VIP Destin Magazine, June 2020

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10% military discount every monday kids eat free every tuesday (with adult entree purchase)


1176 Eglin Pkwy, Shalimar Fl 32579 850.398.5042


1900 S Ferdon Blvd Ste 140 Crestview, Fl 32536 850.631.6970


panama city

510 John Sims Pkwy W Unit 104 2061 N Cove Blvd Niceville, Florida 32578 Panama City, Florida 32405 850.353.2625 850.785.2227 04.indd 1

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events 12 Memorial Day Celebration Baytowne Wharf 15 Open for Business 22 Memorial Day Celebration HarborWalk Village 26 Rescue Me 30 Isidro Dunbar Modern Interiors 34 Fort Walton Beach Medical Center ER 38 Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi 41 The Emerald Ball 51 Artsquest Fine Arts Festival 60 Farmer’s Market 62 VIP Destin Magazine Virtual Cover Reveal 66 Destin Charity Wine Acution 72 Doug Foltz Private Reception Celebration

business profiles

features departments 18 24 28 32 54 56 63 74

Coastal Cuisine Swizzle Destin Style May We Suggest Give Care Share Save the Date Locale I Am Destin

48 Giving Back Learn more about how Step One Automotive Group supports the Okaloosa Fighting Covid Initiative with the Hsu Foundation.

70 Big Brothers Big Sisters of

Northwest Florida

Be inspired by these “Bigs” taking creative measures to stay connected to thier “Littles.”

46 Rodos Realty

on the cover !"#$%&'($)"*+',' -)./)'01"2%$ 01&/&2%,314'+4 !"#$%&'#()" !"#$%&'()*+,% -&$.%*'!*/.%#&%"

;<!/6(&.%1/0-2->%1(/?.-@@ !"#$%&'() Greg Alexander

!"#$%&'()&/*&&%&.-1. Anna Stockton

*&&+,%-.(/!"#$%&'() Verla Price

6(&%21() Sheila McDiarmid

0-1-2%12/34%.+) Steve Barber

7+1.)%#".%12/8)%.()&9 !'+.+2)-:'()& Greg Alexander Zhalman Harris Shanna Magnuson Verla Price Jeff Watson

!)+4",.%+1/34%.+) Jessica Graña *45().%&%12 Steve Barber Verla Price Jeff Sarault

;<!/=+"14() Jeff Watson

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!"##"$%&$'(%#)"%*+,#'$ letter from the editor

photo by Steve Mangum

OPEN FOR BUSINESS is the theme of our June 2020 Issue. ourgoodbye local community are HappyThe Newcountry Year! As and we say OPEN FOR is celebrate unusual times but, to 2018 andBUSINESS! welcome 2019,Itwe theback past year the new year. we are withand thesalute new normal. We have visited VOLUME XV • ISSUE 1 Our January issue celebrates Destin some local businesses and are highlighting them area weddings. VIP Destin Magazine throughout theaissue. We alsofor arebrides updating you on has become vital resource seeking the current wedding rescheduled events and sharingtrends images from last year that make our area the destinationin our CLASSIC EVENT spreads. !"#$%&'() wedding mecca it has become. With the !"#!$%&#'%()#" The summer season is here,look andforward we are hosting arrival of 2019, we eagerly to signature winter events the has many fun guests from around the U.S.along Destin *&&+,%*-(.!"#$%&'() Emerald Coast. Cultural activities, *#"&%$+",-# events all year long, but the summer season is when fun festivals, lecture series, athletic the days areand longer, and life slows down. /*0*1%01.(2%-+) events, weddings. There’s always ./#*#$0%"0#" our sugarBesomething sure not tohappening miss ouron monthly department white shores. Here’s what’s up on the !)+2",-%+0.(2%-+) features suchCoast… as GiveJanuary Care Share where Emerald kicks off with we spotlight 1#..,-%$!"%2% Children’s Volunteer Network. Rodos Realty Art Wave, a modernHealth and sophisticated bazaar celebrating local artists, sippingfeature for this *23()-%&%01 is highlighted in our Business Profile photo by Scott Schaeffl er 0#/3$4%(!54 and shopping at Bubbly Baytowne, month and Destin Style featuring Summer Forecast – #&,6%0#/3$(#/3#"&%() and Destin Desserts benefiting the Girl newScouts trendsoffor the2020. Florida Panhandle, just to &(0%+).2(&%10() name a few. +",.-,&&%$%/7,(. Take a special look at our I Am Destin feature where you get to know Shervan Rassa, a local Couples areas creating memoriesDirector every dayofwith on theClub Emerald hero to our kids the Executive the weddings Boys & Girls of the Emerald Coast. In 2(&%10() Coast. Our January issue is one of the most anticipated issues of the year with a .3#,&%$4%-),%"4,) Coastal Cuisine on weall learn about a local favorite, Satsuma Orange and we chill back with concentration things wedding related in thethe area. Many of our advertisers &%-#8$"%-3%&& Swizzle as the Sea Breeze cocktail highlighted. are wedding based businesses. Beissure to check out wedding editorials from our advertisers. ,+0-)%#"-%01 We love seeing Destin support the events and causes that make it such a special place.4)%-()&5!'+-+1)*!'()& Invite us Swizzle features Ice Champagne which changes champagne sipping as you to cover your special events so that we may share them in the pages of an upcoming issue. 4%"8$%39 know it, and I Am Destin completes our Wedding issue with a spotlight on !"#!$%&#'%()#" event to planner Nicki Cox. social magazine. Enjoy your June issue of 1#($)##0 WeDestin are happy bringand yourestaurateur, Destin’s first monthly VIP 63%&4%($3%"",. time to enjoy all New Year activities, getyou out again and enjoy the DestinTake Magazine…and wethe look forward to seeing nextallmonth. .3%((%$4%!(5.9( winter events our area has to offer. Enjoy your January issue of VIP Destin Magazine…and we look forward to seeing you again next month. Cheers!


-95"/(#8$45""%8 &,#.#&$.-34,)/ 3%!.6+"02() 1#::$;%/.9(


A Special Thanks to our 2018 Cover Reveal Sponsor 10

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#*#(/.<*,+)#./,(4%!%6,(#=-94 ,(:9<*,+)#./,(4%!%6,(#=-94 ;;;=*,+)#./,(4%!%6,(#=-94 ;;;=:%-#0997=-94>*,+)#./,(4%!%6,(# 6/1/20 8:38 AM

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VIP Destin at The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Memorial Day Celebration photos & story by Shanna Magnuson


ay 22 kicked off the Memorial Day Celebration at The Village of Baytowne Wharf with live music all weekend long. While the Wednesday Night Concerts have alreday started, this was the kick off for the weekend concert series. A humid evening, but the lawn in front of the amphitheater quickly fi lled with locals and tourists ready to celebrate, while still staying safe for social distancing, and taking precautions to do so. The line up from 7-9 PM started with The Shakedown on Friday, Forrest Williams Band on Saturday, and The Good Lookings on Sunday evening. The kids started the dancing and some joined as the night went on, it was a community-feeling night. The sunset helped cool off the evening a bit, and soon the lights of the Baytowne Wharf glowed and set the mood for a celebration not only for Memorial Day, but also that these wonderful concerts could once again resume. The whole Emerald Coast seemed to be making room for tourists, and excited to gather at what’s known as the “heart and soul” of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort at the Baytowne Wharf.


