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MAY 2019

Decorating with Drew Barrymore and Joanna Gaines

Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 | $5.95

Our Foolproof

Mother’s Day Guide



of Influence

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15 Women of Influence — Our annual salute to some outstanding women from our community

16 A Salute to Mary Britt — A celebration of the life of late Executive Director of the Ocala Civic Theatre

24 Joanna Gaines — A glimpse into the wonderful world of the current Queen of All Media

28 Drew Barrymore — The boho beauty introduces us to her new home collection

32 French Country Decorating — Top tips on creating enchanting interiors with an accent on gracious style

36 Top Volunteers — A celebration of some of our community’s biggest givers

44 Our Private School Guide — We’re sharing our consummate guide for your precious pupils

46 Golden Oasis — An exclusive chat with the new director of the spa at Golden Ocala

51 Emerging Talent — The winners of the City of Ocala and Magnolia Art Xchange’s annual Student and Emerging Artist Competition

Joanna Gaines Photo courtesy of Matilda Jane Clothing


ON THE COVER Drew Barrymore

Photography by Flower Home/ Barrymore Brands


MAY 2019

Decorating with Drew Barrymore and Joanna Gaines

Ocala’s City Magazine Since 1980 | $5.95

Our Foolproof

Mother’s Day Guide



of Influence

6 Publisher’s Letter 8 From the Mayor 10 Socially Speaking 53 EAT 54 Our Mother’s Day Brunch Guide from Rsvp Robin 58 Culinary Shopping 63 LIVE 64 Charity Spotlight - HUGS 69 ETCETERA 70 Everything Equine 72 State of the County 74 State of the City 76 Scoop 80 Looking Back

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25023 Ocala Heath Brook_Ocala Style Magazine_9 x 10.875.indd 1

9/20/2018 1:38:30 PM

OM Volume 38, Issue 11

MAY 2019


Philip Glassman, CCIM | Publisher

Penny Miller | VP/Corporate Development/Principal

EDITORIAL Nick Steele | Arts + Culture Editor

ART Jessi Miller | Creative Director

Angela Durrell | Associate Editor

Joshua Jacobs | Graphic Designer

Melissa Deskovic | Digital Content Editor Ronald W. Wetherington | Social Editor

PHOTOGRAPHY John Jernigan | Photographer Jeff Roach | Photographer Philip Marcel | Photographer Mahal Imagery | Photographer The Creative Pretzel | Photographer SALES

CONTRIBUTORS Louisa Barton | Writer Robin Fannon of Rsvp Robin | Writer Elka Peterson | Writer Sharon Raye | Writer Mayor Kent Guinn | Columnist City of Ocala and Marion County OPERATIONS Randy Woodruff, CPA | CFO

Doug Hummel | Director of Information Technology Alex Sotomayor | Distribution

Trevor DeShaw | Sales Executive

EDITORIAL OR ADVERTISING INQUIRIES 352.622-2995 OFFICIAL MEDIA PARTNER HOPS — Historic Ocala Preservation Society MEDIA PARTNER & PRESENTING SPONSOR of the Tailgating Competition at Live Oak International OFFICIAL MEDIA SPONSOR FOR 2019 International Women's Day EXCLUSIVE MEDIA SPONSOR FOR George Albright Annual Golf Tournament THE OFFICIAL CITY MAGAZINE OF

TEDxOcala · HITS · FAFO · Equiventure


OFFICE 743 SE Fort King St. Ocala, FL 34471 MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 4649, Ocala, FL 34478 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by mail or email; SUBSCRIPTION One year - $49, Two years - $95, Single Issue - $5.95. COPYRIGHT ALL contents copyrighted 2019 by Ocala Magazine Publications . All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertising content in any manner without written permission is strictly prohibited.



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from the publisher

The Power of Influence EVERY MONTH WE STRIVE TO BRING YOU engaging editorial stories about our local community and the national stories that we think will be of interest to you. And this month is no exception. In fact, this month I could not be prouder of the issue. I think you will find that is jampacked with so many great features, from our cover story on Drew Barrymore’s new collection of furniture and homegoods to the many stories that demonstrate the generosity, creativity and compassion that exists in our community. We have also profiled some inspiring Women of Influence here in our area and take a look into the world of Joanna Gaines, who has built an empire with her husband Chip, by bringing her brand of home inspiration and creativity into our living rooms. WE ALSO PAY TRIBUTE to one of the most talented and beloved members of our community and a true friend—Mary Britt—who led the Ocala Civic Theatre (OTC) for decades and elevated our arts scene with her inspired leadership. She was truly one of a kind and touched the lives of all who knew her. One of the most rewarding experiences I had as an actor was as the lead in the OTC production of The Last at Ballyhoo. ON THE TOPIC OF INSPIRING INDIVIDUALS, we put together a feature highlighting some of Marion County’s top volunteers. While I have always known that there are so many amazingly generous people and organizations that do such incredible work in our community, I was amazed by the stories of these incredible volunteers. As I have mentioned before, one of my goals for the magazine is to shine a light on the generosity of those with a passion for giving. HUGS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE of the kind of compassionate care and good works being done to help those in crisis. They understand that the difference between a cancer patient making it to Philip Glassman receive vital care may be the simple matter of a ride or gas for their car. That is where HUGS come and Renee Genther in and provides vital assistance for the things that insurance does not cover. I had a chance to meet with the board of diThe HUGS team visitis at Ocala Magazine. rectors and learn about their mission and history, which is the BACK ROW: Kay Rains, Michael Koontz, Tyler Emmons, Lois Schwenk, and Mary Alice Adkinson FRONT ROW: Philip Glassman, Amy Roberts, Renee Genther, Margaret Anne McGuire, and Rhoda Walkup focus of this month’s Charity Spotlight. WE’VE ALSO PACKED THE ISSUE with some fun topics, from our ultimate Mother’s Day brunch guide to a culinary gift guide to get the foodie in your life to Top Chef status. So I hope you enjoy the issue and to everyone who has reached out to tell me and the OM team how much you love the magazine—Thank you! Your feedback, support and encouragement are why we love what we do.

Photos by Joshua Jacobs





Contact Eric Shaw, Local Rep 352-497-9707



from the

Betting on



Chris Alexander, Kevin McKathan & JB McKathan

he 2019 Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 4th at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It will be the 145th running of the derby. The field is open to 20 horses, who have qualified for the race by earning points during the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The purse for 2019 is three-million dollars. For many years, Greg Fischer, the Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky and I have had a bet on who will win the Derby. When he and I first met at the United States Conference of Mayors we were on a committee together. He was sitting next to me and we were going around introducing ourselves. The gentleman who was chairing the committee was a guy named Jerry Abramson. He was the former Mayor of Louisville and the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. He was going around and I said, Hi. "I’m Mayor Kent Guinn of Ocala, Florida, Horse Capital of the World.™" And he said, “You’re not the Horse Capital of the World,™ Fischer is!” Greg was sitting right next me and he goes, “Yeah, I’m the Horse Capital of the World! You can’t say that.” So I said, "Actually we have the trademark Mayor Fischer." So Abramson says, “I think he’s got you on that. Actually, the First Lady of Kentucky, Mrs. Beshear, comes to Ocala and rides for a month, every year. And she says that you are the Horse Capital of the World.™ So, I’m going to have to go with the wife of my former boss on that one.” Greg and I kept in touch and decided to do a friendly bet on the Derby. It started out that I would pick a Florida-bred and he would choose a Kentucky-bred. For awhile I was betting based on the trainer like Todd Pletcher or Mark Casse. And, of course, JB McKathan and his brother, Kevin trained champion horses including 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Something we are going to do at the Derby is to honor JB, who sadly passed away earlier this year. I called Mayor Fischer and I asked what it would take to get a memorial on that big screen during the Derby. He put me in touch with CEO of Churchill Downs. He said that typically they don’t do that, but there was a person from their leadership team that had also past away and they were planning to do a memorial for him, so it would be appropriate to do it for JB. The picture we chose is of JB, his brother Kevin and their farm manager, in the winners circle, after American Pharoah won the Derby. The road to the Kentucky Derby begins in Marion County. 17 horses, out of the 20 that are scheduled to start in the Derby this year, have ties to Marion County. I hope you will join me in rooting for all our local talent running in the big race.

Mayor Kent Guinn



HOPS Set amid the ambience of the city’s oldest historic district and through the generostiy of the homeowners, H.O.P.S. is pleased to showcase some of Ocala’s distinctive architecture, history, and culture. Since 1992, these home tours have provided a rare opportunity for guest to go inside some of our community’s most beautiful private residences. 712 S.E. Fort King St. Ocala, FL 34471 | (352)351-1861

2019 Historic Ocala Preservation Society Board Members Pamela Stafford ~ President Richard Perry ~ Vice President Dennis Phillips ~ Treasurer Brian Stoothoff ~ Secretary Linda Anker Jarl Hagood Peg Harding R.J. Jenkins Lela Kerley Caryl Lucas Penny Miller Suzanne Thomas


socially speaking



t is no vain boast to claim that Ocala/ Marion County is “The Horse Capital of the World.”™ The annual Live Oak International (LOI) long weekend is equine fun at its best and showcases Ocala/ Marion County. Combined driving, showjumping equestrians, and members of the Ocala community look forward to the Live Oak International each March. Live Oak International’s annual Saturday night party never fails to provide competitors, sponsors and VIPs an evening of unmatched hospitality. Guests enjoyed food, dancing and musical entertainment from the Leonard Brothers. The costume party theme changes each year. This year’s theme was “All That Glitters is Gold” to honor the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold medal-winning U.S. combined driving and jumping teams. For the first time in U.S.


WEG history, the combined driving team— Chester Weber, Misdee Wrigley-Miller, and Jimmy Fairclough—won a team gold medal. Weber, co-president of LOI with his sister Juliet W. Reid, also won a WEG individual silver medal. The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team won a team gold. Devin Ryan, whose performance the last two years at LOI has earned him a bid to the Longines FEI World Cup Final, was on the jumping team. Weber, Wrigley-Miller, Fairclough and Ryan were honored by Mayor Kent Guinn on March 7, 2019 at the Live Oak International Parade of

Philip Glassman, Chester Weber, and Susan Gilliland

Layson Griffin and Mark Coley

Juliet W. Reid

Vera O’Callaghan, Shannon Finnegan, Abby Rampton and Kaitlyn Kaster

Tito Vallejo, Leigh McKathan, Louisa Barton and Claudia Ney-Bellandi

Sharn Wordley, and Leading Owner Nicole Walker

Brian Moggre and Susan Merz of Longines Chester Weber, Rhonda Mack, Kelli Cruciotti, and Juliet W. Reid

Nations in downtown Ocala. Driving awards were presented during the party. Jennifer Keeler won the Fresh Gourmet award for the fastest FEI marathon—the Perpetual Trophy is donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Tober. Fernando Rivera was awarded the Joe Gilliland Perpetual Trophy for the most valuable assistance on the marathon course and Klaus Christ was recognized with the Ed Young Memorial Trophy for the official who has contributed the most to LOI. LOI welcomed 15,000 spectators to Live Oak Stud over the four-day competition, a record in the event’s 28-year history. New features included the Paso Fino Horse Association Parade of Breeds Exhibit, exhibitions by the Grandview Clydesdales, a people’s choice car show organized by Ocala Street Cruisers and the No Limits Sunday Funday which was a collaboration of more than 15 local non-profit service providers dedicated to providing hope and encouragement to people with disabilities. Ocala Magazine was the presenting sponsor of the Live Oak International tail-

gating competition on Saturday. It was won by Karen Grimes and Patti Moring. OM’s own Penny Miller, Doug Hummel and Ronald W. Wetherington were the enthusiastic judges. Most tailgating at sports events occurs in parking lots but not at LOI. Tailgaters set up on the marathon course to get a front row seat to the action-packed second phase of the driving competition. LOI tailgating gives new meaning to southern hospitality. Thanks to our Florida weather, it was a fabulous day for families and friends. Guests also delighted in a sumptuous Sunday luncheon in the VIP tent. The 2019 LOI hosted two USEF Combined Driving National Championships and Sunday was the last day of competition. Susan Gilliland presented awards at the prize giving ceremony. Chester Weber won his 16th Advanced Four-in-Hand Horse title, another record breaker. Kentucky-based Steve Wilson was the champion in the Advanced Pair Horse division. Leslie Berndl was awarded the Anne Bliss Memorial Trophy for the most elegant lady driver. Show jumping at LOI culminated with Brian Moggre winning the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala. The 17-year-old beat world and Olympic champions twice his age. Live Oak International has supported local charities and non-profit organizations throughout the years. These include Marion Saddle Club, Marion County Sheriff ’s Office, Ocala Ministries, Ocala Symphony Orchestra, University of Florida Veterinarian Emergency Response Team, Ocala Community Foundation, the Shriners and many more.




socially speaking



Lauren Debick and Andrew Hinkle


ecently, the United Way of Marion County hosted their Community Celebration at the Appleton Museum of Art. The host of the event was volunteer Annual Giving Chair, Marion County Commissioner Michelle Stone. The event, presented by Merrill Lynch, celebrated the United Way raising $2,357,787 in its annual fund. These funds go towards supporting our local community. At the appreciation event, United Way recognized outstanding corporate partners, donors and volunteers who supported United Way of Marion County’s 2018 annual giving efforts. Awards were given to top volunteer leaders and organizations for their outstanding charitable giving. The Platinum and Gold Awards were given to the two largest contributors, Publix Supermarkets and Marion County Public Schools, respectively. Angie Umpleby was presented with the inaugural Phyllis Ewers Community Service Award in recognition of being a female leader who exemplifies the late Mrs. Phyllis Ewers’ passion for volunteer service while being a champion for women’s and children’s causes. Mrs. Ewers was a local philanthropist and a board member for the College of Central Florida Foundation. The United Way of Marion County is grateful for this legacy of volunteer service that Mrs. Ewers left behind and is honored to establish this annual award in her honor. Ms. Umpleby is a Roberts Real Estate agent and is on the United Way Board of Directors.



