: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

• Born and raised in Houston, Texas.

• Graduated from Southern Methodist University.

• Resides in Eustis.

• Enjoys singing in her church choir and hiking Central Florida trails.

• Executive director of the Rafiki Foundation.

What is the Rafiki Foundation’s mission? Rafiki wants to help people know God and help them raise their standard of living. Through Bible study and Christian classical education, we hope to cultivate a multitude of godly contributors in Africa and beyond!

Tell me about the training villages in Africa? Our Rafiki Villages sit on at least 50 acres of land and consist of a children’s home for orphans, a Christian classical school for orphans and children in poverty from the community, a teachers’ college, a soccer field and playground, housing for missionaries and volunteers, and a farm. Each Village has 50-60 orphans in residence and 250-300 in school. Every day in the children’s home the children have

morning and evening devotions, three meals a day, all their medical needs met, and a loving, caring Rafiki “mama” who is one of the women of the church from the community. We try to see each Rafiki village every nine months.

What is something on your bucket list? To go see the places of the Bible

Have you been to any of the training villages? I have had the privilege of

“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” – William Carey, known as the “father of modern missions.”

being to all of them – since 2002 I’ve traveled to Africa roughly three times a year. I also served in Nigeria where we have a Rafiki Village and spent time in Ghana.

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 1

such as Israel, Greece, and Turkey.

Words to live by?

What is most inspiring about your work? To know that God is allowing us to

How can people help the foundation? Pray, sponsor a child

impact thousands, if not tens of thousands of children and youth with the eternal word of God and also excellent education.

at one of our schools, volunteer right here in Central Florida, or serve as a missionary in Africa!

Know a person of interest? Tell us!

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Photo: Courtesy of Karen Elliot.

L V I TA AT S ST

Email your recommendation to victoria@akersmediagroup.com.


Spring Ahead Among New Friends!

Schedule your tour today and learn how to receive one (1) month free by joining our circle of friends on or before May 31, 2021.*

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OUTSTANDING STUDENT

PEO PLE

Kendyl Cardwell Montverde Academy Senior powered by oatmeal & molecular engineering.

VITAL STATS

INTERVIEWER: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

IS DY L KEN E A R S Y 1 8 L D. O

You got nominated as a National Merit Scholarship finalist, what was that like? I am honestly just super proud to be a National Merit finalist. It’s a reflection of the hard work and consistent dedication I’ve put into my education since middle school, and a cool way to end high school.

What are your duties on the Arts and Athletics Leadership Committee (AALC)? We help to bridge the gap between the adults and the students by communicating any issues, offering our

• • • •

feedback, suggesting new ideas, and planning school events. AALC is one of the branches under the Headmaster Leadership Institute, which is a group of students that have leadership roles in the school.

How do you feel about continuing with cross country in college? I have been on the running team since I came to Montverde in 7th grade, so it has been a key part of my life for the past six years. It is a difficult sport, but I love seeing the effort I put into my training reflected in races. It has brought so many amazing people and experiences into my life, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue competing in college.

Why are you interested in molecular engineering, and what can you do with a degree in that subject? Molecular engineering really appealed to me because of its interdisciplinary nature and unique application to current topics. It allows me to combine my interest in courses like math, chemistry, and biology

Know an outstanding student? Fill us in!

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Senior at Montverde Academy. National Merit® finalist. Math Club member. Distinguished Scholars program member.

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

• Member of state-ranked, nationally recognized varsity cross country team. • Founded newspaper club and has written for Clermont’s South Lake Tablet.

with the creativity of problem-solving. UChicago’s molecular engineering program has unique and focused themes such as immunoengineering, where I would focus on understanding and manipulating the immune system to help fight health conditions.

What are some things you like doing just for fun? I love trying new restaurants, collecting funky socks, and drinking coffee. I also enjoy going out on the lake with my friends and family.

Greatest accomplishment? Finishing runner-up with my team at the state championships. It was special because I got to experience it in my senior year alongside my best friends. It had been a goal of ours for many years.

Favorite food? Oatmeal, with way too many toppings.

What would you do with $5 million? I would take a year to travel and invest the rest into a coffee shop.

Email your recommendations to victoria@akersmediagroup.com


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MY FIRST TIME

PEO PLE

Ed Augustyn A $50 dare led to worldwide adventure as cruise ship dance host. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL

t happened on a dare to be a volunteer dance host on cruise ships. A bunch of us were out on a five-day Western Caribbean cruise. One evening sitting around, a couple of the ladies brought up the “Out to Sea” movie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and they said, “that would be a good thing for you guys.” I was just divorced after being married for 22 years. And my one buddy said, “Ed, I think you’d be good for it, you got a gift of gab. And then he added, ‘I bet ya $50 you wouldn’t do it.’” “I said, ‘Really? Well, you’re on buddy!’” I ended up meeting the cruise director and learned about available trips. As a dance host, you pay the agency a small nominal fee and they provide the airfare for going out 30 days or longer; they provide a passenger cabin to share with another host, and you’re like a PR person for the cruise line. I had to know six basic steps of the rumba, cha cha, foxtrot, waltz, and go to a certified dance instructor for evaluation, after which a report was sent to the agency before my personal

What about your first time?

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≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

interview. My buddy wouldn’t give me the $50 until I made my first trip. I started out on a steamboat line in the Mississippi River because my agent told me, ‘You have to prove yourself, Ed, before I put you on a five-star or a six-star line.’ My first trip was one week on the Mississippi Queen in 2003, and it was just heavenly. I ended up being a dance host for 12 years! I went on 24 trips, and each one was a minimum of 30 days. In 2007, I was on the Queen Mary 2 for her inaugural 80-day world cruise with 18 ports of call. We left Fort Lauderdale with Queen Elizabeth, and it was the first time the two queen ships were together since World War II, when they were transport ships. On the Queen Mary, we had very impressive high teas, and I danced with hundreds of women with the live orchestra playing every night. There were so many perks and I really felt like a VIP, so that $50 dare provided me a worldwide adventure of living a dream.

To share a story about your first time doing something significant, email theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

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SPECIAL REPORT

“I’M TURNING 50 THIS YEAR AND FEEL BETTER THAN I DID 20 YEARS AGO DUE TO FINDING OUT WHAT HORMONES AND NUTRIENTS MY BODY WAS LACKING. IT’S TRULY REVERSING MY AGE—THE WAY I FEEL AND LOOK.” —SABRINA CICERI


SHE’S THE

Sabrina Ciceri has no problem getting down to business. STORY; JAMES COMBS

abrina Ciceri has a high tolerance for risk and seldom worries about rejection. She’s full of determination, maintains a high level of confidence, and relishes every opportunity to learn. And she pursues the thrill and challenge of launching one enterprise after the next. Sabrina, who is Style’s 2021 Businesswoman of the Year, is owner or part-owner of three companies: Electrical Works, Black Ops K9, and Immunity Health Spa. She can power a home, provide someone with a furry friend and protector, and pump a client full of vitamins. Her day typically begins at 4:15 a.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. In-between those hours, Sabrina focuses on running her businesses, which satisfies her ever-dreaming heart and ideagenerating mind. She also has the added responsibilities of being an adoptive

≈ PHOTOS: DOUGLAS TYLER

mother to five children, a biological mother to two children, a grandmother to two grandbabies, and a wife. Through it all, she never loses that big smile and quirky sense of humor. “I perform off of lists of things to get done for the next day. I always add on more than I can handle. It motivates me to stay focused, and if I don’t get everything done, I just move it to the next day.” she says. Sabrina doesn’t think of herself as a superhero, but she does possess extraordinary stamina, speed, and strength. Her greatest quality is her strength of character. She’s authentic. She knows who she is and what she stands for. She has integrity and strives to do the right thing even when nobody is looking. She faces challenges head on and never stops until she accomplishes her mission. Longtime friend Dana Bujak Ostrom sums Sabrina up perfectly.

“Sabrina and I have been best friends for more than 30 years, and I consider her family. We have shared life’s up and downs together and can’t imagine doing life without her. I admire her passion to help and see people thrive and her tenacity to do a job the right way. She’s funny, faithful, smart, loving, pushy, and controlling and I wouldn’t want her to change a thing. To say that I am proud of her and how she has grown and what she has accomplished is an understatement. Sabrina is truly one-of-a-kind, and I thank God she’s my person.”

SABRINA THE BUSINESSWOMAN Sabrina is a Lake County resident and 1989 graduate of Eustis High School. Early in her life, she discovered the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. She felt happier, more loving, more grateful, and more spiritually connected. Launching a career in the health field was a no-brainer.

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“MY ADOPTED CHILDREN MAY NOT BE BORN OF MY FLESH, BUT

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Joe and Sabrina Ciceri

has been approached about the possibility of opening spas in Fort Myers, Boulder, Louisville, and Las Vegas. Those who work with Sabrina are hardly surprised by her success. She’s every bit a compassionate boss as she is a successful entrepreneur. “I have had the pleasure of knowing Sabrina for six years,” says Deb Matlock, spa manager. “Sabrina pushes me to be the best I can be, not just in business but in every aspect of my life. She keeps me striving for perfection and to never settle for mediocrity. Sabrina is so much more than just a boss—she is a leader, encourager, teacher, and friend.” Of course, Sabrina is not the type to settle down after launching a company. In 2021, she became part-owner of Lake City-based Black Ops K9. The company breeds and trains elite personal protection dogs for civilians, as well as K9 dogs that law enforcement officers use for police work. Sabrina will soon be the proud owner of one of those protection dogs, a black German shepherd named Covid. “I’ve always wanted a protection dog because I love the level of obedience I see in these very well-trained animals. Their intelligence is heightened, and they listen and observe their surroundings constantly,” she says.

The courage to open Immunity Health Spa and Black Ops K9 in back-to-back years has a lot to do with success of the first company she helped start. In 2007, she and Joe, her husband of 26 years, officially opened Electrical Works, which today is based in Leesburg. The thriving business boasts more than 47 employees and provides commercial electric services throughout Florida. The company handles all aspects of electrical installations, including large site development projects, all commercial projects, and whole house generators. “No matter what the business is, my focus has always been to build relationships with people in the community and be there to support great organizations,” she says. “That’s truly satisfying.” While juggling three companies may seem tedious, Sabrina gives most credit to the staff assembled at each business. “We have a great team of people at all our businesses,” she says. “They are truly like family. Although things get hectic for me, my teams maintain our culture and standard of excellence in everything we do. These businesses do challenge me at times, but I’m comfortable learning and growing and figuring out ways to do things better.”

Photos of Ciceri family: Courtesy of Sabrina Ciceri

Sabrina spent 25 years as a nurse. She also became a certified fitness instructor who opened the area’s first training studio in 2003. However, after working alongside medical experts at Hippocrates Health Institute, a world-renowned, holistic health center in West Palm Beach, she became fascinated by a new movement in medicine. Unlike traditional medicine, where doctors prescribe medication to treat symptoms, functional medicine is a proactive approach that examines a patient’s lifestyle habits and reduces the likelihood of illnesses occurring. “What I learned at Hippocrates was fascinating,” she says. “I knew that someday I wanted to have a company that could educate and empower people to take accountability for their own health.” That dream came true in 2020 when Sabrina opened Immunity Health Spa in Lady Lake. A sense of serenity and wellbeing envelops clients the moment they enter the spa. The meticulous attention to detail, the personalized service, the wonderful amenities, and stunning décor leaves clients feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed. The company offers services one would expect to find at any spa—body treatments, facials, massages, and waxing. However, Immunity Health Spa sets itself apart with the breadth, depth, and scope of services. As the company’s name implies, the goal is to strengthen clients’ immune systems, thus helping them fight off disease. This is accomplished through treatments such as intravenous vitamin therapy and salt therapy. “We’re all about educating and empowering so they can take the necessary steps to heal their body. We are wonderfully made and our body needs vital nutrients to repair itself and keep the immune system strong to aid in the prevention of illness and premature aging,” Sabrina says. Her spa has caught the attention of people in the health industry. Sabrina


THEY ARE BORN FROM MY HEART.”

—S A B R I N A C I C E R I

Sabrina with grandchildren

“SABRINA HAS NONSTOP ENERGY. THE MINUTE WE GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING SHE’S GOING FULL TILT. I’M SO PROUD TO HAVE HER AS A WIFE. SHE GIVES 100 PERCENT TOWARD EVERYTHING SHE DOES, WHETHER IT’S RAISING KIDS OR RUNNING A BUSINESS. SHE’S AN AMAZING PERSON AND AMAZING WIFE.” —JOE CICERI

Sabrina’s Family

SABRINA THE MOM Sabrina has always loved children, and even with two biological kids of her own, she knew she had room in her heart for more. In the mid-2000s, the Ciceris adopted Mia, a 10-month-old sweetheart from China who is now a student at First Academy-Leesburg. Sabrina thought her family was complete until she slowed down and listened to God. “Around age 40, God put a desire in my heart that I didn’t see coming. While away on a vacation, I felt like I wanted more children. My youngest was 7 at the time and I thought she was the last. Boy was I wrong!” In 2013, she and Joe attended orientation and training classes at Kids Central. Since then, they fostered six children and adopted three, including two newborns at one time. Her family grew in both size and love. More importantly, she saved the lives of children who might not otherwise have a chance to learn and grow in a loving environment. Currently, four children are living at the Ciceri home: Mia, 16, Jackson, 9, Anthony, 7, and Nissi, 7.

“My adopted children may not be born of my flesh, but they are born from my heart,” she says. “And I can’t imagine life without them. They truly are a gift from God.” That love extends to her biological children, as well. “Through all the teenage years and the ups and downs that I put her through, she never stopped being there,” says her oldest daughter, Sierra Joy Clemmons, 28. “She works hard, and she moms hard. She never stops giving, she never stops loving, and she never stops being the on-fire mom. She always has and always does give 100 percent of herself to her children.” Sabrina’s 24-year-old son, Tristan, echoed those sentiments. “She has a great sense of humor,” Tristan says. “She keeps things fun and light while maintaining a can-do attitude. And she is so giving by going above and beyond to help everyone else.” For many, balancing the demanding roles of entrepreneur and parent seems downright impossible. Not so for Sabrina. She’s one mother who means business.

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BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

You see them every day. You may do business with them. They’re your neighbors and friends—the 2021 Business Women of Style. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Felicia Wagner 352.638.1264

Lindsay Sanders

Morris Realty and Investments

352.661.0232

Kim Ducharme Levensohn 352.874.5906

Jo Leen Cooper Howe 352.267.0770

Joan DeFoe 352.516.6843

Morris Realty and Investments 10135 U.S. Hwy. 441, Ste. 3, Leesburg / 352.435.4663 / morrisrealtors.com When you are in the market to buy or sell your home, you need experience on your side. For the women of Morris Realty, there are few things more rewarding than guiding clients through their buying and selling journey. These talented ladies are not only friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced but also conduct business with transparency and honesty.

All members of the Morris team know their way around Lake County and have a pulse on the local market. They have nurtured relationships with local vendors such as mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, general contractors, and pest inspectors. These relationships are essential to a smooth closing and overall transaction.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Lauren Fickett 352.636.2167

Theresa Morris

Lena Williams

Lynn Haynes

352.636.4488

352.516.0903

Camie Kennedy 352.408.4668

352.360.3736

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 among the top 10 agencies in total sales in Lake and Sumter counties. The company is built on a strong foundation of honesty, integrity, knowledge, and community

pride. Each year, the Morris Realty team generously supports local charitable organizations and events as a way of thanking the community for supporting their business. The ladies of Morris Realty aren’t just seeking new clients; they are invested in making new lifelong friends.

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Lake Centre Home Care

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Shayna Grunewald CEO

Lake Centre Home Care

352.315.0050 / 310 Market St., Leesburg / golchc.com Lake Centre Home Care has come a long way since it opened four years ago. CEO Shayna Grunewald has guided the skilled home health agency’s growth from an average of 30-35 patients to 250-325 at any given time. And based on positive patient feedback and outcomes, the company has achieved the highest possible 5-star rating from Medicare. “What that means for potential patients is that if they choose us, they have a better chance of achieving their goals and the outcomes they desire because of the experienced clinicians we have,” Shayna says. “They are the best of the best and what have led to our great success.” Lake Centre Home Care provides nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapy, home health aides, and medical social services. Clinicians see all acuity levels of patients including IV meds, PICC lines, orthopedic and cardiac surgical aftercare, wound vacs, and much more. “We strive to help our patients feel better and when they get to that point and are recuperating because we’ve helped them; that’s a good feeling,” Shayna adds. Aside from work, Shayna enjoys reading, watching football, and trips to the beach or on the family boat with her husband, Jimmy, daughter, Anna Grace, and son, Jack.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Ann Gibbs OWNER

352.805.4001 / 918 W. Main St., Leesburg / abtitle.com As a business owner, Ann Gibbs understands that doing the small things leads to big results. During the coronavirus pandemic, client safety became a top priority. For clients leery about entering her office, she accommodated them by offering drivethrough closings. Oftentimes, that meant paperwork was completed at a picnic table outside her office. “We’d even have buyers and sellers in different rooms during transactions,” says Ann, who has spent 33 years in the title business. Ann is celebrating her fifth anniversary as coowner of A&B Title and Escrow Services. Clients

are treated to a beach-themed office and fresh cookies, which are both reflective of Ann’s warm, friendly personality. Outside of work, she faithfully volunteers for the Downtown Leesburg Business Association, the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Leesburg Partnership. “I’ve always felt very welcomed by downtown Leesburg and the business associates there,” she says. Thank you to all our customers, past present and in the future. We are Blessed.

A&B Title and Escrow Services

A&B Title and Escrow Services


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Sandy Moery

Barbara Hoffman

Emz on Fifth

Angie Kopp

Clara Schneider

Sandy Singer

OWNER

Emz on Fifth

352.735.4451 / 200 W. 5th St., Mount Dora Em’z on Fifth is filled with stylish women’s fashion in all sizes, along with beautiful jewelry, hats, and shoes, and yet it’s the boutique’s stellar customer service that patrons value the most. During the coronavirus shutdown, owner Clara Schneider and her team answered the call for comfortable, casual attire “to wear from the

living room to the dining room.” “We have built a great relationship with our customers; they know that we will do whatever we can for them,” Clara says. “During the pandemic, we did deliveries, we shipped, we did Facebook videos. We still do everything we can to make the customer happy.”

Em’z on Fifth also gift wraps and takes items back on return without hassles. “We are truly there for the customer,” says Clara. “And I would like to invite everybody to our annual Margarita sale in early August, where everything in the store is on sale. Check it out on Facebook!”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

FOOT & ANKLE SURGEON

Ankle & Foot Center of Central Florida 352.385.7718 / 1865 Nightingale Lane Tavares / theankelandfootcenter.com Nothing means more to Ankle & Foot Center of Central Florida’s owner and Doctor Joanne N. Balkaran than helping her patients take that step forward. It’s clear in her mission: “We step above and beyond for patient care,” and in the mindset of her medical team using advanced wound care, ankle reconstructive surgery procedures, state of art technology and treatment methods, in order to help patients who struggle with foot pain and ankle injuries.

"Dr. B" recently relocated from Mount Dora to a medically modernized building in Tavares. “We aim to ensure every patient gets well,” Dr. B says. “I designed my office to give every patient an experience. It’s more than just taking care of their feet, but everything else that’s attached to them and how it affects their bodies.” Dr. B and her staff are committed to the patient's quality of life. She treats patients of all ages for skin and nail conditions, diabetes

foot care, sports-related injuries, deformities, bunions, and wounds. She’s added regenerative medicine consisting of stem cell amniotic tissue injections and grafts, class IV laser therapy, and platelet rich plasma, to treat conditions like arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and peripheral neuropathy – all without surgery. “It’s just an alternative form of medicine to prevent the down time associated with surgery,” Dr. B. says. "If your step doesn't feel right, call to make an appointment.”

Ankle & Foot Center of Central Florida

Dr. Joanne N. Balkaran


West Construction Services, Inc.