Lauren Hanney & Dan Winterbottom

Jennifer & Jeff Shiovitz

Chase & Casey Marsh

Shannon Upton & Mark Jones

Jason & Kim Whitten

Meghann Alphin & Grace Watson


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Michael & Whitney Cornett

Pat & Bill Glause

Christi Spigner, Kim Smith, & Toyia Witherspoon

Natalie & Pam Wolfe

Lucia & Lee Dillon

Carey Lewis & Jessica Freed

Susan Watley, Jennifer Watley, & Anne Watkins

Kevin & Tanya McCan

Jim & Becky Keaster

Sandy Rippee, Brenda Jeatte, Maryam Esmaieli, & Gail Massey June 2020 | 13

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Highlighting Local Businesses


eauty is not all that you will find in the eye of the beholder – essential or non-essential businesses are very difficult to discern. Sure, there are many things we can go without when a pandemic strikes the entire world, but, oh how grateful we are when those named nonessential are available for us once again. Whether one is a retail business selling fashions, a coffee shop where we meet, sip, and relax, or even the beach where we go for solitude, fun, sun, fishing, or entertainment, or a dog groomer cleaning and clipping our preening pups, we will not again take these and many others for granted. As a publication about people, and as the Destin area started re-opening, VIP Destin Magazine was ecstatic to get out and see the ways in which people were exiting the isolation of quarantine. We visited some local businesses and are happy to share the smiles we captured along the way. photos by Steve Barber & Verla Price

Vue on 30A

4801 W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

Realty ONE Group

34990 Emerald Coast Pkwy Suite 303, Destin

Jacqui Luberto Team

Blalock Seafood Amazing Lash

1004 US-98, Destin

Shane Blalock

34940 Emerald Coast Pkwy Ste 108, Destin

MaryFrances Mullins

Lily Chartier Pearls

12273 U.S. Highway 98W, Suite 119, Holiday Plaza, Miramar Beach

Sea & Sand Jewelry

10562 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach

Emily & William Kelly


4495 Furling Ln Suite 130, Destin

Heidi LoCicero

Allyson Salon & Spa 981 US-98 #12, Destin

Allyson Shirley & Ashley Long

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast 923 Denton Blvd NW, Fort Walton Beach

Connie Chartier June 2020 | 15

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979 Highway 98 E, Destin

Preston Green

Megan Tate

Bay Foot & Ankle Clinic

Francia Squartrito

TodayĂ­ s Boutique

Kristin Humphrey

photos by Verla Price

Kendall Roles, Marcia Green, Preston Green, Robena McMahon & Arthur Potlog

1775 Lewis Turner Blvd, Fort Walton Beach

Yolanda Martillo

Mary Schenk

4433 Commons Dr E E103, Destin photos by Verla Price

Barbara Brodeur

The Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry 4635 Gulfstarr Dr #200, Destin


photos by Verla Price

Tammy Welton

Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club 334 Golf Club Dr, Santa Rosa Beach

photos by Steve Barber


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You Glad You Live in Florida? story by Anna Stockton

ong before the panhandle of Florida was the place of high-rise condos and fun beach bars, it had a surprising identity, an orange growing paradise. In the early 20th century, oranges grew aplenty in this area. When turpentine and shingle businesses depleted the forest lands, the locals found that oranges grew nicely in their place. Orange Beach was even named as such because of the rows of orange trees that flourished there. However, the new crop’s success was short lived. While the orange growing business boomed below the frostbelt, deep freezes and hard times forced most local orange growers in the area to abandon the orange business and move on to other crops that were better suited to the climate, such as pecans. In recent years, milder winters and the evolution of heartier varieties of oranges have made it possible for the orange growing operations in the panhandle to have a resurgence. Next time you order that sangria at one of our awesome local beach bars, the orange juice may be from just up the road. Oranges (and orange juice based drinks) not only have a positive impact on our brunch, they also have a positive impact on our health! We all know that oranges and orange juice are the go-to when we’re feeling under the weather, but they can also

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help with our long term health. Recent studies have shown just how powerful these juicy fruits can be. Oranges have been shown to have a protective aspect against heart disease, which is a leading cause of death in the U.S. They also have been identified to have a blood thinning affect if consumed regularly. Oranges can help with kidney stones and anemia as well. So, feel free to have another mimosa, you’re doing it for your health! Satsuma oranges are the most common type of oranges grown locally. In fact, Jackson County was once known as the satsuma capital of the world, bringing around 35,000 people to the area for the Satsuma Festival from 1928-1929. Often referred to as satsuma mandarins, they are an easily peeled, juicy type of orange with few or no seeds. Satsumas do well in the panhandle area because they thrive in the cooler climate. In fact, growers say the more nights that fall below 40 degrees, the sweeter the crop. The fall harvest season is relatively short, only lasting from October through December. When you’re at the store picking up your favorite football snacks, head on over to the produce section and check out the locally grown satsuma oranges.

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Want to try your hand (or green thumb) at growing your own orange crop? Here are some helpful hints: • As seed grown trees are more susceptible to rot, you’ll have more success with an established tree from a nursery. • You can either plant your tree or pot it. You can be a master orange grower either way. • Water depending on the climate, most new trees need about 1-1 ½ inches of water per week. • Fertilize according to the age of your tree.

INGREDIENTS ï Satsuma oranges, segmented ï 2 grapefruit, segmented ï zest of one lime ï 2 tablespoons honey ï 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint INSTRUCTIONS Segment fruit over a bowl. Remove segments from juice and place in another bowl. Add lime zest, honey, and mint to the citrus segments, stir gently to combine. Serve immediately or store in fridge until ready to serve.

• Keep an eye on the weather! Like most Floridians, a frost can cause your tree to give up the will to live. • Watch out for those pesky little critters! Ants and other bugs love to feast on all your hard work. INGREDIENTS ï 12 Satsuma Oranges ï 2 ½ cups of Sugar ï ¾ cups of water INSTRUCTIONS Peel oranges; scrape white pith from rind. Cut rind into 1/4≠ inch strips. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Stir in rind; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Strain rind mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard liquid. Pat rind dry with paper towels. Place remaining 1 cup sugar and rind in a medium bowl, tossing to coat.

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VIP Destin at HarborWalk Village


!"#"$%&'()* photos & story by Zhalman Harris

Rachel Bowlby & Sarah Whaley


arborWalk Village was one of several venues in Destin celebrating Memorial Day. There were an impressive number of people who came out to enjoy the festivities. Regardless of the current situation due to Covid-19, vacationers and locals were out to enjoy the unofficial beginning of summer. The turnout, along with the weather, was definitely an indication that it was time for fl ip flops, suntans and summer fun. Guests enjoyed live music by Flash Flood, face painting, beer tasting, and lots of other fun stuff. “We are hoping this will be the start of a good summer for us, because there are lots of great things planned for the summer,� said Brittany Byrd, Director of Marketing at Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village. Amanda McArdle & Steven Upton


Adrian Aguilar & Rachel Velasquez

Brittany Byrd & Amanda Schrand

Sandy & Don Creech

Megan & Allie Melnick

Melissa Garza, Janet Padilla, Alex Medina & Manuel Bailey


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Melissa Downing, Julie Newton & Amanda Young

Mel Rushdan & Alicia Benjamin

Shawn Echavarrio & Alyssa Fitzpatrick

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story by Steve Barber


ince the 1920s people have celebrated “Breeze Season,” also known as the long hot days and balmy nights of summer. The need for cool refreshment in the heat of summer brought about the invention of the “Sea Breeze”. The Sea Breeze is a summer cocktail that is a mixture of cranberry and grapefruit juices over a vodka base. Over the years, the drink ingredients have evolved from the original 1920s recipe of gin and grenadine. The popularity of the drink and the marketing of cranberry juice in the 1950s by the cranberry co-operative gave rise to several delicious variations of the original including the Cape Codder and its descendants the Greyhound, the Salty Dog and the Bay Breeze. The Breeze

cocktails have maintained popularity through the years due to their refreshing quality and use of simple, easily accessible ingredients. The Sea Breeze is part of a collection of great tasting vodka and fruit juice drinks. Not only is it a popular cocktail, it’s also really easy to make. It requires just three ingredients: vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice. This delicious drink is served over ice and can be made as a tall or as short cocktail. The Sea Breeze is one of the few drinks in which the quality of your vodka is not going to make a significant difference. The fruit juices will mask slight impurities, so feel free to use your “well” vodka here! The Sea Breeze is a spiked fruit punch. Sit back and enjoy this refreshing twist to the vodka cranberry and chill out on the upcoming hot summer days. After one taste, you’ll quickly realize why this is a favorite summer drink.

If you like the Sea Breeze, try these alternate vodka and fuit juice combinations: The Greyhound is grapefruit juice only. The Madras is cranberry with orange juice. The Bay Breeze is equal parts pineapple and cranberry juices. The Cape Codder is cranberry juice alone. 24


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Sea Breeze Cocktail MAKES 1 DRINK !"#$%&!%"'( • 1 1/2 ounces vodka • 3 ounces cranberry juice • 1 ounce grapefruit juice • Garnish: grapefruit slice &!$%)'!*"( Pour the vodka and cranberry juice into a highball glass with ice cubes. Top with the grapefruit juice. Garnish with the grapefruit slice. +!,-'!, Shake It Up: The “Sea Breeze” can also be shaken and strained over fresh ice, adding more air to the drink.