Ron Ewers and Elizabeth Whittacre

Adam Labounty, Jeff George, Doug Chamizhael and Chuck Trout

Bessie Morley, Mikayla Brown, Faith Beard and Cathy Bicknell

Heather James and Christine Cotter

Angie Umpleby, Kristen Oldenburg and Karen Reed

Michelle Stone and Scot Quintel

Local Recognition

for International Women’s Day


arch 8th marks International Women’s Day around the world, each year. Ollin Women International presented Ocala’s second celebration of the event along with partner women’s organizations, Junior League of Ocala, Ignite for Ocala, Ocala Women’s Network, Women United, International Association of Women, WOAMTEC, and Florida Public Relations Association Ocala Chapter. Guests enjoyed meaningful entertainment, activities and a brief history of notable women in Ocala before the main focus of this year’s celebration: recognizing some of the women in Ocala for their outstanding accomplishments and impact.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY XOCHITL SMITH Amira Sims performing spoken word


Women honored in 2019: Janet Behnke Lynn Brantley Dr. Barbara Brooks Sandra Edwards Champ Kathy Crile Dr. Gail Cross Juanita Cunningham Jayne Ellspermann Patti Griffiths Carol Harris Peachier Jackson Toni James Loretta Jenkins Patti Lumpkin Kara Mangam Linda Marks Alice Prevatt Joann Smith Mary Sue Rich Dr. Judy Wilson Tara Woods Barbara Woodson Laurie Zink


Committee members: Jessi Miller, Manal Fakhoury, Kim Burt, Aubrey Brown, Elishah Lopez, Kay Bogolin, Leda Pérez, Natalie McComb and Barbara Fitos and Maria Roman (not pictured)

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INFLUENCE Presenting some of 2019's most influential women in Ocala BY TRISHA HIATT MAY 2019 | OCALAMAGAZINE.COM |





f you’ve lived in Ocala for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of the Ocala Civic Theatre (OCT), one of the prime arts and culture hubs of the city. The theatre ranks among the top community theatres in Florida. And if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing a play—or the experience of acting in one—at this charming community theatre, then you know that it is a place where laughter, joy, and the good kind of “drama” abound. It’s a place where people are both entertained and are entertainers. It is also a place that recently mourned the loss of its extraordinary, long-standing Executive Director Mary Britt. As Executive Director of OCT for 31 years, Britt originally became involved in community theatre as a volunteer actor. She might



have gone on to become an amazing actress, but the ever-humble Britt quickly realized that she preferred to work behind the scenes. She would go on to become board president and later executive director. Her passion for the theatre was undeniable and she had a lasting impact on the arts and cultural development in Ocala. “Mary Britt was a rock star,” commented Dave Schlenker, of the Ocala Star Banner. “She was the most effective and respected cultural advocate in Marion County, which is saying a lot. Mary could chat about Boofus, the theatre cat, in one breath and untangle the complicated web of state arts funding in another.” Having the ability to do what you love for a living is a wonderful opportunity and Britt was blessed to live out her passion on a daily

basis. “The way Mary talked about the theatre, you could tell it was her passion,” shared OCT Box Office Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Craig James. “Any time she gave a curtain speech, she would say how Ocala Civic Theatre was one of the top community theatres in the country. Just the way she said it, and the way she smiled, you could see that she was so proud of that. That meant a lot to her.” That kind of enthusiasm and her excellent communication skills made her a persuasive and formidable leader. “Mary was one of the most incredible communicators I’ve ever met,” shared Chris Jorie, a noted director, actor, vocal coach and longtime friend of Britt, who took over as interim executive director after her passing and has directed many shows at the theatre over the past 20

Photos courtesy of the Ocala Civic Theatre

Celebrating MARY BRITT

“Mary Britt was a rock star. She was the most effective and respected cultural advocate in Marion County.” —Dave Schlenker years. Jorie also noted that Britt’s love of people was irrefutable. “She was compassionate and loved being with people,” he explained. “To the extent of knowing thousands of folks, outside of the theatre, by name.” “She was so dear to us and always so sweet and caring,” shared one of Britt’s longtime friends Elodie Perron, owner of the La Cuisine restaurant. “Mary would ask about the restaurant staff and their families every time she came in. She ordered the same drink every time—a Flirtini—which is a mixture of vodka, triple sec, pineapple juice, and champagne. We are thinking about re-

naming it to The Brittini in honor of Mary.” While she loved people of all ages, Britt especially adored children. “Mary understood that, above all else, Ocala Civic Theatre should open its doors wide to children,” explained Interim Executive Director Katrina Ploof. “She understood that creativity gives young people the much-needed skills of collaboration, problem-solving, perseverance, and focus, which in turn helps them grow into generous and caring adults. As a visionary, she knew that a community is only as strong as the young people it raises and that exposure to the arts should never

be limited by financial or personal resources. Ocala, and indeed the greater world, benefit everyday from the young people who have grown and thrived under her leadership.” Britt didn’t just welcome children into the theatre with open arms, she welcomed them into her beautiful heart. “When I came home from rehearsal the evening that Mary passed, I opened Facebook to find dozens of individual posts from young people at OCT, all expressing their shock and grief at losing someone they grew up with,” recalled OCT Guest Music Director Philip King. “It occurred to me that so many of the volunteers, that I work with in Ocala, grew up with Mary. She was another parent. Perhaps most importantly, a parent who ushered in a lifelong love of the arts.” Being the talented, multifaceted busi-



"So many of the volunteers, that I work with in Ocala, grew up with Mary. She was another parent. Perhaps most importantly, a parent who ushered in a lifelong love of the arts.” —Ocala Civic Theatre Guest Music Director Philip King

nesswoman that she was, Britt was excellent at managing and maintaining everything from marketing to administration, to budgets and fundraisers. When it came to the productions, Jorie offered, “She knew when to step in and when to step out of the way. She had a fantastic eye and she was our quality control at the theatre.” Planning and taking trips to New York City, with as many as 25-30 people, was one of Ms. Britt’s yearly highlights. One of her recent favorites was Come From Away, a true story and heartfelt musical about what transpired when thousands of stranded passengers landed in Newfoundland a week after the 9/11 attacks. The classic story, To Kill a Mockingbird, was another show that she held dear to her heart. “Mary was a champion of every season and every show,” Jorie recalls of the many productions she oversaw at OCT. There are countless anecdotes and funny stories from her tenure, but one in particular stood out to Britt, according to Jorie. “Back at the old theatre, they were doing a performance of Cyrano and a very large roach climbed out



of the lead actor’s hat and wig, down his neck, onto his shoulder, and then down his arm,” he recalls with a laugh. “The actor flung it onto the floor, the insect crawled off the stage, and everyone laughed and applauded.” Britt was active with OCT right up until her passing on April 3rd of this year, at the age of 64. The theatre is ready to show their love by hosting a tribute in honor of her. “Mary laid it all out for us. She wanted the theatre to have a celebration of her life,” Jorie explained. “It was very important to her that we make it a joyous occasion.” I had the pleasure of knowing Mary Britt for a couple of years when I was a volunteer actor at OCT. I knew then, even at a young age, that she was solid, sweet, and sound. Everything from her passion and dedication to her sparkling blue eyes made Britt the endearing person she was. Actor and Director Terrence Mann stated, “Movies will make you famous; television will make you rich, but theatre will make you good.” And that is exactly the case with Britt. Her reach in the theater scene was exceptional, not just in our region, but

also nationally and established her as a leading woman in her own right. “The theater was her first love,” Jorie offers. So although we mourn her loss, we know that the curtain has not closed on Britt. Our community will continue to pay tribute to this remarkable woman and her legacy will be found in the laughter, the applause, and the spirit of collaboration that will continue at her beloved OCT for generations to come. A memorial fund has been established in Britt’s name. If you would like to contribute, please contact the theatre at (352) 2362274. The theatre will host a celebration of life for Britt on May 21st at 5 p.m. at 4337 E. Silver Springs Blvd. The Addams Family, an award-winning musical comedy based on the classic television show, opens on May 16th and runs through June 9th. A special evening of show tunes by Victoria Sexton and Scotty Tomas is scheduled for June 10th. Auditions for the Summer Student Theatre Arts Enrichment Performance camps (STAG) begin May 4th. For more information visit or email




WILLIAMS What do you love about the Ocala community? “There’s so much to see and do—that’s Ocala, Marion County. The community in which you live is what you make of it yourself. My husband Jim and I had such a positive experience raising, nurturing, and coaching our four children in Ocala. There was never a dull moment. With such diverse paths, you’d never know they were raised in the same household—that is until you talk to them. All enjoy the outdoors from riding horses, running a trail, serving at Camp Kiwanis, kayaking, and playing in a concert at the Veteran’s Park. They love playing basketball, soccer, and tennis at the parks and there really is something for everyone. This leads to a variety of career choices as well; it’s important to enjoy your work!” Can you tell us a little about your career path? “For over 23 years I have worked in the finan-

cial services industry as a Financial Advisor. It has been a blessing to work in a career that provides flexible work hours. This allows time for field trips while the kids are in school, sports travel team weekend excursions, musical events, and occasional trips across the country or to Europe. Not to mention, the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the community through community service.” Is there someone who was or is an inspiration to you? “I must thank my mother for setting such a great example of philanthropy and ‘giving back’ in service to our community, and I thank the public schools for doing a great job helping the students learn about the needs of the community and thereby producing caring adults. If many participate, it divides the workload and provides a sense of accomplishment and pride.”

How have you served in the Ocala community? “Having served as a Supreme Court Mediator, on boards such as the YMCA, Arnette House, Kiwanis, United Way Endowment, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), provides insight into the needs of our citizens and how organizations can work together to coordinate services. There are constant challenges, so it is wonderful to see the success of the court diversion programs, outreach to the homeless, helping seniors and veterans, and learning how we approach the Opioid crisis is encouraging. It’s so uplifting to acknowledge the commitment of the agencies along with their board of directors, working together to improve the lives of those less fortunate.” What advice do you have for someone who is new to the area? “Take the time to appreciate our community and enjoy our natural wonders, our gorgeous horse country, our youth sports, the arts and music, civic theatre, museum, local college and downtown events, and recognize the efforts of so many that will simply put a smile on your face.”







Can you tell us about Recharge? “Recharge Clinic is a functional/regenerative-medicine doctor’s office with a medical spa. We offer the most innovative medical treatments to get our patients feeling and looking their best, starting with their health on the inside and finishing it with their beauty on the outside. I created this clinic with my husband Dr. Steve Tieche. I have a passion for health and beauty and I am excited to be able to bring this cutting edge clinic to Ocala.” What is it that you love about Ocala? “Ocala is such an amazing place to be. You can really get the best of both worlds. It’s fun to be in the middle of horse country and also be ten minutes away from a city that has so much to offer. I love being a part of such a fast growing community.” What advice would you give to someone who wants to create a business like yours? “I have worked, and still work, very hard everyday to make this clinic successful. My advice to anyone wanting to follow this path is to first make sure you know clearly what your destination goal is and keep your focus on that. Know what your direction needs to be to get there and go for it. This means working seven days a week, all day, late nights and no quitting. Your hard work will pay off ” “I would also love to introduce you to Brittany McMinn, one of our medical aestheticians on staff, who performs medical peels, PRP microneedling for hair loss and skin rejuvenation, advanced ZO facials and microblading for brows, to offer you her perspective.”



BrittanyMcMINN MEDICAL AESTHETICIAN AT RECHARGE CLINIC Tell us about your work I have been in the beauty industry for over a decade. I’ve had a passion for skin my entire life. It’s been a journey of ups and downs but I can finally say with consistency and hard work I am at my peak place in the beauty industry, as a medical aesthetician. My love for medical and beauty are all in one! It doesn’t get much better than that. I specialize in customized facials and skin care plans for your every need, as well as microblading and lashes.

What do you love about our community? I’ve had the privilege of living in Ocala for the last 30 years. Our community is that of strong independent striving individuals. I love seeing Ocala grow as well as prosper in all the right ways! The love for our community and others is what sets us apart, I believe. Well, that and being the horse capital of the world.

What advice would you offer someone interested in a similar career path? If I could give anyone advice it would be to stay patient and consistent with your passions, goals and dreams. Be kind and love yourself and others. Life is about learning and expecting nothing from anyone except yourself. If you want it bad enough there is always a way.






KENNEDY What do you love about the Ocala community? “What do I love about Ocala? Everything! I was born in New York and have lived in Ocala for the last twenty years. I came from a small town, so Ocala is just big enough for me. I love all the activities for young entrepreneurs like myself. It’s the perfect town to network in and to build great relationships.” Can you tell us about what you do?  “I am a full time Herbalife health coach, business owner, Ted Talk speaker, Christ follower, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. I am currently on a mission to make the world a healthier and happier place to live. I recently opened a nutrition club, Baseline Nutrition, which is a smoothie/shake shop that provides healthier options for the community. I have a passion for helping others reach their physical and financial goals through nutrition, fitness, and a healthy, active lifestyle.”  In what organizations have you served in the Ocala community? “I wear many hats in the community including ambassador of the CEP, member of the Young Professionals of Ocala, board member of the March of Dimes, and a member of Toastmaster Ocala. I love getting involved with local charity events in the community. I have had the honor to raise money for the PACE Center for Girls, the Marion County Literacy Council, Frank Deluca YMCA Scholarship Program, Interfaith Emergency Services, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Marion County.”  What advice do you have for others who would like to follow a similar path to the one that you have?  “If I could give women any advice it would be to never give up on your dreams and never settle. If you can dream it, you can achieve



"I am currently on a mission to make the world a healthier and happier place to live." it. So often I see women settling for the job they hate, the man they can’t stand, or the idea that life is just about going through the motions. Write that book, open that business, go on that trip, and most importantly love yourself ! You are worthy, you are beautiful, and you were created for so much more. There will never be another you again, so love as much as you can, give as much as you can. Service to many leads to greatness.” Is there anyone you would like to thank? “I would just like to say a special thank you to God for another day, my mom for the gift of life, and to anyone who is reading this and got inspired. The world needs YOU. Never forget it.”




