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For location, hours of operation and further details about our award-winning communities, visit MintoUSA.com. (561) 475-2659 | WestlakeFL.com | 16610 Town Center Parkway North | City of Westlake, FL 33470 *Program is available for a limited time for active workers and is subject to change without notice. Restrictions apply, see a Minto New Homes Sales Professional for details. Base price of the home does not include homesite premium or options and upgrades. ©Minto Communities, LLC 2024. Not an offer where prohibited by state statutes. All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced, copied, altered, distributed, stored or transferred in any form or by any means without express written permission. Artist’s renderings, dimensions, specifications, prices and features are approximate and subject to change without notice. Minto, the Minto logo, Westlake and the Westlake logo are trademarks of Minto Communities, LLC and/or its affiliates. 2024.
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www.wellingtonthemagazine.com published by Wellington The Magazine, LLC


Barry S. Manning

Wellington The Magazine is published monthly in Wellington, Florida. Copyright 2024, all rights reserved by Wellington The Magazine, LLC. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to refuse advertising. The publisher accepts no responsibility for advertisement errors beyond the cost of the portion of the advertisement occupied by the error within the advertisement itself. The publisher accepts no responsibility for submitted materials. All submitted materials subject to editing.


Wellington’s Ryan and Reid Snider have the distinct and fairly rare honor of being twins both headed off to highly selective national military service academies. BY MIKE MAY


Nestled amid the vibrant equestrian community in Palm Beach County, the Equestrian Program at American Heritage Schools stands as a beacon of academic excellence and equestrian prestige. BY STEPHANIE D. CONCEPCIÓN


The Wellington Community Foundation presented its Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship to three exceptional members of the Class of 2024: Rachel Ireland, Jaden Browning and Sophia Amro Gazze. BY SHANNON ANASTASIO


Two Wellington High School students were honored as winners of the prestigious Pathfinder Awards. Emilia McGovern won first place in the Business category, while Johnathon Bucknor won second place in the Theater Arts category. BY MIKE MAY


Wellington’s new agreement with Freebee offers a more convenient, free transportation service for senior citizens in Wellington. BY JIM BARNES


Father John Mangrum was a spiritual leader, early elected official, devoted community builder and beloved newspaper columnist. This month, our Wellington History series continues by featuring this instrumental leader from the early years of the Wellington community. BY JOSHUA MANNING


Olive U Mediterranean Grill, now open in Wellington, is a fast casual restaurant serving fresh and healthy choices, starting with hand-crafted Mediterranean bowls. BY JOSHUA MANNING

On our cover are Wellington twins Reid and Ryan Snider, who recently graduated from Palm Beach Central High School. They have the unique distinction of both getting highly coveted appointments to the ultra-selective national service academies. Reid is heading to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, while Ryan is off to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. In this issue, we also chat with Wellington High School’s Emilia McGovern and Johnathon Bucknor, who both won prestigious Pathfinder Scholarship Awards.

Next, we take a look at the Equestrian Program at the Palm Beach campus of American Heritage Schools, which provides a unique educational experience geared to the needs of young equestrians. Meanwhile, the Wellington Community Foundation recently honored the three winners of this year’s Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship.

In this month’s Wellington Today feature, Village Manager Jim Barnes unveils a new partnership with Freebee, an upgrade to Wellington’s senior transportation program. Our Wellington History series continues by recalling the contributions of Father John Mangrum, a spiritual leader, early elected official, devoted community builder and beloved newspaper columnist who was instrumental in the early years of Wellington. Finally, Wellington Table visits Olive U Mediterranean Grill, which takes fast casual Mediterranean dining to a whole new level, featuring a menu of fresh ingredients to make personalized bowls for lunch or dinner.

We hope your summer is off to a great start, and we will be back next month with our annual health and medical issue.

Dawn Rivera

Dawn Rivera, Publisher

contents June 2024 Features 8 14 16 18 20 Foundation Hosts Inaugural Wellington Derby Wellington Historical Society’s Spring Mixer Wellington Art Society Presents Scholarships WOW Holds Pooches, Pearls & Prosecco Event Wellington Seniors Celebrate Cinco De Mayo WELLINGTON THE MAGAZINE Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004 volume 21, number 6 JUNE 2024
22 Recent Palm Beach Central High School graduates Reid and Ryan Snider, profiled this issue, have both received appointments to prestigious national service academies. PHOTO BY FRANK KOESTER 31 on the cover Departments WELLINGTON SOCIAL SCENE
39 27 35 wellington the magazine | june 2024 7 from the publisher 42 47 31 35 39 47 27
(Left to right) George and Coco Swilyk and Alexandra Lavine, with event sponsors Jasmine Velez-Lavine and Stephen Lavine; Michelle Noel, Devon Kane, Terri Kane and Katie Riley; Mary Braly, Jane Cleveland and Katie Edwards-Walpole; and Dr. Kristy Lund. (Left to right) Terri Kane and Susan Todd; Dorothy DeMartino, Hope Barron and Mair Armand; Candyce Lewis brought a friend; volunteer Betty Buglio with WCF Executive Director Dawn Rivera; Don and Maureen Gross; and Mary Ann David and Sue Bierer. (Left to right) Frank and Herta Suess; Devon Kane, Travis Laas and Terri Kane; Jim Mantrozos and Samantha Hill; Dr. Mauricio Cruz and Maria Fernanda Cruz; Christine and Mark Hubinger; and Barry Rivera assists first-place winner Carol DiConza to her car with her gorgeous red rose arrangement prepared by Wellington Florist. (Left to right) Second-place winners Stuart and Jenn Robinson; Ann and Steve Feiertag; Joe Fasi and Leslie Garcia-Furey; Christina Devine and Rachel Franks; and Ben and Joanna Boynton along with the Boynton Financial Group team.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK KOESTER AND JOEL OQUENDO 8 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
(Left to right) Winners of the “Best Hat” contest went to the presenting sponsor team at Wellington Orthopedic Institute, pictured with Dr. Michael Mikolajczak and WCF Board Member Maggie Zeller; Phyllis and Michael Gauger; and Jeremy Ring and Pam Tahan.


The inaugural Wellington Derby Party, hosted by Diamante Farms Dressage on Saturday, May 4, exceeded all expectations, marking a historic milestone in philanthropy and community support. The sold-out event, benefiting the Wellington Community Foundation, garnered exceptional generosity from attendees and sponsors alike.