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VIP Destin at Rescue Me


photos & story provided by Alaqua Animal Refuge

laqua Animal Refuge hosted its first virtual event ‘Rescue Me’ on Saturday, May 16, honoring rescue animals and the souls that love them. Hosted live by Alaqua Founder Laurie Hood, this unique online event brought together a gallery of special guests, including Alden and Emeril Lagasse; Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live; Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line and his wife Brittney with Tribe Kelley; John O’Hurley, known for his role as J. Peterman on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld; Cathy Bissell, founder of the Bissell Pet Foundation; singer/songwriter Eric Lindell; Jon Nite, a CMA and ACM award winning singer/songwriter; Billy Dawson, Nashville Industry Awards “Artist of the Year”; and more. The webcast also showcased original footage of the late Jim Fowler, host of the acclaimed wildlife television show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Over the years, Hood and Fowler formed an incredible friendship and then a partnership to develop a section at Alaqua’s new property that would house injured wild animals and native species of Florida whom cannot be re-released into the wild. Operating solely on funds raised through private donations and fundraising, Alaqua created the online webcast as a fundraiser to supplement the loss of two spring events and provide a funding bridge during this time of need due to COVID-19. Funds raised will help keep the Refuge operational, giving them the ability to continue to further their mission of providing animals with shelter, safety, and second chances. As John O’Hurley commented during the broadcast, “Alaqua does extraordinary work for creatures great and small, and the Refuge is by far answering a great need in Northwest Florida and beyond.” Based on the overwhelming popularity of the webcast, Alaqua has just now released a highlights video for those that weren’t able to watch it in real-time. It can viewed at:

Laurie Hood

Claire Jones

Mike Haney

Sissel & George Johnson 26

The Lagasse Family


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Kenan Thompson

Jim Smith

Brian & Brittney Kelley

Billy Dawson

Jon Nite

Paul Arthur

Eric Lindell

John O’Hurley

Cathy Bissell

Lea Capers, Laurie Hood & Joe Capers June 2020 | 27

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!"##$%&'(%$)*+, 2020 new trends for

Tropical Prints Flowers, foliage, petals, and leaves. Whether it’s on a fun top or sling bag- tropical is hot this season. Chiffon Tops This flowy, breezy fabric is great for hot weather. Pair it with a different pop of color underneath for a completely new look! Retro Round Sunglasses These specs are all the rage this summer. With frames ranging from tortoise shell to thick, gloss white, you’re sure to find a pair for every outfit. Silver Sea Shells Ocean themes are in! Pick a seashell, starfish, or seahorse as a pendant or charm to add a hint of sparkle. Sandals Sandals are a staple of the summer, and this year is no different! Choose a flat, strappy sandal with details like beads, stones, or charms for a trendy touch. Purses There are lots of options this year- whether you want a chic clutch, a simple eco-friendly canvas tote, or a basket-weave bag, you’ll be on trend with your handbag pick! Swimwear One-shoulder, high-waisted, and cutout swimsuits are making a splash this season. Off-the-Shoulder Tops with off-the-shoulder necklines are a great way to go casual-chic! Whether you go with a bare shoulder, or show a hint of brightly colored bralette, this trend is sure to keep you cool! Bangles Stacked bangles are back! Keep it simple with silver or gold, or go bold with a pop of color. Rompers The one-piece, dress up or dress down romper is this season’s go-to for any occasion. With styles ranging from long pants to short shorts, and long sleeves to sleeveless, it’s well worth the closet space! 28


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June 2020 | 29

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VIP Destin at Isidro Dunbar Modern Interiors

Isidro Dunbar Modern Interiors photos by Verla Price | story by Greg Alexander


fter spending so much time in their homes over the last two months, folks in the Miramar Beach area were ready to execute some design changes to their spaces. We found a busy showroom on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend at Isidro Dunbar Modern Interiors. Owners Todd Reeves and Jorge Saiz closed the showroom during quarantine but saw a few clients virtually and by private appointments. Now, back to full hours, the showroom


Mackenzie Gardner

Tammy Massey

Dr. Richard Chern

William Blanken

located at 12170 Emerald Coast Parkway in Miramar Beach is busy and is looking bright, beautiful, and oh so modern. When you stop in to spruce up your space you must see their line of illuminated furniture from the Vondom Collection - you will not be able to resist it.

Renee Launiere with Gus


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Todd Reeves & Jorge Saiz

Jaysa Hunter & Andrew Franco

Patti Hall

Ed & Denise Kendust June 2020 | 31

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Allure Bridals Lace Bridal Gown - $ 1,380 Simply Elegant Bridal

Hot Hoops by Gabriel & Company One-half carat of diamonds exquisitely set in 14k yellow gold - $1,760 Emerald Lady

Get In The Shade swimwear for kids - prices vary Naples Soap Company, Harbor Walk Village

2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4S - $23,995 Adventure Motorsports

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Sunglasses - prices starting at $129 Sunglass World, HarborWalk Village

Sarasota Motion Sofa by American Leather - price starts at $8250.00 Isidro Dunbar Modern Interiors

Husqvarna 450XH - $3499 Grēnbots

Sterling silver, gold, pearls, and more - prices starting at $25 Lily Chartier Pearls Tropitone Outdoor Furniture - prices vary Bay Breeze Patio November 2015 | XX

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VIP Destin at Fort Walton Beach Mediacl Center

!"#$%&'($")%*+',-% .+/0,'(%1+)$+#%23

!"#$%&"'($)&"*+",&)&-.&")$,&"*/$*")$01*"2$-* photos by Verla Price | story by Denise Kendust


ome people did not get to “shelter at home” or close down their facility as they were needed on the front lines taking care of our community’s medical needs. Fort Walton Beach Medical Center remains staffed with experienced clinicians who are ready to assist patients with health emergencies, whether COVID-19 related or not. As part of their larger network, HCA Healthcare, FWBMC is proactively engaged in the safe management of COVID-19 and have put a strong emphasis on ensuring that protections are in place at all of their ERs and sites of care. This means that the emergency departments continue to be a safe place to seek medical attention, now as always, no matter what your urgent health concerns. Emergency health needs don’t stop for a pandemic, and neither did Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Don’t wait to seek care if you experience emergency symptoms. Learn more about the measures they are taking to give employees, patients, and visitors confidence at

Josh Balciunas & Kathleen Beyhl

Dr. Jason Stringer & Dr. Christopher Reid 34

Densie Ellington

Steven Williams & Zach Litgen

Karla Hand & Chelsea Bosak

Chris Lauigne & Danielle Snyder


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YOUNG AMBASSADORS Step Up to Help Support the Children at ECCAC photos & story by Kay Phelan

The mission of the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, FL and restore the lives of child victims. As a non-profit organization, ECCAC operates under a Board of Directors, and in 2018, the Young Ambassadors Board was founded.


ine Young Ambassadors, comprised of men and women aged 21 - 40, currently serve on the Young Ambassador Board. They support the mission of ECCAC and help to spread awareness through targeted service, social happenings and community outreach.

There are two levels to the Young Ambassadors • Young Ambassador Board members – consisting of 10 to 15 members, they are involved and are required to attend monthly meetings at Beachworx in Destin, one of the Young Ambassadors’ sponsors. In addition, they also attend one main ECCAC Board meeting a year, as well as planning quarterly social events to raise awareness. There is also a $50 yearly membership fee. • Ambassadors – they are underneath the Board members and don’t have to attend the monthly Board meetings. Ambassadors are allowed to attend all Young Ambassador socials and are encouraged to attend and/or volunteer at as many ECCAC events as they can. ECCAC likes for individuals to be Ambassadors for at least a year before they can join the Board.

ECCAC is seeking more Young Ambassadors. To apply, visit and complete the application at the bottom of that page. Or, for more information, call Chelsea Fox, ECCAC Community Development Manager, at 850-8339237, Ext. 256. ECCAC is in its 20th year in operation this year. They have provided over 150,000 services at no cost to include mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals to more than 14,000 children and their families at their Niceville center and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs. For further information, visit If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

Currently, Whitney Whidden serves as the Young Ambassador Board president and Andrew Franco is the vice president. Other Board members are Danielle Barta, Allison Brelia, Ta’ki Brown, Leighann Elliott, Salvador “AJ” Gomez, Alexis Poff and Andy Poveda. This year’s Ambassadors are William Corbin Miller and Carrie Pardue. In addition to a couple of social gatherings, there have been a number of ECCAC volunteer assignments they have taken on over the past year to include Wiggin’ Out For A Cause, decorating the ECCAC Christmas tree at Grand Boulevard’s annual holiday charity event, and the Gala & Golf weekend. For the Gala, the Young Ambassadors went to ECCAC Board member Velia Lala’s studio gallery and hand painted two pieces of art that were auctioned off raising $380. 36


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“The Young Ambassadors (YA) are passionate about the work that is done at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, and we strive to bring awareness to the reality that we even need a place like this in our area. It is our goal to grow the Young Ambassador program by hosting socials, recruiting volunteers, and just being active members of our community on behalf of ECCAC. I believe that the services they provide to our community is incredibly important, and I am thrilled to be able to serve as the YA Board President.” -Whitney Whidden, Young Ambassador President

Whitney Whidden, Young Ambassador President June 2020 | 37

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VIP Destin at Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi

Jackacuda's Seafood and Sushi

Mona Campbell, Verla Price & Lee Campbell

Barb & Bob Bagby

Gary & Mitzi Stroup

Tobi Young & Key Griffin

Matt & Misty Parenzan

Catherine & George Brannon

photos by Verla Price | story by Greg Alexander


aving barely even had their official opening after re-locating, Jackacuda’s Seafood + Sushi is back in business after the shutdown of non-essential businesses. Their new location in the former Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar building at 36120 Emerald Coast Parkway is up and running and ready to serve. From the delicious and beautiful Hawaiian Bowl to fried shirmp baskets, there is a perfect meal for anyone. With an inviting bar and a warm atmosphere, Jackacudas should be on your weekly restaurant rotation. When you stop by for a bite, be sure to ask owners, Chris Ruyan and Tyler Jarvis the cool story of how they named this restaurant.