Can you tell us about The Ivy House? “We have been in the boutique and gift shop business since 1968. Since 1992, we have also been in the restaurant business. We currently have two locations, one in Ocala and one in Williston. The love of fashion, food and design is what has brought us to where we are today. Learning from the best, our Mimi, has taught us the meaning of hard work and perseverance. There is no better team than the three of us. We like to ‘make things happen.’ We each play an important role as co-owners and operators of both locations. Each of us has our own strong suit, which makes us a wonderful team.” How do you feel about Ocala? “We have our roots in Ocala. Mimi grew up

in Marion County and attended grade school here. Every morning before school, she had milk and donuts at Bennett’s Drug Store in downtown Ocala. This was in the 1940s and cost just ten cents. Making it to our current location, at 53 SW Magnolia Avenue, is certainly fitting for us—knowing that the matriarch of our family once walked this street on her way to school and watched movies just across the street. We love Ocala/Marion County. It’s unique big city with a small town feel sets it apart from most. The people here are gracious and very welcoming. The city has been so supportive to our down-

town location and we feel that we have been an asset to the downtown community as well!” As women of influence, what advice do you have for others who want to follow a similar path? “There are many influential women in Ocala/Marion County, in various professional areas, be that politics, the arts, real estate and business owners, to name a few. Women can do many different things to be more influential and powerful by being genuine, compassionate, honest, accountable, dependable. This enhances their reputations. Find a balance between work and home— work hard and play hard! And never give up your dreams or what you believe in.”



Natural Woman BY NICK STEELE


t may not surprise you to know that Joanna Gaines isn’t interested in being picture-perfect. Although she and husband Chip have had a meteoric rise to fame since their reality TV series about home design and renovation, Fixer Upper, first aired on HGTV in May 2013—the lady of the house has remained humble, authentic and open about her all too human struggles.



“I realized that my determination to make things perfect meant I was chasing an empty obsession all day long,” Joanna revealed in the couples bestselling book The Magnolia Story, which chronicles their relationship and journey to success. “Nothing was ever going to be perfect the way I had envisioned it in the past. Did I want to keep spending my energy on that effort, or did I

want to step out of that obsession to enjoy my kids, maybe allowing myself to get messy right along with them in the process? I chose the latter—and that made all the difference. It’s up to us to choose contentment and thankfulness now—and to stop imagining that we have to have everything perfect before we’ll be happy.” Her candor and willingness to share her

Photo courtesy of Matilda Jane Clothing

Wife. Mom. Renovator. Designer. Shop Owner. Homebody. That’s the way the woman being touted as the next “Queen of All Media” sees herself.

journey in such a public way has set her apart from the woman who once held sway over some of the same domestic territory where Joanna has found her greatest success. But while Martha Stewart built her empire on the stuff of chilly perfection, Joanna is as warm as one of her homemade biscuits and feels like she’s someone you could have a good laugh with on the back porch. The common territory between Joanna and Martha can be clearly seen in the similar path each took from TV and print media to merchandising and world domination. Martha, who has been described as a domestic lifestyle pioneer, parlayed her catering business into a hugely successful brand and business empire. She launched it out of her historic Westport, Connecticut farmhouse Turkey Hill. Hmmm...a lovingly restored farmhouse. Where else have we heard this story? Though not formally trained, Martha was preternaturally adept at cooking, canning, preserving, decorating, crafting, and gardening. A series of successful books on entertaining and cooking (not to mention her career as a teen model) led to a magazine and television show, both of which she named Martha Stewart Living— and boy, was she ever. Eventually, she found a way to escape the media partners who had made her famous, buy up the television, magazine, book and merchandising ventures that carried her name and consolidate them all into her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. If the story is sounding at all familiar, it’s likely because Joanna Gaines has been making some similar moves of her own. Although we don’t see a prison stint or a close friendship with Snoop Dog in Joanna’s future. It was a blog post about a house that Chip had rehabbed and Joanna designed, that initially drew the attention of a producer that worked with HGTV. The combination of Chip’s passion for flipping homes and Joanna’s innate design sense was an irresistible combination for the network and a few short months later, the couple was filming Fixer Upper. Shot in their beloved Waco, Texas, the show quickly gained a huge following. Within a year of hitting the airwaves, the couple broke ground on Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, a 2.5-acre downtown space that has grown into a massive retail shop, bakery, garden shop, and outdoor green

Joanna from her book Magnolia Table

space, complete with no less than twelve food trucks. The retail mecca is estimated to draw between thirty to fifty-thousand visitors a week and there’s talk of possibly moving to a larger location to accommodate even more Gaines fans. On the Silos section of the Magnolia website, which is also the home of Joanna’s blog, there’s a note about how to best enjoy your visit, “Joanna’s vision for the Silos is that they’d become more than a dusty, dilapidated piece of history—her vision was that they would become a gathering place for community. A place to slow down, to turn your phone off, and to connect with people. We’ve found that those who come

"It’s up to us to choose contentment and thankfulness now." ready to unplug and enjoy time with loved ones have the most enjoyable experience.” So leave those selfie sticks at home. You’ll just embarrass yourself. By the fall of 2016, the couple’s first book, The Magnolia Story and the quarterly lifestyle magazine The Magnolia Journal both launched. As you might have expected, both



flew off the shelves. And whoever said print magazines are dead, didn’t get the memo from their publisher. Meredith Corporation recently announced that the publication has a total audience of 5.5 million. Chip and Joanna also launched a line of paint colors, a collection of wallpaper designs, and the Magnolia Home Furnishings and accessories line. But the enterprising couple took things to the next level when they signed on for an exclusive collaboration with Target and launched Hearth & Hand with the retailer. The line is still going strong and you’re gonna want to snap up the fringed hammock before they sell out. For some reason it’s called “Sour Cream” but we’re pretty sure that’s the colorway, not a scratch-n-sniff situation. There have been other collaborations and retail relationships, proving that there’s plenty of demand for whatever they decide to invest their energy in. Chip released a book of his own called Capital Gaines and Joanna has since authored three more books. Seriously, do these two ever sleep? But when Chip announced in September of 2017, that the fifth season of Fixer Upper would be their last, millions of hearts began to break like old drywall. But dry brush those tears away. Chip and Joanna recently revealed that they will debut their very own cable channel, with Discovery, in the summer of 2020. And yes, they will be back starring in a new show on the channel. “We loved this idea of connecting with people in a different way, telling other people’s stories, curating content,” Joanna told USA Today. “It felt to us a lot like what we do with the magazine, but on a different playing field.” So here’s where we get back to all this Queen of All Media/Next Martha Stewart stuff. First, it bears mentioning that Chip and Joanna were named to TIME: The Most Influential People of 2019 list and actually came face to face with Martha at the gala. Much fuss has been made about the domestic diva not knowing who they were... okay, Chip said it. But Joanna, who has been publicly fangirled by Jennifer Lopez and is now “helping” her decorate her new Malibu beach house, was still jazzed to meet her,



between taking selfies with Taylor Swift and Julianne Moore. Are you exhausted yet? Well, this world dominance stuff is not for the faint of heart. Joanna even managed to have baby number five in the midst of all that activity. So buck up and grab some shiplap, because we’re going to take you through some of our favorites must-haves from the family that just keeps on giving.

THE WRITE STUFF The Magnolia Story

The book that started it all is a really sweet, funny and honest account of their lives together and provides insight into why they work so well as a couple and thrive as a family. The tale is told through alternating storytelling between the two, like a conversation that you get to sit in on.

We Are the Gardeners

“From the first little garden patch we built on the side of our house to the larger one we’re growing at the farm today, the garden has always been a place where I get to connect with my kids and with nature. When we built our first garden bed, it was a lot of trial and error before any of us really got the hang of things. We wrote this book together to share the journey of growing our own family garden,” Joanna explained about the inspiration behind the sweetly illustrated children’s book that she co-authored with her kids.

Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave

If you really want to understand Joanna’s interior design process, this book will guide you through her approach and give you the tools to make your spaces uniquely your own.

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

Joanna’s first cookbook does not disappoint. It’s packed with so many great recipes, that you need to first prioritize what you want to try first. It’s also the next best thing to sitting down to dinner with the Gaines family or eating at their restaurant. In fact, several of the recipes are dishes that are available either at their restaurant or in the bakery at The Silos. #CulinaryStaycation

NATURAL INSTINCTS Joanna recently teamed up with Anthropologie for an exclusive collection of artfully-inspired rugs and pillows. “For me, Anthropologie has long been a source of inspiration, so this collaboration felt like a fun and natural pairing,” said Joanna. “I really love the color palette of this collection – from the hues of blush and blue to the ochre and classic combinations of black and white – yet, while each piece may exude its own unique style, the consistency of the subtle, classic details weaved throughout pulls it all together for a wide range of home styles.”

Clockwise from right: Where the Heart Is Dress, Chip Off The Block Shirt and For Keeps Jogger, The Half Pint Dress, all from Matilda Jane + Joanna Gaines

DRESSING THE PART One of our absolute favorite collaborations that Joanna has been working on is Matilda Jane + Joanna Gaines for Matilda Jane Clothing ( The collection, which is inspired by her family’s life on their farm, is as sunny and fun as Joanna herself. “Like I do when I’m designing a house, I love to pull inspiration from what’s around me,” Joanna said of her second collaboration with the brand.” It’s been so fun to see how this translates into clothing.” The collaboration offers great pieces for women, tweens, infants, girls, and boys. “The whole inspiration for this new collection was summer here out on the farm—the long days, the hazy sunsets, kids running around just being kids. The whole idea of being inspired by life on the farm is really rooted in an effortless, easygoing lifestyle, and that’s the feeling I hope people have when they’re wearing these pieces.”






Everyone’s favorite free-spirit has an inspired new home décor and furniture collection that you can’t afford to miss out on.


rew Barrymore first entered our hearts in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and has been charming us with her comedic talents and carefree style ever since. With over 50 films to her credit, she established herself as queen of the romcom starring in such fan favorites as Boys on the Side, Never Been Kissed, The Wedding Singer, Ever After, 50 First Dates. She also proved she could tackle more textured roles, such as “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale in the HBO film Grey Gardens, for which she took home a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. Beyond her accomplishments as an actress, she has distinguished herself as a producer, best-selling author and successful entrepreneur. She’s launched several well-re-

ceived brands, which include her production company Flower Films, her wildly popular Flower Beauty cruelty-free cosmetics line and Flower Eyewear. Most recently, she has parlayed her vibrant sense of style and interior design aesthetic into a 220item furniture and home décor line called Flower Home, which is exclusively available on Walmart’s family of sites, including, and Barrymore worked closely with the retailer’s design team to create a collection that reflects her own eclectic style and her extensive travels. What she also wanted to deliver was affordable luxury. “I don’t feel that design has to be expensive,” said Barrymore “Everyone deserves a little luxury. That’s always been my goal, to offer the best quality for an affordable price.” And Barrymore has created a truly inspired first installment of what will be an

“I have always had a love for creating joyful spaces.”

ongoing series of seasonal home offerings. Her debut collection features a charming mix of styles, textures, and materials. Barrymore has managed to channel her own sunny boho-chic vibe into each piece. The overarching theme is that of a well-curated home with such influences as luxe bohemian, mid-century modern and earthy California cool. Many of the items have the personality of vintage flea market finds. The collection is also packed with vibrant color, stylish prints, and appealing patterns. “Creating spaces is what I love to do most!” said Barrymore. “Places where unexpected prints and patterns, shapes and styles, and colors and textures, come together—is where my heart is.” The line includes earthenware pottery, vases, blankets and throw pillows, lamps and lighting fixtures, printed dinnerware, bed linens, hand-woven macramé baskets, pet beds, framed artwork and furnishings including sofas, loveseats, accent chairs, chaise



lounges, tables, upholstered headboards and bed frames. Prices range from $18 to $899. Barrymore is most proud of the fun prints she developed for this line, which took the most effort to develop and the longest to perfect. “Every single one is completely our own and original,” she explained. If you follow her personal Instagram account, you will be able to glimpse Barrymore’s own home and how the Flower Home collection reflects her interior design style. “I have always had a love for creating joyful spaces.” said Barrymore, who describes her home style as ”very poppy, colorful, and fun.” She describes herself as being in the “joy business” and wants the collection to make others feel enveloped and happy. There are plans to add outdoor home items this fall. Barrymore is also planning to expand the Flower Home collection to include items specifically for children and would eventually like to launch a Flower fashion line. She’s also developing a YouTube



“Everyone deserves a little luxury.”

channel of her own, which will feature fun lifestyle content centered on her interests. FOR MORE INFORMATION on Flower

Home, visit To learn more about the Flower brands, visit or follow @FlowerbyDrewBarrymore on Instagram.

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Curating a

French Country Home BY TRISHA HIATT




hen it comes to interior design, there are countless styles to explore. Choosing the right one for your home can be somewhat daunting, but can also be a wonderfully gratifying process. There are the purists who prefer to stick to one distinct theme. And then there those who decorate their home using a mix of styles. From traditional to modern, farmhouse to Boho, trends in home décor are always changing— but your home is a personal reflection of who you are and how you express yourself. For me, French Country décor is the perfect fit and allows me to keep evolving my home and swap in and out fun elements that reflect each new season. There’s something about its timeless charm that gives a home a feeling of warmth and comfort. The funda-

mental elements that characterize this versatile style of decorating include stylish color combinations, decorative accents, architectural elements, and vintage furnishings. THE PALETTE The breathtaking French countryside is filled with vibrant colors and for centuries people have been bringing the vivid colors found outside into their homes to curate beautiful, welcoming spaces. The color palette of French Country design can consist of warm, cool, or even neutral tones, allowing ample room for creativity. The fusion of the sea and the sun—azure blues and buttercup yellows—can make any space inviting. Warm red, kelly green, and lavender boast a strong presence in this old-world style. A neutral palette, employing hues such

as white, linen, vanilla, and soft gray, have been extremely popular for the past few years, because the tones blend so well together. When thinking of neutrals in French Country interiors, it’s reminiscent of a time past when dyes weren’t readily available and bright colors traditionally were not used in the home’s décor, unless it was brought in from the garden or countryside. DECORATIVE ACCENTS Objects with a sense of history, whether true vintage pieces or artful new incarnations made to look like treasured heirlooms, are essential elements in French Country design. For years and years, in French tradition, objects were used and later repurposed for use in country homes. Back then, people had to think creatively by reimagining old for new because big box stores weren’t right at your fingertips. When selectng decorative accents to depict the perfect French Country look think about a blend of old and new items. Such as vintage finds and almost anything weathered and worn from years of use in a garden, old home, or barn. Additionally, integrate salvaged architectural pieces to add a rustic flair.



in French Country bedrooms, think lots of luxurious pillows and blankets. Vases filled with fresh roses or lavender create an air of romance. ARCHITECTURAL COMPONENTS Design elements such as dark wood ceiling beams, stone, brick, uneven stucco walls, and natural planked floors remain true to the traditional roots of French Country and infuse rooms with a relaxed sophistication. Everything is perfectly imperfect, creating a cozy, lived-in feel.