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Lou Buigas CONTRACTOR

West Construction Services, Inc. 352.989.7757 / 1004 N. Donnelly St., Mount Dora / westconstructionfl.com Lou Buigas is a licensed building contractor with West Construction Services and is currently serving as Vice Mayor for the City of Tavares. Buigas is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Lake, a member of the Lake 100, and served on the Tavares Planning & Zoning Board for three years. She has served on several Board of Directors including the Tavares Historical Society, Lake County Museum of Art, the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County, and the Tavares Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Lou Buigas is the first Hispanic female to win any elected office in Lake County. With her background and those accomplishments

under her belt, Buigas is proud of what she’s able to bring to the table for the entire community. “You can have a demanding full-time job and still be productive and constructive,” Buigas says, adding that she loves what she does in every capacity. “It’s important to be involved in the community and to give back,” she adds. As for her election achievement, Buigas says: “While it’s an honor to know I’m the first Hispanic elected female official in the county, I don’t want it to define me. It’s just one of the many ingredients that makes me who and what I am.” #RedWhiteAndLou


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

BRANDING & PR

Erin Johnson DIGITAL MEDIA & STRATEGY

Concierge Creative Group 352.405.2709 / 1105 Robie Ave., Mount Dora / conciergecreativegroup.com Concierge Creative Group is a full-service marketing and branding agency based in Mount Dora. Our team of creative professionals creates meaningful brands and builds strategies that help businesses grow and succeed. From branding and web design to a full suite of multi-media marketing solutions, we help our clients identify their voice and extend their reach. Some of our services: Branding / Web Design / Social Media Marketing / Digital Advertising Print Advertising / Direct Mail We work with a wide range of clients and industries, building custom strategies to fit your goals. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to grow, give us a call; we’re here to help give your brand direction.

Concierge Creative Group

Ali Bias


Immunity Health Spa

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Sabrina Ciceri OWNER

Immunity Health Spa | Sabrina Ciceri 352.750.9909 /480 U.S. Hwy. 441, Lady Lake / immunityhealthspa.com Working 27 years in the health care industry has given Sabrina Ciceri a wealth of knowledge when it comes to wellness. She opened the area’s first training studio, served as publisher for Healthy Living magazine and Healing our World magazine, and also worked as a nurse. All those experiences led her to fulfill a lifelong passion when she opened Immunity Health Spa. Her goal is to help clients strengthen their immune system, thus giving them optimal health and quality of life. “The basis of everything is a strong immune system,” she says. “That’s the focus of

Immunity Health Spa.” Immunity Health Spa offers intravenous vitamin therapy, which improves the immune system by delivering vitamins and minerals directly to the cells. The company also offers top-rated supplements to provide nutrients that cannot be obtained through diet. “At Immunity Health Spa, we’re not just giving people treatments but also educating them on living healthy lifestyles,” Sabrina says. “Also, we have brought back compassion and care that has been lost in health care. We love our patients.”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

NURSE PRACTITIONER

Immunity Health Spa | Lisa Gonzalez 352.750.9909 /480 U.S. Hwy. 441, Lady Lake / immunityhealthspa.com As a nurse practitioner at Immunity Health Spa, Lisa Gonzalez goes beyond the normal duties of measuring blood pressure and taking vital signs. She now is able to focus on her passions: preventative wellness, holistic medicine, and anti-aging. One automatically assumes the role of health care is to manage and treat existing medical conditions. However, being on the frontline of preventative care allows Lisa to stop sickness and disease before it starts. “Focusing on wellness, holistic medicine,

and anti-aging has always been my passion,” says Lisa, who earned a nursing degree from Lake-Sumter State College in 2012. “We take a functional medicine approach, meaning we focus on the root cause of problems rather than symptoms.” Whether Lisa is administering Botox fillers or IV treatments, her friendly demeanor, gentle words, and big smile make patients at Immunity Health Spa feel more relaxed and comfortable. “I enjoy educating my patients and playing a role in helping them live the happiest and healthiest lives possible.”

Immunity Health Spa

Lisa Gonzalez


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Charla Hurst

Clermont Radiology

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Clermont Radiology 352.241.6100 / 871 Oakley Seaver Drive, Clermont clermontradiology.com At Clermont Radiology, patients come first, starting with a friendly staff not only committed to offering the highest quality services, but making sure the entire patient experience is a convenient and extraordinary one. Director of Marketing Charla Hurst says Clermont Radiology has three Florida sites. Two are in Clermont, and one is in Ocala; each with an array of services. Ocala offers open MRIs and X-rays, and Clermont has an open upright MRI machine as well as short bore High Field MRI – plus they offer PET scans, Nuclear Med scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, 3D mammograms, DEXA and CT scans. “We basically do everything the hospital does at a much lower rate,” Charla says. “Our staff will also obtain all the prior authorizations from the insurance companies, plus we offer payment plans for those who cannot afford their deductible out of pocket, and competitive self-pay rates.” Clermont Radiology is open seven days a week, and until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. For those in need of transportation, Clermont Radiology partners with a local taxi company and Uber to get them there. “Everyone that comes is treated like family. We are the community imaging center,” Charla says.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

HAIRSTYLIST

Stefany Jabbour

Chadia Bond

Lindsey Lacey

OWNER/HAIRSTYLIST

Brandi Strickland

HAIRSTYLIST

ESTHETICIAN

HAIRSTYLIST

Chadia's Hair Salon 352.750.2335 / 210 County Road 466, Lady Lake (next to Wawa) / chadiashairsalon.com “Playing with hair is what we love to do” is the motto of Chadia’s Hair Salon, which has been in business 10 years. Its recent move to a larger location allows talented stylists to get creative by serving more clients. The small business hair salon offers a variety of hair services, hair cutting, coloring, highlights, balayage, ombre’s and more.

Each hairstylist brings out her inner special technique to showcase her own talent and expertise. Chadia’s Hair Salon is a mini retreat in a relaxing environment with manicure, pedicure chairs, and facial rooms. “People say they love us; they love the atmosphere,” says owner/ hairstylist Chadia Bond, pleased by the salon’s loyal repeat clientele,

many of whom refer friends. “There is a trust when there is a friend of a friend who is coming to see you.” When the business shut down because of coronavirus, Chadia received numerous texts and phone calls from loyal customers. “There were a lot of awesome moments from clients saying, 'I really miss you!’"

Chadia's Hair Salon

Julia Odom


Merideth Nagel, P.A.

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Caren Geyer PARALEGAL

Merideth Nagel

Alexis Lewis PARALEGAL

Tina Smith SENIOR ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY

OWNER

Merideth Nagel, P.A. 352.394.7408 / 1201 W. Highway 50, Clermont / mnagellaw.com Clermont-based Attorney Merideth Nagel doesn’t just talk about supporting and empowering other women, she walks the walk every day. “For too long, especially in the legal field, women did not have a seat at the table, but now, everyone is understanding that we all have a unique perspective, a unique

voice, and that we work best when everybody collaborates,” Merideth says, explaining that besides one upand-coming male attorney, she leads an all-female firm. “With team members like ours who are committed to excellence, we are demonstrating on a daily basis the powerhouse that women can be

when practicing law.” To allow her staff to shine, Merideth encourages them to put their families first by offering them paid maternity leave and allowing parents to bring their children in to the office. She also offers retirement matching, health savings accounts, and health insurance, benefits that


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Julie Ayers

Joni Story

FIRM ADMINISTRATOR

TITLE TEAM LEAD

Brittney Wong FINANCE MANAGER

Bethany Nduka ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY

many women used to rely on their husbands for. “We often hear from women that they are very pleased about having a female attorney or paralegal working on their case because they can relate better, and it empowers them. We’ve also heard from men who say that because of their dealings with us, they began to understand and value the

voice of a woman in a transaction,” Merideth says. As a result, confidence and satisfaction at Merideth Nagel, P.A. abounds. Attorney Bethany Nduka says: “Being able to bring my baby to work is amazing. It’s a unique opportunity and it has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.”

For Paralegal Caren Geyer, the close-knit family atmosphere seals the deal. “I’ve worked in the legal field for a long time and a law firm that is so family-oriented, so women-oriented, is rare,” she says of Merideth Nagel, P.A. “We all get along. We’re like a family. We’re sisters and brother (Josh), and we’re not just saying that, it’s for real.”

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BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Connie Mahan

Connie Mahan Real Estate Group

BROKER/OWNER

Connie Mahan Real Estate Group 218 N. Florida St., Bushnell / 352.569.0233 / conniemahan.com On the cusp of her company’s 10-year anniversary, award-winning 20-year real estate veteran Connie Mahan has never felt more inspired to be a broker in South Sumter County, and with good reason. Connie Mahan Real Estate Group is the number one real estate firm in South Sumter County both in volume and in number of transactions. Connie says she’s humbled looking back over the last ten years at what #teamcmreg has accomplished, and the reputation for results they are known for.

“Helping our customers and community understand the generational wealth opportunities available through real estate and teaching our youth the pillars of a good financial foundation through real estate fuels our passion,” she says. Connie says that the events of the past year put things into perspective, personally and professionally. Working through the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic presented challenges for everyone, however, hard

work and perseverance is common stock at #teamcmreg. “Things got real, real fast," says Connie. “The well-being of my agents, my community, and my family all flashed before my eyes. We immediately took action. I have never been prouder of our group than I was over the last year.” Ten years strong, and the biggest moves are still in store for this topproducing real estate team. Stay tuned for that 10-year anniversary celebration South Sumter...it’s in the works!


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Becky Pilipow CO-OWNER

Rachelle Neck CO-OWNER

352.391.1334 / 3509 Wedgewood Lane, The Villages / ediblearrangements.com “At Edible Arrangements, The Villages, our mission is to WOW you,” says co-owner Rachelle Neck, adding the company now offers fresh-baked cookies, brownies, cheesecakes, and cupcakes that customers can order in addition to the fresh fruit arrangements and gourmet chocolate-dipped fruits. “We take a lot of pride in our hands-on approach of making bouquets and gourmet chocolate-dipped fruits ourselves from start to finish,” says Rachelle. The addition of fresh-baked cookies from Edible Arrangements also keeps Rachelle and co-owner

Becky Pilipow busy whipping up snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, pineapple chocolate chip, and strawberry white chocolate chip cookies. The co-owners take pride in the company’s stellar customer service, and they always feel connected to customers who tell their stories about why they are sending an Edible Arrangement to family or friends. “We are part of the story, as we become the person connecting lives together when they are far apart,” Rachelle says.

Edible Arrangements

Edible Arrangements


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Megan Conger, JD

Belton Financial Group

FINANCIAL ADVISOR

Tracy Belton, CFP® SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, INVESTMENTS


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Belton Financial Group of Raymond James 352.253.5244 / 531 W. Main St., Tavares / beltonfinancialgroup.com tracy.belton@raymondjames.com / megan.conger@raymondjames.com With 38 years in the industry under her belt, Tracy Belton, a Certified Financial Planner professional, decided it was time to bring on a new partner. Financial Advisor, Megan Conger, a native Floridian, attended the University of Florida followed by law school in New York City. There she began her career as an attorney 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 hoping my legal background will contribute to our client experience and offer another

side of financial advice,” Megan says. The all-female, dog-friendly office is a place where the team wants all of 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 or the other.” The goal at Belton Financial Group of Raymond James is to help their clients maintain the lifestyle they want to live by creating the investment income they need and providing guidance in all aspects of financial decision making and planning.

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.

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Ocala Plastic Surgery

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Jennel CarrerasMontgomery, MD PLASTIC SURGEON


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Ocala Plastic Surgery 352.750.0019 / 11950 CR 101, Ste. 205, The Villages 352.629.8154 / 3320 SW 34th Circle, Ocala ocalaplasticsurgery.com Originally from Miami, Dr. Jennel Carreras-Montgomery left Florida to pursue her undergraduate degree at Boston College and then returned to University of Florida for her medical degree. She completed a general surgery residency in Dallas, TX and continued on to complete a Plastic Surgery residency in Detroit, MI, while attaining her General Surgery board certification. After eight years of surgical training, Dr. Carreras-Montgomery decided to hone and perfect her skills further. She trained under one of the highest ranked Plastic Surgeons in New York City for her Aesthetic Surgery fellowship. During that year she learned the cutting-edge techniques in Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, with the newest technology on the market. She and her husband, who is an oral surgeon, decided to move back to Florida to be closer to family. Dr. CarrerasMontgomery, now with Ocala Plastic Surgery, has an office in Ocala as well as The Villages. “My primary goal is to bring all Plastic Surgery options, surgical and nonsurgical, to the people of Central Florida. There is no reason for anyone to have to travel outside of this area to have any Plastic Surgery procedure,” says Dr. Carreras- Montgomery. Her favorite part of her job is the creativity. “There’s not one patient who comes in who is the same as any previous patient. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, bring together all your skills and techniques, and develop a surgical plan,” she says. “It’s just being able to be creative and really deliver the results the patient wants.”

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Highland Lakes Dental

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Dr. Ishbel Nieves, DMD DENTIST

Highland Lakes Dental 352.326.4404 / 26540 Ace Ave., Leesburg / leesburgfloridadentist.com Dr. Ishbel Nieves-Reyes says her main goal besides providing the best dental care possible, is ensuring her patients feel happy and at ease at all times. “I try to treat patients like they are my family,” Ishbel says. “I want people to feel comfortable, to feel welcomed, and to understand what their options are in regards to treatment.”

She says the pace of any dental work is up to each patient. “Things can be taken one thing at a time; people don’t necessarily have to sit there for hours getting dental work done. Some people want that, and some people don’t.” Ishbel also says she hopes people will be as excited as she is about

recent expansions that have taken place at her office. “We have a periodontist to provide periodontal services and implants and another general dentist who entered the practice this month,” Ishbel says. “These new additions give people more options and they will allow me a little bit more time with my patients.”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Jazmin Felix OWNER

352.460.0402 / 704 S. 14th St., Leesburg / kenkaysolar.com Kenkay Solar is a familyowned, Leesburg-based solar installation company that provides top-quality commercial and residential solar systems throughout Florida. “We work by our principals and with our commitment of providing great customer service from the initial consultation to project completion,” says owner Jazmin Felix. “Customers say we are very professional and relatable to families. Not only is our price great, but they like that

we care for the customer.” She also runs a partner company, Women in Solar, featuring females who have gone through the training, safety, and education of installing solar panels. “We basically empower women to grow, become stronger and confident in what they love to do, which is being on the roof.” Jazmin says 95 percent of Kenkay Solar’s business comes from referrals of pleased customers. “We’re all about providing five-star service.”

Kenkay Solar

Kenkay Solar


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Katy Welch

Merrill Insurance

CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER

Merrill Insurance 352.589.5200 / 1520 S. Bay St., Eustis Merrillinsurance.com “We are a family-owned company, and we really mean that all the way to the core. What we would do for one another, we extend to our clients,” says Katy Welch, chief operations officer for Merrill Insurance. Merrill Insurance is a full-service independent insurance agency with a team full of experience and resources to protect everything from your business to your home and your hobbies. The agency has a long-standing local history, dating back to 1925. Kent Merrill, chief executive officer, purchased the agency in 1986 and has laid the groundwork for where they are today. “We do our best to take care of the community and those around us, and I hope that shows in what we do,” Katy says, adding the agency not only takes care of clients’ insurance needs, but puts their safety and needs first – even an emergency call on a holiday, or as soon as it's safe after hurricanes and other major events. “We love our community and that’s what we are here for,” says Katy.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Danielle Mallard

Kara Sparks OWNER

MASTER STYLIST

MASTER STYLIST

352.508.9542 / 16840 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora / laruekay.com “It’s a very welcoming environment, everybody is treated the same, and it’s definitely fun,” says master stylist Emily Parks, adding clients range from doctors to stay-athome moms. Many customers rave over the wide array of services available through LaRu’e. “The best compliment is that it feels like a family,” says master stylist Danielle Mallard. “And we are family.”

LaRu’e Kay Salon

LaRu’e Kay Salon “We are an all-natural salon; we try to use all vegan products and we customize in balayage in blonde, which is our No. 1 thing, and we also specialize in extensions,” says LaRu’e Kay Salon owner Kara Sparks, who notes many clients are thankful that there is no strong ammonia smell in the salon. The stylists work as a team in serving clients. Customers can also enjoy a nice glass of wine while they are being pampered.

Emily Parks


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Yvonnne Combs 5911 Delphina Loop, The Villages The beautiful Yvonne Combs, 72, of The Villages, grew up in wartorn Vietnam, the daughter of a Vietnamese mother, teacher and French officer father during the Indochina War. She went on to become a successful businesswoman, working at the U.S. State Department as an interpreter, translator, and assistant to Charlie Combs, a World War II POW veteran, who was her husband for 39 years. She also was an attorney. Yvonne was invited to elegant state department functions, including balls at the King’s Palace in Laos, wearing formal ballgowns, gloves, and dancing the waltz. She also had the great honor of attending a ceremony at Prince Heritier Vong Savang Palace. After coming to the U.S. in the mid-1970s, she became a Realtor and owned and operated restaurants in Missouri and Crystal River. Yvonne is now living the childhood dream she had at age 8 of being a famous author and philanthropist. In her

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autobiography “Me’Tisse, Parts 1 and 2,” she inspires others to have hope and faith. Her book has been praised as interesting, uplifting, and she was the first author to have a book signing at Panera Bread in Lakeland. She loves veterans and has donated all the proceeds from her book signings to veterans’ organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans Association in The Villages. Her inspiring book is available on Amazon. Yvonne gives gratitude to God and to many people for the blessings in her life. “I thank you all for sharing this blessed land with me. I am proud to be an American. I will always cherish the moment I placed my right hand over my heart to be sworn in as an American citizen. Thank you again for sharing my journey and permitting me to drop my anchor on your golden shores.” Yvonne was the first runnerup to be on the cover of this year’s issue.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Yvonne Combs


Mary's Kountry Kitchen

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Mary Cutlip OWNER

Mary's Kountry Kitchen 352.343.6823 / 15945 County Road 448 / maryskountrykitchen.net Unforgettable cinnamon bun pancakes. Tasty biscuits and gravy. Juicy cheeseburgers. Crispy fried chicken. At Mary’s Kountry Kitchen, all those wonderful dishes are served with a side of Southern hospitality. Mary Cutlip wouldn’t have it any other way. She opened the family-owned and operated restaurant 14 years ago. “Here, our customers are like family,” she says. During the 2021 Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards, Mary’s Kountry Kitchen placed in six categories as

voted on by readers: first place for “Best Diner,” second place for “Best Overall Restaurant,” second place for “Best Burger,” second place for “Worth the Drive,” second place for “Best Dessert,” and third place for “Best Breakfast.” “People come for good food, good prices, and our friendly staff,” Mary says. Dinner specials include fried chicken on Thursday, an all-you can-eat fish fry or prime rib dinner on Friday, and crab legs or hand-cut steaks on Saturday.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Aubrey Buzard OFFICE MANAGER

352.805.0359 / 2003 Titcomb St., Eustis / lucas-air.com Aubrey Buzard has no qualms about working in an industry typically dominated by males. As office manager for Lucas Air Conditioning and Heating, LLC, she has a very cool job—literally and figuratively. And she doesn’t take any crap from her boss, who happens to be her boyfriend, Cameron Lucas. “He’s a tough boss, but I know how to handle him,” she says while smiling. Aubrey, who graduated from Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College, handles everything from human resources and payroll to accounting and answering the phone. She previously worked in real estate before changing careers two years ago. “Our company is growing very fast, so I left real estate to help Cameron,” Aubrey says. The veteran-owned company provides new installations, maintenance, air duct cleaning, and repairs for residential homes and commercial properties. Discounts are provided for men and women who served in the armed forces. “We’re about quality over quantity,” Aubrey says. “Customers are family to us.”

Lucas Air Conditioning and Heating

Lucas Air Conditioning and Heating, LLC


Micki Blackburn Realty

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Gabriela Razo

Kristin Conway

ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY

BUSINESS MANAGER

Kathleen Fielitz MARKETING

Micki Blackburn Realty 352.394.6611 / 450 HWY 50, Suite 1, Clermont / mickirealty.com The Essentials. Gabriela Razo has been with Micki Realty for 22 years and is fluent in Spanish, which has proved very beneficial for many clients, whether buyer or seller. Gabriela assists in interpreting contracts, which is extremely important in the real estate business to ensure that buyers and sellers know exactly what they are signing. Kristin Conway serves as Micki Realty’s business manager for all three of their offices. “She’s extremely adept and experienced,” Micki says. “She does all sorts of things;

checks our emails and listings, checks contracts, calculates commissions… she’s really a jack of all trades.” Kathleen Fielitz works in Micki Realty’s downtown showcase, which is open on weekends and some weekdays. She showcases all listing and provides buyers and sellers with the information they are looking for. “These three women are essential to my business and are reliable, steady, hardworking, and all-around good people. They each have unique roles in the company which suits our clients in any way they need,” Micki says.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Erica McNamee CEO

352.669.4547 / 545 Umatilla Blvd #8434, Umatilla olsoninsurance.net Erica McNamee is the CEO of Olson Insurance, which was started by her grandfather in the 1970s and has flourished in Lake County ever since. “It's a small town and people usually recognize the name because my grandfather has been around for so long and helped so many people, so they are more inclined to stick with us,” Erica says. Though Erica has a master’s degree in Health Administration, she returned home after school to work in the family business with her father, grandfather, and now her sister-in-law. Olson Insurance covers everything from auto, home, and commercial insurance, to taxes, accounting, and bookkeeping. That combined, makes them a one-stop-shop for starting and running a successful business, or for your personal insurance needs. “I just enjoy being around family and being able to help people with their insurance needs,” she says. Erica and her husband also started a CBD business in 2020, Huff’s Puffs, where they grow hemp and sell pre-rolls.