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Calvin Ebert, Jackie & John Zacharko


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VIP Destin at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa



photos by Shanna Magnuson | story by Steve Barber

he 2020 Emerald Ball has been postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date. The upcoming Emerald Ball, presented by The Howard Group, was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa and guests were encouraged to wear shades of emerald green. Last year’s ball was an elegant evening made complete with cocktails, dining, and live music to make for an engaging experience. 100% of contributions support the comprehensive spine and cardiology programs. 2020 was scheduled to deliver an even bigger night of fun and entertainment as they were to honor and celebrate Roger Hall, President of Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast, for his contribution and service to this community. The photos from last year’s event, shown here, will remind you that you will not want to miss this great time for a great cause. For more information about the event, tickets and sponsorship opportunities visit www.

Meghan & Jonathan Upfold

see the original story online in the June 2019 Issue Jason & Rachel Scarbrough

Courtney & Zach Burger

Christa Allen & Amber Lewis

Morgan & Brett Teschner

Erin Bakker, Carly Harmer, Janet Piepul, Lisa Wainright & Ali Weil

Meredith & Jay Neese

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VIP Destin at The Emerald Ball

Pat & Lara Cooper

Eric Sawyer, Lisa Hates, Audrey & Scott Jacobs

Alex & Aaron White & Chris Burch

Harrison Delong, Ellie Benson, Wes & Abbie Boatwright, Daniel & Jamie Grant

Bill & Joanne Hightower 42

Gayle & John Pipes, Marilyn Love

Tricia & Matt Hagen

Elizabeth & Bill Campbell, Carolyn Brigman


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photos & story by Youth Village


outh Village, a 501(c)3 non-profit after-school program and summer camp located in Fort Walton Beach, purchased a new building with enough space for their elementary school students and future preschool combined. In addition to the new building being a more fiscally responsible decision, the building will give Youth Village the chance to offer four new preschool classes for their 3 - 5-year-olds as well as give them a separate space for their elementary school-aged children. The new building adds unparalleled opportunities for children and supplies additional jobs in the area. “I am ecstatic that our plans have finally come to fruition for the children of our community! Our facility will allow children to learn to strengthen their social and emotional skills in an environment that lets them explore new ideas and materials, gain self-confidence and learn pre-reading and premath in a safe, child-friendly atmosphere before entering Kindergarten.” - Nellie Bogar, CEO/Founder at Youth Village The new building represents a new beginning for Youth Village and a stable foundation for the kids in our community. Rob Houston, Youth Village Chairman, says it best: “A tree is only as good as its foundation...the soil and roots embedded therein. If that foundation is good, that tree will grow tall and strong and be able to weather a storm. Like the tree in our logo, our children need a good foundation to grow tall and strong. When life’s storms hit they may bend but not break. The Youth Village is that foundation for many kids. With the opening of our new building, we will be able to reach so many more children. I am so happy we have reached this milestone. - Rob Houston, Chairman Youth Village Board of Directors The new building requires some minor remodeling and renovations. To help fund or volunteer with this project, please contact Director Valerie Bogar at: For additional information, contact Nellie Bogar at:, or visit Since purchasing the new building, Youth Village has put their vacant lot at 700 Shady Lane in Fort Walton Beach up for sale. For more information on this great opportunity, please contact Oxana Solovieva, Commercial Real Estate Broker at the following: cell (850) 797-5277,, or visit us online at

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A Pillar of Trust & Respect photos & story provided by Rodos Realty Partners


odos Realty Partners along with its affiliated family companies, Altos Partners, Beachworx, Rodos Realty Advisors, and RRP Capital Services, are influencers of business including reshaping the Destin and South Walton luxury real estate market and providing capital resources for sustainable and affordable workforce housing across the panhandle of Florida. Rodos development and acquisition philosophy is intensely focused on quality, timing, cost and innovative value enhancement. Steven Franco, a visionary and Managing Partner of Rodos Realty, began the most recent chapter of his career on the Emerald Coast when Atlanta based Rodos Realty Partners acquired Destin’s “BB&T Building” in July 2015. Mr. Franco’s plan to rebrand his building as Destin Commerce Center with anchor tenants BB&T and Merrill Lynch while launching the popular coworking business, Beachworx, was his first move in early 2018. Beachworx in a short time has become recognized as an innovative workplace, which offers an array of flexible workspace options and business solutions unlike anything else along the Emerald Coast. Its culture and support of networking combined with mentorship makes Beachworx impactful on the road to success for many member businesses, individuals, and non-profit organizations. For example, the joint venture formed between RRP Capital Services and New 46


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Beginnings was initially derived when Steven Franco and Matt Staver met at the weekly Tuesday “Buzz” meetup held at Beachworx back in August 2019. “Rodos’ in depth experience in real property and community redevelopment combined with its extensive capital sources through its family owned private equity firm, Altos Partners, was the perfect fit,” according to Matt Staver, coowner of Out Of The Box, a transformational home building system, and founder of New Beginnings, LLC, which is a comprehensive affordable housing development company being adapted by municipalities and housing authorities across the region. As a result, RRP Capital Services now has exclusivity across the state of Florida to fund over 1,500 affordable workforce homes through this joint venture with New Beginnings. The initial focus has been to start rebuilding in Panama City, FL, following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Construction of the first wave of new Out of the Box homes recently commenced in May 2020. Another landmark real estate venture launched in spring 2020 from the synergy of Beachworx is Rodos Realty Advisors’ exclusive listing for the sale of St. Kitts, a 70unit luxury high rise condominium at Silver Shells Resort in Destin, Florida. Mr. Franco states, “Rodos’ experience as a principal owner and developer, focus on customer service, unique personal and business contacts, and highly successful track record of value creation in real estate through leasing

and sales are reasons why Rodos Realty Advisors was recently engaged to spearhead the sales effort for St. Kitts.” Moving forward Rodos Realty is seeking to leverage its quality portfolio of real estate assets along with new projects like the local ones mentioned herein to expand its footprint here on the Emerald Coast. According to Mr. Franco, Rodos Realty Partners has been eyeing long term investments of several high profile, mixed-use development sites in concert with a bullish interest at present in expanding affordable workforce housing through its joint venture with New Beginnings. Mr. Franco is also optimistic about growing Rodos Realty Advisors 3rd party

representation business, which aims to service sellers and buyers across the region. Recruitment of established and respected real estate agents through state-of-the art training and facilities, proven lead generation sources, and attractive agent compensation plans are just a few of the “carrots” in Rodos’ arsenal to add talented real estate professionals to its roster.

Stay tuned to find out more about Rodos Realty ( Stay Connected through Beachworx (

Built on a foundation based upon Character & Integrity.