IN THE KITCHEN Seek out items that one might find in a centuries-old cottage kitchen, such as pitchers, ironstone, transferware, balances, dried herbs, wooden utensils, baskets, and clay pots to incorporate into your kitchen. Candles, flowers, plants, and scrolled wrought iron pieces are also staples. Boxwood, magnolia, lemon, or grapevine wreaths with natural foliage look amazing on a range hood or curtain rod. IN THE LIVING AREAS Brass candlesticks look gorgeous on a mantle, buffet, hutch, bookcase, or even intertwined in a tablescape. Arrange vignettes using antique books, chippy wood corbels, flowers, and greenery for pretty decorative accents in the main living areas. Large, round wall clocks, gold mirrors, botanical prints, and vintage commercial or industrial wood and metal signs make beautiful statement pieces for the walls. Chandeliers and light fixtures can be either ornate and feminine or decidedly rustic. Carriage house chandeliers, wooden beaded chandeliers with larger u-shaped metal or iron arms, and wine barrel chandeliers are all excellent choices. IN THE BEDROOMS Peaceful soft hues used in bedrooms create a serene atmosphere. White or off-white comforters or a quilt paired with a white bedskirt is a look that just can’t go wrong. An attractive headboard will make a big impact. When it comes to the decorative accents

FRENCH ANTIQUE FURNISHINGS When it comes to choosing furniture embrace all things distressed, whitewashed, rustic, and weathered. Again, this style made up of a mix of historical periods, dating back to the Louis XV time period (1715-1774), when furniture was curvy and used inlays of varying woods. Some of it was quite ornate, but furnishings don’t have to be to suit theFrench country style. This versatility is what is so nice about it. MAKING IT COHESIVE Combining these essential elements into your design cohesively can take years and years of practice, research, trial and error. Although that’s also what makes it so fun and ultimately very satisfying. One of the best things you can do if you are either new to decorating or looking to improve your eye for design is to take notes. When you are looking at magazines or HGTV or Instagram for design inspiration, really study the photos that you love and ask yourself what it is you love about them. Take note of the colors, textures, placement of pieces, and height variations. Take into account the number of objects in a space and how they are arranged and then start applying what you’ve learned in your own space. Practice creating vignettes, arranging furniture, create a tablescape, and most importantly: have fun with it. You be you and enjoy expressing yourself through the canvas that is your home. IF YOU’D LIKE INSPIRATION in the style of French Country or French Farmhouse, you can follow yours truly on Instagram @frenchflairfarmhouse.








hen we set out to salute Marion County’s top volunteers, we knew we’d never be able acknowledge all of the organizations and individuals doing such important work in our community. A truly comprehensive guide like that would surely fill a book. Our goal was, and continues to be, to highlight some of the amazing work being done and the everyday people who give so generously of themselves. We also wanted to offer you, some insight into each organization and ways that you can help. To all the organizations and volunteers that are not included on this list, please know we see you, we salute you and we offer our sincere thanks. It’s often said that the secret to happiness is found in doing for others. But as we learned in putting this feature together, the powerful motivations behind volunteerism rarely begin with the notion of personal gain. Many of the volunteers we contacted for this story, in fact, told us some version of, “I don’t do it for the recognition.” So we asked each volunteer to share something personal about why they give of themselves for the benefit of others. We are honored to be able to share their responses with you and grateful for their contributions to our community.

(An expanded version of this feature is available on our website and details the impact of volunteerism and volunteer opportunities for each organization.)

MIKE BAKER, ADVENTHEALTH OCALA “HEALTHY HOME” PROJECT “I have always believed that giving back to your community is good for your soul and overall well-being. Volunteering at AdventHealth Ocala has given me the opportunity to help others, in their greatest time of need, in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I can’t think of anything more satisfying or uplifting than providing an understanding compassionate heart, along with spiritual support for patients, families, and staff. Witnessing the positive impact that volunteering has made on so many lives continues to give me hope, that together, we can make an everlasting difference in the lives of those who are in the greatest need of our support. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the ‘Healthy Home’ program at AdventHealth Ocala.”

retiring from the Marion County Schools. Originally, the archive only displayed photographs. Restructuring for a museum, in order to display artifacts, collections, provide tours, and to share African American history with others, was the most rewarding experience.”

BRENDA CROSKEY VEREEN, THE BLACK HISTORY MUSEUM & ARCHIVES OF MARION COUNTY “I chose to volunteer for The Black History Museum & Archives of Marion County after

JOKISHA KING, BLACK NURSES ROCK, OCALA CHAPTER (BNR) “BNR is full of like-minded professionals that want to inspire the change that we want to see. I’m fully committed to our mission which is to assist driven, determined, and dedicated nurses in Ocala to grow professionally—while addressing healthcare disparities within the Ocala/Marion County area. We are committed to making a difference, because our chapter members are empowered, engaged, and ready to embrace the needs of the community. My passion has always been to serve my community, in any capacity. While my volunteering may be seen as an ‘act of giving,’ it would be ‘robbery’ not to mention the wonderful benefits that are offered to the members, as well as future nurses. I’m currently a nursing student, I was awarded one of the many scholarships that BNR Ocala offer. BNR is also a great networking tool, ensuring every member is well connected with different colleges for continuing education, agencies for employment opportunities and/or program development.”

(Opposite) pictured clockwise from top: Jokisha King, Jennifer Martinez, Barbara Bigby, Crystal Hawkins, Patricia Lepak, Sally Ann Lyle, and R.J. Jenkins

DAVID KINGSLEY, FINE ARTS FOR OCALA (FAFO) “The reason I volunteered with FAFO originally was for college. I am an art major going

PATRICIA GUTMAN, APPLETON MUSEUM “The reason I volunteer at the Museum is because I enjoy meeting people. I like helping the Appleton, love the artwork, and the people I work with.”

for game design, so I thought it would be a good experience for me and my career. I love the social interaction and giving smiles to people, which is rewarding to me. Little things, like helping the artists set up and assisting around the event is I’m creating a positive difference.” CATHIE COLELLA, GUARDIAN ANGELS MEDICAL SERVICE DOGS, INC. “I first heard of the puppies from my local woman’s club. Carol and Chris visited with one of their recipients and his dog. Carol explained what her mission was for the dogs and recipients. She also told us of the different things at the farm that we could help out with. She explained about ‘puppy hugging’ and I was hooked. I was just getting myself back on track, after having lung cancer. They had started a puppy hugging class on Saturdays. We were taught how to train and love on the puppies. To see the dogs go to their recipient is so sweet and tugs at your heart strings, but to see what they do for their recipient is so wonderful. It just makes you so happy to be a small part of their world. If you are looking for me on Tuesday or Saturday morning, I will be at the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs—loving on some puppies” JILL ADAMS, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF MARION COUNTY, INC. “Why did I choose to volunteer at Habitat For Humanity? I knew they did good work. I had a friend that was already in a Habitat Home. I was in the office as an “office angel” and was responsible for hours-volunteered data entry. It



really gave me the office experience I needed. I loved it and was treated like one of the staff. I also helped out with events that were done to raise money for the organization. I did house blessings and wall-raisings. It has been seven years now. I have a disability and they always accommodate me when I volunteer. I feel like part of the family. What have I found most rewarding about being a volunteer? I love going to the wall-raisings, which is done at the start of the building.” RHODA WALKUP, HEARTFELT, UNCONDITIONAL, GIVING (HUGS) “As the Director of Community Relations for RBOI, I quickly became aware that cancer affects our community in many more ways than simply being a health concern. A cancer diagnosis affects every area of a patient’s life, as well as their loved ones. Ideally, seeking treatment and getting well should be of top priority. Unfortunately, many patients are unable to do so due to the strains that treatment places on them financially, on

time away from their families over Christmas. That is what makes Marion County so uniquely special and why I consider it a very personal, and a very great privilege, to work in this wonderful community helping families who are facing cancer. What a gift to all of Marion County to know that no one has to fight cancer alone—there is HUGS for all.”

unteering is helping the staff do what they need to do to help the smallest victims of crime in our community. What the staff does is nothing short of amazing! They are so nice, caring and committed to helping these children. I admire the staff for working so hard to improve the lives of these children and their families. And I feel so blessed to be a part of it.”

CRYSTAL HAWKINS, INTERFAITH EMERGENCY SERVICES (IES) “We all are such a good team. I get to meet new people from all walks of life and different cultures. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven years ago and coming to volunteer at IES makes me feel better—to interact with the clients and help them with shopping or just spend silent moments in prayer. When I am here, I feel my presence in the community as an individual and also in the greater picture. I also love to shop! But more importantly, volunteering at the store is like being with family. We spend so much quality time together

BOB LEVENSON HOSPICE OF MARION COUNTY (HMC) “I am proud to be a volunteer for Hospice of Marion County, where I started volunteering three weeks after my wife Jeanine, passed away December 13, 2014, following a 13 month battle with pancreatic cancer, which was not diagnosed until April 2014 (self referral) at UF Health. I saw and lived with HMC’s medical team, Dr. Lossada, Lisa Smith, RN Ann Friar-Jones, LCSW, Accent Medical Staff, HMC Pharmacy, the LPN’s, the CNA’s—all provided the most loving, caring, compassionate end-of-life care for five weeks at our

“I volunteer because it makes my heart smile and to keep the good in the world outweighing the bad.” Karen Cyr, Brother’s Keeper Rhoda Walkup, Lydia Kuttas, Karen Cyr, and Dawn Mitchell.

their employment, their loved ones, etc. This not only affects their wellness, but our community’s wellness as well. I was immediately drawn to volunteer with HUGS when I saw how simple acts of generosity could change a patient’s and their loved ones lives forever— even playing a role in keeping them alive. When a patient is able to put gas in the car, miss work, get to treatment, have a home, pay bills, and still buy groceries, that can make all the difference. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was just 2 years old, and I am told that both the healthcare and Ocala community at large went above and beyond to ensure that she was comfortable and with her family the last weeks of her life— even though it meant many were sacrificing



in fellowship, from the customers to the staff that—it feels like home. DAWN MITCHELL, KIMBERLY’S CENTER FOR CHILD PROTECTION “I chose to volunteer at Kimberly’s Center because I love kids and it hurts my heart to hear of children that are being abused or neglected. I have been blessed in the last several years to leave the workforce and stay home to help with our grandchildren. I had some time and I felt the need to volunteer somewhere. Dawn and Niki from Kimberly’s Center spoke of their mission, at our church. I felt God was leading me there. I just wanted to help kids in anyway I could. I find it very rewarding to know that my vol-

home and the final 8 hours at Sylvia’s Hospice House under Michelle Lee, CNA. The most rewarding aspect of being a HMC Volunteer is assisting our friends, neighbors and veterans, in their time of medical crisis, to connect them with our incredible admissions team and to help them get the answers they need to care for their, spouse, neighbor, friend or co-worker. My final reward came on March 31, 2017, Rebecca Rogers, Philanthropy Director, set up a lunch for us to interview Grace Dunlevy, an HMC Volunteer, to join our Philanthropy Board. We were engaged on July 7, 2017 and married on October 1, 2017. Grace and I are always together for all our HMC volunteer programs, and others, in our wonderful Marion County community.”

Sadie Fitzpatrick, David Kingsley, and Jill Adams

Patricia Gutman and Cathie Colella

MOLLY & HUGH LAPENOTIERE, HORSE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA “Molly and her husband Hugh have gone above and beyond volunteering to help the horses. They come to the farm to clean stalls and scrub buckets, even on holiday mornings. Horse Protection wishes we had fifty more like Molly and Hugh to help the horses. Unfortunately, Molly and Hugh are both one of a kind!” —Morgan Silver, Executive Director MARY NISBET, KIDS CENTRAL, INC. “I chose to volunteer with Kids Central because I am passionate about children, families, and helping those who are less fortunate. The most rewarding part of my job is to see families, who are in crisis, be able to get what they need. The families are often lost and need someone to listen to them. I try to offer a helping hand and just listen to them. I believe that others lives can be changed by me giving my time, my talent, my treasure to them and just caring for them.”