Olson Insurance

Olson Insurance


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Ana Afshin

Vera Mortgage

BROKER/OWNER

Vera Mortgage 813.895.0118 / 637 Neptune Drive, Groveland / veramortgage.com Based in Groveland, Ana Afshin has been in the real estate and financial industries since 1999. Ana is the Broker and Owner of both Vera Mortgage and NextHome Orange Blossom Real Estate, and the Owner of Viewpoint Homes. “I love helping people and I have spent over 20 years putting the people we serve first,” Ana says. Vera Mortgage has loan originators throughout the state of Florida with planned expansions to surrounding states by the end of the year. Vera Mortgage handles everything from first time homebuyers to commercial purchases, foreign nationals, and super jumbo loans.

Ana and her husband, Cameron, have been married for 15 years and have four children that Cameron homeschools. Their oldest is already training to become a mortgage broker. “I get to help people because of the incredible support I receive at home,” Ana says. In their free time, Ana and Cameron are involved with many committees, clubs, and charities that support the local community. "At Vera Mortgage, our mission is to set a high standard in the loan industry and we strive every day to exceed expectations.”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

OWNER

Prominent Fox Boutique 352.435.7304 / 210 N 4th St STE 102, Leesburg Since moving Prominent Fox Boutique from Oxford to Leesburg, the shop’s customer base has continued to grow and flourish. Leigh Ann Berry’s goal has always been to make women feel better and more confident about themselves, which she accomplishes by always bringing new products into the store. “I think that’s what keeps my customers coming back to me, I build relationships with them. I end up knowing them on a first name basis and getting to know them personally,” Leigh Ann says. The City of Leesburg enjoys Prominent Fox so much that they have offered Leigh Ann a second location on Main Street, which will be coming soon. The Main Street location will feature the clothing, accessories, and current products, and the 4th Street location will soon have accessories, furniture, decor, and other home goods. Another thing that’s very important to Leigh Ann is bringing other local small businesses and entrepreneurs into her shop; a few being Cracker and Cur, SPRAY Mobile Tanning, Madden Design products, and more. “We’re always expanding and growing, and I have new arrivals all the time. We’re always switching it up, so you never know what you’re going to find,” Leigh Ann adds.

Prominent Fox Boutique

Leigh Ann Berry


St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Dr. Kimberly Ireland CATARACT SURGEON

St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute 352.350.8484 / 2955 Brownwood Blvd. Ste. 303, The Villages / 1050 Old Camp Road, Ste. 220, The Villages / stlukeseye.com Living with cataracts can be difficult. Fortunately, Dr. Kimberly Ireland of St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute has combined world-class care and cutting-edge technology to perform tens of thousands successful cataract surgeries. There’s typically no downtime with this minimally invasive procedure. Dr. Ireland performs the surgery in just a few minutes without the use of needles, stitches, or unnecessary patches, allowing her patients to return

to their normal activities the same day. Adding to the patient experience, the procedure is done at St. Luke’s own ophthalmology dedicated surgical center, allowing for the focus to be on safety and patient care. “I love restoring patients’ sight, it is life-changing,” Dr. Ireland says. “I've been performing eye surgery for over 20 years, and when patients choose me to be their eye surgeon it is an honor that compels me to excellence.” St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser

Institute opened in Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages in 2012, bringing over 50 years of ophthalmology experience to the area. Since then, Dr. Ireland’s reputation for superior surgical outcomes and patient-centered approach has spread, allowing St. Luke’s to open a second location at The Center for Advanced Healthcare in Brownwood. “We look forward to developing relationships with new patients and improve their vision so they can enjoy a higher quality of life,” Dr. Ireland says.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

BROKER/OWNER

Stellar Real Estate Agency 352.585.1562 / 5531 SW 30th Ave., Ocala stellarrealestateagency.com Nikki Serrano has developed a reputation as a Realtor who gets things done. Her dedication to customer service, fun personality, take-charge attitude, and drive to succeed have helped her exceed clients’ expectations. More and more people are relying on her knowledge and experience to buy or sell luxury homes, farms, commercial properties, land, and residences. “I have a lot of resources and past experiences to meet their wants and needs,” says Nikki, broker and owner of Stellar Real Estate Agency in Ocala. “I’ve bought and sold many houses, and I have lots of connections. I know the ins and outs of the market and understand the dynamic of sales very well.” Above all else, Nikki goes above and beyond to provide unsurpassed service to her clients. “It’s about building relationships and having those customers stay with me. I always do what’s best for the client.”

Stellar Real Estate Agency

Nikki Serrano


Health Insurance & Retirement Advocates

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Julie Graham INDEPENDENT AGENT

Susan Brisbin INDEPENDENT AGENT

Health Insurance & Retirement Advocates 352.735.7795 / The Renaissance Building 411 N. Donnelly St. Suite 300, Mount Dora / HIRAdvocates.com The team at Health Insurance and Retirement Advocates, Inc. is “Making Medicare Easy!” Whether you are approaching 65, are new to the area, or are getting ready to retire, we are here to help you find the plan that works best for you. Our office is nestled in historic downtown Mount Dora and our independent agents serve communities throughout Central Florida. We

pride ourselves on our customer service and personal attention. Give us a call or visit our website to schedule a free in-person or virtual consultation. We are always available and happy to answer your questions. In addition to a suite of UnitedHealthcare® Medicare plans, we also offer Short Term Medical, Dental, Life and Annuity products. Call us, let’s chat!


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Lynn Gebaide

Kesia Blair

Faye Saxon Horton

INDEPENDENT AGENT

INDEPENDENT AGENT

INDEPENDENT AGENT

Bonnie Stanley INDEPENDENT AGENT

Amanda Papazoglou INDEPENDENT AGENT

Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. A licensed agent may call or e-mail as a result of contact to discuss Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plans, or Medicare Supplement Insurance.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Roxanne Stafford

Window Reflections

OWNER

Alexa Stafford OFFICE MANAGER

Window Reflections

352.330.2055 / 103 N. Main St., Wildwood / windowreflections.net The relationship between a mother and daughter can go from disagreeing to laughing uncontrollably in a matter of seconds. However, there’s always one constant—the invaluable bond of a best friend. Roxanne Stafford and her daughter, Alexa, have taken their strong relationship into the business world. They are owners of Window Reflections, a Wildwood-based company that will be celebrating its 30th anniversary Sept. 1. Walk into the showroom and you’ll see a variety of custom blinds, shades, shutters, and drapery. But what you feel is a sense of comfort, hospitality, and friendliness that only a mother-daughter duo can provide. “I think people who come here feel like an extension of our family,” Alexa says. “Working together helps strengthen our relationship because we’re not only focusing on our business but our family dynamic as well.” Roxanne agrees. “We’re a small, family-owned business that has never lost sight of what we’re about, which of offering superior customer service.”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Lindsey Mallory OWNER

sprayonthego.com / sprayedxlindsey@gmail.com facebook.com/spraymobiletanning Instagram.com/spraymobiletanning After years of SPRAY tans and a lifetime of using different tanning products, Lindsey Mallory is the up-and-coming “Go-to girl for all things Sunless” in Central Florida. In the midst of the pandemic, Lindsey has been able to launch a full product line that includes two different shades of mousse, an aerosol mist, and an extender. She’s continued SPRAYing clients in their own home via her Luxury Mobile service, and has begun helping other women become their own boss. “Sunless tanning isn’t one size fits all, we have something for everyone,” Lindsey says. She loves the science behind spray tans too, adding: “I love to customize them for each individual client.” Lindsey has trained and certified numerous women in the sunless tanning industry and isn’t stopping there. She has two locations and will be announcing more in the next year. She will be offering educational opportunities and certification courses for anyone interested in learning more about the sunless industry.

SPRAY Mobile Tanning

SPRAY Mobile Tanning


UNcommon on Sixth

BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Toni Stokes Marshall OWNER/ARTIST

UNcommon on Sixth 352.435.7707 / 103 S. 6th St., Leesburg / uncommononsixth.com "Adding artwork to a home gives character to the space and helps to tell a story about the family who lives there." Toni Stokes Marshall, an awardwinning fiber artist and owner of Uncommon on Sixth, has artwork in her gallery and studio that will give any home a punch of personality. Her eclectic art gallery features the work of 28 fine artists and craftsmen—24 of which are local—in mediums such as basketry, pottery, jewelry, painting, and metalwork. “I love educating people on how art can be used in their homes to improve their lives,” Toni says. “I take great pride in recruiting artists who do

exceptional work in uncommon media.” Toni opened her gallery in December 2019. She uses fibers to create cloth and from that cloth she creates clothing, home goods, and wall art pieces. A 1971 graduate of Leesburg High School, Toni returned to Lake County after living in North Florida, North Carolina, and Texas for 42 years. “I’m thrilled to be in my hometown doing business in the historic district and supporting artists who have a great passion,” she says. “People who come to Uncommon On Sixth say it is a collective reflection of the arts which can be found in much larger communities such as Winter Park and Mt. Dora.”


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

The Villages Insurance Partners 352.751.6622 / The Villages thevillagesinsurance.com

Connie Hill MANAGING DIRECTOR

The Vilallges Insurance Partners

In August 2020, the agency took its commitment to excellence one step further by welcoming Connie Hill, an insurance industry veteran with more than 40 years of experience, as its Managing Director. “My entire career has afforded me with many great opportunities, but none greater than a dedication and commitment to the client,” Connie says. “Being client-centric doesn’t mean the answer is always yes, but rather means offering advice and counsel to those we serve and putting our clients in a position to make informed decisions about their insurance programs.” In her role, Connie oversees eight agency locations, staffed by more than 80 insurance professionals whose job it is to get to know the individual client and their exposures to loss, then find insurance options best suited to meet their coverage needs. Connie emphasized that as an independent insurance agency, The Villages Insurance Partners represents multiple insurance companies, offering choice to their clients. The Villages Insurance Partners provides personal, commercial, and financial risk solutions for residents of The Villages® community, as well as clients throughout the state of Florida.


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Abby Followell

Laura Green HAIRSTYLIST

Hair & Nail Creations

HAIRSTYLIST

Emily Nicholas

Fran Juris HAIRSTYLIST

Annette Frederick OWNER / HAIRSTYLIST

HAIRSTYLIST

Kesla Brown HAIRSTYLIST

Hair & Nail Creations, Inc 352.330.4040 / 3990 E. State Road 44, Suite 303, Wildwood Annette Frederick, owner of Hair and Nail Creations, Inc., has a passion for beauty. She cherishes the close bond of her employees and considers them family. "We are a professional, talented, fun, and innovative salon," she says. "I've created a salon environment where people can feel uplifted and rejuvenated." Hair and Nail Creations has recently expanded to a larger

location, located in Freedom Plaza, just blocks from Brownwood Town Square. "Guests love the new salon; it is beautiful," says Annette, who takes pride in the fact that her stylists are all Redken certified and consistently educated on advanced coloring and cutting techniques. "I am passionate about my salon's apprentice program," says


BUSINESS WOMEN OF Style 2021

Samantha Godlewski

Lisa Taglienti HAIRSTYLIST

HAIRSTYLIST

Cassy Hall

Kayla Crouse HAIRSTYLIST

Cynthia Alfonso HAIRSTYLIST

HAIRSTYLIST

Annette, who recruits newly licensed stylists to train under a highly seasoned hairdresser for one year. Color, cuts, keratin treatments, and medical-grade facials are the salon's most popular services. "Trends are constantly changing," says Annette. "We are up to date on all the new color techniques such as balayage and foliage, and we're very proficient in creating color

Destini Rodeman HAIRSTYLIST

complimentary to every skin tone." The majority of Hair and Nail Creations' customers are residents of The Villages. "I am proud to see the growth of The Villages and I welcome the business," says Annette. "I love working with Villagers because when their hair feels young, they feel young too!"

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Melanie Wagner’s retirement garden grows ideas for children’s books. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL


fter years of shaping young minds, Melanie Wagner continues to share her vast knowledge with “students” of all kinds. Through a greenhouse she established, Melanie teaches about pesticidefree growing, benefits of edible flowers, and how to grow certain veggies year-round in Florida. She also hopes to spread love and acceptance to children all over with a story close to her heart she co-wrote with a friend. Born and raised in Leesburg, Melanie still proudly calls the small town home where she married, raised two children, and had a lifetime of fulfilling careers and endeavors. After teaching 7th grade language arts at Carver Middle School, Melanie moved on to a full-time position at Lake Sumter State College, where she taught from 1990-2014. As retirement approached, she decided to pursue her interest in gardening and built a greenhouse with considerable help from her contractor husband. She planned for a small greenhouse, but it ended up being 2,000 square feet after her teacher friends and others expressed interest. Melanie’s plan was to grow vegetables and greens for community-share baskets and sell them to friends to cover the cost of seeds, fertilizer, etc. Melanie grew cucumbers and tomatoes, greens and herbs, and even edible flowers while learning quite a bit about gardening and unique plants. “I would be up before the sun. I would wear one of those headlamps to plant, and it takes a lot to run a greenhouse, but it was a good opportunity for me to share with people about growing without pesticides,” Melanie says. She learned a lot

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about an alternative pest control – releasing different types of wasps and ladybugs to eat the “bad bugs.” She had a lot of fun running her greenhouse, and often had groups visit for tours. Melanie would tell the touring groups all about her alternative pest control, joking that she would have to ask them to “please not kill [her] pest control” when they would swat at wasps. She also enjoyed educating visitors about hydroponically growing greens, and about greens and plants they may not have seen before. The greenhouse also introduced Melanie to Jessica and Gareth Gentry of Bountiful Farms in Okahumpka. “Jessica and I got to know each other when I had so much lettuce growing, because I can grow lettuce in the greenhouse in the summer when you can’t grow it in the field. When Jessica wasn’t able to grow romaine and shard and things, I was able to keep her supplied,” Melanie says. She offered the greenhouse to Jessica and Gareth when Melanie’s parents became ill. The couple found helpers to disassemble the structure and reassemble it at Bountiful Farms, where it remains with newly added growing tables.

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Gardening also brought Melanie together with Nicki Forde, a local artist who was profiled in Style’s Local Talent feature in April 2021. Both ladies have always been animal lovers, and when Melanie gave up the greenhouse, she also had to disperse 54 chickens, most of which went to Bountiful Farms. The special-needs and geriatric chickens went to Nicki, who has a soft-spot for those kinds of animals. When the chickens moved in, Nicki watched her diabetic cat Wailin’ and the chickens become quick friends, which led to Melanie and Nicki collaborating on a book. “We started talking about that and I said, ‘Who would’ve thought that having the chickens move in with him would give him purpose or something to do, however you want to put it,’ and they just became best friends,” Melanie says. “That’s one thing I think is interesting about our book, in that even though it’s children’s, it’s nonfiction. It actually happened and it’s a little bit unique.” Nicki and Melanie have been working on the book for several years. It’s finally with a publisher, and they should have a first-cut copy soon. It will be available as an e-book or hard copy.

“If you look for it, you can find happiness, love, and acceptance in some really unusual places,” Melanie says regarding Wailin’s friendship with the chickens. She adds: “We thought if there is a child in elementary school who is diabetic or has some other ability or disability, this might speak to that individual child and let them know that you don’t have to be like everybody else, your friends can be different you can be different and have a good time.” The two women have plans for future books, which they hope to make into a children’s series. “We have several ideas that are either based on the animals, or since we both enjoy gardening, we can’t decide whether we’re going to do another one about the animals first,” Melanie says. “The other one we’re thinking about that is called ‘Tales From the Garden,’ with a play on the word ‘Tales’ crossed out and spelled ‘Tails’ on the cover,” explaining that it will intertwine their love for animals and Florida plant life, as well as educate about plants many people consider weeds that have their own beauty. With Nicki’s artistic eye and Melanie’s background in technical and professional writing and critical research, the two


“IF YOU LOOK FOR IT, YOU CAN FIND HAPPINESS, LOVE, AND ACCEPTANCE IN SOME REALLY UNUSUAL PLACES.” — M E L A N I E WAG N E R

make a great pair for creative yet educational and non-fictional children’s books. “It was a dream for us to put this together just because of our love for the animals and we wanted to share that, and if it’s well received by the kids then we’ll pursue another book and keep going with it,” Melanie says.


Liz Cornell, CAS®, CEO TB Financial Group with Steve Schneider, CEO TB Financial Wealth Management


The Best better JUST GOT

For TB Financial Group, adding more financial services makes perfect cents. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

ongratulations. You have entered a brand-new stage of life called retirement. It’s a new chapter of your life … a new beginning. You dream about playing golf several times a week. Or maybe you dream about spending a luxurious vacation in another country. OK, stop dreaming for one minute and ask yourself an important question. Have you planned well enough financially to partake in these activities as often as you’d like? It’s an important question because saving an adequate amount of money for retirement has become a difficult challenge for many. And it comes with many decisions. How much should I invest? What debts should I pay off ? How much money do I need to live on in a year? Since 2013, Liz Cornell has helped take the hassle out of these decisions. Liz, owner of TB Financial Group, specializes in financial retirement strategies. She works with fixed annuities, index annuities, and life insurance to increase income, minimize taxes, and protect principal against market volatility.

In 2020, she decided to expand her services to more effectively address the financial needs and objectives of clients beyond annuities. She partnered with Steve Schneider and together they opened TB Wealth Management to offer additional financial services like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, providing clients with both conservative and aggressive investments. Why is this important? More often than not, people have different advisers and companies for each financial element, which is often more costly, less effective and little to no overall cohesion. TB Financial Group and TB Wealth Management looks at every aspect of a client’s financial life and makes sure they’re working in harmony toward a unified goal. “We spent last year trying to figure out where we could provide more for the clients,” Liz says. “In a year where we couldn’t go out and do a lot, we didn’t want to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. For us, it was wonderful timing to bring on TB Wealth Management so we could offer a full scope of financial services.”

Steve Schneider primarily oversees TB Wealth Management. Steve brings a wealth of experience having worked in the financial side corporate America. From a business standpoint, Steve and Liz are a perfect match because they share the same core values in doing business. Both believe there is no substitute for trust and integrity. “I’m glad to be part of the team because TB stands out as a company that prioritizes doing the right thing over profits,” Steve says. “Sometimes in this industry people have taken a big payment up front instead of doing what’s in the best interest of the client. Liz and I both believe that in the long run honesty pays off.” Liz echoed his sentiments. “Finding people who align with the same moral compass I have is difficult. It was exciting and refreshing to find somebody who shares the same ideas, principles, and best practices. An added asset is Steve comes from a different background, he brings a different style of thinking, which is necessary in our industry because it’s always changing.”


TB Financial clients now have access to a full array of financial services with a trusted team managing and executing their financial goals. “Our clients may have annuities but that is a piece to an overall plan. Some clients are comfortable with the stock market and more risk” Steve says. “That’s where TB Wealth Management comes in. We can offer them a comprehensive financial plan that combines annuities, investments, and everything else” Despite the growth, clients can rest assured that Liz and Steve would never sacrifice the company’s values and culture. “We’re still staying true to our core principles,” Liz says. “We listen, we care. We do business the right way, not the easy way. The industry has evolved. We’ve evolved and will continue to do so. When clients are in our office, they’ll see our transparency and authenticity.”

A tremendous team Once their visit is complete, TB clients leave with a smile that beams with pride—a smile that was not only created through expert financial planning but also through the hospitality, professionalism, and friendliness of the staff. The staff looks forward to conversing with and helping clients while providing a down-to-earth, warm, and friendly atmosphere. The TB staff consists of Lisa Spurlock, vice president of TB Wealth Management, Denise Peterkin, client services representative, Tricia Hair, operations manager, and Kathy Gentile, relationship director. Their hard work and dedication have been a driving force behind the company’s success. “We’ve added additional services, and the main reason we were able to do that is because we have a great team in place to support those services,” Liz says. “Each of them brings a different level of individuality to our company,” Liz says. “They have different perspectives and personalities and individual strengths.