The evening unfolded at Diamante Farms Dressage, enveloping guests in the traditions of the Kentucky Derby combined with Wellington’s equestrian elegance and timeless southern charm. From thrilling races to genteel revelry, the event provided an unforgettable experience for all in attendance.

The highlight of the evening was not only the celebration of an exhilarating run of the 150th Kentucky Derby but also the unwavering support shown for the Wellington Community Foundation, which serves Wellington seniors, veterans and children in need. Thanks to the generosity of attendees and sponsors, the event raised record-breaking funds, ensuring that vital assistance and resources continue to reach those who need it most within the Wellington community.

A significant factor contributing to the success of the inaugural Wellington Derby Party was the strong support of sponsors, including the Wellington Orthopedic Institute, Lisa Seger Insurance, Michael Gauger for Sheriff, Wellington Regional Medical Center, Jasmine Velez at Douglas Elliman Realty, Red Clover Farm & Nursery, Katie Edwards-Walpole P.A. and Star Wine & Spirits. The fun photo booth was sponsored by LA Medical Associates. The spon-


sors played instrumental roles in making this event a resounding success. Their commitment to the community exemplifies the spirit of generosity and unity that defines Wellington.

Guests were treated to an exquisite culinary experience, curated by renowned chef Gardo Vincken of the Piaffe Lounge, with delicacies that tantalized the taste buds and perfectly complemented the evening’s festivities. From the moment attendees arrived, they were immersed in the spirit of the Derby, with mint juleps flowing and the excitement of the race palpable in the air.

The Wellington Derby event proved to be more than just a party; it was a testament to the power of the community coming together for a meaningful cause. Whether seasoned equestrian enthusiasts or newcomers to the sport, attendees reveled in the glamour, gastronomy and spirit of giving that defined the evening.

In addition to the excitement of this inaugural Wellington event, guests also eagerly anticipated the live viewing of the 150th Kentucky Derby on a theater-sized screen. The 2024 Kentucky Derby crowned Mystik Dan in first place by a nose, inching out second place winner Sierra Leone and third place winner Forever Young. However, all three made it possible for three lucky attendees to receive more than $1,700 in dining gift certificates generously donated by top Palm Beach County restaurants. All attendees celebrated the triumph of the winners and the thrilling spectacle of the Kentucky Derby as the party continued into the night.

As they hang up their hats on this inaugural Derby event, the Wellington Community Foundation extends its heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to the event’s tremendous success. Together, they galloped into a night of pure delight while making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need within the Wellington community — all while creating a new tradition, and a notto-be-missed, end-of-season event.

The foundation is happy to announce that it will be holding the 2025 Wellington Derby Party at the incomparable Diamante Farms Dressage venue next year, where another first-class event is anticipated. So, keep an eye out for the coolest bow tie or fascinator and be sure to mark your calendars to attend next year on Saturday, May 3, 2025.

To learn more about the Wellington Community Foundation or how you can become involved in helping neighbors in need, visit www. wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.

(Left to right) Wellington Community Foundation board members James Seder, Herta Suess, Dr. Gordon Johnson, Maggie Zeller, Barry Manning, Terri Kane, Michael Gauger, Jim Sackett, Pam Tahan, Hope Barron, Joanna Boynton and Don Gross.
wellington the magazine | june 2024 9
The inaugural Wellington Derby Party sponsors were presented with tokens of appreciation for jumping on board to support the Wellington Community Foundation.


On Thursday, May 9, the Wellington Historical Society hosted its annual Spring Mixer at Village Music Café. About 40 people were in attendance, including several members of the Wellington Village Council. Attendees enjoyed drinks and light snacks, a 50/50 raffle, an auction and music. Learn more at www.wellingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

14 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
Wellington Historical Society board members Chuck Edgar, Angie Francalancia, Sue Bierer, Paula Sackett, Alyson Samiljan and Maureen Gross; Father Steven Thomas, Erin Thomas and Jim Richardson; Harriet Offerman, Carol O’Brien, Karen Nowatoski, Laurie Cohen and Danny Sneade; and Vice Mayor John McGovern draws a ticket for the 50/50 raffle with Paula Sackett.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK KOESTER
(Left to right) Kendall Bierer and Chris Wendel; Jim and Sherry Richardson with Susan Basham; Denise and Robert O’Sullivan with Wellington Historical Society Vice President Maureen Gross; guests mingle during the Wellington Historical Society mixer; and Chris Wendel (right) won the auction for this necklace that artist Norman Gitzen (left) donated. He gave it to his mother-in-law Sue Bierer (center).


The Wellington Art Society held its annual scholarship award ceremony on Wednesday, May 8 at the Wellington Community Center. The 2024 honorees were Lea Abito of Jupiter High School, Lili-Rose Leonard of West Boca Raton High School and Isabella Sanchez of Wellington High School. Each recipient received $1,500. Learn more at www.wellingtonartsociety.org.

(Left to right) Scholarship Committee members with recipients. (L-R) Jan Gmitter, Isabella Sanchez, Lea Abito, Kim DiGiacamo, Elaine Weber, Marcia Greene and Susan Oakes; Aria Sanchez, recipient Isabella Sanchez, Lourdes Sanchez and Jan Gmitter; Wellington Art Society President Heather Bergstrom; and last year’s scholarship recipient Stella Martinelli studies computer animation at the Ringling College of Art & Design.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY
(Left to right) Isabella Sanchez of Wellington High School with “Creations of an Author” in charcoal and gold ink; Lea Abito of Jupiter High School with “Synthesis,” her digital manipulated photography; Jan Gmitter with a certificate for Lili-Rose Leonard, who attended the event virtually; and recipients Lea Abito and Isabella Sanchez with Jan Gmitter, chair of the Scholarship Committee.

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The Women of the Wellington Chamber hosted its annual Pooches, Pearls & Prosecco fashion show on Tuesday, April 23 at the Mall at Wellington Green. The fundraiser’s goal is to clear the county’s shelter of dogs in need of a forever home. About 15 dogs joined models and took to the runway to strut their stuff in the hopes of finding a loving family. Before the show, guests had time to mingle, network, enjoy prosecco and light appetizers, and, of course, interact with all the dogs up for adoption.

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(Left to right) Members of the Women of the Wellington Chamber leadership team; Christina Nicholson and Michelle Sens with Mia; Kaela Genovese with Mall at Wellington Green General Manager Asad Sadiq; and Kristen Mariani cuddles with one of the available puppies.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY FRANK
(Left to right) Janell Harris walks the runway; Jenn Cohen and Sherron Permashwar enjoy prosecco; Yleana Arias gives a pup cup to Aussie, one of several dogs available for adoption; Daniela Brink during the fashion show; and Horacio Ochoa gives treats to Bellini.