SHELLEY SIZEMORE, KIWANIS CLUB OF OCALA “Our motto is, Improving the world, one child and one community at a time. My chosen career, as an elementary educator, made Kiwanis a perfect fit! Through Kiwanis, I can help build a stronger world for tomorrow, by building stronger kids today. We focus on health, safety, education and citizenship. I have loved serving through Kiwanis for 31 years.” MICHELLE MALSCH, MARCH OF DIMES, CENTRAL FLORIDA TERRITORY, MARION COUNTY “Imagine the joy of finding out I would be a grandmother for the first time. Then finding out my daughter was having twins sent me to the moon! My daughter, who has Graves disease, went into premature labor at 24 weeks. She would be hospitalized for the next six weeks, on strict bed rest. In the 30th week of her pregnancy, in the middle of a horrific thunderstorm, she underwent an emergency c-section and the identical twin girls were born. Weighing just about 3 lbs each, their tiny little bodies were whisked away in the incubators to the neonatal unit. By daybreak, the storm had subsided, but the worst was yet to come. The doctor came into my daughter’s room and told her that the babies were not doing well and

were going to be taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. Both of the girls were suffering from severe pulmonary hypertension. It was one of the happiest days of my life and the saddest all rolled into one. We spent day and night at that hospital for the first few days, praying and hoping for a miracle. One of the twins looked so tiny and frail, while the other was so swollen she looked twice her size. After nine days, the doctor in charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit approached my daughter and told her there was nothing more that could be done for one of the twins, as she was showing no signs of improvement, while the other was still clinging on to life. That night, they removed Michaela from the respirator and she slowly passed, as I watched my daughter hold her in her arms. My heart was broken. One of the nurses in the unit, tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Prepare yourself, Grandma. The other twin is not going to make it either.’ My daughter could not bear the thought of losing the other twin. She went home and got on the computer and looked up everything she could about pulmonary hypertension. She found a doctor who was a pulmonary hypertension specialist at Columbia in New York City, who was doing an experimental treatment on infants with a drug called Iloprost. She contacted him,



As Bunco is such a fun game played by many here, I thought why not have a “Bunco for Babies” luncheon fundraiser? I continue to do the “Bake Sale for Babies” once a year, and “Bunco for Babies” is now in its 4th year and has raised thousands of dollars for the March of Dimes, March for Babies. I want every baby born prematurely to have a fighting chance. With fundraising to help research, maybe someday prematurity will become a thing of the past, and all babies will be born healthy. I have raised more than nineteen-thousand dollars.”

Louis Hughes, Steve Farrell, and Mike Baker

Michelle Malsch, Shelley Sizemore, and Pamela Schutte

told him the story of her babies and asked if he thought the drug could help the surviving twin. This drug had never been used on premature infants before. He told her to have the doctor at Children’s Hospital get in touch with him. My granddaughter was given the experimental drug and after a short while, began to show signs of improvement. After seven weeks in the intensive care unit, she was discharged at 5 lbs. with the pulmonary hypertension resolved. Her early years were filled with physical therapy, occupational, and speech therapy. She didn’t start to walk until she was almost 2 years old. She will soon be 12 years old. She loves to dance and sing, does very well in school,



takes piano lessons, plays soccer and softball. She is the joy in our lives! And oh yes, by the way, the same nurse who told me she wasn’t going to make it, approached me again and said, “None of us here thought this baby was going to make it, this is divine intervention.” Divine intervention and the love of a mother who would not give up. I have been an avid fundraiser for the March of Dimes, March for Babies since the babies were born. Every year striving to raise just one dollar more than the year before. The early years of fundraising were pledges by family and friends. Then I had bake sales at On Top of the World, (where I am a resident) at their Super Bingo held twice a year.

R.J. JENKINS, MARION COUNTY LITERACY COUNCIL “I chose to volunteer at the Marion County Literacy Council because I couldn’t think of a more powerful way to effect lasting change in my community than by helping people learn to read, write, and speak English. Improving literacy grows the economy, combats poverty, reduces crime, improves health outcomes, promotes civic engagement, makes people happier and more productive. The idea that I can help make that kind of change in our community is exhilarating. Working with students is hands down the most rewarding part of my work at the Literacy Council. It takes real bravery and humility for women and men to walk through our door and seek our help. What that means, is that every single student I work with has already proven that they are tough, aspiring, and hungry to better their lives and the lives of their children. I’m telling you, what goes on in these classrooms is extraordinary. I have so much respect and admiration for our students, who have decided to enrich themselves through education. What they’re doing takes more than just hard work; it takes tremendous courage. Our students are superheroes. Who doesn’t want to spend their time in the company of superheroes?” SALLY ANN LYLE, MARION THERAPEUTIC RIDING ASSOCIATION (MTRA) “Having been involved with horses most my life, I know firsthand the joys of working with these wonderful animals. It just seemed like a perfect fit to join the MTRA team and help to bring those same physical and emotional benefits to people with disabilities. After volunteering at MTRA for more than 20 years, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of being there has been the small and big transformations we see every day—a wheelchair bound person able to move

freely, a nonverbal child speaking to their horse, an autistic person bond with a horse. It truly is a wonderful experience every day.” LYDIA KUTTAS, OCALA ROYAL DAMES FOR CANCER RESEARCH, INC (ORD) “I have volunteered for the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research since 1994, because my husband, my youngest sister and I have all been battling cancer for some time. Many other loved ones have been taken by cancer, different types—same outcome. I needed to do something, and hence as a Royal Dame, I help raise money for cancer research and education for Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and UF/ Shands in Gainesville. The seed money we provided Dr. Shari Pilon-Thomas at Moffitt, contributed to the development of Keytruda®, which is now the standard treatment for advanced melanoma. The drug has been approved as first line therapy in lung cancer. Last fall at the Royal Dames funded “Shop Talk” seminar, held at the college, we learned Keytruda® is also used for some breast cancers. That’s the reason that I, as a proud Royal Dame, will continue to raise those necessary research funds.”

DAVID KNOTTS (DECEASED), MARION SENIOR SERVICES “In 2018, eight months prior to the holidays, a very frail, 100-pound, 74-year-old man came to our office seeking help. David had been let go and was seeking employment and any volunteer opportunities to keep himself busy. His mother was spending her final days on earth in the hospital, where he slept by her bedside all day, knowing the end was coming soon. Hungry and not knowing where to go for help—Marion Senior Services welcomed him with open arms to our congregate café, providing breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. We bagged some groceries from the agency’s humble pantry for the weekends. With everything else he was facing, he had a personal challenge, one that had him fighting for his life—Colon cancer. Despite his diagnosis, David religiously showed up for “work”, volunteering his time in any capacity for the agency. He always shared his smile and some encouraging words for our staff. He helped wherever he could—in the office shredding papers, joining the seniors to play games in the congregate café, cleaning the parking lot and much more. He did so until one week prior to his heart attack, when his physical body was unable to carry him any further. He passed away on Thursday, March 7th, 2019. Marion Senior Services will always remember David with a big smile on his face, always willing to do more for others. May we all learn and be better for knowing him.” — Jennifer Martinez, Executive Director

JAN MCDONALD, PROJECT PUP, INC. (PETS UPLIFTING PEOPLE) “Project Pup started in 1987 as a pet visitation program to area nursing homes and assisted living facilities and added the PMOW (Pet Meals on Wheels) program after realizing the need to help seniors feed their pets. My husband, Jerry and I work with PMOW (Pet Meals On Wheels). We do this because we recognize the significant difference pets make to the seniors. Both of our older parents had pets during their later years and it greatly improved the quality of their lives. Many seniors live with one faithful friend—their pet—and in many cases this pet is the most important thing in their life. Oftentimes their pet is the only person they see and interact with daily. We have all heard stories of older adults feeding their pets instead of eating themselves. This program eliminates that need and therefore gives both the adults and pets the nutrition they need. Project Pup of Ocala along with SPCA provides individually packaged food for either a small dog, big dog or cat, on a weekly, basis for Meals on Wheels, which is distributed by the Marion Senior Center. We currently distribute pet food, along with treats, to between 150 and 160 pets weekly.”



Brenda Croskey Vereen and Bob Levenson

Dr. Franco Diaz, Dr. Manal Fakhoury, and Emmett Coyne

EMMETT COYNE, RAMAL EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL SERVICES, INC. “RAMAL seeks to intervene and assist those who ‘fall through the cracks,’ whose needs are not easily helped elsewhere. Like providing non-traditional scholarships for older students and summer school program assistance for students who need help in areas like math, etc. For 24-years, I raised funds for organizations whose mission it was to help the poor. Administration and staff took care of themselves first, with larger and larger salaries. They did ‘good,’ but at what cost? No one has a salary at RAMAL—pure volunteerism and maximum financial benefits for persons with real needs.”

STEVE FARRELL, SAVING MERCY “I think it is apparent to most people that Marion County has a homeless issue. My wife Fran and I felt compelled to do something to help this population. God has blessed us many times over and this was an opportunity to thank God for these blessings by helping others. After speaking with city representatives, a conversation with Father Pat Sheedy of Blessed Trinity Church, and lots of research about homelessness across the country—Saving Mercy and the Housing First concept for Marion County was initiated. Housing First is the only program that has shown to be effective throughout the country. In ten short months, we helped four people [transition] into rental apartments and one into their own home. It is very rewarding to help people who are struggling, to better their lives and the community we live in. With the help of the city, county and residents, we can succeed with this endeavor.”

MANAL FAKHOURY, SAGE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM “I answered an inmate’s prayer (via a letter) to help sponsor and support a public speaking class, Gavel Club, in the prison. That letter has resulted in ten gavel clubs, Gavel University, a Leadership Conference, the SAGE Personal Development Program, SAGE Talks (much like TED talks), SAGE Debate, SAGE Special Guest Speaker Series, SAGE Book Club, SAGE Art from the Heart, and SAGE Prodigy. Unbelievable when you combine resources, energy, and passion. The appreciation and transformation keep me and the other volunteers coming back. I have been blessed to have this opportunity to serve in this capacity and it’s the most rewarding work I have done.”



PAMELA SCHUTTE, SHELTERING HANDS, INC “I started volunteering with Adopt A Stray (a cat rescue in South Florida) in 2004. When I moved to Ocala I was looking for animal rescue organizations. I chose to explore Sheltering Hands because of their Seniors for Seniors program. This program matches senior cats that may spend the remainder of their life in a shelter with senior citizens. The cat and medical care remain the responsibility of Sheltering Hands, but the cat gets to live in a home and the senior person gets

to have a wonderful companion. Once I reached out to Sheltering Hands, I found there were a myriad of volunteer opportunities. I choose to learn new skills by volunteering in the surgical center, where they offer low cost spay/neuter services and with foster cats and kittens who need a temporary home, until they are ready for adoption. It’s rewarding to know that I have played a small part in preventing cats from reproducing and adding to the overpopulation problem. Because Sheltering Hands is a smaller organization, the volunteers get to know the cats and their personalities, so it is incredibly rewarding when one of the kitties is adopted into their forever home. Personally, I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with others who share my passion for helping cats. My favorite volunteer quote is by Edmund Burke, ‘No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing, because he could do only a little.’” BARBARA BIGBY, PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF MARION COUNTY/TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN PROGRAM (TSIC) “I initially volunteered in the TSIC program because I was concerned about the percentage of minorities in college. However, as I got more involved with my students, watching them progress through their academic journey, I got an even deeper sense of satisfaction—similar to watching my own children. It is especially satisfying seeing them successfully graduate from college and take their place as productive citizens.”



emarkably, when we asked for organizations to choose their top volunteer, the name of one special individual came up twice. Lepak not only is a top volunteer for these two organizations, but generously gives her time to other worthy causes in our community.

“I am very honored and excited to be nominated by both Special Olympics Florida, Marion County and Stirrups ’n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center, as one of Marion County’s Top Volunteers. 50 years ago Eunice Kennedy Shriver began a movement in this country to ‘accept and include all people, with and without disabilities, alike.’This movement strikes a deep chord within me and is an inspiration that drives me to give back to these communities. Special Olympics Florida, Marion County works diligently to make that inclusion happen every single day. I am supportive and grateful for all that Special Olympics Florida stands for and the opportunities that are provided to all people, volunteers and athletes alike. My second family on earth, Stirrups ’n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc., not only provides therapy for riders, but for volunteers and all involved. Our rider’s accomplishments, happiness and dedication is such an inspiration. Our therapy horses—such gentle, kind and loving creatures— bring a special joy to my heart each day. There is a true sense of family at Stirrups ‘n Strides, that is priceless.”

DR FRANCO DIAZ, MD (MEDICAL DIRECTOR), THREE ANGELS CLINIC “After my retirement, following 46-years in private medical practice in the state of New Jersey, I moved to Ocala. I looked for a place that I could volunteer and provide my services to the needy residents of Marion County. We physicians are invested in providing charity services in hospitals and clinics. I feel that volunteering is a part of America’s commitment to support ongoing social change. I enjoy participating with Three Angels Clinic and get great satisfaction from helping people.” SADIE FITZPATRICK, UNITED WAY OF MARION COUNTY “Growing up, I was taught ‘To whom much has been given, much is expected.’ So I believe it’s my responsibility to use my time, talents, and treasure to give back to my community through volunteering. I love the teamwork aspect of volunteering, knowing that we are all working together to raise funds and awareness for so many amazing causes in Marion County.

United Way truly strives to impact as many organizations and individuals as they can and I’m so happy to be a small part of their mission!” LOUIS HUGHES, VETERANS HELPING VETERANS (VHV), USA, INC. “I am a disabled vet myself and I feel we all need to give back. The vets we help, and all the big hearted people I volunteer with, make it worthwhile.” TRACY WATT, VOICES OF CHANGE ANIMAL LEAGUE (VOCAL) “Tracy has fostered dozens of cats and a few dogs for us. She runs the trap, neuter and release program on the west side of Ocala. She takes sick animals to the vet and helps feed a feral colony in west Ocala. Tracy is one of those people who always has a smile on her face, no matter what is happening in her life. She is always willing to help and pitches in. Tracy is someone we rely on and she has never let us down.” —Linda Norman, President/Co-Founder

VICKY DUNSTAN, XTREME SOLUTIONS “When my husband and I moved to Ocala, I was no longer working due to disabilities. Since I had so much time on my hands, I thought I could do some volunteer work, but with my disabilities what could I do? A neighbor told me she was moving away and that maybe I could take her place at Xtreme Solutions answering phones. That’s how I started volunteering with them. Over time my duties have evolved. My volunteering has even taken me to Marion Correctional, for meetings with our soon-to-be-released students to discuss their exit plan and see if we can assist. Periodically, I host a bingo night with our students, which I really enjoy, as do they. I believe in what Xtreme Solutions does and I see the results. Their teaching and re-entry program at Marion Correctional Institution not only helps to guide the inmates to want a better life for themselves and their family, it benefits the community. Anything that can help reduce the recidivism rate is a win for all and that’s rewarding to me. Also, the fact that I’m told almost daily how much I’m appreciated is also very rewarding.”



2019 Private School GUIDE The Florida Department of Education’s Florida School Choice Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice lists more than 30 private elementary and high schools in Marion County. We’ve heard from parents that the variety of options can be a little daunting, so we’ve compiled a directory of local private schools to help you find the best learning environment for your precious pupils.