The TB Financial Team (L-R): Tricia Hair, Kathy Gentile, Lisa Spurlock, Denise Peterkin, Brandy Norman

Because Steve and I spend the majority of our time in appointments, the staff are primarily the ones executing and making things happen each and every day. It’s a collaborative team effort and they do a great job servicing our clients.” The team enjoys camaraderie outside the office, as well. They’ve enjoyed trips to the spa, lunch outings and Christmas and birthday celebrations. “We’re very much like a family,” Kathy says. “We laugh together. We cry together. We go through life experiences together. We all have a healthy respect for each other.” Tricia says the greatest strength she brings to the team is decision-making and organization. “There are a lot of moving parts, whether someone calls us to attend the Annuity University or someone is coming here for the first time,” she says. “There are 1,000 things in the middle that need to be followed up on. I help everyone remember those moving parts and keep things moving in the right direction.” Denise is a true team player. “I’m always open to help and open to learn,” she says. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done in a thorough and professional manner.” Lisa has worked in retirement benefit consulting for 30 year and brings a wealth of expertise. “I feel that I’m extremely welleducated and very smart,” says Lisa, a 1989 graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’m passionate about helping people create wealth.”

Kathy, who has worked at TB Financial Group since 2013, is the face of the company and loves interacting with clients. “I’m always welcoming and happy to see them,” she says. “I try to take care of them the best I can.”

Secure your financial future People all have different situations, expectations, and financial goals. Liz and Steve listen to clients, gets to know clients, and create a financial plan specific to their needs. They also understand that clients look to their advisors as a source of information and a financial life coach rather than someone who simply manages their money. This is a role that Liz and Steve do not take lightly. In fact, they make education a priority. Potential new and existing clients are invited to attend their Annuity 101, Annuity 102, and wealth management classes, which ultimately helps them feel more empowered and confident with their money and guide them to make better financial decisions. “Education is a key to our success,” Steve says. Knowledge. Education. A dedicated staff. Unwavering integrity. Powerful, lasting relationships. Strong principles. Those are the greatest assets offered at TB Financial Group and TB Wealth Management.


“EDUCATION IS A KEY TO OUR SUCCESS.” —STEVE SCHNEIDER CEO TB FINANCIAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT

“IT’S A COLLABORATIVE TEAM EFFORT AND THEY DO A GREAT JOB SERVICING OUR CLIENTS.” —LIZ CORNELL CAS®, CEO TB FINANCIAL GROUP

352.350.1161 / tbfinancialgroup.com / 3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F-2, Fruitland Park, TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters. Investment advisory services offered by duly registered individuals through ChangePath, LLC a Registered Investment Adviser. ChangePath, LLC and TB Wealth Management, LLC are unaffiliated entities.


SPECIAL REPORT

Michael McMaster, Philip Polen and Norman Bissel

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PEACE OF MIND A program in South Lake County serves those with mental health conditions. STORY: JAMES COMBS

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

hen people experiencing a mental health crisis display erratic behavior, there is a greater likelihood of encountering police than medical professionals. Those encounters don’t always have happy endings. When officers who are not properly trained to deal with people who have mental illness, confrontation can escalate quickly, putting everyone in danger. Two agencies in Lake County have developed an operational model for effectively policing the mentally ill. The Mobile Crisis Response Service, a partnership between LifeStream Behavioral Center and the Clermont Police Department, trains a team of police officers and mental health professionals to respond to those with mental health problems as patients rather than offenders. Instead of making arrests, they focus on connecting these patients to adequate medical resources. The program, which is funded through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, allows mental health professionals to work with officers in the field to help people suffering from conditions such as drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders, autism, bipolar disorders, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and posttraumatic stress disorder. “This program is about building a more resilient community,” says Karen Rogers, adult clinical services director of LifeStream Behavioral Center. “Clermont is working toward a quality of life that has to do not just with beautification of downtown or the expansion of recreational facilities, but also the big picture of health that includes behavioral health. There’s hope. Through this program, you’re increasing the health and resilience of an entire community.” A major component of the program is Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. Philip Pollen, a Clermont Police Department corporal, teaches a 40-hour class that educates officers about mental illness and effective strategies and techniques for deescalating potentially volatile encounters. Newly hired officers at CPD undergo a shortened 24-hour crisis intervention course. Training equips

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SPECIAL REPORT

them with the necessary knowledge to recognize when an individual is suffering from a mental health crisis. “Undergoing training improves their attitude toward people with mental illnesses,” Philip says. “It also reduces injury to the individual Karen Rogers

they’re responding to and themselves. Having a better understanding of what’s happening in that person’s mind greatly alters the way we respond to something. Knowledge provides us that reduction in fear.” Officers responding to a call do not diagnose conditions. That’s left to Norman Bissel, a licensed mental health counselor with LifeStream Behavioral Center whose office is located inside the Clermont Police Department. He provides an on-the-scene clinical evaluation to determine the appropriate treatment someone needs, as well as follow-up care. He also tries to keep people who commit nonviolent offenses such as trespassing or drug possession from going to jail, where 83 percent of mentally ill inmates do not receive adequate treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAM). “We’re constantly meeting people where they’re at,” Norman

says. “If someone stole a bottle of booze, should we lock them up for theft or figure out why that person is self-medicating?” There are other valid reasons to keep mentally ill people out of jail. They may not be productive members of society, may lack identity, be separated from loved ones, or are exposed to violence. These factors can exacerbate their condition. Moreover, people with severe mental illness have a 54 percent reincarceration rate, according to a study conducted by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. “I cannot state how important it is to intervene at the first opportunity before someone enters into the criminal justice system,” Karen says. “Once someone hits that system–especially if they’re in poverty or have limited resources—that’s a real trap. Anyone with a serious chronic mental illness is likely in poverty and cannot afford to be bonded out. So, they stay in jail longer.” Travis Price, program services manager at LifeStream, has witnessed favorable results of someone being


diverted out of the criminal justice system. Two years ago, a man in his 30s who had ideations of murdering his mother and killing himself was taken into custody under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows people to be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours in a mental health treatment facility. From there, he underwent intensive treatment involving a therapist, peer specialist, and group therapy. “We recently received an email from his mother saying that their relationship has never been better,” Travis says. “He worked toward what he needed to accomplish.” That success and others haven’t gone unnoticed. In recent years, representatives from law enforcement agencies throughout the state have visited Clermont to inquire about implementing the same program in their respective counties. The program has also won multiple awards, including one from the Florida Crime Prevention Association, which honors agencies

for implementing effective crimeprevention strategies. “For each person we help, we’re helping at least 15 other people,” Philip says. “We’re helping their families, we’re helping the school system, we’re helping the community, and we’re helping police officers. Assisting one person is assisting a web of people. We’re all connected.” Captain Michael McMaster, who has served the Clermont Police Department for 20 years, says the Mobile Crisis Response Service offers a superior approach to dealing with people facing a mental health crisis. “In the past, police officers would arrive to a scene, take command, and attempt to solve the problem as fast as possible,” he says. “So, we’d Baker Act them if they met the criteria and drop them off at LifeStream. Unfortunately, we would see them anywhere from 24 to 84 hours later. It was almost like a revolving door. Now that we’re more proactive than reactive, we’re now seeing these people only once or twice instead of multiple times.”

In addition, the program has strengthened the bond between the Clermont Police Department and the community. “Our agency participates in events all over the city,” Michael says. “Families will come up to us and say, ‘Susie is doing much better’ or ‘my mom is doing great.’ They understand that we do more than simply arrest people. We’re going the extra mile to make a difference and offer our community the best mental health services we can possibly give them.”

Travis Price

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Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (left) Robby Giovanetti, Salesperson (right)

Jim & Diane Brill

P L AZ A CA D I L L AC We’ve had a lot of full-size GM SUVs, the new Escalade is by far the best. It’s exceeded all expectations. The tech is incredible, the interior is gorgeous and we get compliments on it everywhere we go. The best part however is the dealer experience. Our salesperson, Robby, is kind, cooperative, understanding, and always has the answer to my questions. Everyone at the dealership - sales, parts, and service, are all helpful and great people. —JIM AND DIANE BRILL

8893 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1323 | P L AZ A C A D I L L AC . CO M


Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (left) Mitchell Smith, Salesperson (right)

Carmelo and Miriam Quijano

P L AZ A L I N CO L N Our experience at Plaza Lincoln was awesome. Our salesperson Mr. Mitchell Smith is very knowledgeable on all the new features on the 2021 Aviator-it’s beyond reproach! The courtesy and welcoming was very pleasant, we are impressed. To say the least, we left very well satisfied. —CARMELO AND MIRIAM QUIJANO

8925 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1255 | P L AZ A L I N C O L N O F L E E S B U R G . CO M


TEE TIME For Mission Inn, hosting a major golf tournament is par for the course. STORY: JAMES COMBS

≈ PHOTOS: DOUGLAS TYLER

Sierra Sims


M E E T O N E O F T H E P L AY E R S ierra Sims feels like she’s on a fairway to heaven when she golfs at Mission Inn Resort and Club’s famed El Campeon golf course. The course is as aesthetically pleasing as it is challenging. There are 85 feet of elevation changes, two peninsula greens and one island green, and water comes into play on 13 holes of the course framed by towering live oaks and sparkling spring-fed lakes. “Every hole presents a different challenge,” Sierra says. “And the water holes can be tough to hit around. Still, it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever played on.” Sierra, a 25-year-old Tampa resident, will soon find out how her game stacks up on Florida’s 14th-oldest golf course. She is one of 140 female golfers from around the country participating in the Symetra Tour, which visits El Campeon, May 28-30. The Symetra Tour, consisting of 20 golf matches between March and October, is the official qualifying tour of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). A former golf star at Wake Forest University, Sierra is swinging for something much bigger than birdies and eagles. For her, the tournament is an opportunity to join the ranks of the country’s elite female golfers. At the end of the season, the top 10 players in the Symetra Tour graduate to the LPGA Tour. “It would be a dream come true to compete in the LPGA,” she says. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to showcase my talent and have a good day on El Campeon. After all, it’s one of the most historic and difficult courses in Florida.” For the well-traveled golfer, El Campeon hardly needs a formal introduction. Golfing legends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Bubba Watson all played there. Built in 1917, the golf course has been the site of many tournaments, including Florida high school championships, NCAA golf regionals, and qualifiers for the U.S. Open

Style caught up with Sierra Sims, who is one of only 10 Black women on the Symetra Tour, according to LPGA data.

How do you see yourself as one of very few Black woman competing in this sport? I try to be a role model. During tournaments I play in, young black girls come out and talk to me. I always try to spend a little time with them and encourage them to pursue this great sport. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of diversity on the golf course right now.

Did you have any Black female role models in the sport? Watching black female golfers like Shasta Averyhardt and Cheyenne Woods enjoy success on the LPGA Tour gave me lots of inspiration. I hope I can be a similar inspiration to young black girls.

What are your biggest accomplishments in golf? Playing Division 1 college golf for Wake Forest University for four years. I had a second-place finish at the ACC championship during my junior year. Also, playing five years in the Symetra Tour has been a big accomplishment.

You grew up doing gymnastics and golf. What made you choose golf? Gymnastics is one of those sports where the end goal is the Olympics. Many gymnasts are homeschooled because they are so focused on the sport. With golf, I knew I could receive a collegiate scholarship and eventually play professionally. It was an easy choice for me.

How often do you play to keep your game at a top level? The Symetra Tour is a long season. We have 20 events between March and October. Following the season, I take a month off just to unwind. Then,

I begin practicing every day and work on various parts of my game. I also play 18 holes at least three times a week.

What is your greatest strength as a golfer? My driving. My drive is pretty straight and far. I usually land on greens. My farthest drive is 300 yards.

If you could play a foursome with three other people, who would they be? Tiger Woods, Seth Curry, and Justin Timberlake.

When you are having a bad day in golf, how do you overcome it? The biggest thing I do is take a deep breath. If I feel myself getting nervous, I always say, ‘You can do it.’ It lifts my mood so much and makes me much more confident. Having a positive mindset is the biggest thing in golf. If you have a bad shot, you have to bounce back the very next hole.

Have you ever made a hole-inone? Yes, I’ve made three. The first two I made were during junior golf tournaments when I was 12 and 14. A few months ago, I made one at a course in Tampa. However, I was playing alone so it wasn’t as exciting.

What were the distances of your hole-in-ones? The first one was 150 yards and the other two were 160 yards.

What advice would you give to young girls who are aspiring golfers? You’ll undoubtedly have bad days on the golf course but you have to keep going back out there and continue playing.

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“THE LADIES WHO ARE CHASING THEIR DREAMS ARE INCREDIBLE AMBASSADORS TO THEIR SPORT.” —MIKE NICHOLS

HOW S I E R R A H A S FA R E D I N T H E SYMETRA TOUR Rank

Money Earned

2017:

55

$15,396

2018:

100

$7,427

2019:

53

$21,977

2020:

50

$9,097

Source: symetratour.com

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and U.S. Amateur Championship. Callaway, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other national companies filmed commercials at El Campeon. “El Campeon has a rich 104-year history and hosting an event like the Symetra Tour is a progression that takes the course to another level,” says Roy Schindele, executive director of sales and marketing at Mission inn Resort and Club. “This is going to be the most prominent women’s sporting event in all of Lake County.” That bold statement is backed by the quality of talent on display. Two of the past three LPGA Major champions have competed in the Symetra Tour. Sophia Popov won the 2020 British Women’s Open in Scotland, and Patty Tavatanakit emerged victorious in the 2021 ANA Inspiration in California. “The level of talent in women’s golf today is phenomenal,” says Mike Nichols, chief business officer

of the Symetra Tour. “You may not have heard their names, but they’re world-class golfers from 40 countries all over the world. The ladies who are chasing their dreams are incredible ambassadors to their sport.” Organizers also feel the event could boost Lake County’s tourism. First-time visitors to Mission Inn Resort and Club tend to be in awe of the property’s overall beauty—picturesque backdrops of Mediterranean-style architecture, spring-fed lakes, and gentle, rolling hills. This could entice recreational golfers and tourists alike to return annually and enjoy all the resort’s amenities. “Having the Symetra Tour at Mission Inn elevates our standing as a destination,” says Visit Lake Director Rob Price. “I still believe we are a hidden gem, and a tournament of this nature gives us big-time visibility.”


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What is

Ovarian Cancer? PA I D

PROM O T IO N A L

F E AT U R E

O

varies are about the size of an almond. They release eggs and the hormones that control menstruation. When ovarian cancer develops, it is usually in cells on the outside of the ovary. Cancer can also occur in the fallopian tubes, which transport eggs from the ovary to the uterus (womb). Ovarian cancer is usually aggressive and the risk of this disease increases with age. It’s rare in women younger than 40, but half of all ovarian cancers are found in women age 63 or older. Women who have never had a child, who have not taken birth control pills, or who were older than 35 when they had their first full-term pregnancy are also at higher risk. Additional risks

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include a family history of ovarian and several other cancers. Some have asked whether talcum powder applied to the genital area is linked to ovarian cancer, but those findings have been mixed. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating and belly pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and frequent urges to urinate. Other symptoms include pronounced fatigue, back pain and pain during sexual intercourse, constipation, and menstrual changes like heavier or irregular bleeding. Speak with your doctor if you experience these discomforts. Radiation therapy, including therapy offered at RBOI, is sometimes used

to treat small, recurrent ovarian cancers. For advanced ovarian cancer, intraperitoneal radiation therapy (which uses radioactive liquid) is being studied in clinical trials.

Did You Know? Ovarian cancer and a kind of breast cancer called triple negative have similar DNA. Thanks to a research tool called The Cancer Genome Atlas, we now know that these two difficult-to-treat cancer types may benefit from the same therapies.


1.6% Annual decrease in new ovarian cancer cases from 2007 to 2016

What’s New in Ovarian Cancer Research? New research is exploring how damaged genes in ovarian/ fallopian tube cancer cells can be corrected or replaced. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), “Researchers are studying the use of specially designed viruses that carry normal genes into the core of cancer cells and then replace the defective genes with functional ones.” Clinical trials are also evaluating immunotherapy to treat ovarian/ fallopian tube cancer. Researchers take a patient’s immune cells, grow them in a lab, train them to attack the cancer cells, and then return them to the patient through an IV. The FDA recently approved combining the non-chemo drug olaparib (brand name Lynparza) with the chemo drug bevacizumab to treat advanced ovarian cancer. Olaparib prevents damaged tumor cells from repairing themselves. Combined with bevacizumab, it delivers a one-two punch against ovarian cancer.

21,750 Estimated ovarian cancer diagnoses in 2020 in the US

5

th

HBOC Syndrome: A Higher Risk Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Syndrome relates to genetic mutations, especially in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Those mutations can mean a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, and additional cancers. For example, women with a BRCA1 gene mutation can have up to a 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer. Risk factors include multiple HBOC Syndrome cancers on the same side of your family, one or more women diagnosed at age 45 or younger, a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer, and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Talk to your doctor about getting genetically tested if you think you may be at risk.

Ovarian cancer (in ovaries, fallopian tubes, and peritoneum) is the fifth most common cause of cancerrelated death in the US

Patient-centered radiation oncology close to home

2% More than

Decline in annual death rate

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

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Woman of faith, determination Villager Yvonne Combs doesn’t let adversity control her. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

ress on and have hope. Realize that life takes place only in the present. The past is a lesson, the present is motivation, and the future is imagined,” says author Yvonne Combs of The Villages. One of her goals is to inspire others to have hope and faith, which she touches on in her autobiography “Me’Tisse,” where she writes of being ridiculed, bullied, raped, surviving war, fire, flood, family chaos, the grief of widowhood twice, and the death of her only child. There has been interest of this book being made into a movie. Yvonne was a widow for eight years before she met bachelor Dr. David Dietrich at a book signing of “Me’Tisse.” “He liked my book and fell in love with me,” she says. They were married in November 2017. David died 10 months later. She has found love again. Yvonne is engaged to Judge Michael Abrams, whom she was introduced to by her Villages friends Judy and Dan Matthews. As a philanthropist, Yvonne has donated funds to feed the hungry in Israel and help the Jewish families relocate to the Holy Land. She purchased 10 plots of land near the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth and offered it to God to help the poor raise food. She also bought Christmas gifts for 16 families and prisoners’ children.

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Yvonne has three granddaughters, Samantha, Amanda, and Vanessa; two great-grandsons, Gabriel and Aiden; and her daughter-inlaw, Susan. Yvonne has a water-view home in The Villages. The home and the beautiful Oriental-furnished décor is valued close to $1 million. She is blessed to have Connie and Matt Maher for neighbors. They surprised Yvonne with a Christmas gift of a Pilot pen from Japan, which is part of her life story. Yvonne had saved money for 320 days to purchase her first Pilot pen when she was 8. She used the pen to write stories. She recently finished a second book on the 2,000-year history of Vietnam. Many people praise Yvonne’s God-given wisdom and for her loving, giving heart, and she’s thankful to God for the blessings in her life. “I thank you all for sharing this blessed land with me. I am proud to be an American. I will always cherish the moment I placed my right hand over my heart to be sworn in as an American citizen. Thank you again for sharing my journey and permitting me to drop my anchor on your golden shores.”


villages PEOPLE. PLACES. EVENTS.

Give them some space The Villages Astronomy Club enjoys learning about the Final Frontier.

Flying high Meet retired Air Force Master Sergeant Randy Atkins.

Serving those who served Villagers for Veterans salutes military veterans by providing assistance.


MEET A VILLAGER

Randy Atkins Convertible enthusiast knows “You Only Live Once.” STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

VITAL STATS

• Calls Maine “home.” • Lives in the Village of Saint Charles. • Met girlfriend Andi of the Village of Bonita in 2019.

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

• Moved to The Villages in 2014. • Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant. • Has one son and one grandson in California.

How long were you in the Air Force? Twenty years. I started out in electronics at 18 and became an Air Force recruiter for nine years, and then I went into teaching professional military education in Germany, and finally ended up back in electronics in flight simulators.

What did you do after the Air Force? I went into real estate and was an agent, sold, bought, and developed real estate, and owned a motel business in California for 35 years, which we sold about a year and a half ago.