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photos & story submitted

he Hsu Educational Foundation and Step One Automotive Group, working in league with area Air Force personnel, schools, businesses, and volunteers launched a Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) collaborative operation called Okaloosa Fighting COVID with collection, processing and distribution of donated and 3D printed face shields, masks, and mask extenders at its Hsu Innovation Institute location in Fort Walton Beach. This community effort powered by Step One Automotive Group is inspired by a shared interest of many to help provide much needed protection for healthcare and front-line essential workers, and is already drawing on the experience, equipment, and skills of at least 30 participants thus far, working to design, 3D print, collect, sanitize, package and distribute face shields, masks and other uncertified PPE as a donation to meet a pressing need. Extensive sanitary efforts are being made to provide these essentially home-made, unofficial items in as safe a manner as possible, although not intended to be treated as medical grade or certified in any way. This effort represents a full run of production for this volunteer led operation representing design, collection, and distribution of donated PPE that is 3D printed from multiple source sites across Okaloosa County. Requests to receive PPE may be made through an online form at https://hsu-foundation/okaloosafightingcovid/. Those interested in participating as a volunteer, supporting donor, or willing to help 3D print in support of the effort are also encouraged to visit the webpage. “Innovation is the application of better solutions to solve problems, meet new requirements, or answer market demand. Facing supply chain challenges to acquire critical PPE has inspired a drive for innovation from all corners of the world,” says Paul Hsu, Founder and President of Hsu Educational Foundation. “Whether it

is those social media stories of people pulling out grandma’s sewing machine for the first time to produce home-made fabric masks or students flexing hands-on engineering and technical expertise in building ventilators on University campuses, this COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring critical thinking and problem solving that will hopefully strengthen our resiliency overall.” Local participants such as the STEM School in Valparaiso jumped in the Okaloosa Fighting COVID initiative by applying additive manufacturing software

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and technologies already on hand in their classrooms. These efforts serve as a stop-gap solution until more efficient large scale manufacturing operations catch up with demand. Hsu Educational Foundation is inviting each of the project collaborators such as the Okaloosa School District schools and businesses like Navarre 3D Printing to collect video footage and document the steps of their own process engineering that can be used towards a collaborative virtual lesson series to help train and inspire the next generation of innovators. The objective of Okaloosa Fighting COVID hits home to many who appreciate the impact COVID-19 has on community health, business operations, and the state of the local and national economy. Step One Automotive Group, which owns 13 dealerships in Florida and Georgia, is headquartered in Northwest Florida and was built on a singular dedication to empower lives through smarter and easier ways of accessing mobility. Mobilizing to meet the demands for PPE through this type of operation requires enlisting volunteers to print, designing software, building and managing web pages/social media and handling logistics; securing work spaces; purchasing equipment parts, tubing, printer fi lament material, plastic sheets for shields, chemicals, tubs, racks, and gloves for sanitizing measures, as well as, paper packing and instruction materials. Hsu Educational Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization is committed to encouraging excellence in education and inspiring innovation in the classroom. Solving real-world challenges, such as those posed by the critical need for PPE among healthcare and first line essential workers, offers an excellent learning opportunity that will help prepare and inspire innovation among the next generation workforce. Step One Automotive Group is driven by a mission to leverage technology to disrupt the local automotive retail business by investing in their teams, empowering them to serve, and leaving a lasting legacy in our local communities. They strive to achieve excellence in execution and add value to the customer experience; always maintaining a strong financial position.

Visit okaloosafightingcovid/ for details on how you can donate, volunteer to participate or request PPE for your healthcare or front-line essential workers.

For more information on Step One Automotive Group visit and

June 2020 | 49

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VIP Destin at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin

!"#$%&'()% !$)("*+,


photos by Shanna Magnuson | story by Steve Barber

n its 32nd year, ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival usually takes place in South Walton each Mother’s Day weekend. The attached event spread reminds you of all of the highlights Mother’s Day weekend 2019. This year mark your calendar for the rescheduled date of Saturday, October 10 between 10 AM and 7 PM and again on Sunday, October 11 between 10 AM and 5PM. Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and presented by Grand Boulevard Town Center, ArtsQuest provides an opportunity to view and purchase original art from over 150 artists from around the country while also experiencing live musical entertainment, ImagiNation (where kids rule), student exhibits and great food & beverage options in the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. ArtsQuest is a juried show that includes artists in the categories of Ceramics, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Metal, Mixed Media, Oils & Acrylics, Original Digital Art, Photography, Sculpture, Wood and Works on Paper (Watercolor, Printmaking, Pastels, Pencils, Ink). ArtsQuest awards $10,000 in cash prizes and is a rain or shine event. The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County is accepting applications through July 31, 2020 for artists interested in doing live demonstration of their work during the festival and also accepting applications through July 31 for food vendors interested in participating. For more information:

Susan & Rachel Herring

see the original story online in the June 2019 Issue Vivian Massey & Gayle Campbell

Diana Hobgood & Janet Reeves

Ann Welch & Donnelle Clark

Kathleen & Paul Broakerick

Dawn Gidrey, Marchanria Ivy & Nancy Bown

Carmen Ionascu WIlkinson & Ionascu Lacramioara

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VIP Destin at ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival

Susan Castillo & Susan Stanford

Jessica Roberts, Amanda Richard, Ellen Elvington & Beck England

Antonia Poate, Anne Morgan Perry, Ann Florie, Larisa Perry & Maxine Orange


Casey Kearney Music

Mary & Russ Underwood

Amy Smith & Kim Davis

Christie Casillo & Megan Trent

Hailey Wester, Stacey Space, Jaime Arnold & Jillian Bauers


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!"#$%&'()*"(+#,(-&#,.(/, 850.650.8511

DESTIN FLOORING AMERICA 12889 Emerald Coast Parkway Suite 113B ∑ Miramar Beach, FL 850.689.8977

DESTIN FLOORING AMERICA 2254 South Ferdon Boulevard Crestview, FL

de s t in flo oring americades tin. com June 2020 | 53

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photos & story by Children’s Voluteer Health Network


t all started with a young boy named Tyler when he, his mother, and brother were attending an evening program at Point Washington United Methodist Church and he captured the attention of a volunteer, Tricia. Tyler was withdrawn, never smiling and was acting out towards his mother, who informed Tricia that Tyler was being bullied at school for his jagged teeth, referring to him as “monster mouth,” but the family could not afford the required dental care. Tricia knew she had to do something. So she called in the help of friends at the church to find someone to help Tyler. A local dentist offered to provide braces to Tyler free of charge. Post dental transformation, Tyler began smiling, making friends and ended up becoming the captain of his wrestling team. Out of this situation, Children’s Volunteer Health Network was born in 2005. Children’s Volunteer Health Network is a faith-based 501(c)3 organization, established in direct response to Walton and Okaloosa counties’ large population of families unable to access high-quality health services due to the unavailability (or inadequacy) of insurance. CVHN facilitates the delivery of comprehensive, vision, dental, and mental health services to children whose family income falls below certain measures throughout Walton and Okaloosa Counties and surrounding communities. Building on the past, CVHN is now positioned to boldly move forward in fi lling the health and wellness gaps that exist for children from under-resourced families. With a determined Board of Directors, CVHN embarked on an exciting three-year strategic plan last September to maximize impact locally. Led by their current Board

Chair, Doug Herndon, founding Board Member Jane Bahr, Annie Stutts, and immediate past Board Chair, Sarah Svoboda, and past Board Member, Dennis Peters, the strategic plan focuses on scaling their dental and vision programs and introducing a mental health initiative to alleviate the alarmingly high rates of stress, anxiety, and depression being experienced by children. More specifically, CVHN is pursuing an additional dental mobile unit, staffed by a dentist and dental assistant, to offer a full range of restorative dental care to students benefiting from their preventative program presently. For their vision program, the goal is to develop relationships with strategically located vision providers in the northern parts of Okaloosa and Walton Counties and the southern portion of Okaloosa County. These new partnerships will complement their existing partnership with Optikk 30A. “Beautiful Minds” is the name of their new mental health initiative. In demonstration of their commitment to positively affect children’s mental health, CVHN hired Megan Trent as their Mental Health Coordinator earlier in May to lead the ambitious effort. Megan is currently networking with local providers, schools, and nonprofit organizations to perform a needs assessment. In just a few short weeks, Megan has demonstrated a remarkable passion and ability. In fact, she is working on a pilot program with one mental health provider and a virtual educational presentation featuring another mental health provider.

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Interview with Brian Lowe Executive Director – CVHN

What is the primary mission of CVHN?

What is the greatest challenge facing CVHN?

CVHN provides the opportunity for children in need to flourish by facilitating the delivery of health and wellness resources. Our signature program, a mobile dental clinic, travels to local elementary schools in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Staffed by three registered dental hygienists and a volunteer dentist, preventative dental care is offered to children in need at no cost to the families.

Along with most nonprofit organizations, our immediate challenge is the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the children who desperately need quality dental care and organizational funding to provide an appropriate level of care. When the pandemic forced schools to transition to virtual education, our mobile dental clinic program was suspended. Additionally, our fundraising calendar has been disrupted with the stay-at-home declaration by the State of Florida. So far, we have cancelled two fundraising events as a result.