AMBLESIDE SCHOOL OF OCALA 507 SE Broadway St, Ocala, FL 34471 Phone: 352-694-1635 Director: Jill Romine Grade Levels: K-8

BELLEVIEW CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 6107 SE Agnew Rd, Belleview FL 34420 Phone: 352-245-6151 Director: Mike LaCrone Grade Levels: PK-8

THE CORNERSTONE SCHOOL 2313 SE Lake Weir Ave, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-351-8840 Director: Ingrid Wasserfall Grade Levels: PK-8

BARBARA’S KITCHEN SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE 17050 N Highway 301 Unit 1, Citra FL 32113 Phone: 352-595-1346 Director: Barbara Fleming Grade Levels: K-12 www.bkse.orgs

BLESSED TRINITY SCHOOL 5 SE 17th St, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-622-5808 Director: Megan Losito Grade Levels: K-8

CROSSROADS ACADEMY 3681 NE 7th St, Ocala FL 34470 Phone: 352-694-4466 Director: Mary Beth Anderson Grade Levels: 3-12


DESTINY LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 4790 N US Hwy 441, Ocala FL 34475 Phone: 352-622-3390 Director: Denise Brant Grade Levels: K-12

MONTESSORI HOUSE OF OCALA 9880 SW 84th Ct, Ocala FL 34481 Phone: 352-282-0195 Director: Jill J. Ferrer Grade Levels: PK-5

ST. JOHN LUTHERAN SCHOOL 1915 SE Lake Weir Ave, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-622-7275 Director: David McFalls Grade Levels: PK-12

DR. D.D. BROWN ACADEMY OF HOPE 519 SW 10th St, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-433-2217 Director: Kat J. Crowell-Grate Grade Levels: PK-12

MONTESSORI ACADEMY OF OCALA 2967 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala FL 34470 Phone: 352-351-3140 Director: Pauline Braner Grade Levels: PK-5

ST. PAUL’S CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 800 SE 41st Ave, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-694-4219 Director: Kelly Hall Grade Levels: PK-K

DUNNELLON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 20831 Powell Rd, Dunnellon FL 34431 Phone: 352-489-7716 Director: Kristy Minton Wheat Grade Levels: PK-8 FIRST ASSEMBLY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL AND PRESCHOOL 1827 NE 14th St, Ocala FL 34470 Phone: 352-351-1913 Director: Judith Earlene Carte Grade Levels: PK-12 GRACE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 4410 SE 3rd Ave, Ocala FL 34480 Phone: 352-387-3090 Director: Bethany McKee-Alexander Grade Levels: PK-8 GRACE POINTE ACADEMY 6185 SE 140th St, Summerfield FL 34491 Phone: 352-897-0822 Director: Pastor Austin Tucker Grade Levels: K-12 GRACEWAY ACADEMY & PRESCHOOL 2255 SE 38th St, Ocala FL 34480 Phone: 352-629-4523 Director: Laurie Baluyot Grade Levels: PK-5 LIBERTY CHRISTIAN PREPARATORY ACADEMY 850 NE 36th Terrace Ste F, Ocala FL 34470 Phone: 352-694-2223 Director: Stephen Day Grade Levels: K-12 MEADOWBROOK ACADEMY 4741 SW 20th St Bldg 1, Ocala FL 34474 Phone: 352-861-0700 Director: Tina Stelogeannis Grade Levels: K-12

NEW HORIZON ACADEMY 1100 NE 31st St, Ocala FL 34479 Phone: 352-401-0980 Director: Donald Maier Grade Levels: 5-8 OCALA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 1714 SE 36th Ave, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-694-4178 Director: Dr. John A. Bloom Grade Levels: PK-12 OCALA CHRISTIAN LEARNING ACADEMY 3732 NE 7th St, Ocala,FL 34470 Phone: 352-694-2546 Director: Louis Pfleger Grade Levels: K-12 OCALA PREPARATORY ACADEMY 7634 SW 60th Ave, Ocala FL 34476 Phone: 352-509-4085 Director: Dr. Loaine, PhD Grade Levels: K-12 THE READING CLINIC 1333 SE 17th St, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-867-0027 Director: Robin Poindexter Grade Levels: K-6

THE SONDER ACADEMY 3850 W. Anthony Rd, Ocala FL 34475 Phone: 352-512-9282 Director: Richard Sumner Grade Levels: PK-6 SOULS HARBOR CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 12650 SE Hwy 484, Belleview FL 34420 Phone: 352-245-6252 Director: Donald Currie Grade Levels: PK-12 TRINITY CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL 2600 SW 42nd St, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-622-9025 Director: Erika Wikstrom Grade Levels: 9-12 VICTORY ACADEMY OCALA 3401 SE Lake Weir Ave, Ocala FL 34471 Phone: 352-622-4410 Director: Dionne VanFleet Grade Levels: PK-8 VILLAGE VIEW CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 8585 SE 147th Pl, Summerfield FL 34491 Phone: 352-693-5941 Director: Tom Mottl Grade Levels: K-12

REDEEMER CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 155 SW 87th Pl, Ocala FL 34470 Phone: 352-854-2999 Director: Luke Butler Grade Levels: PK-12 RIVERLAND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 19455 SW 61st St, Dunnellon FL 34432 Phone: 352-489-6177 Director: Denise A. Aiello Grade Levels: PK-12





Oasis Golden

Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club recently welcomed wellness expert Theresia Kelly as the director of their leading full-service spa and salon in Central Florida. BY NICK STEELE




ith over 20-plus years of experience in luxury, resort and medical spas and her own whole-body “wellness through natural therapies” approach, Kelly is focused on growing the spa’s offerings, while ensuring it continues to be the ultimate setting for indulgence. Kelly boasts an impressive background, including as Spa Director at Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach, Westin Hotels and Resorts in Mississippi, and Newnan Dermatology in Georgia. She says that her passion is to help others achieve balance and happiness within an ideal climate. We caught up with her for a quick chat about the spa and her new role.



TELL US WHAT MAKES THE SPA SUCH A SPECIAL DESTINATION. Golden Ocala Spa offers top-of-the-line luxury services, as well as home care products. Everything is hand-selected from handcrafted organic professional skin care to aromatherapy-based spa products. We strive to offer only the best services, as well as the best providers to ensure guest satisfaction. From our beautiful relaxation room and garden to saunas and steam rooms, our guests are able to spend an entire day unwinding and enjoying the full spa experience. IS THE SPA OPEN TO THE PUBLIC OR JUST MEMBERS AND RESIDENTS? The spa is open to our members and our members’ guests only. It is this very exclusivity that sets us apart from other spas.

WHAT NEW TREATMENTS AND SERVICES ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT? Our new handcrafted organic products and the newly introduced Golden Ocala signature organic services have added an exciting new avenue for our members. We also have added a new nail polish/treatment, which is all natural without damaging formaldehyde and toluene for optimal wellness experiences. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU BECAME THE SPA’S NEW DIRECTOR? I founded the Wellness Store and Day Spa in southern New England over 20 years ago. I brought the natural ways to beauty as well as wellness into focus. My services were sought after by many regional spas that were taking the organic and wellness route. After working

as a consultant for approximately 300 luxury spas and day spas, it seemed quite natural to accept the role of director. The Golden Ocala Spa offers a range of innovative treatments including; a range of traditional massage treats to warm stone massages, deep cleansing and purifying facials to L.E.D Light treatments, waxing, and eyelash extension services. The salon has a wide variety of styling services, blowouts, eyebrow and eyelash tinting. While the spa is not open to the public, there are several membership packages available for non-residents to purchase that include access to the spa and salon. FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit





An Emerging Talent Raul Colmenares came away with the Best of Show award at the City of Ocala and Magnolia Art Xchange's third annual Student and Emerging Artist Competition.


he 2019 Emerging Artist Competition theme was “Illusion and Reality” and 24-year old artist Raul Colmenares rose to the challenge with his dynamic painting, Gratia Vitae. Budding artists from ages 16 to 30 entered the competition for the opportunity of winning prizes and gaining acclaim. This was not Colmenares’ first attempt. Last year, he entered the competition and did not win—but for many, it is their first venture into the professional arts. Hopefuls must submit quality images of their artwork, create artist statements, price their work, get the piece ready for display, and make sure to meet the competition deadlines. This meaningful experience has helped catapault some artists to the next level in their creative career.

Q & A with Raul Colmenares

What was the inspiration for Gratia Vitae? Gratia vitae is Latin for “Roads of Grace.” It’s about the question, “What is the best choice?” While pondering that, I found grace—because the best things do not come from the choice itself, but by me giving my best to it. The name also takes inspiration from the ancient proverb “All roads lead to Rome.” Tell us about your process in creating Gratia Vitae. I looked at how every

aspect of the paint had a relationship and resonated with everything else in the piece, like a biome in nature. My process was about me finding those relationships instead of focusing on a technique. I purchased fish and took many photos of them. I tested everything and then by process of elimination, only kept the things that worked with each other.

What has the experience of being in the Emerging Artist competition, both last year and winning Best of Show this year, been like? Last year,

I got to see all my expectations put down. It was bitter, but great at the same time. I realized that my curiosity for learning always overshadows my expectations and that’s what I focused on this year: my curiosity instead of my expectations. What goals do you have for yourself as a professional artist? I want to

create imagery that moves people to growth and understanding. I’m working on painting to make that happen and I can see it evolving into many different things.

What art/artists inspire you most and why? Is a tree, a bird, or the sky art

or an artist? Same with us, are we the art or the artist? I think everything is art and I’m inspired by everything and everybody. That’s why I paint about grace, choice, or gravity, because they shape all there is. That gives me the freedom to use any subject as an introduction for larger topics. For commissions and informaiton: Instagram: @vxlllq Email:


Daniel Santiago 1st Place, 18-24

Eileen Chong 2nd Place, 18-24

Brittany Iverson 3rd Place, 18-24

Kyle Corley

1st Place, 25-30

Ali Graves

2nd Place, 25-30

Nick Luongo 3rd Place, 25-30

Juan Hurtado

1st Place, High School

Gabriela Cortes

2nd Place, High School

Parker Durant

2nd Place, High School

Raul Colmenares and 2019 judge, Jane Ferry, Curator of Education, Orlando Museum of Art


51 Mon-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 11am-7pm

This product is NOT a safe alternative to cigarettes. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Must show valid ID.






What’s Cooking Our favorite foodie Rsvp Robin offers up an alluring array of Mother’s Day culinary destinations and a mouthwatering menu for you celebrate-at-home types. We’ve also got some top-shelf gadgets and gold-standard culinary items that will make you feel like a top chef. So strap on a stylish apron like the Tom Bib Apron in Forest Green, seen above, from our favorite Australian brand Cargo Crew. Mother’s Day Brunch p54

| Home Cook Advantage p58






elebrating motherhood has been done for centuries in over 40 countries worldwide. The roots of the modern day holiday, we celebrate each year, can be traced to the early 20th century and the social activist Anna Jarvis, who conceived the day as a way to honor her own mother and commemorate her death. She envisioned the holiday as an opportunity for children to not only acknowledge a mother’s influence and role within the family, but also offer their thanks. In her quest to have the holiday observed by every state in the union, she began writing to governors to ask them to officially observe the day. It wasn’t long before the idea caught on and the rest, as they say, is history. However, as the celebration became more commercialized and marketed into a gift-giving holiday, by manufacturers and retailers, Jarvis herself became disenchanted with the day she had once championed. Today, Mother’s Day remains a beloved tradition and a charming way to express our love, appreciation and gratitude for the role these amazing women play in our lives. For many, it is celebrated by taking mom out to a special local restaurant for brunch or venturing further afield, to one of our neighboring cities, for an elaborate “destination” Mother’s Day outing. For others, the idea of pampering mom at home is what’s on the



menu. Whatever way you choose to celebrate, we’ve got some amazing options to show your mom just how much you care. On a personal note, this is my first Mother’s Day without my own beloved mom Millie, so it gives me great comfort to vicariously enjoy the day through all of you. It

Celebrating Locally Three of our finest downtown establishments are hosting Mother’s Day brunches; La Cuisine, The Ivy House and Katya Vineyards.

La Cuisine French Restaurant 48 SW 1st Avenue (352) 433-2570 | Owners Elodie and Patrice Peron have created the perfect atmosphere for a charming celebratory meal with Mom. The walls are the most beautiful shade of pink. The food is quintessential French with a modern twist. They have also recently added a new outdoor dining patio, which is perfect for the glorious spring weather. Need I say more? Additional specials will be added for the Mother’s Day Brunch, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended.

Ivy on the Square Robin Fannon with her mother, Millie at La Cuisine

doesn’t matter how you chose to honor your mom; hand picked or store bought flowers, a hand written note, a hug—any expression of your love, appreciation, and gratitude is all any mom needs to feel special.

53 South Magnolia Avenue (352) 622-5550 | Treat mom to some good old-fashioned southern charm y’all! “Come on home, it’s suppertime.” is their motto and the friendly hospitality is contagious. This family-owned and operated set of restaurants (the original Ivy House is located in Williston) is set apart by the perfect combination of warmth and good southern fare. The newly renovated

La Cuisine

La Cuisine Ivy on the Square

Preserved Restaurant

Ocala location has quickly become an institution amidst the thriving downtown scene. They will be hosting a special Mother’s Day lunch. Reservations are a must.

p.m., featuring bottomless mimosas and sparkling rosé. Seating is by reservation only.

Katya Vineyards

Destination Dining

101 E Silver Springs Blvd (352) 528-2675 | Another downtown, family-owned and operated endeavor, Katya Vineyards has developed an outstanding reputation for great food, a delicious selection of boutique wines and excellent service. Chef Tony Deras is wowing the community with his sumptuous weekly creations and gorgeous presentations. It is said that one eats with their eyes as well as their palate. If that is true, then you will dine very well indeed. Katya is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30

For our out-of-town recommendations, we chose two of the prettiest and best-loved locations in our region; Preserved Restaurant in St. Augustine and Oxford Exchange in Tampa.