The Village of Wellington hosted a Cinco de Mayo-themed luncheon for seniors on Thursday, May 2 at the Wellington Community Center. The band Mariachi Real 2000 performed Mexican music to go along with the event’s theme.

20 june 2024 | wellington the magazine www.pbaquatics.com
(Left to right) Maryann Murray, Deputy Casey Lussier, Sandra Anderson, Maryann Boomhower, Deputy Brad Shouse, Norma Heelan and Yolanda Ruiz with Ian Williams in front; Kyle Ostroff, Deputy Brad Shouse, Jenifer Brito, Deputy Casey Lussier and Ian Williams; Gilberto and Maria Franco, John and Rosa Norton, and Susan and Jeff Weinstein; and Glenn and Brenda Ikalina.
wellington | social scene PHOTOS BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN
(Left to right) Jack and Paula Brownson; Angel Rivera of Conviva gives a goody bag to birthday girl Esther Gambaro; Violeta Loaiza, Ronnie Castiglia, Beverly Apfel, Maria Anatra, Judith Lauro, Delia Usher, Roberta Jacobs, Carol Okin and Mena Anafi; Mary Smith, Leanor Appleton and Careema Balgobin; and the group Mariachi Real 2000 performs.

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22 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
Wellington twins Ryan and Reid Snider recently graduated from Palm Beach Central High School.


Twins Ryan And Reid Snider

Are Both Headed To National Military Service Academies

Wellington’s Ryan and Reid Snider have the distinct and fairly rare honor of being twins both headed off to highly selective national military service academies.

For the last 18 years, Diana and Dan Snider of Wellington and their twin sons have lived a life where the boys attended the same public schools and usually participated in the same activities. Now, life is changing. The two boys will remain united as brothers, but Ryan and Reid have decided to divide and conquer, as a way of furthering their education while patriotically serving and defending the nation.

After graduating from Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, May 17 — where Ryan was class valedictorian and Reid was ranked 13th among his 735 peers — both boys became focused on the next chapter of their lives, which have existed in lockstep with one another since birth.

Both Ryan and Reid are ambitious, athletic, creative, patriotic, smart, talented and are college-bound, but now they are headed in differing directions. Ryan is heading west to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while Reid is going north to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

These ambitious young men from Wellington are not content to simply

attend and graduate from their respective service academies. They want to excel and grow in their new environments.

“I will pursue a dual major in astronautical and aerospace engineering,” Ryan said. “My goal is to be a pilot and fly F22s, one of the most advanced stealth fighters in history. But I also want to use my experience and engineering knowledge to build the next generation of air and spacecraft.”

His brother also has an interest in engineering with big dreams.

“I plan to major in mechanical engineering with a specialization in astronautical engineering,” Reid said. “I am also interested in studying law and political science. In addition, I want to work with NASA, be an astronaut and go to Mars.”

The Snider boys will remain united as a family, but for the first time will be divided, geographically.

“We are always under the same sky with the same stars,” said Ryan, the older of the two boys by one minute, as both were born at the Wellington Regional Medical Center in December 2005.

The idea that both boys would pursue a military education and lifestyle is not a surprise, but it was not expected, either. “Two of the boys’ uncles served in the Air Force, their paternal grandfa-

ther was in the Army, and their paternal great-grandfather was in the Navy,” their mother Diana explained. “They, and we, are honored at the opportunity for each of our boys to be nominated and selected for these elite service academies.”

While Ryan and Reid are thrilled to be headed off to their service academies, they previously thought that their collegiate home would be in Gainesville, Florida.

“Our parents had done Florida Prepaid, and so our goal, before getting the service academy e-mails, was to get into the University of Florida,” Ryan said. “Throughout our application process to the service academies, we still applied to UF. But, crazy enough, UF was our backup school. In addition to our military appointments, both of us received our acceptance into UF.”

“I grew up as a huge Florida Gator fan, bleeding orange and blue,” added Reid, who was accepted into UF’s Honors College. “I always wanted to attend the University of Florida.”

wellington the magazine | june 2024 23
Future West Pointer Reid Snider (left) with his brother Ryan Snider (right), headed to the Air Force Academy.

Even though Ryan and Reid will be going their separate ways, they almost went to the same service academy. Soon after taking their PSAT as sophomores in high school, both boys received an informational e-mail from West Point.

“That stopped us in our tracks,” Diana recalled. “We talked about West Point and began looking up information on the other service academies. The boys became so interested that we took a family road trip to West Point in June 2022 following their sophomore year of high school. In August of that year, our family of four flew out to Colorado to visit the Air Force Academy.”

According to Diana, both boys researched and decided that they were interested in both West Point and the Air Force Academy. They applied for the summer leadership program at both academies and were accepted to both.

So, during the first week of June 2023, after their junior year at Palm Beach Central, they flew to West Point together for an intense week-long experience. They flew home at the end of the week, unpacked, washed clothes, repacked and flew to Colorado for another several days at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s program.

“We knew they would either love it or hate it,” Diana said.

Not surprisingly, they both loved the leadership programs, but Ryan preferred

the Air Force Academy, while Reid really liked what was offered at West Point.

“Separately, they focused on their application packets, secured their nominations, and completed all necessary physical and academic requirements,” Diana added.

To get accepted into a military service academy, a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate must also sign-off on your application.

For Ryan, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott approved his application, while U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel approved Reid’s paperwork.

Ryan will report to Colorado Springs on June 26, while Reid must report to West Point a few days later, on July 1.

Between now and then, Ryan and Reid will focus on improving their

physical fitness. Both noted that their daily lives are now filled with running, lifting weights, and doing lots of calisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.

After graduating from the service academies, they are committed to a minimum of five years of active-duty service, followed by at least three years in the reserves, but both boys predict long careers with their respective military disciplines.

While both boys are excited about their immediate futures, they agree that they’ll miss the creature comforts of home, especially their mother’s cooking.

“I’m really going to miss mom’s really good quesadillas,” Ryan said.

“And I’m going to miss eating mom’s cakes, fudge and cookies,” Reid added. Their parents know that life for them will be different, too.

“It will be very quiet,” Diana said. “But there will be many trips to both Colorado and New York for parents’ weekend, and other opportunities to spend time with our boys.”