Where have you traveled? My nowdeceased wife and I had an RV in New Mexico and traveled in the West, quite a bit through Mexico, Cancun and so on, and back and forth to Maine many times. Mount Rushmore, Utah, and the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona are some of my favorites.

What clubs are you involved in? I'm with the convertible club where we get together and take road

trips and day trips, we’ve gone to several different restaurants and around Mount Dora, that kind of thing. Andi is an active member in YOLO which is predominantly a social group, “you only live once,” they do anything from golf cart rallies to playing ping pong. I golf with three other buddies from Maine.

Describe your perfect day? Sleeping in, simple breakfast, going for a ride in the convertible, dinner out, and coming home and watching a movie. What is something that is still on your bucket list? Right now, we’re actively pursuing a new RV and then traveling to places we haven't seen together. I’d like to get up to Canada, back to Yellowstone, and back to Maine where my sister and brother-in-law are.

Do you know an interesting Villager? Andi Flanagan and Randy Atkins

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Email victoria@akersmediagroup.com


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IN THE VILLAGES

CO MMENTARY

Make way for Village shoppers... They follow the beat of a different drummer. STORY: JOE ANGIONE

here’s no right or wrong way to shop retail stores, but Villagers follow the beat of a different drummer. As a former New Yorker, I’m used to shopping for groceries and other items as fast as possible. I want to get in and out quickly. But I’ve learned that shopping in The Villages can be frustrating. It’s done slowly, a rather drawn out, social experience that puts no premium on saving time, and can be challenging to people like me who want to pick, pay and run lickety- split. Here are some things that a fast, in-and-out shopper must get used to in places like Walmart or Publix: Village couples like to shop together.

It’s a way to pass time that Villagers have plenty of. But they’re likely to block a store aisle comparing prices on an item like a can of corn. It might go like this: “Hon, this corn sells at two for $1.39, but this brand is priced at three for $1.99, which should we buy?” Out comes the calculator to do the math. They might stand there, stopping traffic, just to save maybe five or 10 cents. At the check-out things can really get bogged down. No one pays attention to express lines for “10 items or less.” Villagers unload 20, even 30 items...and store personnel are just too nice to object. And what’s the rush, anyway? Next, the wife might strike up a conversation with the checker. “My, that’s a pretty blouse you’re wearing...where did you buy it? Oh, did

Joe Angione loves to share stories of his adventures.

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they have it in red or green? Oh, was it expensive...or maybe on sale?” The dialogue goes on until someone like me yells: “Cut the gab, there’s a dozen people waiting behind you.” Finally, when it’s time to pay the bill, Villagers rarely use cash, preferring a credit card. They like to go around cashless, worrying about being robbed. But thieves don’t want their “chump change,” when credit cards are the most lucrative snatch. Often, Villagers seem unsure how to use their cards...even if they’ve used them before. The card readers always seem different. How do I swipe the card? What if it has a computer chip? Slide it or insert it? Who knows? Some Villagers are baffled until the checker comes around to help out. If you’re impatient like me, shop very early or very late.

If you want to contact him, email joeangione@aol.com.


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Sgt. Pam Kelly photo by Anthony Rao

FOUNDATION

Sgt. Pam Kelly

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Support Troops Villagers for Veterans give all for all who served. STORY: GARY CORSAIR

ll gave some, some gave all. Some are prisoners of war in damaged bodies and altered minds. Many of the imprisoned are MIA – missing in action. Off society’s radar. They are phantom veterans because they carried purses before they toted M4 carbines. “The military is more male dominant than female dominant when you’re looking for help. As far as veterans organizations go, there’s not one that says, ‘We’re here for the female vets,’” says Sgt. Pam Kelly, who suffered a devastating injury in 2002 while training for deployment to Iraq. Her spine, head and both shoulders were crushed when a piece of equipment fell on her. Doctors did the best they could, sending her out into the world as a quadriplegic with best wishes, precious little support, and fingers crossed that the 17-year veteran would find help to heal her shattered spirit. “I thought I would have a lifetime career in military, but I lost everything. I basically lost my soul. I lost my life.”

Pam assumed she’d have all the help she needed as she sought a new life. She was wrong. “In the beginning, I didn’t know too much when I started trying to use the VA and other organizations. It was me and the rest of the males. I would apply for services but I felt like my application would always go to the bottom. I was getting frustrated.” Women have served in the military since the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act kicked open GI Joe’s door in 1948, but combat roles were not fully opened to females until 2015. And the 1.6 million women who have served are still being treated like second-class soldiers when it comes to access to healthcare. Case in point – north Texas has the largest population of female veterans in the United States, yet the Dallas VA has just one gynecologist on staff. No wonder female vets feel overlooked. Pam certainly did as she attempted to re-enter life in south Philadelphia. “I became isolated, shut myself away from the world,” she says. “I had to find a better way than just hiding from the world.”

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Unbeknownst to Pam, the seed of an idea for a better way was germinating 135 miles to her south. “It started in January 2015 as a result of visit to Walter Reed, where I met 15 of the most catastrophically injured veterans. I knew I wanted to do something to help, so I started a nonprofit,” says Marie Bogdonoff, a resident of The Villages. The nonprofit, Villagers for Veterans, has been a godsend for women veterans, including Sgt. Pam Kelly. “Villagers for Veterans is a very wonderful organization,” Pam says from the smart home the organization built for her. “Marie Bogondoff is very caring. She takes this seriously and there’s no one like her. She’s become part of my family, she’s like a second mother. She’s very near and dear to me.” Maire is $1.5 million serious about providing lifelines for injured women vets. That’s how much the organization she founded has raised in six years. Marie will need every penny – and lots more – to achieve all she’s set out to accomplish. “Our goal is to procure, build and remodel Lake County properties into transition homes that provide a temporary safe haven for six deserving women,” Marie says. “We considered housing more women, but six is manageable. We want to make sure we can give them services they need to move forward.” The ambitious plan involves much more than putting a roof over six heads and providing them with female comradery they can’t get at a VA facility filled with men. Job training, schooling and counseling will be provided. “We will help them work toward self-sufficiency in a secure and loving environment,” Marie says. “We want to get them on the road to independence.” Fittingly, the program is called New Beginnings. There’s a good chance at least one of the deserving women will leave the street to get on the road

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to self-sufficiency. Homelessness is a growing problem. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “The number of homeless women veterans has doubled from 1,380 in FY 2006 to 3,328 in FY 2010.” “I’ve seen it in south Philly,” Pam says. “Homelessness is a big problem where I’m from. Just riding the streets, you see homeless vets everywhere.” There are a handful of transitional homes for veterans in Florida, unfortunately none are exclusive to females. “Homeless women veterans is an issue we knew we needed to address because there are only a few transition homes for vets in Florida and women don’t feel comfortable being in among all those men,” Marie says. Villagers for Veterans is in the process of purchasing an ideal lot in Eustis and building its first transitional home for women vets. “First, we

were looking to buy and remodel, but the cost of remodeling would be so expensive. It will actually cost less to build something new,” Marie says. “It’s a safe area with access to public transportation and its close to the Tavares VA.” Obviously, there’s a lot riding on New Beginnings, which is just the beginning. “We hope to have homes in other communities as well,” Marie says. Transitional housing is the frontburner project, but Villagers for Veterans has, and will continue, to help in other ways. Providing service dogs is another arm of the outreach. Villagers for Veterans has sponsored 10 such dogs in partnership with Patience Service Dogs. The group has purchased and provided custom-built, motorized all-terrain chairs to 29 veterans at a

Group photo: Courtesy of Marie Bogdonoff

FOUNDATION


cost of nearly $16,000 apiece. “The all-terrain chairs give them a lot more independence than wheelchairs give. A lot of the younger vets are able to enjoy the beach, fishing, and hunting,” Marie says. ‘Hate’ and ‘dislike’ are the opposites of ‘enjoy,’ and Army veteran Sammy Lugo, a belowthe-knee amputee, frequently experienced both negative feelings before receiving an all-terrain chair from Villagers for Veterans. “When I’d go places with friends I’d feel like I was holding them back from having fun. After 15 to 20 minutes of standing it starts to hurt,” Lugo says. “I went to Busch Gardens with my nieces and I would have to sit and rest. Sores start to open up if I’m on it too long – blisters on my amputation. With a manual wheelchair, it’s good for the upper body to a point, but it’s very tiring.”

Sammy’s all-wheel drive electric chair does more than ease his pain, it carries him to places his two legs once did.

“I can get out in the countryside and enjoy it. Grassy areas, wooded areas, trails, and a lot of riding around the neighborhood,”

“HOMELESSNESS IS A BIG PROBLEM WHERE I’M FROM. JUST RIDING THE STREETS, YOU SEE HOMELESS VETS EVERYWHERE.” — S G T. PA M K E L LY

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FOUNDATION

Sammy says. “It’s almost like having an ATV, without a really good suspension. It’s a very cool chair. It’s awesome to have it. I’ve enjoyed it.” Sammy’s an all-day kind of adventurer, but he hasn’t been able to drain the battery of his Zoom chair. He’s rolled about 15 miles in one outing, and recently traveled 31 miles of the Santos Trail. Villagers for Veterans is all about getting people where they want – and need to go. That’s why the group raised $100,000 during last year’s pandemic for an honor flight for 126 women veterans to visit the Women in Military Service Memorial at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery. If all goes well, the flight will take place this spring. “The memorial is rarely visited,” Marie says. “There’s millions of women vets and only 300,000 registered. So a lot of women need to tell their stories.” So what’s Marie’s story? First of all, she’s not a veteran. But she can relate to the wounded. “As a child, I had polio, so I have my own mobility issues,” says Marie, who worked as a controller for a New York car dealership before finding her true calling. “When I met some of these kids I could relate. It’s been a great learning process.”

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Marie Bogdonoff


Top three photos: Courtesy of Marie Bogdonoff Bottom two photos of Gala event by Nicole Hamel

One of the wheelchair-friendly countertops in Sgt. Kelly’s smart home in The Villages.

CVMA National VP Christopher Akers, Marie Bogdonoff Founder and CEO Villagers for Veterans, LCDR Katheryn Wilgus NC Navy Retired, Al Newman CVMA Florida Representative

And that’s about all Marie will say about herself. “We’ve had huge success in The Villages. There are so many people supporting me.” Sgt. Pam Kelly agrees, but to her, Marie is Villagers for Veterans. “She’s just a heartwarmfelty person,” she says, inventing a word to describe how wonderful Marie is. “What she does is just amazing and she does it seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And she does it for others. You can’t say that about many people. There’s no one else like her. She’s a woman of her word, she’s one of God’s angels.” For Pam, support is the component that lifts Villagers for Veterans above other organizations. And The Villages is the perfect place for someone needing support. “I wanted to live in The Villages because of the golf cart paths, the ability to get around,” Pam says. “They call it the bubble here. I’m in a good bubble.” Pam lives on the historic side of the community in a two-bedroom smart home Villagers for Veterans gifted her last summer. It is very much a dream dwelling to the brave soldier. “I didn’t know how blessed I was going to be until I saw it. It’s a lot more square footage and I can move around in my power chair without tearing up the door frames.” Pam can also “park” under countertops, which makes it much easier to use her ‘good’ arm, her left, which she only has limited use of. She also appreciates having a garage with a 10-foot high ceiling for her customized van. For Pam, life is good. But it’s still incredibly difficult, a reality you’d never guess if you encountered her tooling around The Villages on her adaptive bike, zipping along in her motorized chair, or working out in the pool. “I always have a smile on my face. I have pain every day, but I’m not going to show it,” Pam says. “It’s a good day. I’m happy and hopefully I can make someone’s day. I’m blessed to be where I am right now. Attitude is gratitude.”

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SOCIAL CLUB SPOTLIGHT

PEO PLE

Stellar Inclination Club members’ knowledge is out of this world. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

nterest in space exploration is lifting off, and that has space enthusiasts floating on cloud nine. As well it should, says Mark Graybill, an aerospace engineer, amateur (but very experienced) astronomer, program director and member of The Villages Astronomy Club. “It’s definitely begun to heat back up again,” he says. “I’ve not seen activity like this since the ’60s.” What’s equally exciting for Mark is just how many people are interested in the solar system, and various topics surrounding the space program and new technologies. That, he says, is where The Villages Astronomy Club comes in. The 27-year-old club organizes events like “Starry, Starry Night,” in which members set up telescopes, answer questions, and give people an opportunity to glimpse the heavens. “I love sharing with people because there really is a hunger to know more,” Mark says. “And as just an ordinary

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL person who’s not in astronomical circles, it’s hard to get information and it’s hard to really have a chance to ask questions of someone who’s an astronomer or who works in the field.” “It’s wonderful to have so much interest from people. I’ve experienced that my whole life since I’ve done this. It’s the main reason astronomy is one of my hobbies,” Mark continues, explaining that his hobby has spanned decades. “I’ve been interested in astronomy since I got a book on astronomy when I was four. I fell in love with it, lived with it, and then, the following Christmas I got a telescope, and It was the space race, so whenever I’d set my telescope up in the front lawn, people would literally stop their cars and ask me to show them where the astronauts were going to land,” Mark recalls. “I was just a little kid, but I thought, ‘Well, OK, if they’re asking me, I guess I need to know this.’” Fast forward to 2021, and Mark says there is similar interest in things Elon Musk and NASA are doing, and what’s still to come.


Ken Katta, Toni Graybill, John Carter, Bob Averitt, Jerry Kosarko, Burt Salk and Bruce Sinclair

“We are going to see a lot of great new applications here on earth and a lot more exploration. NASA will be able to spend much less money launching things and that means that they’ll be able to hopefully get more space probes out there. I’m looking forward to getting probes back up to Titan and we’ve also been talking —BURT about going to Uranus and Neptune,” Mark says. Burt Salk, who has been a member of the club for 15 years, says he, too, is excited about the future of space exploration and sharing information with the community, especially children. That’s why he led the club in developing a portable exhibit called a solar walk that can be experienced during the day. Burt says the solar walk gives people a tangible idea of the vastness of the universe. “For example, it took nine months for us to go to Mars. It took 10 years for the probe that went to Pluto to get out from earth and get there,” Burt says. “It’s hard to explain that to people, but the solar walk puts it in more understandable terms.” The Astronomy Club focuses on countless topics. “Besides stargazing, we have telescope workshops where we exchange information on how to pick a telescope, and how to use a telescope, what some good accessories are and things like that.,” Mark says. “We also have presentations on the direction space exploration is going, like the new rockets Elon Musk is developing out there in Texas, about the possible colonization of the moon and Mars and basically anything that’s of any interest, like the

different types of stars and how they’re formed. We’ve had recent presentations on pulsars and the life cycle of a star.” Burt says one of his favorite topics is the possibility – or for him, the certainty – of life in other galaxies. “You just need to understand the dynamics SALK that when you look through the telescope, are you going to have that kind of ego to say that you are totally unique?” Burt asks. Whatever one’s interest, Burt says there’s so much to consider. “The dynamic of what our club is doing embraces all of the sciences. It is not just looking at the stars or looking through a telescope. It’s much more than that.” Pre-pandemic, members were meeting monthly at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month from September through June at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center. Until face-to-face meetings resume, the club is utilizing Zoom, and anyone can log in to participate in discussions. The Villages Astronomy Club Facebook group is also open to the public. For more information, visit vlgastroclub.org.

“THE DYNAMIC OF WHAT OUR CLUB IS DOING EMBRACES ALL OF THE SCIENCES.”

Want to see your club in Social Club Spotlight? Send your suggestions to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

Burt Salk

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BOOK CLUB

CO MMENTARY

CRAZY A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley. A timeless, hard-hitting case for reform! STORY: KATHY PORTER

lthough this book was published in 2007, it is as relevant today as when Pete Earley wrote it. An award-winning author and a journalist for more than 30 years, Earley’s life changed forever when his son Mike had his first major psychotic breakdown during his senior year in college. Earley struggles to understand how his son can be arrested, be treated for several days in a hospital until he’s considered “stable,” and then be released without further treatment. Mike flatly states he won’t take his medicine once he is released from the hospital and the law prohibits Earley from making treatment decisions

for his adult son even though he is mentally ill. In this groundbreaking book, Earley puts his journalism experience to use as he attempts to discover why the mental health system in this country is in such a mess. Earley is convinced that by telling Mike’s story, as well as the stories of other people with mentally illness, he will shine the spotlight on the state of care for those who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other related affective disorders caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. Earley contacts Judge Steven Leifman in Miami, Florida, who had earned a national reputation as a mental health reformer. It is Judge Leifman who convinces Earley to come to Miami, a city that has the highest percentage of mentally ill

Want to read more about Pete Earley's findings?

residents of any major metropolitan area in America. Earley is given complete access to the Miami-Dade County Jail – inmates and employees. He spends an entire year following several habitual inmates who are mentally ill, shadows the jail’s chief psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Poitier, and meets with law enforcement officials, mental health advocates, and attorneys who represent the mentally ill. Earley’s rigorous research produces a book that clearly demonstrates the maze the mentally ill encounter in getting treatment and the tremendous prejudice faced by those with mental illness. The Bookworm Book Club is very fortunate to have our esteemed member Dr. Ruth Martin, who has vast experience treating those with mental illness, guide us through this book.

“Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

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agenda EVENTS. TRAVEL. PEOPLE.

Author Cassie Dandridge Selleck’s novel may be turned into a film.

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THE TO-DO LIST

may 2021

MAY

8

EVENT

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK There’s no law that says hiking can only be enjoyed during daylight. A flashlight and insect repellent are all you’ll need to explore the natural wonders of the Pine Meadows Conservation Area after the sun goes down. Pine Meadows Conservation Area / 2280 Pine Meadows Golf Course Rd., Eustis / 352.253.4950

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may ON STAGE Enjoy quality entertainment on the many stages of Lake and Sumter counties. “GODSPELL JR.”

5/6-5/9

“Godspell Jr.,” presented by the Bay Street Players, is about a group of disciples who help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a variety of games, storytelling techniques, and a dose of comic timing. Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance, and love vibrantly come to life. The State Theater Eustis / 109 N. Bay St., Eustis / 352.357.7777

MAY

21

EVENT

It’s showtime!

CHARLIE GRINKER

5/14

Who needs a movie theater when you can watch a flick and breathe a little fresh air at the same time? Clermont’s popular “Movies Under the Stars” brings friends and families under the pavilion at Waterfront Park for a great evening of entertainment. This month’s movie, “Ugly Dolls,” will be shown at 8 p.m.

“PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM,”

5/7 - 5/23

Melon Patch Theater is presenting “Play It Again, Sam,” a play about Allan Felix, a recently divorced man who is insecure with women. Fortunately, he has a friend, “Bogey,” who attempts to transform the awkward Allan into a lady’s man. Show times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Melon Patch Theater / 311 N. 13th St., Leesburg / 352.787.3013

Waterfront Park / 330 3rd St., Clermont / 352.394.3500

EVENT

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.

Emmy award-winning host Charlie Grinker shares delightful memories and shocking surprises about former U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. He also shares stories about Nixon’s seven-day visit to China and Ronald Reagan’s visit to France to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day. The show begins at 2 p.m. Clermont Performing Arts Center / 3700 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.4800 / clermontperformingarts.com

MAY

9

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

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THE TO-DO LIST

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

MAY

21-26

5/5 @ 7 p.m.

5/21 @ 6 p.m.

THE VILLAGES PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA The Sharon, The Villages

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Lake Veterans Club, Tavares

5/7 @ 5 p.m. C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside, Tavares

EVENT

What a catch!

5/8 @ 6 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grill, The Villages

5/8 @ 7 p.m. JAMES OTTO Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/8 @ 7 p.m.

Lake County has hooked another prestigious bass tournament. The Harris Chain of Lakes is hosting the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour tournament. The six-day event attracts the best anglers in the world and will be broadcast live on the Major League Fishing app, MyOutdoorTV (MOTV), and MajorLeagueFishing.com

SEPTEMBER DOGS Puddle Jumpers, Tavares

5/9 @ 4 p.m.

Venetian Gardens / 109 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg / 352.742.3918

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: calendar@akersmediagroup.com or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

ONGOI NG EV ENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.

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SEPTEMBER DOGS Frank’s Place, Leesburg

5/22 @ 7 p.m. LINDA DAVIS Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

5/23 @ 1 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Ruby Street Grille, Tavares

528 @ 4 p.m. CRYSTAL VISION DUO Cody’s Original Roadhouse, The Villages

5/28 @ 6 p.m.