Our second program provides children in need with an eye exam and prescription glasses. We currently partner with Optikk 30A in South Walton to deliver this program. Optometrist Dr. Korrie Lalim generously accepts a flat fee from CVHN per child served. Therefore, there is no cost to the child’s parent(s). How is the organization funded? CVHN is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is primarily funded privately. The exception here is a small percentage of Medicaid reimbursement for services delivered. Strategic partnerships with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF), the Dugas Family Foundation, Alys Beach, and the St. Joe Community Foundation, fund a significant portion of our operating budget annually. Additionally, we rely of fundraising event income, monthly donors, and grants to provide services to children in need at no cost. How do you find families/children that need help? Since 2008, our mobile dental clinic has operated in local elementary schools. Applications for services are sent home with students at the beginning of the school year. We focus on meeting the needs of children who are eligible for free and reduced lunch or Medicaid. On the vision side, word of mouth is the most likely source of referrals from within the communities that we serve. How has CVHN impacted the local community in the last year? During the 2019-20 school year, CVHN provided free dental exams, bitewing x-rays, cleanings, sealants, and oral health education to 1,058 students at 7 schools. Due to COVID-19, CVHN was unable to see children at three additional locations, including one community partner. Still, CVHN’s service to children increased by 15% from the previous year. Of the 1,058 children seen during the 2019-20 school year, 418 had tooth decay and 128 were referred for urgent care.

What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with the organization? As a nonprofit professional, it’s very satisfying to advocate on behalf of children for access to resources that can be the difference between thriving and languishing. Each of us has the ability to change the narrative for someone else. As a leader of an organization focused on children, I’m committed to providing opportunities for our CVHN team, donors, and volunteers to be difference makers. How did you become involved with CVHN? I previously served for 13 years as Executive Director for Hope Pregnancy Center in Boone, NC. The CVHN opportunity, originally found online, attracted me because of the mission and location. After interviewing for the position, my family and I packed up and moved down in six weeks. How large is your staff? Is it partially volunteer driven? On our team, we have 7 employees. Our only volunteer is Dr Gary Olsen, a retired dentist who administers the dental exams on children at the schools. What is one thing you want readers to know about CVHN? CVHN is determined to provide real value to the families we serve. Through sustainable growth, the future is full of meaningful opportunities to impact the lives of children. What are you waiting for? How can someone become involved with or support CVHN? If you want to be a catalyst for changing a child’s potential, go to, like us on Facebook ( cvhnkids), or follow us on Instagram (@cvhnkids05).

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JUNE 3, 10, 17 & 24 Baytowne Village Wednesday Night Concert Series 7pm-9pm Cost: Free This summer sit back and relax, as you take in the cool crisp air, and enjoy live entertainment. The concert series will feature both local and regional talent from a variety of genres. Concert begins at 7pm on the Events Plaza Stage. Live Music Schedule: June 3- Sainte Jane, June 10-The Shakedown, June 17-Forrest Williams Band, June 24-Kickstand Jenny For more information visit

JUNE 4, 11, 18 & 25

JUNE 4, 11, 18 & 25 All-American Thursday Night

Concerts in the Village

10 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541 6:30pm | On-site parking $10

The Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village 4323 Commons Dr. West, Destin FL 32541 Doors Open | 6pm Concerts | 7pm-9pm

Celebrate the USA at HarborWalk Village! The evening begins with a hero salute and vintage flyover followed by live entertainment on the Main Stage. The night ends with FIREWORKS over the Harbor and a fire spinning spectacular at 9:00pm!

Concerts in the Village returns Thursday, June 4! We cannot wait to celebrate with you again! Please share to spread the good news.

Lineup Band of Revival | June 4, June 11, June 25, July 9, July 16, July 23, August 6 & August 13 Modern Eldorados | June 18, July 2 & July 30 For more information visit

JUNE 6, 13, 20 & 27 Rock the Docks 7pm-9:30pm | Free MKAF Concerts in the Village Lineup: June 4, 2020: Velcro Pygmies June 11, 2020: Rumours June 18, 2020: The Return June 25, 2020: Departure For more information visit

Make this summer a hit! Enjoy a FREE concert and rock out on the Destin Harbor! Event runs weekly May 30 - August 15. Entertainment June 6: Scenic Heights June 13: Tyler Livingston & The Absolutes June 20: Flash Flood June 27: Jessi Ritters For more information visit

JUNE 13 & 27

JUNE 17-21

Downtown Fort Walton Beach Farmer’s Market

18th Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic

139 Brooks St SE, FWB 8am-1pm

Baytowne Marina | Free Admission

Our farmers, artisan food vendors, and crafters offers an array of locally grown and handmade items. You never know what you’ll find at the Downtown FWB Farmers Market! Feel free to stroll down the streets of Downtown Fort Walton Beach after the Farmers Market and check out our local flavor and southern hospitality. Our community offers many unique boutiques, restaurants, and bars perfect for a Saturday afternoon! For more information follow

The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic is Northwest Florida’s most successful entry into world-class sportfishing tournaments. It remains one of the richest on the Gulf Coast attracting major players from across the globe. In 2016, the ECBC set not only a tournament record but the new Gulf Coast record for largest prize purse in history with an impressive $1.95 million. With cash categories for billfish dolphin, tuna, and wahoo as well as individual angler trophies, fishermen have a multitude of ways to make Destin fishing tournament history! Anglers and spectators will also enjoy nightly entertainment and activities, including a live cooking demonstration, fireworks and live music on Friday. Details are subject to change based on weather. For more information visit

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photos & story provided by Destin Water Users, Inc


y now many folks have seen the rendering of a giant sea turtle and dolphin on the Destin Water Users (DWU) water tower that reaches up to 169 feet in the air off Calhoun Avenue in Destin. The tank has a storage capacity of 750,000 gallons of water and was constructed in Spring 2019 by Phoenix Fabricators. This particular tower was constructed by DWU to improve operation of their water distribution system and provide additional fire protection on the west side of their service area. Artist, Eric Henn, of Dayton, Ohio, is the guy up in the lift making the sea creatures come to life. Destin Water Users had a previous working relationship with Henn since he painted the mural on Tower 3 located on the DWU George French Water Reclamation Facility, which can be seen behind Target in Destin. “We’re proud of the work he is doing,” said DWU General Manager Lockwood Wernet. “Since the Tower is located in the heart of Old Destin, we wanted to paint something that paid tribute to the heritage of our community.” Henn started the Destin water tank off Calhoun on Feb. 17, 2020. He makes his own patterns and then puts them up using magnets and duct tape to get his outline.

“It’s pretty primitive how I do it,” Henn said. “I just basically need to know where the eyeball is and just some prominent features and then I go from there. I just need the basics. It kind of comes natural and I feel blessed that I can do a business that I love,” he added Henn does all the painting with brushes or rollers, and has different techniques where he rolls colors into each other. In the dolphin, he has used eight different colors of aqua switching between brushes. “It’s just all learning throughout the years what works,” he said. In addition to the turtle and dolphin, Henn painted various species of fish, scenes from the ocean floor, and a coral reef on the vast canvas of the tower. Wernet added, “We hope that this mural will spark some joy in those that pass by each day and showcases our rich history in our beach community.”

ì We hope that this mural will spark some joy in those that pass by each day and showcases our rich history in our beach community.î 58


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November 2017 | XX

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VIP Destin at Grand Boulevard

Farmer's Market !"#$%&"'#(!)*+,&%' photos & story by Jeff Watson


rand Boulevard Farmers’ Market in Miramar Beach is back and brings fresh fruits and vegetables to the community as a health food grocery store. Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm locals can support local farmers and the hard work they put in to bring customers the best produce and local foods possible. The friendly vendors help patrons find out the wonders of fresh living. Patrons can expect many wonderful food products and services including Mediterranean food and homemade chocolate candy as well as delicious seafood. Other offerings include Maryland crab cakes along with smoked tuna dip, shrimp dip and much more. Visit other locations in the Rosemary Beach community, Seascape Resort, and Palm Plaza which is located in Niceville Florida. For more information: 850-760-0234

Sydni Rhodes & Karin Rhodes

Gary & Lynn Carden


Anita Yuenger & Connie Giudice

Heather & Lissette Robles

Karilyne Rhodes, Kaitlyn Thompson & Grayton Rhodes with Persimmon

Anna & Emma Bankston

Scarlett & Adelina Ghitl


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Continuing to Serve Our Community Even in the Hardest of Times

Best Public Relations Firm 2013≠ 2020 Best Event Planner 2018≠ 2020 Best New Business 2012

9375 Emerald Coast Parkway, Unit 24 |

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Best Public Relations / Advertising Firm 2015≠ 2018 Best Event Planning Firm 2015≠ 2018

Miramar Beach, FL 32550


Finest Public Relations / Ad Agency 2016

(850) 460≠7 777


6/1/20 9:32 AM

VIP Destin

VIP Destin Magazine !"#$%&'()*+,#(-,+,&'


story by Greg Alexander

lthough many of us have had our fi ll of Zoom meetings and are starved for a good face to face celebration, VIP Destin Magazine revealed the May 2020 issue via a Virtual Cover Reveal Party. Participants casually joined in from their patios, beach clubs, offices, and kitchens to catch up and check out the newest issue. In true VIP Destin Magazine style, several prizes were awarded such as massages, meals, and a weekend in an Alfa Romeo. The May cover was revealed as digital red curtains opened across the screen. The cover for the issue was quite a hit that will forever mark the social distancing that led us to have virtual meetings, parties, and events as it reflected a screen full of virtual meetings.