Meanwhile, Diana knows that it’s time to let her sons pursue their dreams. “We know that we have raised them to work hard, focus on their goals, add value to others and positively impact our world,” she said. “We trust that they are on track to do just that. We are honored to get to watch them continue to grow into amazing men.”

24 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
Ryan Snider, shown right, is headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. (Below) Ryan’s official appointment to the academy. Reid Snider, shown left, is headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (Below) Reid’s official appointment to the academy.

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The Equestrian Program At American Heritage Provides A Unique Educational Experience

Nestled amid the vibrant equestrian community in Palm Beach County, the Equestrian Program at American Heritage Schools (AHS) stands as a beacon of academic excellence and equestrian prestige.

Located just minutes from worldclass equestrian facilities like the Wellington International showgrounds, the Global Dressage Festival grounds and the National Polo Center-Wellington, the school offers unparalleled access to premier riding venues.

The program, established in 2011,

boasts award-winning riders who have consistently excelled, placing in the top five at Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) competitions and ranking in the top 10 nationally. These talented equestrians have also performed internationally, such as representing the United States in the North American Youth Championships (NAYC), where they secured a top 10 placing.

This unique program offers a balance of academics and equestrian training for riders from kindergarten to college, inclusive of all grade levels.

Lower School students, from kindergarten through grade five, can enroll in the Junior Equestrian Program. Beginning in sixth grade, students can train at team barns.

This early engagement provides opportunities for after-school lessons at nationally recognized barns and training programs, fostering a love for riding from an early age. For students in grades seven through 12, AHS hosts two IEA teams that provide a competitive platform and foster a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork.

wellington the magazine | june 2024 27
(Top) The Palm Beach campus of American Heritage Schools had the most National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars in Palm Beach County. (Inset) AHS hosts two Interscholastic Equestrian Association teams.

“We started with two students and now have over 35 families, several of which have come from other countries specifically for the program at American Heritage, as well as the experience of riding, training and competing in Wel-

lington,” said Cynthia Screnci, director of the Equestrian Program, reflecting on the program’s growth and international appeal.

Students can pursue their equestrian goals at AHS while receiving a superior education. American Heritage offers six pre-professional programs in biomedical engineering, business, computer science, engineering, law and medicine. Each program is taught daily by professionals in their respective fields with unique classes that rival those of any Ivy League school.

Senior Sophia Masnikoff, a National Merit Semifinalist and a graduate of the school’s pre-law program, highlights these unique benefits.

“Going to a school like American Heritage fosters all aspects of my educational and athletic goals,” she said. “The school is rigorous, which fuels my passion for learning, while also accommodating my schedule, and my time as co-captain of

the American Heritage Equestrian Team furthered my love of the sport; building teamwork skills used in everyday life. It provided me the platform to thrive in my riding and academics.”

Senior Anaïs Dufresne Powell, a graduate of the pre-medical program and also a National Merit Semifinalist, exemplifies the program’s success. Accepted into prestigious universities such as UCLA, Bryn Mawr and Wellesley College, Powell balances her academic excellence and award-winning photography pursuits with her passion for equestrian sports, showcasing the effectiveness of the school’s holistic approach.

American Heritage recognizes the unique demands placed on competitive equestrian athletes and offers flexible policies for equestrian-related absences. High school students can earn physical education credits based on their training schedule, further integrating their equestrian activities with their academic


28 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
The AHS equestrian team hosts talented
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pursuits. The school day schedule accommodates academic and equestrian commitments, including free transportation to various barns in Wellington for training.

Mia Green, a junior who balances rigorous academics with her competitive riding schedule, emphasizes the school’s supportive environment.

“American Heritage teachers are very accommodating when it comes to giving us the ability to pursue both our equestrian goals and keeping up with academics,” she said.

Green’s dedication extends beyond her achievements. As one of the founders of Forget Me Not Farm’s Home for Peculiar Animals, a nonprofit animal rescue, she exemplifies the school’s emphasis on community service and leadership.

At American Heritage, young equestrians are not just athletes, they are scholars, leaders and compassionate individuals ready to make a mark on the world. By providing a superior college preparatory education alongside worldclass equestrian opportunities, AHS en-

“Going to a school like American Heritage fosters all aspects of my educational and athletic goals. The school is rigorous, which fuels my passion for learning, while also accommodating my schedule, and my time as co-captain of the American Heritage Equestrian Team furthered my love of the sport.”

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sures that its students are prepared for success, in the arena and beyond.

American Heritage Schools is ranked the No. 1 K-12 Private School in Florida, according to Niche.com, with two campuses in Broward and Palm Beach counties, serving approximately 4,800 students in PK3 through grade 12. AHS has ranked as the top high school in Florida for the highest number of National Merit Scholars for 14 years, as well as the top school in Florida for the most Presidential Scholars.

AHS campuses are open all year and provide an extensive Summer Program

for children ages 3 to 17 from June to August. The offerings include traditional day camps, specialty and sports camps, one-on-one tutoring, and the Summer Institute offers more than 100 in-person and online courses designed for every student’s interest. The comprehensive summer enrichment gives students a competitive advantage to succeed in the next school year.

American Heritage Schools’ Palm Beach campus is located at 6200 Linton Blvd. Learn more about AHS’s unique Equestrian Program at www.ahschool.com/ equestrian-program.

wellington the magazine | june 2024 29
The AHS equestrian team boasts award-winning riders who have placed in the top five at Interscholastic Equestrian Association competitions and ranked in the top 10 nationally.

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Wellington Community Foundation Awards $4,500 To Three 2024 Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship Recipients

On Tuesday, May 21, amid the melodic tunes at Village Music Café, the Wellington Community Foundation presented the prestigious Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship to three exceptional members of the Class of 2024: Rachel Ireland, Jaden Browning and Sophia Amro Gazze. These remarkable students have demonstrated outstanding dedication, leadership and commitment to their community, embodying the spirit of service cherished by Arle and Ken Adams.

The Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship holds a special place in the heart of Wellington, named in honor of a pioneering couple, whose unwavering dedication and service to the community have left an indelible mark. Ken Adams, a former Palm Beach County commissioner, was

a firm believer in the power of community and the importance of nurturing future leaders. When the Wellington Community Foundation established its scholarship program, it was only fitting to immortalize the Adams’ legacy by naming it after them.