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

MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grill, The Villages

5/15 @ 7 p.m.

5/28 @ 9 p.m.

BILLY DEAN Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

CRYSTAL DAGGER Oasis Saloon, Sorrento

5/16-5/18 @ 7 p.m.

5/29 @ 1 p.m.

AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH THE PLATTERS Savannah Center, The Villages

JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

5/21 @ 5 p.m.

SEPTEMBER DOGS Crossroads 44, Eustis

C.O.D. FLORIDA AMVETS Post 2006, Leesburg

Let us help you get the word out!

5/21 @ 9 p.m.

6/4 @ 8 p.m.

* Dates and times are tentative due to COVID-19 guidelines. Contact the venues for updates.

1ST FRI

1ST FRI

EVERY SUN

EVERY SUN

Eustis 1st Friday 6-9 p.m. Historic Downtown Eustis

Clermont First Friday Food Trucks 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Downtown Clermont

Clermont Farmer’s Market beginning at 9 a.m. Downtown Clermont

Downtown Mount Dora Village Market 9 a.m.- 2p.m. 230 N. Alexander St. Mount Dora

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 1


LOCAL TALENT

PEO PLE

Cassie Dandridge Selleck Leesburg native’s acclaimed first novel has been optioned into a movie. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

uthor Cassie Dandridge Selleck is living a writer’s dream. BCDF Pictures has purchased the film rights to the Leesburg native’s first novel, “The Pecan Man,” a drama Director So Yong Kim praises as an essential story that should be told cinematically. “What drew me to the material was its deeply felt humanity and the strong female characters who are richly drawn,” the director told Variety magazine. “I’m excited to bring their story to the screen.” “The Pecan Man” tells the story of a small 1970s southern town after a homeless black man is hastily and falsely charged with the fatal stabbing of the police chief’s son. A white widow and her black housekeeper struggle with what they know of the crime that turns the whole town upside down. Cassie says it was exciting to get the call about “The Pecan Man” becoming a film. “My mother, Patty Dandridge, was in her last days when I first got the call about the option. She was thrilled they wanted to make a movie of the book and she wanted me to tell them to get

≈ PHOTO: ANTHONY RAO

Jean Smart to play Ora Lee. Of course, I have no control over casting, but I’ll never forget her face as she was talking about that. As for the movie, it has been a constant source of amazement to me that my story has gone as far as it has; I still have to pinch myself. I’m looking forward to seeing my characters come to life on the screen. I write cinematically, and I always imagined it as a movie, but really…who would imagine those dreams would come true?” Cassie, who now lives in Mayo, Florida, says the movie was stalled because of COVID-19, but there’s hope filming will begin this year. “They are working on casting again.” Her novel has been selected by book clubs across America, taught in high school classrooms in the U.S. and London, and translated in two foreign countries. Cassie also has penned “The Truth About Grace,” “What Matters in Mayhew,” and “The Mayhew Junction Historical Society.” The author credits an elementary teacher for inspiring her to write as a young child. “My secondgrade teacher, Mrs. Jean

Do you know of a talented person in our community? Email their story to theresa@akersmediagroup.com

Miller at Skeen Elementary in Leesburg, told me I was a writer, so I’ve been writing as long as I knew how to hold a pencil,” says Cassie. “It just took a while for me to have the confidence to pursue it as a career.”


ATTRACTIONS

REVIEW

Extended legacy Family taking Presidents Hall of Fame museum to the next level. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

he six children of John and Jan Zweifel, owners of the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, have come together with a plan. It involves sprucing up and re-inventing the museum, plus giving people more insight about its history and of the famous miniature White House replica it houses; all in their parents’ honor. That’s because Jan, 83, died on June 2, 2020 of natural causes and John, 84, died Dec. 30, 2020 from blood clots in his legs. “We would actually love to keep up our parents’ legacy because it’s what they would have wanted and because we were so involved with the miniature as youngsters,” says Randy Zweifel, 50. “We’re trying to figure all this out.” The siblings are working with Tommy Candido, longtime design coordinator and curator, to ensure that the museum continues to

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL educate visitors and promote patriotism. The family says those things meant more than anything to John. Randy says John spent most of his life, Jan by his side for 61 years, advocating for patriotism via the many displays he built, along with showing presidential and other Americana themed collections he’d acquired over the years. His pride and joy: a 1,200-square-foot, 10-ton replica of the White House he and Jan, with help from the children, built starting in the 1970s. To accomplish the feat, the Zweifels were allowed into the actual White House to measure and study every room, and through the years, the family met and became good friends with several presidents, first ladies and longtime White House curator Rex Scouten. In its heyday, the miniature was shown all over the world, including England, Japan and the Netherlands, and in all 50 states, including in 12 presidential libraries, political conventions and events.


Photo left: Jack Zweifel, James Zweifel, Kathryn VanderMeer, Randy Zweifel, Janet Bittick and Julia Edmondson with parents Jan and John Zweifel posing for a family portrait during Christmas 2019. Photo of Zweifel family: Courtesy of the Zweifel family.

“IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS, BUT ABOUT AMERICA AND OUR HISTORY.” —JACK ZWEIFEL

“When you walk in and see the replica, it’s overwhelming. It’s truly amazing to think of all the places it’s been, but also, it’s amazing to think about how we had to cut it in half to get it into certain buildings, or how we had to crane it to different areas,” Randy says. “But no matter where it went, it attracted lines of people who waited hours just to get a look at it. It’s those types of stories that people don’t know much about and that we would like to tell.” Today, the mini White House sits in the Clermont museum as a testament to the family’s life’s work. Brothers Jack, Randy, and James Zweifel and sisters Kathryn VanderMeer, Janet Bittick and Julia Edmondson, have vowed to keep their father’s dream alive. “It was our dad’s sandbox and he put everything he had into it,” says the family’s oldest son Jack, 59, who explains that since January, they’ve painted, cleaned and sorted through things at the museum and a huge warehouse in Orlando where John stored countless other items and collections. Tommy is helping with improvements and promoting the museum on social media. “As kids, we spent a lot of time traveling with our parents and working on the replica,” says Jack, who personally handcarved many of the mini furniture pieces. “The White House was always special and hopefully, we can get back the patriotism we had before. It has nothing to do with

Democrats or Republicans, but about America and our history.” Originally, the 62-year-old Presidents Hall of Fame was a wax museum owned by Ferdinand John “Jack” Toole. The Zweifels purchased it in the early 1990s after Toole died. Today, the museum includes wax figures of every president (minus Joe Biden, coming soon), many first ladies in their gowns, some of America’s founding fathers, and a younger John working on the miniature. There are hundreds of other displays, including a State Dining Room set-up and dioramas of 12 detailed Oval Offices, a resolute desk replica people can sit at, an elaborate animatronic display of the White House being built, a small custom carriage that carried Tom Thumb to his wedding, memorabilia from both Democrat and Republican conventions the Zweifels attended every year since 1947, and much more. Outside, people can take pictures with replicas of Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and the Lincoln Memorial. Randy says he and his siblings would like to see the community and City of Clermont get behind the museum. After all, it’s one of Florida’s oldest roadside attractions. Their goal is to attract a younger crowd so that the Presidents Hall of Fame is never forgotten. “It’s just neat for people who will never get to go the White House,” Randy says.

Tommy Candido next to the 1,200-squarefoot, 10-ton replica of the White House

Changes and expansions are planned, but they do not want the museum to lose its charm. “We like that it’s a roadside attraction. We like the Route 66 kind of style where people seek it out. We just need more people to find Route 27,” says Randy. “I know we can get people excited once we get them through the door; it’s just letting them know what’s there.” Jack says they plan on giving it their all, in the spirit of their parents. “It should be phenomenal. Our mom was a wonderful woman, and our dad was the kind of guy who had about 200 projects going on, but he never gave up.” IF YOU GO

PRESIDENTS HALL OF FAME 123 N. Highway 27, Clermont Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. 352.242.2836 thepresidentshalloffame.com

Know of a cool event you’d like us to feature in Attractions? Contact us at least three months in advance and provide all the details to roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

ROXANNE BROWN

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VICTORY OVER VIRUS! t nearly every school, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted local high school seniors’ extracurricular activities, sporting events, senior trips, proms, graduation ceremonies, and social interactions. The 2020-’21 school year was a most difficult year, but nothing could stop students from achieving their diplomas. Lake and Sumter Style is proud to pay tribute to the Class of 2021 by sharing the names and faces of this year’s seniors who worked tirelessly to earn the proud title of high school graduate. Well done, Class of 2021. We wish all of you the best of luck as you venture into a new chapter of your lives.

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Nathaniel Abelson The Villages Charter

Cody Andreichuk The Villages Charter

Benjamin Argenziano Eustis High School

Parker Arnold East Ridge High School

Amarilys Aviles East Ridge High School

Angelina Ayala The Villages Charter

Michael Bailey Umatilla High School

Annelise Baltunis Leesburg High School

Andrew Bartels Eustis High School

Jarius Battle Eustis High School


Aleeza Beg East Ridge High School

Kerrigan Bell First Academy Leesburg

Mitchell Bell The Villages Charter

Kaitlin Berry Eustis High School

Emmalee Blackston Tavares High School

Hailey Bladek South Lake High School

Madison Bolderson East Ridge High School

Mekenze Boston Leesburg High School

Hailey Boyd South Lake High School

Tatyona Boyd Mount Dora High School

Jordan Brock East Ridge High School

Jackson Brooks Eustis High School

Charita Budram South Lake & LSSC

Shyloe Buhrle Tavares High School

Cole Bullen The Villages Charter

Alison Burch First Academy Leesburg

Nicole Burgos-Rivera Mount Dora High School

Alexis Burke East Ridge High School

Emily Busto East Ridge & LSSC

Ethan Campbell Lake Minneola High School

Jerry Cashion-Bauer East Ridge High School

Logan Cerney Tavares High School & LSSC

Lisa Cherry East Ridge High School

Dominick Church Eustis High School

Anna Coffman South Lake High School

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Cayl Colbert Eustis High School

Kailey Costello The Villages Charter

Liliann Cox Tavares High School

Devin Crawford Lake Minneola High School

Isaac Cree The Villages Charter

Alexa Cruz East Ridge High School

Shani DelPino The Villages Charter

Krista Dickey Mount Dora High School

Caleb Diggs Umatilla High School

Chloe Dotson Eustis High School

Dontrell Early Lake Minneola High School

Ashley Ellixson Tavares High School

Mallary Fender South Lake High School

Anthony Filone The Villages Charter

Lauren Fisher Umatilla High School

Allyson Flatt South Lake High School

Connor Fortson Mount Dora High School

Ryan Friedrich Eustis High School

Alexis Gamez Leesburg High School

Megan Garmany Tavares High School

Chloe Glover East Ridge High School

Kaleigh Gooden The Villages Charter

Ansley Gray First Academy Leesburg

Brianna Gray East Ridge High School

Guarapo Luisiana East Ridge High School

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Emma Haines-Louvier Eustis High School

Luke Harding The Villages Charter

Nathan Harvey Tavares High School

Caleb Heaxt The Villages Charter

MaryJane Hegwood South Lake High School

Sidney Helm East Ridge High School

Zachary Holmes Leesburg High School

Eaireyana Howard First Academy Leesburg

Jayden Howard The Villages Charter

Chase Howlett The Villages Charter

Aubrey Hudson The Villages Charter

Madison Hurlbert Tavares High School

Asia James East Ridge High School

Paige Janosczyk Lake Minneola High School

Alexa Juliano The Villages Charter

JT Kelly Tavares High School

Emmie Kennedy First Academy Leesburg

Riley Kirby Umatilla High School

Foster Kish East Ridge High School

Tyler La Belle East Ridge High School

Sarah Lachnicht The Villages Charter

Jackson Lafler First Academy Leesburg

Jeremy Langley Eustis High School

Juliana Laxamana East Ridge High School

Stephen LeFils Lake Minneola High School

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Rashaad Lindo East Ridge High School

Luke Longhorn East Ridge High School

Kyle Machande The Villages Charter

Mia Madonna The Villages Charter

Abigail Marino East Ridge High School

Jamal Martin-Smith East Ridge High School

Isabella Martinez South Lake High School

Michael Marvin The Villages Charter

Chad Masseyll Umatilla High School

Katelen Mayer Lake Minneola High School

Jacob McCall Umatilla High School

Grayson McCullough Mount Dora High School

Tyler McLean The Villages Charter

Olivia Medders East Ridge High School

Devin Melvin The Villages Charter

Alexus Miller Tavares High School

Kelli Modisette Umatilla High School

Ryan Monaghan South Lake High School

Timothy Okolowicz Eustis High School

Aryanna Pabon Lake Minneola High School

Nehemia Pabon Lake Minneola High School

Jack Panigoni The Villages Charter

Allison Peckham Umatilla High School

Brianna Perry East Ridge High School

Samuel Peterson The Villages Charter

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Zachary Popson The Villages Charter

Summer Primeau Umatilla High School

Ashlin Puckett East Ridge High School

Sophia Ramirez East Ridge High School

Ashlyn Reed Tavares High School

Cody Richardson Tavares High School

Dell Ricker First Academy Leesburg

Vionnta Rivers South Lake High School

Adamari Rodriguez Eustis High School

Olivia Rodriguez Umatilla High School

Emma Rome Tavares High School

Daniel Rubin Mount Dora High School

Gavyn Russ The Villages Charter

Nathanael Rutkoski The Villages Charter

Reed Sanders The Villages Charter

Brianna Santiago The Villages Charter

Maci Scarborough The Villages Charter

Ethan Schoel The Villages Charter

Marlena Scholl The Villages Charter

Jaxon Seckman The Villages Charter

Brendan Simons The Villages Charter

Madison Sirolli South Sumter High School

Rebecca Spangler The Villages Charter

Emily Spodnick Umatilla High School

John Spurrier Tavares High School

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Maddison Spurrier Tavares High School

Abbey Stewart The Villages Charter

Brooklyn Stonebraker Eustis High School

Brock Stratton East Ridge High School

Makenzie Strickland Tavares High School

Madison Strong First Academy Leesburg

Nicole Suba The Villages Charter

Braeden Tew Mount Dora High School

Bryan Thompson Lake Minneola High School

Lisa Torres The Villages Charter

Scout Updike Eustis High School

Sasha Ussery The Villages Charter & LSSC

Ethan Varner The Villages Charter

Taylor Vaughn Tavares High School

Dorian Venta Leesburg High School

Marcos Viera East Ridge High School

Kali Walker First Academy Leesburg

Tanner Walker Eustis High School

Isabelle Ward The Villages Charter

Zachary Watson Eustis High School

Thomas Wilson Mount Dora Christian Academy

Evelina Wisdo Lake Minneola High School

Benjamin Wooten Homeschooled

Jadon Zelsman East Ridge High School

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auto loans

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START YOUR ENGINE! Apply online at campuscu.com/star-powered Call 237-9060 and press 4 Curbside Service available – Visit any CAMPUS Service Center today! Summerfield 17950 S. US Hwy. 441 | Grand Traverse 2945 Traverse Trail

Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties.3 Offer not available on existing CAMPUS loans. Offer is for new loans only. May not be combined with any other offer. Offer subject to change without notice. 1. Lines of Credit, Commercial Loans, CD/Shared Secured Loans, Signature Loans, and Real Estate Loans are not eligible. Cash bonus is 1.25% of amount financed up to a maximum of $300. Limit one per household. Must present offer at time of loan closing. 2. “Bank” means any local institution with the word “bank” in its name. Loan rate is subject to the current minimum Annual Percentage Rate (APR) available at campuscu.com/rates. 3. Credit approval and initial $5 deposit required. Insured by the NCUA.

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COVID-19 Testing To schedule a testing appointment call 352-391-5200.

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Creating Hope

YEARS

Supporting Recovery

Promoting Health

LifeStream is Celebrating 50 Years of Bringing Hope to Life This year is a special opportunity to celebrate our achievements, and to mark the beginning of serving our communities for another 50 years. Our pledge to the communities we serve is to continue to provide quality care and advocate for individuals and families who have been touched by mental illness and substance use disorders. Thank you to all the many friends of LifeStream who have supported us over the years. Without you, the most vulnerable of our loved ones and neighbors would not receive the help they need. We deeply appreciate all that you do to help us live up to our motto, Where Hope Comes to Life


healthy living MIND. BODY. SOUL.

When it comes to shedding pounds, Erica Majors is a successful loser.

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INSPIRATION

PEO PLE

Victorious loser Erica Majors weighs in on her life-changing transformation.

Before weight loss photo provided by Erica Majors

STORY: JAMES COMBS

≈ PHOTO: NICOLE HAMEL

t’s the small changes in life that have Erica Majors living large. Attending social functions without fear of others staring at her. Feeling more motivated and energetic. Going from a size ten jeans to a size two. The 25-year-old has experienced quite a transformation since undergoing a lifestyle change in January 2020. At that time, she was a 5-foot, 178-pound woman. Nights of drinking with friends followed by eating Taco Bell or McDonald’s at 3 a.m. had taken their toll. “I was in a rut,” says Erica, a 2014 graduate of Wildwood High School. “I started having anxiety about going out. I’d even start crying when I was getting ready. I began having low self-esteem.” Erica knew it was time to take a load off her body and mind. So, she took a leap of faith and hired a personal trainer. She became a regular at the gym, focusing on lifting weights and running on a treadmill. In addition, she junked the junk food and replaced it with chicken, turkey, vegetables, and brown rice. The sweat and sacrifices were worth it. She shed 78 pounds in 10 months. While she has lost an incredible amount of weight, she has gained an equally incredible amount of energy, self-confidence, and enthusiasm for life. “I used to sleep in until 1 p.m.,” she says. “Now, I’m at the gym by 8 a.m. On other mornings, I wake up early and get chores done that were formerly menacing to me. Overall, I just feel like a different person.” Most importantly, Erica has served up a heaping helping Before weight loss. of reality that obese people can achieve their weight-loss goals. She may no longer be a big girl, but there’s little doubt she’s a big inspiration. “I’ve had several people reach out to me because they wanted to start their own journey to lose weight,” Erica says. “I always tell them that if they need advice or motivating words to reach out to me.” Erica readily admits that a weight-loss journey comes with speed bumps. She offers advice to help people from becoming derailed. “Don’t weigh on the scale every day,” she says. “When I started, I measured everything in inches. The scale didn’t always reflect the progress I was making.”

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration? Email your recommendations to james@akersmediagroup.com


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SPIRIT

UP A RIVER WITH A PADDLE AND FRIEND Facebook groups bring paddle boarders and kayakers together while providing a sense of community. STORY: JAMES COMBS


Photo provided by Kaite Hays.

heir stories of paddling down lakes, rivers, and springs spark intrigue. The pictures and videos are breathtaking. Rhesus monkeys scurrying up trees at Silver Springs, below-the-surface shots of underwater cave systems with sandy bottoms, views of narrow, crystal-clear streams where tall palm trees and swaying fronds make for a jungle-like setting. These stories and images of Florida’s bountiful waterways are posted by members of Facebook groups who share a passion for paddle boarding and kayaking. In these groups, pleasant conversations and positive energy abound. Yes, there really is a hidden corner of the internet outside of a Mr. Rogers’ fan page where everyone gets along. No, members don’t gather in a circle and sing “Amazing Grace.” They do seek advice, share opinions, and organize events in private or semi-private groups where administrators can remove cyber trolls who typically turn friendly discussions into heated arguments. Katie Hays, 39, refers to the Facebook groups as a “lifesaver.” Following a divorce from her high school sweetheart three years ago, the Clermont native sought avenues to heal and bring joy back in her life. For Katie, who resides in Tampa, that meant being out on the water. As a child, she grew up on the Clermont Chain of Lakes and spent countless hours wakeboarding and surfboarding.