Denise Song

Demetria McNeese

Amanda Monti Chern & Dr. Richard Chern

Todd Reees & Mary Chris Murray

Joe Capers

Royce Mitchell

Laurie Hood

Steve Barber

Debra Henry

Greg Alexander

Lea & Joe Capers

Verla Price


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LOCALE O Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation Donates $21,600 to Children in Need Through COVID-19 Relief Fund During a time of great uncertainty, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) launched the COVID-19 Relief Community Children’s Fund in an effort to assist those organizations within its network of Northwest Florida children’s charities who were experiencing additional strain on their resources due to the pandemic. The relief fund, which launched April 6, raised over $20,000 and will be distributed to three organizations in the form of grants by the end of the month to assist in their sustainability. Opportunity Place: $1,800; Food for Thought: $9,900; Youth Village: $9,900.

Grants from the COVID-19 Relief Community Children’s Fund are separate from the annual funding that each charity receives from DCWAF. DCWAF is one of the nation’s premier fundraising organizations, donating more than $21 million to children in need in Northwest Florida since its inception in 2005. Its largest annual fundraiser, the Destin Charity Wine Auction, was originally scheduled for April 24-25 in Grand Boulevard. Due to the pandemic, the event has been rescheduled for August 2122. Patron packages are available at dcwaf. org/tickets.

In response to widespread requests for support, the Caring & Sharing board of directors has elected to redirect surplus funds, which had been set aside for a new building, to help the community through uncertain times. These redirected funds will enable the organization to launch the Caring & Sharing Neighborhood Fund. Once the Thrift Store reopens, the organization will dedicate 10 percent of sales to continue funding the initiative. In addition to supporting individuals in need through Caring & Sharing’s current programs, the Caring & Sharing Neighborhood Fund will also aid the efforts of other nonprofits in the community with similar missions. Gifts to the fund can be made now at The organization is currently creating a streamlined application process for local nonprofits affected by COVID-19 in need of financial support for programs that serve the community. For up-to-date information on this process, visit the Caring & Sharing website or Facebook page. Caring & Sharing provides food, clothing, prescription, rent and utility assistance to individuals in need. Despite temporarily closing its thrift store to protect the health of clients and volunteers, Caring & Sharing has provided 745 bags of food to 382 families, 1,269 individuals, in Walton County over the last month through its drive-through food pantry operation. Additionally, they distributed more than $22,000 in funds in April to help members of the community pay rent and utility bills during these challenging times.

Caring & Sharing of South Walton Launches Covid-19 Relief Fund Like many organizations across the country, Caring & Sharing of South Walton has seen a rapid increase in the number of people in need of food and financial assistance. The local nonprofit has risen to the occasion, serving more people than ever before, while also launching a relief fund to help other organizations in need.

Caring & Sharing is currently seeing clients Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in their offices at 112 Lynn Drive in Santa Rosa Beach. Those seeking services must meet USDA Guidelines to qualify for assistance and be a resident of Walton County. Unemployment is

currently a qualifier. For more information about Caring & Sharing and their services, please visit www.caringandsharingsowal. org or call 850-267-2866. Virtual Fundraising Works for Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown to help area charities

In early April, Mike and Valerie Thompson, the founders of the Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown, along with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation (ELF), made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Chi Chi Miguel Weekend in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 13 years, the Chi Chi events have supported charities along the Gulf Coast, including the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. (ECCAC) So, on April 4th, the organizers continued their efforts online on Facebook for their first virtual Throwdown and Online Auction successfully raising over $250,000. ECCAC received $25,104 of the funds raised. Nearly 100 posts, images and videos were shared on the virtual event page by attendees, all showing their support for the cause. The Thompsons were pleased with how well things went with the virtual undertaking. Mike Thompson, who has served on the ECCAC board for many years and serves on the ELF board, commented, “We are so gratified with how the community came forth to help with our virtual event that benefited 8 area charities. ECCAC has been a beneficiary for all of the years of Chi Chi. It feels so right that the Chi Chi events have been able to benefit the children ECCAC serves at no cost who are experiencing abuse, abandonment and neglect right here in Walton and Okaloosa Counties.” For further information about the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. June 2020 | 63

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LOCALE O $40,000 for COVID19 Relief Provided to Seven Local Charities

United Way Emerald Coast has released their second phase of grant money totaling $40,000 to seven local charities in Okaloosa and Walton Counties from their COVID19 Relief fund. United Way works with hundreds of partners to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Their COVID relief grants provide support to charities who provide housing assistance, utility assistance, healthcare and food security to those impacted by COVID19. “We launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund to support our most vulnerable neighbors, those who might suffer devastating economic and health impacts because of the virus,” said Kelly Jasen, CEO United Way Emerald Coast. “We are proud to have strong partnerships with local businesses and individuals who answered the call for help. Because of their generosity, and partnerships with other non-profits across Okaloosa and Walton counties, we’re able to quickly get these critical funds to the individuals and families who need them most.” The seven local charities selected to receive funds include Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, Bridgeway Center, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, Eleanor J. Johnson Youth Center, Feeding the Gulf Coast, Mental Health Association, and The Salvation Army. The charities were required to submit a COVID19 relief grant application in order to be considered for funds. Each charity will also be required to submit results, showcasing how the funds were able to directly impact the families and individuals their organizations support in the community. 64

“We are extremely thankful for our partnership with the United Way Emerald Coast, we have been able to recontinue serving several families in Okaloosa and Walton Counties because of the United Way’s COVID relief funding,” said Shervin Rassa, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs. “As our communities slowly and safely reopen, we are proud to have the support of our local United Way in aiding in our transitions.” The COVID19 Relief Fund was made possible by several local businesses. Gulf Power Foundation, Florida Blue, Publix Super Markets, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Wind Creek, Beast Code, Truist Foundation, Beach Community Bank, Wells Fargo, Whole Foods and 39 individual donors. To support the COVID-19 Relief Fund, please visit www.

Spend Local: Spend Lokaloosa!

created a social media “challenge” on Facebook as a way to promote these local businesses. Facebook followers were asked to simply record a short video that starts with: I want you to “Spend Local”. Then they list 3 of their favorite businesses, and why, and ends the video by stating “SPEND LOKALOOSA!” The video is then posted on their Facebook page; the businesses mentioned are tagged —as well as the Chamber—and then those businesses are officially challenged to do their own video. A fun way of sharing the mantra “Spend Local, SPEND LOKALOOSA!” The SPEND LOKALOOSA campaign is being promoted in all Chamber communications as well as through members and followers who have posted or shared the graphic in their place of business, on their website and on their other social media outlets. “The word is spreading! We are thrilled with the level of enthusiasm we have received for this campaign.” stated Corcoran. Help us continue to share this reminder to “Spend Local – SPEND LOKALOOSA” For more information and Spend Okaloosa videos visit our Facebook page: or contact the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce.