Their tireless advocacy for the community led to remarkable achievements, and Ken’s involvement with the foundation further solidified the couple’s dedication to Wellington’s seniors, children and veterans. Although Ken Adams passed away in 2020, following his wife in 2017, their spirit lives on through the scholarship that bears their name. The Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship seeks to uplift future leaders, fostering better tomorrows. The 2024 recipients exemplify the values championed by the Adamses,

displaying exceptional promise and a strong commitment to making a positive community impact.

Rachel Ireland, a student at Wellington High School, has been recognized for her exceptional academic performance and dedication to community service. With a GPA of 5.007, Ireland has demonstrated her passion for biological science and research. Her involvement in the National Honor Society, the Music Honor Society, the American Sign Language Honor Society and theater, where she choreographed the school musical Mamma Mia!, reflects her commitment to both academics and the arts. Her future aspirations lie in the field of genetics and molecular biology, where she hopes to make significant contributions.

wellington the magazine | june 2024 31
Jaden Browning Suncoast High School Rachel Ireland Wellington High School Sophia Amro Gazze FAU High School

Ireland thanked the foundation’s board of directors and Scholarship Committee members James Seder, Joanna Boynton and Don Gross for honoring her with the award. “Being selected for this honor is truly humbling,” she said. “Wellington has undoubtedly prepared me for my future, from the support of my teachers at Wellington High School, to the mentorship of the physical therapist at USA Sports Medicine Wellington, who graciously took me on as an intern.”

Jaden Browning, a student at Suncoast High School, stands out for his academic excellence and commitment to community engagement. With a GPA of 5.32, he aspires to pursue a major in chemistry. His achievements in the Academic Games, along with scoring in the top one percent nationally on both the SAT and ACT, highlight his academic prowess. Outside school, Browning dedicates his time to teaching computer coding to young people and participating in various community service activities, including food bank distributions and beach cleanups. His future goals revolve around becoming a research scientist, where he aims to make impactful discoveries.

Browning shared how he worked with Wellington Community Foundation founder Tom Wenham to assist in

locating other veterans in Wellington and share the inspiring Red, White & Blue Jeans “A Salute To Our Heroes” event invites.

“When I met with Mr. Wenham to see how I could help, we had wonderful discussions about his military service, his dedication to community service and how he supported veterans for years,” Browning said. “I was impressed. I really was inspired by Mr. Wenham’s commitment to service in this area.”

Sophia Amro Gazze, a student at Florida Atlantic University High School, has been recognized for her academic excellence and leadership abilities. With a GPA of 5.48, she will attend the FAU Honors College to study cellular neuroscience. Her involvement in the dualenrollment program at FAU has allowed her to accumulate three years of college experience in high school.

As president of the Mock Trials, captain of the Science Olympiad, vice president of the Model United Nations and senior thrower on the track and field team, Gazze has exhibited exceptional leadership skills and dedication to extracurricular activities. Her future aspirations include serving as both a healer and an activist in her community, leveraging her knowledge to make a positive impact.

“This scholarship stands on a strong foundation based on leadership, servitude and the future,” Gazze said. “It is such an honor to have received this prestigious recognition and to represent a strong generation of action and positive change.”

The Wellington Community Foundation extends its heartfelt congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients. Their exemplary achievements and dedication to community service embody the values cherished by Arle and Ken Adams, and their future endeavors promise to inspire and uplift the community.

As the 2024 recipients embark on their academic journey, the Wellington Community Foundation remains steadfast in its mission of “building a stronger community.”

For those who wish to support the Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship, or become involved in WCF’s mission, learn more at www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation. org.

Jim Sackett, Pam Tahan, scholarship recipient Rachel Ireland, Don Gross, scholarship recipient Jaden Browning, Joanna Boynton, Terri Kane, James Seder, Maggie Zeller and Barry Manning. (Left) Wellington Community Foundation Chair Barry Manning thanks Village Music owners Steve and Donna Willey and their team for hosting the Adams Scholarship Soirée.
32 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
(Right) WCF Scholarship Committee members Don Gross, Joanna Boynton and James Seder. PHOTOS BY DENISE FLEISCHMAN


Emilia McGovern And Johnathon Bucknor Of Wellington High School Honored With Prestigious Pathfinder Scholarships

Two skilled, creative and industrious members of the Wellington High School Class of 2024 were honored recently as winners of the prestigious Pathfinder Scholarship Awards. Emilia McGovern won first place in the Business category, while Johnathon Bucknor won second place in the Theater Arts category.

McGovern and Bucknor are two of the more than 650 members of this year’s extremely talented crop of WHS graduates, who completed their high school careers on Monday, May 20 at a ceremony held at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

McGovern and Bucknor are already reaping the dividends of their unique skills, creativity and industrial work ethic. On Friday, May 10, both were honored at the annual Pathfinder Scholarship Awards, sponsored by the Palm Beach Post to honor the best and bright-

est students from across Palm Beach and Martin counties in 18 different categories.

McGovern, who will attend the University of Florida to study public relations, received a $3,000 college scholarship, while Bucknor, who has been accepted into the University of Central Florida, is the recipient of a $2,000 college scholarship. He intends to major in music and minor in theater.

The Business scholarship is awarded to students who have shown the greatest promise in the field of business, entrepreneurship or business innovation. The judging was based on the nominees’ overall academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and contributions made in their community.

The Theatre Arts scholarship is awarded to students who have shown exceptional accomplishment in drama,

set/costume design, production and/ or stagecraft. Judging was based on the nominees’ expertise in theater arts, overall academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and contributions made in their community.

Both appreciate the financial support from the Pathfinder program.

“I am very thankful for this scholarship,” said McGovern, 18. “It was an honor to be nominated for this scholarship, and I am grateful to the Wellington High School staff and guidance counselors for their support.”

Bucknor, 17, agreed that the opportunities and teacher support provided for him at Wellington High School are the main reasons why he has excelled in theater arts since his arrival on campus as a sophomore.

While accumulating top grades and being a four-year competitive cheerlead-

wellington the magazine | june 2024 35

er and a cheerleader captain during her senior year, McGovern has carved out time to help lead the DECA program at WHS, a high school program that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management through competitive and real-world experiences.

With more than 230 students, the DECA program at WHS is the largest student organization on campus. McGovern has helped plan, organize and direct events for the DECA chapter, which have positively impacted daily life in Wellington.

“She has been leading the school and the DECA chapter in the organization, planning and execution of our annual WHS Trunk or Treat, a fall holiday event for children in the community attended by more than 700 local families,” said teacher Elizabeth Newsome, the DECA advisor at WHS.