Oxford Exchange 420 West Kennedy Blvd, Tampa (813) 253-0222 | If you are looking to give Mom a truly unique experience, then look no further then this multifaceted venue. Located in what was once a stable, it has been painstakingly

renovated to house a restaurant, bookstore, gift shop, tea/coffee house, and art gallery. The architecture and interior design will both awe and inspire you and your mom! They will be offering a Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with several Mother’s Day specials. Reservations are required for parties of 6 or more.

Preserved Restaurant 102 Bridge Street, St. Augustine (904) 679-4940 | Located in the historic area of Lincolnville, in the beautifully preserved Jefferson House, this venture is spearheaded by James Beard-nominated Chef Brian Whittington. Whittington is committed to serving only the freshest ingredients, that are locally-sourced whenever possible.



Preserved Restaurant Oxford Exchange

Oxford Exchange

He feels strongly about supporting farmers who have a responsibility to the preservation of our land and environment. Whittington is also no stranger to our city. He has twice successfully participated in the Ocala Culinary Festival, so make sure to say hello. You will be delighted that you made the drive. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and reservations are highly recommended.

Celebrating Mom at Home Whether your mom would prefer to celebrate at her home (which was the case with my mom) or you want to host the event at your home, here are some light and fresh spring recipes that may inspire you. And if you think that staying home will be boring, think again. You can create a beautiful



tablescape with flowers and lots of special touches. If weather permits, a beautiful outdoor garden-inspired table setting, will make her feel like the Queen that she is!

Fresh English Pea Soup

until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. 2) Add the peas and chicken broth. Simmer on medium heat until the peas are tender. 3) Carefully puree in batches in the blender. 4) Return puree to the pot and slowly add the cream or half and half. 5) Serve with a dollop or crème fraiche or sour cream and top with chives.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6) 6 cups Fresh English Peas (or frozen peas) 1 large Shallot (or small onion) 1 Tbls Olive Oil 1 Tbls Unsalted Butter 4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth ½ Cup Heavy Cream or (half and half) Salt and Pepper to Taste Crème Fraiche and Chipped Chives for Garnish

DIRECTIONS 1) In a heavy bottomed pot warm the olive oil and butter. Add the onion or shallot and cook

Crepe Salad with Poached Egg While making your own crepes would be ideal, and while they are relatively simple to prepare from scratch, a store bought version will work just fine. Basically this recipe is using the crepe as a “vessel’’ for the salad. You can also skip the crepe entirely and just serve the salad on a plate or shallow bowl. The extra step of toasting the nuts brings out all their natural oils and flavor. The beauty of this salad is its versatility; you can use whatever nuts, cit-

Fresh English Pea Soup and Crepe Salad with Poached Egg Recipes and photo by Robin Fannon

rus fruit or cheese that your family prefers. A simple vinaigrette dressing is recommended.

will work too) One dozen Eggs – Poached (or fried will work too)


DIRECTIONS 1) Wash and place the beets in foil or parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, let cool and peel (carefully, they will stain – gloves are recommended). 2) Peel and “supreme” or segment out the oranges

One package of pre-made Crepes (or 6 homemade) 2 packages of Organic Mixed Baby Greens Two bunches of Baby Beets Two Navel Oranges One Cup of Toasted Pecans One Cup Gorgonzola Cheese (Feta or Goat Cheese

3) In a nonstick frying pan, toast the pecans on low heat (be careful not to burn them). 4) Lay the crepe down in a large, shallow salad or pasta bowl and assemble the salad; Mixed baby greens on the bottom, scatter the beets, orange segments, pecans and cheese on top. Drizzle with Vinaigrette and top with two poached eggs. 5) Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with edible flowers if available.



Home Cook Advantage BY NICK STEELE


our skills are totally on-point in the kitchen or maybe you have dreams of becoming a top chef. Either way, you’re going to need the right tools. Here are a few items no self respecting chef should be without.

Get the look that professional chefs covet. CARGO CREW’S ADELAIDE BIB APRON is made with their exclusive Fight the Fade™ fabric, which keeps it looking pristine through up to 100 washes. It has both a lightweight feel, ideal for working in a hot kitchen, and the earthy look of linen, $21.50. We’ve also got a sweet spot for their HARVEST BIB APRON in stylish indigo or black denim, $17.50 at

CUISINART SMART STICK 4 Piece, 2-Speed Hand Blender Set in brushed chrome. Portable, powerful, and easy-touse, this little baby does a lot more than blend and comes with a grinder/chopper attachment, mixing/measuring cup, and an ergonomic grip with one-touch control. $40.99 at Target.



CHEF’S KNIFE BY ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS. Have you ever prepared a meal with a truly great knife? A knife that has been described as the the Lamborghini of knives? No? Then you’re not serious about cooking yet. But when you do get serious, check out the collections in the Zwilling line. One of the oldest and most well-respected brands in the world, they’ve been doing the “heritage brand” thing since 1731. The range is vast and they only use the highest quality materials and the most advanced technologies to ensure that theirs are the most durable and covetable knives in the world. From hand-forged to ice-hardened blades, you’ll find that they have exceptional cutting edge retention, are flexible, and are ultra-corrosion-resistant. Our recommendation would be the Four Star series or the Miyabi Koh collection. Check out the selection at Stella’s Modern Pantry or Tom Atsides Restaurant Equipment and Supply.

PREPARA IPREP ADJUSTABLE TABLET & PHONE STAND HOLDER Smartphones and tablets are perfect companions in the kitchen. They make it easy to follow a recipe online or watch a step-by-step cooking video. The downside is trying to keep your device safe and clean amid all the slicing, dicing, mixing, and prep work. That’s where the iPrep stand comes in. Designed to fit most devices in either portrait or landscape mode with an adjustable, weighted, non-slip rubber base and a handy stylus pen to keep screens clean, you’ll be be on the road to stress-free cooking—even if you’re just using it to listen to your favorite tunes as you work on the perfect meal. $29.99 at Dillards.

ENDURANCE HONEY SPOON has a fun and functional shape with a conveniently long handle for reaching inside honey jars. The design also allows the spoon to perch on your mug or tea cup until it has fully drained from the spoon, which means less mess and more honey for you. It is 6-3/4" in length and delivers about 1-1/2 tsp. $3.99 at Earth Fare.

THE MICROPLANE® HERB MILL has ultra-sharp scissoring blades that quickly and smoothly minces fresh herbs, with a simple wrist-twist motion, without tearing, bruising, or blemishing the delicate leaves. It even handles large quantities of herbs for flavorful salad dressings, sauces and more. Perfect for keeping that inevitable mess off your cutting board and counter, $19.95 at

If you dream of serving up coffee like a well-trained barista, then the

NESPRESSO AEROCCINO4 MILK FROTHER is the tool that will get you there. From cappuccinos, lattes, or macchiatos, to simple frothy hot milk to kick up your coffee and hot chocolate, you’ll be serving perfect hot or cold beverages in no time. It’s even dishwasher safe. $149.99 at Macy’s.





OUT Ivy On The Square It’s springtime, and that means gathering with friends and families for lunch or a night out. Come out and enjoy our expansive menu with fresh salads, mouthwatering comfort food, late night tapas and drinks! Specials include Southern Fried Lobster, hand-cut steaks and our famous Baked Krispy Chicken. Save room for our delicious homemade desserts like the Key Lime Pie or Chocolate Midnight Cake. In the mood for lunch and shopping? Stroll through our beautiful boutique offering gifts and home decor.

Stop by and enjoy cocktails on our beautiful patio or at the bar. Cheers to spring sips! Gift cards available.

Named by Florida Trend as one of the “Top 500 Best Places to Eat in the State” for several years. Call for catering info. 53 S. Magnolia Ave., Ocala | 352-622-5550 Tues - Sat 11am-9pm | Dining | Thurs - Sat 9pm -Til... | Tapas & Cocktails 106 NW Main St., Williston | 352-528-5410 Sun-Wed 11am-2pm, Thurs-Sat 11am-8pm |

Murphy’s Oyster & Seafood Murphy’s is so much more than an oyster bar! Stop in for daily lunch and dinner specials. Grab a happy hour drink and stay to watch the game. Sit back and enjoy live music or join in the fun with karaoke. Relax with friends on the outdoor Hookah Patio. At Murphy’s we pride ourselves on serving great food along with a great experience. Our fresh seafood is the best in town, and we also o er a full menu with your favorite appetizers, burgers, salads and steaks.

Mon - Sun 11a - 12a Happy Hour 11a - 7p 3821 Old Blitchton Rd, Ocala, FL 34482 | (352) 236-5656




PROOF Date: 15 Sep 2016 Customer PO: TBD Customer No.: 344 Order No: MM 344-01

Oyster • Seafood Bar and Grille


352.304.5414 | 609.408.8959 | email

miniMENUMAGIC | ©2016 SamGrafx Design | 5724 SW 40th Place | Ocala, FL 34474 | All Rights Reserved

dining out


Tony’s Sushi Sushi Me! At Tony’s Sushi you can select your favorite sushi to include made-to-order specialty rolls by creating your own! Enjoy being entertained at the grill, watching your food being prepared while having some fun. For a more intimate setting, Tony’s offers private tables – perfect for special moments. Tony’s full bar includes sakes, imported draft beer & more. Like Tony’s on Facebook at

Ask about our daily, not on the menu items! We offer gift cards, catering and entertaining.

Mon-Thur 11a-10p, Fri & Sat 11a - 11p, Sun 12p - 10p 3405 SW College Rd. #103 Ocala, FL 34474 | 352-237-3151

Sayulita Taqueria Surf Town Roots. Modern Street Food. Say Taco. We are bringing Sayulita sunshine and hand crafted tacos to downtown Ocala’s historic square! Known as “Say Taco” to locals, Sayulita features an indoor dining room, bar, and open air dining space. From games, to fire pits, live music, and movies, consider date night or family dinners planned! With an extensive food and bar menu, there is something for everyone. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for news, updates, and all kinds of fun! Mon-Thurs 11a-10p, Fri-Sat 11a-2a, Sun 11a-9p 10 NE 1st Street Ocala, FL 34470 | 352-629-4700 | | @saytacoFL

Cafe Crisp Faith. Fitness. Food. Conveniently located in the Frank DeLuca YMCA, Cafe Crisp makes clean eating easy with fresh, healthy meals – to enjoy at the cafe or to take home - and they offer weekly meal prep packages that make it easy to stay on track with meals and snacks. Cafe Crisp also caters events large or small! Stop in for a smoothie before your workout and come back for delicious sandwiches, soups and salad bar.

Ask about our weekly meal prep specials

Mon-Fri 7a–6p 3200 SE 17th st (in the YMCA), Ocala, FL 34471 | 352-694-3100 MAY 2019 | OCALAMAGAZINE.COM |



dining out

Sky Fine Dining Sky Fine Dining is located on the 6th floor of the Holiday Inn Suites. The eclectic gourmet cuisine & steak house concept is inspired from current trends & classic dishes like fresh cut steaks, live Maine lobster, rack of lamb & fresh seafood such as sea bass, salmon & shrimp. Sky also features a sushi menu made with fresh ingredients. Golden Spoon Award Winner 7 consecutive years - 2010 to 2018. Sky is the place to be for a unique fine dining experience. GOLDEN SPOON AWARD WINNER 9 CONSECUTIVE YEARS! 2010 TO 2018

Wok and Wine Wednesdays: 25% off Wok 15% off Bottles of Wine

Special menu Friday through Wednesday Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri & Sat 5p-11p 3600 SW 38th Ave., Ocala, fl 34474 | 352-291-0000

Fine Dining

The Lodge Craft Pub & Eatery The Lodge Craft Pub and Eatery is Downtown’s new gastropub for cocktails, food and fun! Follow The Lodge Ocala on Facebook for announcements about menu items and specials. We have more than 200 craft brews, a large wine selection and specialty food menus. This casual pub and eatery is located just off the downtown square, so you can take advantage of free valet service. We’ll see you soon at The Lodge! Sun-Thurs 11:30a–11p, Fri-Sat 11:30a–2a 36 SE Magnolia, Ocala, FL 34471

Pi on Broadway Featuring Ocala’s only open air, rooftop bar and dining space, Pi is THE place for lunch, dinner and nightlife. A local favorite for after-work happy hour gatherings and guests visiting historic downtown, Pi offers craft beer, wine and cocktails from two full bars. Enjoy delicious and unique pizza from an open-flame oven or explore the “shareables” menu with a group of friends. Pi also offers sandwiches, salads and desserts all made fresh in-house daily.

Tues 4p–12a, Wed-Sat 11a–12a, Sun 4p–10p, Mon Closed 110 SW Broadway St., Ocala, FL 34471 | 352-369-5100



Live music Wednesday through Saturday


Community Connections This month we shine a light on HUGS Charities Inc., a pioneering non-profit that raises funds for the prevention, detection, research, and treatment of all forms of cancer. Their mission is to encourage “Heartfelt Unconditional Giving� to benefit cancer patients, through the Community Cancer Alliance, and offer valuable resources and assistance to those whose lives have been adversely affected by cancer.

Charity Spotlight: HUGS p64





Cancer Hurts



lose your eyes. Imagine you’re sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for the results of a medical test. You’re scared. Your heart is beating fast and your hands are trembling. You then hear those words the words that nobody wants to hear. “It’s cancer.” Imagine for one moment that this is your reality. What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to get through this? It’s difficult to deal with a diagnosis like cancer. So many emotions come into play: anger, sadness, fear, desperation. You have to muster up all the courage you can to fight. The good news is that Heartfelt Unconditional Giving to benefit cancer patients (HUGS Charities) of Ocala is there to help when you need them. Local resident and businessman, Michael Koontz, felt a call to action when his nephew died of abdominal cancer. It was a very difficult time for the family and Koontz felt helpless. It was at that time that he began to examine the resources available to those affected by cancer in our community. “I felt like here in Ocala, cancer was pushed to the backburner. I wanted to do something that would bring it to the forefront,” he says. “Although the American Can-



County Commissioners and members of HUGS announce Colon Cancer Awareness Month

cer Society existed, the funds raised were used outside of Marion County. I wanted to keep the funds here and help the local people.” Then serendipitous events began to happen. One evening in 2006, Koontz happened to be at the same event as philanthropist Manal Fakhoury, a member of the Royal Dames for Cancer Research. “This is the perfect example of having an idea, putting it out into the universe, and having it manifest,” Fakhoury says.