As another small step towards the Business Recovery process the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce kicked off a new “Spend Local/ SPEND LOKALOOSA” campaign to encourage our community to start spending again, specifically here in Okaloosa County. The SPEND LOKALOOSA campaign was the idea of President/CEO of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber, Ted Corcoran who states ‘We have all heard of Shop Local campaigns—and they are all great reminders to remember the importance of spending money in our community versus on Amazon. All monies collected here in Okaloosa benefit you, your friends and your neighbor’s businesses. It is the local businesses who are sponsoring your school or your child’s sports team and are an important thread in our community.” Besides the constant reminder to SPEND in LOKALOOSA, The FWB Chamber


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Bracken Law, PA serves the areas of Destin, 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Panama City Beach, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


(850) 792-2677 | | 30A | 2930 W. County Highway 30A, Suite 210 | Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 Holiday Plaza | 12273 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 107 | Miramar Beach, FL 32550


2014 - 2019

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2016 - 2019

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VIP Destin at Grand Boulevard

14th Annual Destin

CHARITY WINE AUCTION photos by Zhalman Harris | story by Steve Barber


he 15th Annual Destin Charity Wine Auction, originally scheduled for April 24-25, has been rescheduled for August 21-22, 2020. DCWAF announce a special virtual auction benefiting children in need in Northwest Florida during a time of great uncertainty. “Large gatherings may be currently suspended, but the needs of our 16 children’s charities are greater than ever before. We feel a strong sense of responsibility to find creative ways to continue supporting our charitypartners and the important work they are doing for the children in our community,” DCWAF President John Russell said. The virtual auction lot offers three couples three nights at the intimate and iconic Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, complete with a private jet generously donated by the Jumonville family. The Hawker 800 XPi boasts a full bar and crew and comfortably seats up to eight guests. Bidding was live through DCWAF’s mobile bidding platform, Greater Giving, on Wednesday, June 3 -Friday, June 5. The proceeds of the lot will benefit DCWAF’s 16 benefiting children’s charities in Northwest Florida. To get you in the spirit of this exciting event we have shared the 2019 event coverage. Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation connects wine enthusiasts to raise money to benefit children in need in Northwest Florida. Founded in 2005, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) has donated $21 million to Northwest Florida charities by hosting world class wine and culinary events. These funds have impacted the lives of over 100,000 youth, including those afflicted by health issues and abuse. Currently ranked number five, DCWAF has been recognized as one of the nation’s ‘Top 10 Charity Wine Auction in the U.S.’ by Wine Spectator Magazine for the last eight years. Details on a new auction format will be released in the coming weeks. Patron packages are available at see the original story online in the June 2019 Issue


Katie & Meredith Young

Cory & Hilary Fosdyck

Angela Bontemps & Maggie Poetz

Christiana & Eric Gifford

Cory Conroy & Chelsea Fox

Ben Thomas & Todd Royall


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Amy Dowele & Heidi Eaves

Calvin Jones, Teresa Imdieke & Rosalyn Wik

Mary Woltersdorf & Kate Snow

Donna Cook, Richard & Demetria McNeese

Gina Crisafi & Cindy Garrard

Chelsea Calhoun & Briane O’Dell

Rebekah Davis, Khanty Xayabouth & Michele Kiker

Tiffany Edwards & Jeanne Dailey

Amanda Schrand & Stephanie Brannon

Sara Svoboda, Hannah Martin & Kelly Thompson June 2020 | 67

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VIP Destin at the Destin Charity Wine Auction

Tracy Hartley & Marcela Guerra

Amy Saunders & Amy Milton

Brooke Godfrey & Randall Mills

Michelle Endsley & Kristi Ray

Janice Cooksey, Walden Parsons & Mary Florence 68

Mary Adams & Kelly Billingsley

Nellie & Valerie Bogar

Levin & Jessica Bracken

Dion & Mindy Moniz

Kim Hicks, Charles & Marjorie Ramos


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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida has a 30 year history of

serving children ages 5-18 in our community. Last year alone, BBBSNWFL served 646 children. Those serving children in the organization certainly did not want children to go unserved during Social Distancing and took creative measures to become connected to new kids or stay connected with their existing “Little.”

Through BBBS new virtual matching process, Big Brother Michael and Little Brother Jonathan were connected -- a great example that shows being a Big has no age limit. Michael, a semi-retired engineer with lots of life experience will help guide Jonathan through challenging life decisions. Jonathan, excited to have Michael as his Big, looks for college advice and help navigating a career path. Michael is a huge Florida Gators fan, so we know his vote. We can’t wait to watch this match grow.

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Big Brother Michael and Little Brother Eli got matched right before quarantine. Since their initial meeting, Michael and Eli have been staying connected virtually. They FaceTime often and sometimes they even have virtual dance contests. Big Brother Michael dropped off a transformer on Little Brother Eli’s porch and as you can see from that smile he was beyond excited. Eli is a big brother to his three siblings so he is very excited to finally be a “little brother!”

Siblings, Emilia and Travion, were both matched with their Bigs on the same day. Both matches shared what they are most excited to do together after this is over. Big Sister Megan and Little Sister Emilia said they can’t wait to go to Fast Eddies; and Big Brother Walker and Little Brother Travion said they can’t wait to go eat sushi.

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!"#$%&$%''()*+()!,&-)+.' !"#$%&$%''/&-)+. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida has been taking steps to help children in our communities achieve more through one-to-one relationships since 1989. Now, more than ever, Northwest Florida youth are faced with substantial challenges such as changing family structures, homelessness, bullying, poverty, and low self-esteem, creating a greater need for bigger, bolder steps to influence positive change.

When Little Sister Stacey and Big Sister Allison were first matched, Stacey was extremely shy. She was introverted and didn’t connect with others. After being matched with Allison, Stacey has blossomed into the amazing young lady she is today. She is more confident and will speak up when around people. She is interested in art and loves playing volleyball. During quarantine, Big Sister Allison found fun ways to stay connected. She dropped off ingredients on Stacey’s porch and they made deviled eggs together over FaceTime.

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Big Sister Sally and Little Sister Serenity celebrated their oneyear match anniversary during quarantine. Since being matched, these two have been inseparable. Before social distancing, Sally loved taking Serenity to the beach, zoo, and assisting with her reading skills. Sally dropped off multiple activities and packages of fun ideas on Serenity’s doorstep for her and her sister to do during quarantine. They have gotten a movie package, plant package, and even fun surprises like nail polishes. Sally can’t wait to see Serenity again in person, but for now they will continue to stay connected virtually.

As the needs of Northwest Florida youth continue to grow, so must our response and resources to step in and create lasting, meaningful change. It all starts here. Our Bold Steps Campaign will provide BBBSNWFL with the additional means to train and support our youth and volunteers as they face challenging issues in a complex and changing world.

For more information visit our website at

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VIP Destin at Fusion Art Glass

!"#$%&"'() !"#$%&'()'*'+&#,-(.'/'0"%&#,photos by Zhalman Harris | story by Maggie Yelverton


usion Art Glass in Seaside held a private reception honoring Doug Foltz, named South Walton’s Artist of the Year for 2020. All who attended had the opportunity to meet this talented artist and hear first hand what inspired his works. Foltz is known for his large scale oil paintings, which often depict scenes from nature in dramatic fashion. It was a great opportunity to learn more about this artist’s journey and congratulate him on his accomplishments. Fusion Art Glass was proud to host this event as owner Russ Gilbert is a well known local artist himself. Both artists have local studios, where their creativity manifest into works of art. Doug Foltz’ pieces are available to view at Fusion Art Glass in Seaside. Fusion also has a location in Grand Boulevard.


Leah Meyers & Teresa Gilbert

Jonah Allen & Mary Dimauro

Keen & Kim Polakoff

Greg & Beverly Schmitt

Teresa & Russ Gilbert

Bri Shaw & Gage Story


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JJ & Lisa Foster, Johnny Cornman

2(#+')%3*4$5 Bri Shaw, Sonalea Shukri, Maggie Yelverton & Leah Meyers

Back Row from left: Mike Davis, Carter Davis, Erik Davis Front Row: Zoe Davis, Peggy Davis

Jeni & John Burns

850.796.2424 415 Mary Esther Cut Off NW, FWB

PetlandFortWaltonBeach Doug Foltz & Russ Gilbert June 2020 | 73

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Shervin Rassa

What is your hometown, what brought you here to the Emerald Coast, and how log have you lived here? I grew up in Lakeland, FL, and spent most of my life between the Lakeland and Tampa Bay Area, before leaving Tampa in 2011 to be an Executive Director for a Boys & Girls Club in Virginia. I moved to the Emerald Coast in May 2012 to work for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. What is your profession, and what led you to choose it? I grew up in a YMCA as a kid and began working at the age of 11. I have worked in non-profit youth development for my entire life. The last 20 years have been with 3 different Boys & Girls Clubs organizations. My mission has always been to help guide and mentor young people, especially adolescents into becoming responsible and productive adults. What do you like best about Destin? What makes it unique? Destin is a very tight-knit community that offers so much to residents and visitors, but I have always been most impressed by how the community bands together to create a great community for all. What are three words that best describe you? Energetic. Driven. Fun. By far, my favorite part of Destin is the amazing fishing and seafood available at an abundance. One of my favorite activities is to walk the docks throughout the Harbor strolling through restaurants, bars, stores and just taking in the fishing village vibe. Finish this statement, I AM DESTIN because‌ I am Destin because I want to ensure that every child that learns and grows in our community will have the skillset and compassion to become a leader of Destin at some point in their lives.

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photo by Zhalman Harris

Give us a few of your favorite things about Destin.

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