“Trunk or Treat impacted 2,000 children and is a student-run event,” noted McGovern, who oversaw the event from beginning to end.

McGovern also helped write two 20-

page manuals that detail specific projects that students planned and executed for the DECA chapter, which benefited the Wellington community. Those two projects were “Learning Entrepreneurship with Lexi and Emilia” and “Act Against Allergies.” The first is a project aimed to encourage entrepreneurial abilities, growth mindsets and creativity among fourth graders in local elementary schools via weekly lessons in their classrooms. The second is project-driven through Trunk or Treat to encourage more people in Wellington to offer allergy-friendly alternatives during the Halloween season.

McGovern’s leadership at WHS also garnered the attention of Principal Cara Hayden.

“She has proven to be an asset to our school community, as well as an accomplished student who impresses me daily,” Hayden said. “It is inspiring to see Emilia’s passion as she has worked hard to bring back a sense of camaraderie to our campus following the pandemic.”

As for Bucknor, his passion for theater started when he was in the fifth

grade at John Ross Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he played the role of an elf in a small student production.

“I like acting because it allows you to be different people,” Bucknor said. “You get to help the audience feel different emotions, such as fear, sadness and happiness.”

Since arriving at WHS, Bucknor has had prominent roles in many theatrical productions, such as Little Women, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Check Please, Trap and Alice by Heart. In Little Women, he had to sing in front of an audience for the first time, and in Alice by Heart, he played the role of Alfred, who dies of tuberculosis at the end of the play. “It was my first death scene,” Bucknor said.

In addition to his many on-stage roles at WHS, Bucknor has also appeared in television commercials for Church’s Chicken, Universal Studios and Old El Paso.

Bucknor’s commitment to theatrical excellence has not gone unnoticed by Cassandra Truelove, one of his theater teachers at WHS.

“Johnathon is always polite and respectful to fellow students and teachers. He writes and records his own music, as well as acting professionally in commercials and other opportunities in his ‘free’ time,” Truelove said. “Johnathon is a perfect example of a scholar and performer. He is deeply invested in his academics, as well as constantly working to improve and fine-tune his craft in acting.”

McGovern will move into her dormitory at UF on Aug. 15 with classes to start soon thereafter, while Bucknor was set to attend UCF’s orientation on May 31 and enroll in summer classes there.

Time will tell what the future holds for McGovern and Bucknor, but chances are strong that they will meet and exceed all expectations.

36 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
Emilia McGovern with her father, Wellington Vice Mayor John McGovern, at Wellington High School’s graduation ceremony May 20. PHOTO BY FRANK KOESTER
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Wellington’s new agreement with Freebee offers a more convenient transportation service for senior citizens in Wellington. Wellington’s seniors now have access to this free program, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


New Freebee Program Offers A Convenient Alternative Transportation Service For Senior Citizens From Wellington

Since 2010, the Village of Wellington has provided a limited transportation program for senior residents 62 years of age and older. In an effort to expand this program and its services, the village recently received proposals from interested firms to provide alternative transportation services using a ride-share-type system.

The ride-share transportation service includes the following: Monday through Saturday service from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. using two fully electric vehicles with unlimited rides. There is a mobile app with an option to request service via dispatch/ call-in. The program offers door-to-door, on-demand service; a custom dashboard with the ability to display performance

metrics in real time; and single or shareduse service.

Freebee replaced Wellington’s previous senior transportation program, which often carried around 10 people per day. Now, two Freebee cars serve between 20 and 30 people per day. The initial term of the contract began on May 1, 2024, for a three-year initial term, and provides for five one-year renewal options.

Freebee is a free electric-car service funded by the village’s Parks & Recreation Department. All rides must generally be within the village limits, but the cars will travel as far north as Southern Blvd. and as far south as Lake Worth

wellington the magazine | june 2024 39 wellington | today
BARNES, WELLINGTON VILLAGE MANAGER (Right) A launch celebration was held Saturday, April 27 for the new Freebee Wellington program.

Road. Riders must be at least 55 years old and Wellington residents.

Freebee, which was created by two University of Miami graduates, serves many municipalities in South Florida. The company calls their drivers “ambassadors” because they’re expected to be friendly, welcoming and talkative with the riders.

Riders can order a car through the Freebee app, or by calling a centralized dispatch. Unlike the popular ride-share apps Uber and Lyft, there isn’t a way to see reviews for local drivers. The app has a feature where riders can post photos and reviews, however, they aren’t specific to any driver or service area.

Wellington’s Freebee cars are Tesla Model X electric vehicles. A phone app makes calling a car similar to the procedure for Uber and Lyft, but rides are free.

“It’s convenient, it’s free, you’re having fun and smiling,” said Jason Spiegel, co-founder of the company. “We are short-distance, inter-municipality transportation that provides high ridership at a lower cost for cities because our cleanenergy vehicles require less maintenance and no gas, compared to trolleys and buses or traditional car services.”

This new village transportation ride

service, in partnership with Freebee, provides an increased level of service. It is a free shuttle service for Wellington residents age 55 and older offering unlimited door-to-door pick-ups and drop-offs in these new Tesla Model X vehicles.

Residents who use the program no longer need to provide the previously required 24-hour notice. Rides can be scheduled for same-day service with an average wait time of 15 minutes. Commuters also have the added flexibility of scheduling their rides up to five days in advance, ensuring that they can plan their travel with ease and reliability.

The service area includes anywhere within the Wellington municipal boundaries, as well as HCA Florida Palms West Hospital and its surrounding medical offices, as well as along State Road 7 from Southern Blvd. to Lake Worth Road. Service hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sunday.

Residents can sign up by visiting the Wellington Community Center for a one-time registration. Be sure to bring your ID and water or utility bill. Information can also be provided via e-mail to rides@wellingtonfl.gov.

To request a ride, residents should:

1. Call the Freebee dispatch number at (855) 918-3733 or download the Freebee App.

2. Request a pick-up.

3. Enjoy the free ride.

Village staff is working on targeted outreach to seniors, including current senior transportation commuters. The outreach plan includes senior workshops, pre-registration of current riders via the Freebee portal and direct mailers. Additional marketing and promotion of the service throughout Wellington will be scheduled in conjunction with Freebee’s economic development team.

To learn more about the Freebee service, visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/rides.

wellington | today 40 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
Wellington’s Freebee cars are two Tesla Model X electric vehicles. Councilwoman Amanda Silvestri, Mayor Michael Napoleone, Councilwoman Maria Antuña and Vice Mayor John McGovern try out one of the Freebee cars.
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Father John Mangrum Was An Instrumental Leader In The Early Years Of The Wellington Community

Father John Mangrum — also known as “Johnny The Stroller” — was a spiritual leader, early elected official, devoted community builder and beloved newspaper columnist.