“Enjoying water activities is nature therapy,” says Katie, who is employed by a learning management software company. Katie rekindled her love for paddle boarding, an activity where a rider stands on a large board and uses a paddle to move through the water. However, the self-described extrovert was not content to paddle alone. She joined Facebook groups such as “Florida Spring Hunters” and “Central Florida Paddlers.” With the click of a mouse, paddle boarding outings were organized and friendships were forged. Now, she has a close group of girlfriends who do everything together—from paddle boarding and camping to hiking and boating. “We make lots of friends in our childhood, but it’s much harder to make friends when you’re an adult,” Katie says. “Some have kids and are too busy to do anything with me. I had nobody to enjoy activities with. I’ve enjoyed forming close bonds with girlfriends I haven’t had in a long time.” On Facebook groups, Katie is known as the “adventure girl.” She shares photos from her many excursions: paddling down the blue waters of Rainbow Springs, camping beachside at Shell Key Preserve, and receiving an up-close view of manatees at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. One of her most enjoyable activities is arranging paddle boarding trips for newbies. “It’s fun to introduce people to paddle boarding,” she says. “Some are intimidated by standing up on a board in the water. However, the boards are actually very stable, and it’s much

“ENJOYING WATER ACTIVITIES IS NATURE THERAPY.” — K A T I E H AY S

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SPIRIT

Katie Hays

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“PADDLE BOARDING IS A GREAT BODY WORKOUT. YOU’RE USING A LOT OF MUSCLES.” —LANCE HEALEY

KATIE IS A MEMBER OF THE FOLLOWING FACEBOOK GROUPS: Pinellas Paddlers: A Gulf Coastbased group that organizes weekly trips. Singles and couples of all ages participate in these trips.

Photos provided by Kaite Hays.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Spring Hoppers: A female-only group that organizes trips to springs throughout Florida. Participants typically range from their 20s through 40s.

easier than it looks. I like giving people the confidence to try it.” Of course, for the perpetually anxious, meeting an online acquaintance in person for the first time can be downright frightening. The cure, Katie says, is to muster up some courage and embrace the possibility of new friendships. “Growth in life comes through doing things we don’t feel comfortable with at first,” she says. “If you’re afraid of meeting up with a group of people and you don’t know anybody, then bring a friend. But don’t spend all your time with that one person. Engage in the group and engage in new people.” Like Katie, Lance Healey is a divorced paddle boarding enthusiast. A resident of Citrus Springs and sales director for a research and analyst firm, Lance, 40, belongs to some of the same Facebook groups and has become an online rock star. After taking up paddle boarding in 2019 and losing 60 pounds, he posted before-and-after photos of himself in the group “Florida Spring Hunters.” The post went viral, generating nearly 1,500 likes and 1,000 comments. “Hopefully, I inspired some people,” he says. “Paddle boarding is a great body workout. You’re using a lot of muscles. The muscles in your ankles and legs are being used for stability, and the muscles in your upper body are being used while paddling.”

Lance routinely goes on paddle boarding excursions with Facebook friends. For him, meeting new people is an opportunity rather than a threat. “You have to overcome your fear and put yourself out there. Get over your fears and just do it. I’m very comfortable in my own skin.” He’s so comfortable that he posts in several groups to inform paddlers of his weekend plans in hopes others will accompany him. “These Facebook groups are a great way to meet others,” he says. “It’s much different than being on a dating site, where you agree to meet someone for 30 minutes over a cup of coffee. When you go paddle boarding with someone, you have hours of alone time with them and really get to know them. Being on the water provides for much more of an intimate setting.” Participating in a Facebook group for like-minded people certainly has advantages, as both Katie and Lance have discovered. More privacy means members can be more outspoken and more active. Forever friendships are created. And members can share their stories and pictures of their outings with others who will truly appreciate them. “These groups have given me an opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Katie says. “I’ve never had a bad experience in any of the group outings. Everyone is so welcoming.”

Florida Kayaking Trips and Events: This group organizes weekly events all over the state. People of all ages participate. Florida Kayaker Community: A group for people of all ages who reside in Florida. This page is particularly helpful for beginning kayakers who want to learn about different places to go. Florida Spring Hunters: Katie has made lots of friends through this group and says it’s a great way to connect with others. Members are allowed to arrange meetings. Kayak Junkies: This group is for Central Florida kayakers of all ages. Many outings and events are planned. Central Florida Paddlers: A group for kayaking and paddle boarding enthusiasts. Spring Life: An educational group for like-minded people desiring to learn about hidden springs and unusual places in Florida. Kayaking 420 Friendly: The name speaks for itself. The Drifting Misfits: Many of Katie’s friends come from this younger group of people whose ages range from their 20s through 40s. Katie’s Instagram, @freespiritpioneer: Anyone who would like to join Katie out on the water, follow her adventures, or ask any questions can do so on her Instagram page. She has amassed 4,000 followers.

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CELEBRATING

28 YEARS Of Innovation In Cardiovascular Care Samuel Goss, DO, FACC Readers of Lake and Sumter Style Magazine think highly of Dr. Samuel Goss. In August 2020, he accumulated enough votes in the magazine’s annual “Best of the Best” competition to be recognized as the county’s top cardiologist. Dr. Goss credits his fantastic team. “I’m fortunate to work with an incredibly talented team of physicians, nurses, and medical staff,” he says. “We have a patientcentered philosophy and we do what’s best for the patient above all else.” Dr. Goss attended medical school at A.T. Still University in Missouri and completed

a residency and fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan. He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology, and echocardiography. He has worked at Cardiovascular Associates of Lake County for 26 years and currently serves as the president of the practice. As a general cardiologist, he treats a wide range of disorders relating to cardiovascular disease. “I love having the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of my patients,” he says.

L-R: Miguel Bryce, MD, FACC; Adina Ion, MD; Rama Krishna, MD, FACC, FSCAI; Theresa Mills, MD, FACC;

J. Henry Lesmes, MD, FACC; Samuel Goss, DO, FACC; Moises Fraifeld, MD, FACC

LEESBURG 352.323.5700 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 705 Doctors Court — across from UF Health Leesburg

TAVARES 352.742.1171 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 1879 Nightingale Lane, Suite A-1 & C-1 — across from AdventHealth Waterman

CVALakeCounty.com | Info@CVALakeCounty.com


“We can honestly say that whilst we were somewhat reluctant to sign with Wiseman owing to the long lead time from contract signing to completion, the finished product was well worth the wait. The custom design is exactly what we asked for and we maintain that the craftsmanship of the pool, spa, equipment, pavers, screen enclosure, and summer kitchen are second to none.” — TOM & LYNDA MURPHY

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menu

FOOD. DRINKS. REVIEWS.

Get a grip on Handlebar Lounge’s “Improved Whiskey Cocktail,” featuring rye whiskey and lemon and orange peel. Photo provided by Anna-Marie Williams. M AY ' 2 1 • L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M

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IN THE KITCHEN

RECIPE

Made with love Enjoy a few Style readers’ family recipes. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

hether the kitchen is your happy place or you just have a handful of dishes you can make successfully, most people have at least one delicious recipe that has been handed down from their “momma” or family. Some Lake County residents were willing to share their favorite family recipes with Style and our readers, as well as the cherished memories that accompany the dishes.

A L B E R T A R J I B AY ’ S M O T H E R’ S C U B A N F L A N

Albert’s parents came from Cuba as teenagers in the 1950s, meeting in Cuthbert, Georgia when his mother, Raquel Arjibay, came to the U.S. for college at age 16. Albert’s paternal grandparents arrived in Lake County in 1957, and his grandfather was a Spanish teacher at Howey Academy in its inaugural years. “My mother’s Cuban desserts were always a hit with family and friends,” Albert says. “The flan she made was particularly famous around Leesburg as she made it for several friends. As both of our parents are deceased and now we’re the ‘older’ generation, when we have flan and Cuban coffee, it brings back memories of family gatherings.”

CUBAN FLAN INGREDIENTS:

1

cup sugar

5

eggs

12

ounces evaporated milk

12

ounces sweetened ondensed milk

1

tablespoon vanilla extract Pinch of salt Double boiler

CARAMEL SAUCE

Heat up 1 cup of sugar until aramelized in top part of double boiler.

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FLAN MIXTURE

Beat 5 eggs with pinch of salt. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla to egg mixture. Pour evaporated milk into condensed milk can until full and add to egg mixture and mix. Add flan mixture to top of double boiler and cook for 1 1/2 hours, adding water to bottom pot every 15 minutes so it doesn’t run dry. Place top bowl of double boiler in refrigerator for 2 hours. When cooled, flip over onto a plate. (You can reheat double boiler to make it easier to remove from top pot). Enjoy!

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Albert Arjibay


GINGER LEGGETT’S MOTHER’S COFFEE RING

Photos of Ginger Leggett and coffee ring provided by Ginger Liggett. Photo of empanadilla provided by Tanisha Ruiz.

“We have always enjoyed the recipe during holidays and special occasions,” says Ginger Leggett, whose daughter Alesha recalls that her grandmother found the recipe in the Orlando Sentinel over 70 years ago. The coffee ring with cinnamon plum filling and flaky outer layer remains a recipe the Leggett family enjoys to this day.

CI N NA MON PLU M COFFEE R I NG INGREDIENTS:

CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR GLAZE:

package hot roll mix

1

cup confectioners’ sugar

15

ounce can purple plums

2

tablespoons water

12

/

cup sugar

2

teaspoons vanilla

1

1 /

teaspoon cinnamon

13

/

cup butter

1

cup flaked or shredded coconut

1

cup chopped pecans

12

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare hot roll mix according to instructions. Pit and drain plums. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Let dough rise overnight. Shape and divide dough in half. Roll into two 8x14 rectangles. Spread with butter. Sprinkle sugar, coconut, and pecans. Arrange plums over coconut. Roll into jelly roll. Make into ring. Seal ends, place on a baking sheet. Cut 2/3 through ring 1/2 inch. Turn cut sections on side, cover and let rise 30-60 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool, glaze, and enjoy!

TA N ISH A RU IZ’S MOT H ER’S E M PA NA D I L L A S D E CA R N E M O L I DA

Ginger Leggett

E M PA N A D I L L A S D E C A R N E M O L I D A INGREDIENTS:

Tanisha Ruiz recalls her mother’s empanadillas de carne molida (or ground beef) as one of the first things her mother allowed her to help with in the kitchen as a child. “I took pride in knowing how to prepare these for my family at such a young age. I have continued to cook these for my own children, and they love them!” Tanisha says. Recently, she saw her kids in the kitchen helping prepare them with her mother, and it brought her so many memories. What she loves about the dish is that you can make it your own by adding your preference of meat, such as braised corned beef, pulled chicken, or ham and cheese. “The kids’ favorite happens to be made with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni,” she adds. Tanisha recommends trying different flavors to figure out which you like best.

16

ounces ground beef

8

ounce can of tomato sauce

3

tablespoons of Sofrito

1

1

teaspoon of salt

pack of dough for turnover pastries, 10 included in pack

1

teaspoon of pepper

1

packet of Sazon (Goya)

/

12

cup of shredded sharp cheese Vegetable oil (or your preferred oil for frying)

DIRECTIONS:

Add ground beef to large frying pan or cast iron skillet. Cook until meat is no longer pink, then drain grease. Return meat to pan, add seasonings and then stir in tomato sauce. Simmer 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Next, take a slice of pastry dough and add a little water to the edges of the dough before filling to help seal. Add a small serving of meat mixture to the middle of the dough. Sprinkle on some shredded cheese. Then fold the edges together using a fork, pressing it down on to the edges to create a seal. Now heat 2 1/2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (350 degrees). Place the empanada in a pan, only flip once, 4-5 minutes on each side until crispy and golden. Place on paper towel to drain excess grease.

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IN THE KITCHEN

“I CAN STILL SEE HER STANDING AT MY KITCHEN SINK AND AT MY STOVE, PATIENTLY PEELING THOSE POTATOES AND CHOPPING UP THE INGREDIENTS.” —JACKIE JOHNSON

JAC K I E JO H N S O N ’ S G R A N DMO T H E R’ S P O TAT O S A L A D

The last time Jackie’s grandmother Hannah Perry made this potato salad for the family was the last Thanksgiving dinner she was able to spend with family before she passed. “Because she had dementia, I was not sure that she could pull it off, but the recipe was still there, tucked away in her long-term memory!” Jackie says. “I can still see her standing at my kitchen sink and at my stove, patiently peeling those potatoes and chopping up the ingredients.” Jackie says her grandmother’s trick for making the potato salad was mixing it just one cup at a time. “She would take some potatoes, add a few other ingredients and stir very gently, then add a little bit more, and stir gently until she had the whole bowl made. She said we had to be gentle,” Jackie lovingly recalls.

T I M E L E S S P O TAT O S A L A D INGREDIENTS:

8-10 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until fork tender 4

hard boiled eggs, chopped

12

/

cup finely diced carrots, boiled 1-2 minutes to make tender

14

/

cup pickle relish

14

/

cup finely chopped onion

2

cups cubed red delicious apple (I leave the skin on)

1

cup or so of mayonnaise

2

tablespoons yellow mustard Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

After ingredients are prepared as in ingredients list, “gently” mix, one cup at a time until all ingredients are incorporated.

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L O R E T T A’ S S A U C E A N D M E A T B A L L S

“This is my sauce and meatball recipe created with the help of my mom, Loretta, grandmother, and three aunts over the years,” says Clermont’s Ray San Fratello. The original recipe cards date back to 1975, and the recipe has been tweaked and adjusted over time. “Every time I refer back to my mom’s recipe cards it takes me back to my family roots and Italian-American culture, and how our lives as kids were grounded in food and community.” He still recalls the smells of Italian and Polish cooking wafting through the neighborhoods on the southside of his hometown in Batavia, New York, bonding neighbors together in ways that are still felt decades later. When Ray and his family moved to Florida in 2004, they created “pasta Sundays” to remind them all of home, which became a neighborhood event that continues today, though less frequently. “It’s great to hear our grown kids and other neighborhood kids speak fondly of those get-togethers when we see them,” Ray adds.

C L A S S I C S AU C E A N D M E AT B A L L S SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

4

cloves garlic

1

large yellow or white onion onion white

29

Photos of recipe cards, sauce and meatballs, and family photo provided by Ray San Fratello.

29

12 1

ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree or crushed tomatoes ounce regular tomato puree + two cans cold waterwater cold ounce tomato paste small hot pepper, like banana (or Portugal hot if you prefer

MEATBALLS INGREDIENTS:

8

leaves fresh basil

1

pound ground chuck

12

/

pound fresh ground veal

12

/

pound ground pork or Italian sausage

4

large eggs

1

tablespoon salt

1

bay leaf

12

/

stalk celery

1

peeled carrot

1

tablespoon salt

2

tablespoons sugar

/

teaspoon black pepper

12

Red wine Olive oil

/

12

/

14

teaspoon black pepper

13

/

cup Italian cheese, like pecorino Romano or parmaseano reggiano

1

medium yellow or white onion

1

clove garlic

4

fresh basil leaves

/

cup water

14

cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Handful fresh parsley Celery leaves

Note: If you cannot find veal, substitute with an additional 1/2 pound of ground chuck or sausage.

SAUCE DIRECTIONS:

Add two tablespoons olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat at medium heat. Peel garlic and sauté until it begins to slightly brown. Peel and finely chop onion, then sauté and stir frequently until onions are translucent. Add cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato puree and two cans cold water and bring to a slow boil at high heat. Add tomato paste, stir in and bring back to a slow boil, then lower heat to medium. After 10 minutes or so add fresh basil, celery, bay leaf, carrot, salt, sugar, and pepper (can adjust amounts to taste). Cook for two hours uncovered stirring regularly as to not burn bottom of pot. Add 1/4 cup red wine while cooking if preferred.

MEATBALLS DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl add ground meat, eggs, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and grated cheese. In a food processor add onion, fresh parsley, fresh basil, celery leaves, garlic, and 1/4 cup water and process until entire mix is ground and soup-like. Add mixture to meat and mix thoroughly with your hands until meatball mix is uniform throughout. Roll into golf ball size meatballs and place on oiled baking pan, baking in a 350-degree oven on the middle rack for about 10 minutes until meatballs are slightly browned to prevent breaking. Place meatballs into sauce and cook the last hour (after the initial two hours of the sauce cooking), so they fully cook through. “Serve over spaghetti or pasta and buon’ appetito!”

Front: Loretta San Fratello Back (L-R): Siblings Ray San Fratello, Fran Grizzanto and Jeff San Fratello

We hope you appreciate these family recipes that have been enjoyed for generations. Maybe they’ll inspire you to try them, or to “cook up” a family cookbook of your own!

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

VICTORIA SCHLABIG

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FORK ON THE ROAD

REVIEW

More than a meal Olive Branch Mediterranean-Italian Grille & Bar offers an array of hearty dishes. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL

L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 1

ining at the Olive Branch Mediterranean-Italian Grille & Bar in downtown Mount Dora offers a chance to savor a variety of fresh dishes, everything from tasty appetizers, entrées and desserts. Owner and executive chef Jerry Vejseli and his wife Karen relocated to Lake County from Long Island, New York, following a winter vacation in Florida. “We walked around the Golden Triangle area and fell for Mount Dora’s rich history,” Jerry says, recalling he told his wife: “‘We should open a restaurant here,’ and she agreed.” The idea became reality in 2015. As an Albanian, Jerry is an authentic Mediterranean from Macedonia, north of Greece, and he delights in making the cuisine of his home country. He came to America when he was in his late teens. He met Karen through her mother, who worked for him as a server, more than 25 years ago in Long Island. The couple has been married 24 years. Karen is an accountant and does the payroll and other business aspects of the restaurant, which allows Jerry to do what he loves—cook. “I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s usually like three to four hours before we open because we have to do a lot of prep,” Jerry says, “making lasagna, meatballs, the daily soups. Our French onion soup is very popular, and this was my wife’s idea.” The restaurant’s menu features a variety of offerings, including spinach pie, Chicken or Veal Marsala, gyro, pasta primavera, tortellini Bolognese, and individual specialty pizzas, to name a few, served in an inviting décor of cheerful yellow walls, pretty window views, and tables covered with white linen tablecloths for a classy little touch. There’s also an expansive deck for diners to enjoy outdoor dining. “We do get a lot of traffic,” Jerry says. That’s especially true during the city’s many festivals and events. “And we have live music


on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner time.” Jerry says Olive Branch’s most popular entrée is the Chicken Broccoli Franchaise, featuring chicken and broccoli dipped in flour, egg, and sauteed in a lemon butter sauce and served over rice. He relishes a special compliment about the dish from two visiting couples. “They had been around all over, including Europe, and this was the exact same dish they ordered in Paris,” says Jerry. “I was told, ‘your Chicken Franchaise is the best I’ve ever had,’ and it was a good compliment to know they were in France, and mine to be (declared) better.” Jerry’s personal menu favorites are the Chicken Piccata, Chicken Marsala, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. “We have really popular desserts of tiramisu, baklava, chocolate lava cake, limoncello mascarpone cake, crème brule cheesecake,” adds the chef, noting tiramisu is his favorite. “And since we are in Florida, we had to have key lime pie. We also have an apple tart, which smells so good warmed up with vanilla ice cream on top. The tart has a wonderful flavor, and we have mini cannoli. We usually do three for an order, and it’s perfect for sharing.” Lemon cake, vanilla or chocolate gelato or sorbet of the day are on the dessert menu, too. During an early dinner at Olive Branch, Style photographer Nicole and I were joined by dining companions Leigh and Yvonne.

We shared two appetizers: warm, soft pita bread triangles with hummus, ajvar (made from red bell peppers), and tzatziki/yogurt sauce, and fried mozzarella with marinara sauce. Both were delightful, and it was enjoyable to taste the freshness of the ajvar and yogurt sauce on the warm pita bread. The fried mozzarella also was delicious with fresh marina sauce. Leigh chose an entrée special of grouper with fresh vegetables and pasta. “The grouper was stuffed with spinach and goat cheese. The fish was flaky and delicious,” says Leigh. “The spinach and cheese complemented the baked grouper nicely. The vegetables were lightly seasoned and very good.” Nicole and I both found the lasagna to be delicious. “It had just the right amount of meat sauce and cheese to every inch of it,” adds Nicole. Yvonne chose another daily special–a hearty prime rib sandwich with fries. “I really liked how the prime rib was cooked to perfection, and it was very tasty,” says Yvonne, who also marveled over the shared appetizers. “And I loved that Leigh gave me one taste of her grouper,” adds Yvonne. “I really liked it, and the next time I’m there, that’s what I’m going to order.” Olive Branch serves hearty portions, which makes it nice to share some dishes or request a to-go container to enjoy the remainder of a meal at home.

IF YOU GO

OLIVE BRANCH MEDITERRANEAN-ITALIAN GRILLE AND BAR 115 W. Third St., Mount Dora Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday; closed on Tuesdays. For more information, call 352.729.6734 or visit olivebranchgrille.com.

Let’s do lunch or dinner

Tell us about a great restaurant by emailing theresa@akersmediagroup.com.