This month, our Wellington History series continues by featuring this instrumental leader from the early years of the Wellington community.

The early years of Wellington were filled with fascinating characters, but perhaps none of such well-rounded interests as Father John Mangrum.

Mangrum’s influence cut across many layers of the fledgling Wellington community. He was an Episcopal priest instrumental in growing one of Wellington’s earliest churches. Mangrum was also an ecumenical leader who helped several other religious congregations gain their foothold in Wellington. He was also an avid horse lover known as the “priest of polo,” who gave the opening prayers at the old Palm Beach Polo stadium.

Mangrum was also a political leader, joining the Acme Improvement District Board of Supervisors — Wellington’s pre-incorporation government — in 1981 as the first non-developer representative of the community. First by appointment, then by election, he

served as an Acme supervisor for more than a decade as the community wrestled with the thorny issue of incorporation.

Beyond the religious and political spheres, Mangrum was also engaged in the crucial work of community building. His alter ego was “Johnny The Stroller,” the name of his long-running column in the Town-Crier newspaper. He went to events around the young community and wrote about them, al-

42 june 2024 | wellington the magazine

ways with a focus on weaving together a gathering of transplants from elsewhere into the backbone of a new Wellington community destined for greatness.

In 1976, St. David’s in the Pines Episcopal Church became the first church established in the new community of Wellington. It had a handful of member families when the Rev. John F. Mangrum became its second rector in 1979.

Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mangrum grew up with a deep love of baseball and music. He served in the Pacific during World War II after doing his basic training here in Palm Beach County. After the war, he studied at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University before returning to Michigan to serve as an Episcopal priest.

After several postings in Michigan, he moved to Florida with his wife Shir-

ley in the mid-1950s, serving at congregations in Mount Dora, Avon Park, Tampa, Jacksonville and then Clewiston. He was serving in the Glades when he first heard of the huge new develop-

wellington the magazine | june 2024 43 wellington | history
(Above) Father John Mangrum speaks at the Acme Improvement District’s new utility building dedication in 1988. (Inset) Shirley and John Mangrum in 2000.

ment known as Wellington, and when the position at St. David’s became available, Mangrum jumped at the chance to be involved.

Through the boom years of the 1980s, Mangrum grew his congregation from a few dozen families to more than 400. The church, under his leadership, built a new 300-seat building dedicated on Thanksgiving Day in 1987, and even hosted Prince Charles (now King Charles III) on Easter Sunday in 1980 during one of his poloplaying trips to Wellington.

“He was a very solid priest who brought people into the congregation when Wellington was growing,” recalled Father Steven Thomas, who followed Mangrum as rector at St. David’s. “He was actively involved in the life of the community.”

He first met Mangrum while Thomas was working at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton.

“All of the priests in the southern part of Palm Beach County met once a month. I invited him to come to St. Andrew’s for chapel. He would come maybe once a year and give a talk during the children’s service. He was popu-

lar. They loved hearing him,” Thomas recalled.

When Mangrum eventually decided to retire in the early 1990s, he brought Thomas to Wellington and urged him to apply for the position.

“He was instrumental in my coming to Wellington and put in a good word for me with the church council. That led to me being involved in the church community for three decades,” said Thomas, who retired as rector at St. David’s in 2023.

Mangrum’s role in the religious life of Wellington wasn’t contained to St. David’s and his Episcopal flock. He was an active member of the community’s clergy association and used the resources at his disposal to support other congregations. As the leader of Wellington’s first established congregation, Mangrum believed it was his sacred duty to help others get started.

St. David’s housed the fledgling congregations of Wellington Presbyterian Church, St. Peter’s United Methodist Church and Temple Beth Torah while they waited for their own properties to be developed. While the parish that became St. Rita Catholic Church never

met at St. David’s, a major fundraiser supporting St. Rita was held at St. David’s.

By the early 1980s, there were several thousand residents living in Wellington, which was still largely controlled by developers. In 1981, the developers chose Mangrum for appointment to a seat on the Acme Improvement Board of Supervisors as a representative of the growing residential population. When several Acme seats were opened to the residents through election in 1989, he stayed on the board, this time as an elected representative.

Acme, Wellington’s pre-incorporation government, had limited control, largely over drainage, roads and parks. But it was also one of the only outlets residents had to express their concerns.

“Father Mangrum was a team player. He was always willing to listen to other people’s points of view,” said Kathy Foster, who served alongside Mangrum in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “When I was president of Acme, I could always count on him to help build consensus.”

Foster, who went on to become Wellington’s first mayor after incorporation, said that Mangrum was “definitely committed to the community and to what the people wanted.”

He was particularly useful at representing Wellington before the Palm Beach County Commission and other areas of county government. “A lot of negotiating went on with the county to make sure they didn’t implement something the people of Wellington did not want,” Foster said.

She added that Mangrum’s importance to early Wellington could not be overstated.

“Father Mangrum was an integral leader in the early Wellington community,” Foster said. “He and Father [Walter] Dockerill [of St. Rita] started the ecumenical association to bring all of the different faiths together.”

44 june 2024 | wellington the magazine wellington | history
Acme Improvement District supervisors Kathy Foster, Father John Mangrum and Ralph McCormack.

She particularly recalled his jubilant personality and his love of polo.

“The thing I remember most was that he always had a smile and witty remark for everyone he met,” Foster said. “He reigned every Sunday at his box at polo. He would call out to everyone passing by. He knew everyone’s names, and always had a kind comment to say.”

In his multi-faceted roles as a spiritual leader, elected official and community builder, one of the tools at Mangrum’s fingertips was his weekly “Johnny The Stroller” column in the Town-Crier. He put that famous wit of his to work, pen to paper, to continue building the Wellington community.

Sometimes he mused about community events, such as the Fourth of July fireworks show (“A Big Bang in Wellington”); sometimes he called for needed amenities (“Wellington Needs Its Own Community Center”); or espoused his favorite pastimes (“Polo Is The Place To Be On Sunday Afternoons”). The goal was the same — further the creation of the community called Wellington.

Reflecting years later, he expressed thanks to his good friend, Town-Crier founder Bob Markey Sr., for giving

him a platform to continue his mission of preaching the gospel of Wellington.

Aside from all these other roles, Mangrum was also a charter member and president of the Wellington Rotary Club, a founding member of the Palms West Chamber of Commerce, a founding member and board member of the Wellington Boys & Girls Club, and a board member with the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.

In 1997, seven years after retiring from St. David’s, Mangrum and his wife left Wellington for a retirement community in Boca Raton. He did return on occasion, including to receive a community service award from the Town-Crier in 2000 and to have his name placed on Wellington’s Founders Plaque in 2003.

Shirley Mangrum passed away in 2001, while Father John Mangrum died March 18, 2010, at the age of 87.

“It was the great Henry Pitt Van Dusen who said that the minister is the duly accredited friend of the whole community,” Mangrum said when interviewed for his Town-Crier community service award in 2000. “That idea has governed my whole life. In Wellington, that is what I was, and that is why you were here talking to me today.”

wellington the magazine | june 2024 45
An example of one of Father John Mangrum’s “Johnny The Stroller” columns in the Town-Crier newspaper, this one from Jan. 11, 1996.
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While fast food is convenient, it’s often unhealthy. Olive U Mediterranean Grill, now open in Wellington, aims to change that. The chain of fast casual restaurants serves fresh and healthy choices, starting with their signature, hand-crafted Mediterranean bowls.

Olive U Mediterranean Grill invites you to “live the fresh life” at its new location on State Road 7 in front of the plaza with Whole Foods Market in Wellington.

Olive U takes fast casual Mediterranean dining to a whole new level, featuring a menu of ingredients to make personalized bowls for lunch or dinner.

“We use top-quality ingredients with no shortcuts,” said owner Abdul Aburmaieleh, who created the concept seven years ago and has plans to expand throughout the South Florida area. “Our culture entails our customer service. People are greeted at the door and feel welcomed. When they taste our food, they are wowed.”

Customers can mix and match from a wide array of flavorful combinations. Olive U specializes in gyros, salads and their signature, hand-crafted Mediterranean-flavored bowls, which start under $12.

When you arrive at Olive U, the first thing you’ll do is choose the base for your bowl from choices such as lettuce, pita, hummus, cinnamon rice, or lentils and rice. Next, you’ll choose your protein from among the seasoned Olive U chicken, chicken shawarma, falafel, beef and lamb gyro, or tofu.

There is also an array of toppings to choose from, such as lettuce, onions, pickles, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, banana or jalapeño peppers, feta cheese, garbanzo beans and Kalamata olives. Finally, choose from among several sauce toppings.

“We use all natural spices. No preservatives. It’s a place where you eat and feel good about it. Healthy food does not have to be boring,” Aburmaieleh explained. “I believe in the concept of garden to table. That is where all of our ingredients come from. We just cut it and serve it.”

Looking for something more? You can add an appetizer to your meal. Choices include hummus, tzatziki,

baba ghanoush, spicy feta, falafel, grape leaves and fries. Can’t decide? Put together three to build your own appetizer plate.

After, save room for a piece of sweet, taste-tempting baklava to finish your meal.

With a background in law enforcement, Aburmaieleh owned Mediterranean restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, before moving to Florida in 2014. He created Olive U because the market for Mediterranean food is growing.

“It is very clean and associated with healthy foods,” Aburmaieleh said. “That’s why it is gaining popularity, because you are focusing on what Mediterranean food encompasses, whether it is the olive oil or vegetables.”

Not sure how to put together your bowl? He has a recommendation.

“I love the chicken shawarma or the Olive U chicken with cinnamon rice and the house sauce,” Aburmaieleh said, who also enjoys a side order of hummus with his meal. “Also, I personally think our gyro on pita with the sauce is game winning.”

There are also family meal options and catering available. If you’re looking for a healthy meal to bring home for dinner, the Olive U Family Dinners include a choice of bases and proteins, plus five fresh toppings, and include a hummus and pita appetizer, as well as the signature house sauce — all for just $49.

The restaurant features a crisp, modern look with plenty of indoor seats, as well as a few tables outside in front of the store. Takeout and delivery are available. Cleanliness is a point of pride with Aburmaieleh, as is having a friendly, welcoming staff ready to go above and beyond for customers.

Olive U Wellington is one of five current locations of this growing food concept. There are also two in Boca Raton, one in Delray Beach and one in Palm Beach Gardens.

“I was fascinated by the Chipotle concept, and I wanted to create a similar

wellington the magazine | june 2024 47 wellington | table
(Top) Olive U Mediterranean Grill is located on State Road 7 in front of Whole Foods Market in Wellington. (Bottom) With a focus on fresh, healthy food and welcoming customer service, the staff at Olive U invites you to visit and “feel the love.” Olive U owner and founder Abdul Aburmaieleh (left) with team members at the new Wellington location.

service with authentic Mediterranean food, which is my background,” said Aburmaieleh, who will be opening a West Boynton location on Hagen Ranch Road this summer before shifting focus to Pembroke Pines, Plantation and Davie in Broward County. “Our four-year plan calls for 17 more stores.”

He is excited about the reception Olive U has received in the Wellington market.

“I love Wellington. I used to live here. Based on the demographics, I knew that Olive U would do so well,” Aburmaieleh said. “We have had nothing but wonderful feedback from customers. It was our best opening.”

He invites everyone who hasn’t been to the store yet to come by and “feel the love.”

“My philosophy at Olive U is always to give the customer the best, high-quality ingredients and never take shortcuts,” he said. “This is how we want to be different. When people hear the name Olive U, they think of three things — quality, friendliness and great food.”

Olive U Wellington is located at 2535 S. State Road 7, Suite 130. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more, call (561) 500-5010 or visit www.oliveugrill.com.

Owner Abdul Aburmaieleh calls the Olive U gyro on pita with sauce a game-winning meal. (Middle row, left to right) The falafel bowl showcases Olive U’s tasty falafel — fried chickpeas mixed with herbs and parsley — that can be personalized with tasty bases and toppings; the gyro bowl features Olive U’s perfectly seasoned beef and lamb gyro, sliced thin and topped with your choice of fresh vegetables; don’t forget to add a sauce to your creation, such as the house sauce, tahini, hot sauce or vinaigrette; and if you’re not in the mood for meat, the freshly prepared tofu provides a wonderful protein to go with your base and toppings. (Below) The focus is on freshness at Olive U, which offers an array of toppings, such as lettuce, onions, pickles, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, feta cheese, garbanzo beans and Kalamata olives.

48 june 2024 | wellington the magazine
wellington | table

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