THERESA CAMPBELL

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SPIRITS

REVIEWS

SPEAK-TEASY Handlebar Lounge is bringing a new type of atmosphere to Mount Dora. STORY: VICTORIA SCHLABIG

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their mouths or vodka bottles in their hands. The TV on the back wall was playing 1975’s “Jaws,” and there was music playing as well. We were then brought our drinks: my Paper Plane, a blood-orange colored cocktail adorned with a small paper plane, my sister Katie Schlabig’s Saturn, with mint leaves and an umbrella, and friend Julia Miller’s Pornstar Martini, with a brandy-soaked cherry at the bottom of the glass. With the first sip of the Paper Plane, made with bourbon, aperol, lemon, and amaro, I was skeptical, but it grew on me and ended up being my favorite of the six drinks we shared. It started out citrusy with the aperol at the forefront, but it got sweeter as I drank. I also enjoyed the mai tai, which was different from your typical, achingly-sweet mai tai, and was more of an “elevated” version of the popular cocktail, garnished with a dried orange slice. As for the Saturn, Katie says, “It was a very light and refreshing drink that was perfectly balanced. The brandy-soaked cherry was the perfect addition to top it off.” And Julia Miller says, “Out of the two I tried, the Pornstar was definitely my favorite. It gave off a nice, sweet taste without being overpowering and the cherry at the bottom was a nice surprise.” The Naked & Famous gave off more of a smoky taste compared to the other drinks we tried, which Dakota informed us was due to the use of mezcal, tequila’s smokier cousin. The bartenders were friendly and helpful with our drink

Photos provided by Anna-Marie Williams.

alking up the dark stairwell into Handlebar Lounge, located above the Mount Dora Marketplace, the entrance opens up to a cozy bar with leather couches, high-top tables, and bright natural light filling the room through windows on the L-shaped exterior. Sitting down, you can scan the QR code for the drink menu, where my companions and I first ordered a Paper Plane, Pornstar Martini, and Saturn. “The whole design concept was just to make it as inviting as possible, kind of break down that idea of what people think a cocktail bar is,” says owner Dakota Parsons-Bryant. “We keep our stairwell dark on purpose, so people think they’re walking into a darker, moodier speakeasy, but when you come into the room it’s really open and bright.” Dakota also loves that his bar is located on the busiest corner in downtown, overlooking Donnelly and 4th streets, which gives the bar a “big city” feel. “We call it more of a ‘speak-teasy’ because it’s very casual, and for that reason, we wanted not be run-of-the-mill, but at the same time, we all very much respect the craft of bartending.” Waiting for our hand-mixed drinks, we noticed the eccentric wallpaper adorned with pink bras and charming monkeys hanging off branches with cigars in


choices, and Dakota says, “We want people to come in here and become regulars and get to know us.” While many cities have their own “Handlebar” watering hole, the Mount Dora Handlebar Lounge’s owner Dakota wanted to use his own twist by elevating the name with nicer cocktails and an atmosphere unique to Lake County, rather than your typical “Handlebar,” often a hole-in-the-wall where beer and two-ingredient drinks are served in plastic cups. The name is also a tribute to Dakota’s handlebar mustache. “I started growing this stupid mustache like four years ago and it’s just been on my face ever since,” Dakota says. “For the name of the bar we were trying to find something with a lot of commonality for bars, and there’s a Handlebar everywhere. They’re usually biker bars and ‘rough around the edges’ bars, but we wanted to be a more refined bar,” he adds. Owning a bar had always been a dream for Dakota, who has worked in hospitality since he was about 17. He and his business partner decided to sign a lease for the building in June and began renovating the space after Dakota and his current employees all got laid off back in March of 2020. “The bar used to be a really old, smoky dive bar since ‘95

so everything we did ourselves with help from plumbers and electricians. Everything else was done by us,” Dakota says. As for the drink menu, in the beginning the bar only served classic and contemporary cocktails, “whether they be pre-prohibition, all the way to modern classics from the early 2000s and the ‘Cocktail Renaissance’ in the 2000s,” Dakota says. His team focused first on perfecting those classic cocktails before releasing their own cocktail menu in late April. Dakota also wants to emphasize their “no smoke and mirrors, you see what you get” business style, as they have no kitchen, and everything is done in front of customers, or on Mondays when they are closed. All of the juices and syrups are made in-house twice a week to ensure the freshest, most authentic ingredients in your cocktails. During Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, Handlebar had drink specials and holiday-inspired cocktails; the QR code menu will show you any seasonal drinks that are available, along with the year round menu. With its bar license, Handlebar is also able to sell liquor bottles to customers, as well as handles of pre-mixed cocktails that you pick up after calling or messaging ahead of time.

HANDLEBAR LOUNGE 100 E. 4th Ave., Mount Dora IF YOU GO

Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday-Thursday 4 p.m.- 12 a.m.; Friday 2 p.m.- 2 a.m.; Saturday 12 p.m. - 2 a.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.- 8 p.m. 352.434.9089 / handlebarmtdora.com Instagram @handlebar_lounge / facebook.com/handlebarmtdora

Do you know a place where we can drink? Comment on this article or send story ideas to victoria@akersmediagroup.com.

VICTORIA SCHLABIG

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DINING GUIDE

dine

OUT 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

CLERMONT

Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940

Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

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

Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431 Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337 Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924

BUSHNELL

Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000

Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925

Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318

El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884

Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877

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Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818 G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825 Goomba’s Pizzeria 2395 S. Hwy 27 352.989.4403 Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884 Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118 Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036 Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688 Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411

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Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031 Southern on 8th Kitchen & Bar 801 W. Montrose St. 352.394.7777 Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295 Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225 EUSTIS Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027 Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255 Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288 LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600

Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444

Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988

NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256

James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050

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 Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939 Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929

Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499

H OW EY- I N THE -HILLS

Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989

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

Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177

La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910

God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447

Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718

F RU I T L A N D PA R K

El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335

Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051 Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595 Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028 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

Coffee Snob 1101 W. North Blvd. 352.460.4570 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442

L A DY L A K E

ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227

Cedar River Seafood 8609 S. U.S. Hwy. 441 352.728.3377

Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

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

Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020

Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998

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 Bloom’s 610 W. Main St. 352.787.1004 Breakfast Station 2229 Citrus Blvd. 352.315.0291 Brick & Barrel 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069

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 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616


Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633 Arigato Steak House 1401 Citrus Blvd. 352.728.0788 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293

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

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

Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680

The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100

Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565

Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232

PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093

MOUNT DORA

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

San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174 Sip Restaurant and Wine Bar 707 W. Main St. 352.435.7840 Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921 Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

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

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

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327

The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717

Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426

The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494

Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000

The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250

Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540

Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274

Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936

Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777

Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446

MASCOTTE

Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444

Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093

Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669

J.K. Thai Garden 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.4700 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911

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 Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500 SORRENTO 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 Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313 Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823 O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157 Palm Gardens Restaurant 1661 Palm Garden St. 352.431.3217 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 Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St., Tavares 352.508.5783

THE V I L L AG E S Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027 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 Chengs Chinese Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678 China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965 Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000 Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225 Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400 Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600 Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824 NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994 Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501 Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004 The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535 W I L DWO O D China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293

Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939

Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223

Sakura 265 Colony Blvd. 352.205.7393

Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800 Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005 VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887

Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

U M AT I L L A Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250 Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145

Legacy Restaurant 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475

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

RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.5272

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555

Gators of Umatilla LLC 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

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 YA L A H A Yalaha Bakery 8210 CR 48 352.324.3366

GOOD GRUB

THIS MONTH'S EDITOR'S PICK

The Mason Jar The wafting aromas of fresh fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, and black-eyed peas await those who are fortunate enough to dine at Mason Jar, one of Lake County’s most recognizable restaurants. A winning combination of down-home cooking and hospitality has made Mason Jar a favorite among locals since 1979. Give yourself a Southern-style treat by ordering the corn muffins, chicken livers, buttermilk biscuits, and a big glass of sweet tea. And don’t skip the fried chicken, which has a crunchy outside and succulent meat on the inside. 37534 State Rd. 19, Umatilla / 352.589.2535

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DINING GUIDE

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.

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

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

Full Gluten-Free Menu

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

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

Yalaha Bakery 352.324.3366 | 8210 STATE ROAD 48, YALAHA The family owned German Bakery since 1995, is an award-winning Bakery that offers to customers high-quality German products made with the highest culinary standards. Fine European pastries and breads are made with organic flours, chocolates, and spices, butter, and imported European ingredients. Take home tortes, tarts, and wonderful pretzels, but before you go home, enjoy something from our delicious deli menu. We serve breakfast from 8-11am and lunch and dinner are served 11am-7pm. Enjoy German specialties like Nurnberger breakfast, Hunterschnitzel with Spätzle, Bratwurst, Reuben, Quiche, typical German soups, and maybe Semelknoedel (bread dumplings with mushroom sauce) for lunch or dinner. We offer a fine selection of German beers and wines. Whatever time of day, you’ll find something you love at Yalaha Bakery. On the weekends you can come and enjoy various events and music concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at our Beer Garden. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via our website www.yalahabakery.com

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Open Daily 8am-7pm

A German Bakery Like No Other!


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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.


In life, there are only two things we’re sure of...

So why wait? If not now, when? The best time to discuss your funeral services is when you don’t need them. With so many decisions to make, you can protect your loved ones by lifting that burden from them during a time of grief. Pre-planning isn’t for you, it’s for them.

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E H T T SHU ! R O O D T N FRO OUTPATIENT ANTERIOR HIP REPLACEMENTS! At UNOVA HIP & KNEE CENTER, our minimally invasive techniques, opioid & narcotic free anesthesia, and our enhanced rapid recovery approach, allow us to offer outpatient anterior total hip replacements to our patients. Since there are fewer muscles at the front of the hip, the surgeons at the UNOVA Hip & Knee Center work between them. This leaves the large muscles utilized for walking and hip stability intact thereby enhancing recovery. Our patients recover without the need for hip dislocation precautions. CALL US TODAY FOR A CONSULATATION WITH ONE OF OUR ANTERIOR HIP REPLACEMENT SPECIALISTS.

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18 undersized sons of railroad men, farmers & storekeepers. A brilliant coach with a broken moral compass.

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Immunity Health Spa helps you live your healthiest life. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

s people, we tend to develop habits that are hard to break. Most habits come down to simple decisions. Soda or water? Vegetables or pizza? Nap or exercise? We really don’t give too much consideration to our decisions until an illness strikes. Then we call doctors to help us recover. And that’s how most of us think of health care—as treatment for an existing illness. Sabrina Ciceri sees health care through a different lens. After spending 25 years as a nurse working in conventional medicine, she became fascinated with preventative health while working alongside medical experts at Hippocrates Health Institute, a worldrenowned, holistic health institute in West Palm Beach. For 10 years, Sabrina has studied, researched and learned about the preventative side of medicine and natural ways of healing the body.

“Instead of treating an illness when it happens, I think we should take the necessary steps to do our best to avoid getting sick at all,” says Sabrina, a local resident for the past 35 years. Now, Sabrina is putting this philosophy into practice at Immunity Health Spa. It’s a spa where clients can go to relax, refresh and renew their body. The company offers everything from Wellness visits and Vitamin IV therapy to Detoxifying massages and facials. However, the primary focus of Immunity Health Spa is helping clients achieve a stronger immune system and offering services that allow clients to be preventative in their health care. “People are living longer than they used to, but some of those people are not enjoying the quality of life that they hoped to as they get older,” Sabrina says. “They have conditions that stop them from enjoying their daily activities. Practicing preventative health care is the best way to prevent disease from happening in the first place so people can enjoy life to the fullest as they age.”

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IV: The superior way to take your vitamins One of the services Immunity Health Spa offers is IV therapy. This an excellent way to boost the immune system and help it function optimally. When immune system-boosting vitamins and antioxidants are administered intravenously, they bypass the digestive system and ensure a 100 percent absorption rate. At the same time, IV therapy detoxifies and hydrates the body, eliminating free radicals that contribute to toxin buildup and impaired immune function. More importantly, vitamins and antioxidants are delivered directly to cells. The human body alone has trillions of cells. Cells form body tissue and make up the organs in our body such as the heart, liver and lungs. Without proper nutrition, cells cannot operate efficiently, and the functions of tissues and organs become compromised. This can result

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in disease. Conversely, when cells are being fed proper nutrients, the entire body can function optimally and do what it was designed to do and fight off disease. Immunity Health Spa provides an array of IV therapies. Fit Drip strengthens muscles and joints before or after intense physical activity. Rejuvenation Drip helps deliver healthier skin, hair and nails. Defense Drip protects the body or speeds up recovery from airborne illnesses. Hangover Drip reduces headaches and stops feelings of fatigue after a sleepless night, and Executive Express promotes mental clarity and focus during work hours and beyond. Longevity Drip ensures you take in all of the powerful vitamins and amino acids your body needs to stay motivated to do more and feel great at the same time.

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Be in touch with your health Immunity Health Spa also offers massages, which in the past were mainly utilized for their relaxing, feel-good benefits. Today, however, more people in the U.S. are utilizing massages for their therapeutic benefits. Truth is, countries in the East have been practicing massages for centuries because they understood how massages help maintain health in the body. Most people already know how massages reduce stress and anxiety, increase range of motion in stiff joints and Improve coordination and pain. However, until recently, many were unaware that massages also help boost the immune system, flush toxins and increase blood flow throughout the body. Research conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) in 2015 says that gentle massages, such as a Swedish massage, improve immune system function. These benefits show improved response to fighting off colds, flu, and other seasonal illnesses. Massage stimulated the lymphocytes (WBC) to go to work in the body, and these white blood cells fight off viruses specifically. Further tests have shown massage increases immunity against all diseases, even cancer.


Breathe in new life Another fascinating treatment found at Immunity Health Spa is a salt room. Salt therapy has been extremely beneficial for people suffering from respiratory illnesses such as asthma, allergies and COPD. During salt therapy treatments, clients lie on zero-gravity chairs and

listen to soft background music inside a dimly lit salt cave where walls are covered in Bahamian sea salt. They breathe in salt particles, which act as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent and help remove mucus and pollutants inside the respiratory tract.

Salt therapy is equally effective as a preventative treatment. It can help patients avoid respiratory viruses such as the common cold and flu and strengthen the body’s entire immune system.

Be comfortable in your own skin Most people dream of youthful, glowing skin. The team at Immunity Health Spa helps clients achieve this dream, thus enhancing their personal appearance, self-esteem and health. For Sabrina and her team, nothing is more satisfying than beautifying patients on the outside to help them experience satisfaction and harmony on the inside. Skin is our largest organ so it’s very important that we put clean nourishing products on our skin. We use only a high quality skin care line from Hungary where the standards of excellence to become organic is 4 times more difficult to obtain than an organic status in the USA. Eminence is exclusive to high end luxury spas and ingredients are all derived from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and spices and not watered down with water so they are highly concentrated and results driven. “I have searched for over 10 years to find a skin care line that is clean and healthy but gave the results for anti aging we all look for and with the plant based sources of collagen, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, etc. This line is amazing,” Sabrina says. You can order online at our website immunityhealthspa.com. Another product used by the Immunity Health Spa team is Botox, which diminishes or eliminates the appearance of wrinkles. They also use fillers of hyluronic acid (naturally made in all of our bodies, but as we age we slow production). For clients looking to restore volume and structure to their faces. A variety of facial treatments are offered to fight premature signs of aging and allow clients to enjoy glowing, healthy skin all year long. “When you are satisfied with your skin’s health and appearance, it can have a positive effect on everything from confidence to self-esteem and overall quality of life,” she adds. The vital nutrients we make when we are younger, to have healthy glowing skin, begins to drop off in our 20’s— the noticeable appearance of this effect isn’t seen until usually in our 40’s so the sooner you can replenish and protect your skin, the less aging you will see as you mature over the years.

Come visit Immunity Health Spa Living a long and enjoyable life is something we all strive to do. To accomplish that goal, we have to take care of our health and wellness. Because many diseases are related to stress, Immunity Health Spa offers treatments like vitamin IV therapies, salt inhalation sessions, massages and facials. Which are some of the most affordable and relaxing ways to lower stress levels, detoxify and hydrate the body with vital nutrients needed to keep the immune system strong. Combined, these treatments are preventative medicine for your body, mind and spirit.

352.750.9909 / immunityhealthspa.com / 480 N US HWY 27/441, Lady Lake

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Congratulations East Ridge High School

Jeanpaul Figueroa Agosto

Aleeza Beg

Caitlyn Cavender Jackson Cheplick

Elise Dullas

Kennedy Mcauley Miriam Lawton

Marissa Golem

Mackenzie Hill Elizabeth Kane- Sophia Konschnik shige

Skyler Penney Lana McHugh Satsuki Mercado

Zachary Ramoso Johannah Tador Isabella Valarezo

Eustis High School

Trinity Ballash

Taria Burch

Delaney Cole

Jacob Dietrich

Atlantis Francis

Kathryn Orozco

Davian Rosario-Ortiz

Josey Towne

Kylie Gilmet

Ronald Hopper

Julianne Leodones

Karissa McCoy

Lake Minneola High School

Aleah Alli

Leah Burklew

Elena Caldwell Aytana Cardona Patricia Eckmann

Syeda Rainak

Lily Miller

Aryanna Pabon

Julian Seda-Gaud Tyler Sokoloski


TO THE TOP 3%

of the Graduating Class of 2021 Leesburg High School

Jada Blunt

Juan Burgos

Carver Freeburg Deisy HernandezBriana Keen-Jackson

Jesse Meyer

Kathryn Reynolds Roxanne Saletta Mason Simmons

Mount Dora High School

Gavin DeLibro

Molly Dench

Adam Frisbie

Gabriel Hanson

Sheikh Islam

Elenna Souders

Maeson Vallee

Anna Coffman Jamar Crockwell Deana Georges

Kylie Hovater

South Lake High School

Charita Budram Hannah Callaghan Christa Casey

Tyler Irby

Juliana Joehill

Rocco Mcleod

Jane Orr

Malia Perez

Noel Phanord Matthew Santiago

Tavares High School Efrin Charly

Jesus Leal

Grafton LeGare

Brandon Lora

John Spurrier Madison Spurrier Edgar Trejo-Lora Ryan Mewborne Rebecca Purvee

Umatilla High School

Heather Christner

Dovie Jarc

Shelby Mulholland Katelyn Mysinger Allison Peckham


FINAL THOUGHT

CO MMENTARY

Mom connection A mother’s love knows no boundaries. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

ust recently while browsing online, and maybe because it’s nearing Mother’s Day, I came across a gif that says, “A mother’s love is eternal.” Sure, it’s pretty cliché, but based on my own experiences, I feel it’s also true. Looking back, my mom has been there for me for as far back as I can remember, making sure I was taken care of physically and emotionally, from child to adulthood. For my sister, too. She’s always believed in me, even when I felt like giving up, worried about me through difficulties, and been there to celebrate my successes. And though we’ve had our differences, she’s always loved me and still does, despite the distance between us… she lives in Arizona. As a mom myself, I know the feeling. I’ve fussed over each of my three kids since they were little. I’ve helped them get ready for school, packed their lunches, tended to them through sicknesses, played with them, helped with homework and projects, driven them to classes and events, cooked, cleaned, shopped for them, argued, laughed and cried with them, and more. Emotionally, I’ve tried my best to stay by them and root for them through struggles and victories, and bad, good, or otherwise, love them unconditionally with all my heart.

All three are pretty much grown now, and I always be there for them, it has sure gotten harder because I’m not only up against friends, loves, and a world full of fun and adventure, but their own quest for independence and purpose. Even so, I want them to always need and love me as much as I need and love them, and lucky for me, I have that, too. Even though I’m “however old,” every now and then, I’ll have a moment when no other person’s words, hugs, kisses or head rubs, can serve to comfort me quite like my mom’s. I know people who have lost their moms, and though I can’t imagine it, I’ve listened closely to them talking about the connection moving forward and am convinced that a mom’s love is so strong it transcends anything and is truly eternal. Though I talk to my mom on the phone often, I haven’t seen her (or my wonderful dad) in nearly two years. I don’t know when I will get to see her again, but no matter what, her love means the world to me every day. As for my kids, I hope I’ve done enough that they feel the same way about me. I hope they realize they can count on me forever and know my love for them is a given; no matter where they end up, how old they are, or where – in or out of this earth – I may be.

Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at roxanne@akersmediagroup.com.

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L A K E A N D S U M T E R S T Y L E .C O M • M AY ' 2 1

ROXANNE BROWN


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Style Magazine, Village Edition, May 2021  

Style Magazine, Village Edition, May 2021  

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