Together, she and Koontz devised a plan to start an organization that would not only raise funds for cancer but would also work with local organizations to create an alliance that would benefit those affected by cancer. In 2008, the non-profit HUGS Charities Inc. was founded by Koontz and Fakhoury. “We brought in more people that shared the same passion,” shared Koontz. “It’s enriching to see people’s altruistic tendencies.” Fakhoury says, “The original plan was

“A good charity responds to the needs of its community, and HUGS works hard to meet reasonable needs requested.”

to start an umbrella organization, but it has become so much more than that.” Shortly thereafter, the Cancer Alliance of Marion County was founded by Koontz’s daughter-in-law, Linda Koontz. The Cancer Alliance unites other organizations dedicated to cancer prevention and treatment. Through the Cancer Alliance, the team discovered there was so much more to do in the community and thus created HUGS for Heroes, comprised of members of local law enforcement, firefighters, and HUGS members. The goal for them is the same: to help those affected by cancer. Many local residents and members are wholeheartedly dedicated to the cause. One of them is Amanda Brown, Marketing Chair of HUGS. She shares, “I got involved with HUGS about four years ago. My family is personally going through the ‘rollercoaster ride.’ We have a young adult battling the disease. He is in his early thirties, a newlywed with a new baby.” She continues, “HUGS is made up of volunteers, no paid employees. We provide support for patients to physically get to cancer treatments, keep their homes and lights on during treatments, and make ends meet in a time of financial and emotional crisis. A good charity responds to the needs of its community, and HUGS works hard to meet

reasonable needs requested.” To give a bit of perspective, Michael Koontz shared the story of a breast cancer patient who missed a treatment because it was raining. It was raining and she couldn’t drive herself to the appointment because she didn’t have windshield wipers on her car. “This is exactly why we do what we do,” he says. Three years ago, Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute (RBOI) joined HUGS Charities of Ocala as their Signature Sponsor. Rhoda Walkup is the Director of Community Relations for Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute, the Leadership Committee Member for Cancer Alliance of Marion County, and the Vice President of HUGS Charities. “As the Director of Community Relations for RBOI, I quickly became aware that cancer affects our community in many more ways than simply being a health concern. A cancer diagnosis affects every area of a patient’s life, as well as their loved ones,” she shares. “I was immediately drawn to volunteer with HUGS when I saw how simple acts of generosity could change a patient’s and their loved ones lives forever—even playing a role in keeping them alive. When a patient is able to put gas in the car, miss some work, get to treatment, and still buy groceries, have a home, and pay bills—that can make all the difference.” One of the questions that is frequently

posed to members of the organization is, How can I make a difference? “There are a few ways that people can get involved and help us in our mission,” says Amy Roberts, who is a HUGS Board Member, Chair of the Cancer Alliance of Marion County (CAMC), as well as a clinical social worker and patient navigator at RBOI. “Of course, we are always looking for volunteers. You could donate gas cards. Those are used to provide rides for patients to treatments and appointments. You could volunteer to be a driver through the American Cancer Society Transportation Road to Recovery program. Many people are facing cancer alone, the volunteers who drive patients help people know that other’s care about them and that they are not alone. Every year, during the holidays, HUGS provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for families in need. We can always use help from volunteers to deliver those meals.” In March, HUGS Charities held their 11th Annual Fundraising Event at the One Health Center in Ocala, FL. This year they honored Leo Smith, a retired officer from the Marion County Sheriff ’s Office who was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 and continues to live with the disease. Approximately 150-200 people attend the prestigious event every year. An average of $25,000 is raised each year, not including generous annual donations from the Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute. The event has grown, giving HUGS the opportunity to help more patients, as well as funding the Cancer Alliance of Marion County. All the funds donated stay right here in Marion County. Thousands of people from the community have been helped through HUGS and the Cancer Alliance. So yes, cancer hurts! But HUGS definitely helps. HUGS IS SPONSORING a Lunch and Learn event on May 22nd, at the CEP Power Plant Business Incubator Building, called Protect The Skin You’re In about skin cancer prevention, early detection and treatments. All attendees must RSVP to Amy Roberts, at (352) 732-0277.




The Future of Laboratory Testing Now in Ocala Recently opened on West SR 200, Select Laboratories is committed to providing accurate, timely testing and dedication to providing the best service and care to the citizens of Ocala.




ith nearly fifty years combined staff experience and the leadership of Ernest Knesel (a founding member of what is now Lab Corp and CEO of Select Lab Partners, parent company of Select Labs Marion County), Select Labs has the professional expertise for accurate, cost-effective, and timely diagnostic testing for the Ocala and Central Florida region. Their team is committed to a personal, hands-on partnership with patients and physicians to provide care for each individual. They know it’s important for the staff to address your needs promptly and thoroughly. That’s why their location is convenient and easy to find. Just walk in or make an appointment, it’s as easy as going to their website. They also work hard to keep wait times as short as possible, because they know you have things to do and that your time is valuable. Select Labs are also a Prevé Wellness partner lab, offering the benefit of discounted lab testing. Prevé Wellness is a Direct Patient Access service. You don’t need a doctor’s order, but you can, of course, consult with your physician to determine the best option for you. Testing is performed on-site and results are available quickly. Part of their philosophy for serving Ocala is working to develop key relationships with physicians and medical professionals in the region – they believe in operating as part of a team, with your continued health and well-being their top priority. FOR MORE INFORMATION 11115 SW 93rd Court Road, Suite 100

Select Laboratories Services • Phlebotomy and courier • Routine tests • Order entry and results retrieval • Lab-to-practice interface • Panels • Complete Blood Count • Metabolic Profile • Thyroid Profile • Enhanced Coronary Risk Assessments • Hormone panel • Epi ProColon • Inflammation Markers • Coagulation Test Ocala, Florida 34481 • Microbiology (352) 389-8088 • Vitamin Deficiency

About the Prevé Wellness Program Personalized health and wellness offering advanced testing and 24/7 access to personalized, easy-to –read reports, educational resources, and a developing physicians partner network. Routine testing:

• Advanced Health Check • Vital Organ Check • Advanced Liver Check • Advanced Thyroid Check • Advanced Male/Female Check • Cancer Screening • CellCheck Ultra Monitoring program

Ernie Knesel



Finding Homes for our Feathered Friends

Florida Parrot Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer run, avian rescue dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of companion parrots. We work throughout the entire state of Florida through a network of volunteers and foster families. If you need to rehome your bird, Florida Parrot Rescue can help by offering your bird a safe place to stay and get veterinary care until the right forever home can be found. Florida Parrot Rescue remains non-judgmental and supportive in your time of need. Adopting a bird is a lifelong responsibility, as many birds out-live their owners. We take special care in matching up our adoptable birds with the right owners to build lasting relationships.

To learn more about supporting our organization, becoming a volunteer/foster, surrendering or adopting, visit us online at or email




A Higher Purpose Our community recently displayed its powerful spirit of generosity and recognition for achievement, from the efforts of CrossFit Iron Legion to promote awareness for Down Syndrome through their annual Down for Donuts, to the scholarships awarded by The Marion County Florida A&M University National Alumni Association and RAMAL Educational and Social Services. We also celebrated a milestone moment at the unveiling of the latest Horse Fever statue to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of Marion County. Our friends at HOPS offer us an intriguing glimpse into a site, important for its past and future hospitality, in their Looking Back column. Everything Equine p70 | State of the County p72 | State of the City p74 Legion of Heroes p76 | A&M Alumni Awards p78 | Looking Back p80




everything equine



s part of the festivities to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Marion County, a new horse statue named Marion was unveiled, at the Marion County McPherson Governmental Complex. Marion is the latest entry in the public cultural arts project Horse Fever, which was launched in 2001 by the Marion Cultural Alliance. Many of the life-size fiberglass horses, decorated by local artists, are on display around the county. They reflect both the pride we have for our equine industry and our arts scene. For visitors to the region, the horses provoke curiosity and are wonderful ambassadors for the community. County Commissioners David Moore, Michelle Stone and Kathy Bryant were joined by Artist Gene Hotaling, Marion Cultural Alliance Executive Director Jaye Baillie; and from AdventHealth Ocala, Chief Nursing Officer Imee Unto and Marketing Director Ryan Gerds. Marion was a gift from AdventHealth and will remain on permanent display at the McPherson Complex. “This hospital has served the Marion County community for more than 120 years and we are honored to partner with the county to continue to build on that long-standing legacy,” said Joe Johnson, President and CEO of AdventHealth Ocala. “We are a committed member of this community and we look forward to celebrating the next 175 years to come.”



According to Stone, the idea for the statue came as she and others began planning to redo the courtyard and brainstorming about the 175th anniversary. “Our Parks & Recreation really took the reins on that and invited the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) to participate,” she explained. “That’s where it all began by way of design—what should we highlight and showcase? Two things that we are very famous for are our springs and our horses. The reason we reached out again to MCA is because they brought Horse Fever alive and therefore we asked if they would help us with this project. So they put a request out to several different artists and gave us some conceptual ideas and plans. Then there was a committee that actually looked them over and determined who the artist would be and he did not disappoint.” The artist selected to create this important monument for the county was Gene Hotaling, a multimedia artist and a film teacher at Forest High School and a former art teacher at West Port High School. Hotaling was also among the first group of artists selected for the original Horse Fever exhibition. “I did a horse called Mosaic, which was covered with broken tile and broken coffee cups,” recalled Hotaling. “When they did the second round ten years later, I did Quarter Horse. About a year after that, I was working with West Port High School, and they purchased three horses to be decorated by the various schools. The elemen-

County Commissioners David Moore, Michelle Stone, Kathy Bryant with Artist Gene Hotaling

tary school, the middle school, and the high school each did one. I participated in one with the high school.” The vision for Marion was clear from the outset and Hotaling delivered on that vision. “One side is our springs; the other side is our

farmland,” said Stone. “There are so many beautiful elements to it.” For Hotaling, it made perfect sense. “It seemed to be something clear-cut to divide the horse in half and have the ecotourism and the water on one side, and the land-based, golf,

horses, and the farms on the other. There is a lot going on in Marion County.” How did the experience creating Marion compare to his experience creating the other Horse Fever horses? “You know I really enjoyed this one,” he offered. “This one I painted from start to finish. I had a good time doing it and I’m really pleased with the way it came out, from an artistic point of view. I’d say this one would be my favorite.” Stone wants to encourage the public to visit soon. “We invite the public to come out and see Marion,” she said. “The courtyard doors are open during normal business hours.” The statue is located in an enclosed, refurbished courtyard inside the McPherson Complex at 601 SE 25th Avenue. The public is welcome to visit the exhibit Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m through 5 p.m. FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit Marion County on their Facebook page or visit




state of the

COUNTY Kids and Cats

Marion County Animal Services recently launched its Youth Foster Program, and they need your support. PROVIDED BY MARION COUNTY


his program helps students, 16 and over, earn volunteer hours by fostering young, ill or injured cats until they are healthy or old enough for adoption. Qualified individuals can earn ten community service hours per week, with the average length of foster care lasting between six and eight weeks. This is a great way to rack up volunteer hours, because household pets usually only require one or two hours of direct care a day. “The Youth Foster Program introduces a younger generation to unique ways of helping the community,” explains Animal Services Director James Sweet. “And it’s a very rewarding experience, because you get to save animals that really need a second chance.” To ensure the program is financially feasible for families, MCAS provides the food, supplies and healthcare needed to look after your temporary feline friends. “This lets them socialize and acclimate to a home environment,” offers Dihanna Mabee, animal care coordinator with MCAS. “Foster programs also provide young pets more individualized care, which is very crucial while they are developing.” After a comprehensive consultation with MCAS staff, participants receive a pro-




Cats can sleep 16 to 18 hours per day. Cats have 500 skeletal muscles. Cats have 30 teeth. A female cat can have 3 to 7 kittens every 4 months. Cats can’t properly digest cow’s milk. Cats can live 20 or more years. gram manual covering the do’s and don’ts of foster care. This 14-page guide includes important information on pets including body language, dietary needs and tips. Experienced Animal Services technicians like Mabee will be available to respond to questions and concerns throughout the process. “Foster families are essential to the adoption process,” says Sweet. “The fact is, fosters nurture vulnerable pets that need time to grow and heal in peaceful environ-

ments. We just can’t thank them enough for stepping up.” FOR MORE INFORMATION To learn more about the Youth Foster Program and other Animal Services initiatives, contact us at 352-671-8700. Facebook – Marion County, Florida Twitter – @MarionCountyGov Instagram – @MarionCountyFL

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Layers of Protection for Drowning Prevention PROVIDED BY THE CITY OF OCALA



Pools and bodies of water are the leading drowning areas for infants and children ages one to four, and for children ages five and up, respectively. under the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Chapter 515, Florida Statutes) for pools built after October 1, 2000. Items such as pool fences, self-closing and self-latching gates, safety covers, as well as pool and door alarms, can help keep children from gaining access to water, unsupervised. The third layer of protection, emergency preparedness, reminds us that even when we exercise caution, an emergency may arise. Knowing how to react in case of drowning could be the difference between a non-fatal accident or an irreplaceable loss. Having a phone nearby to call 911, and learning how to perform hands-only CPR, can help increase the odds of survival of a drowning victim. Of course, knowing how to swim and utilizing US Coast Guard approved life vests in open bodies of water is undeniably important. However, when it comes to children under the age of four, their biggest resource toward preventing these or any unintentional injury is you. FOR MORE INFORMATION on drowning prevention programs offered by Ocala Fire Rescue, including reading sessions, hands-only CPR instruction and door alarms for homeowners with pools, please call (352) 629-8306.

Photos courtesy of the City of Ocala


unny days and cool, refreshing water are what most of us picture when planning a summer escape. As temperatures rise and we drift away from spring, the need to make a splash often surpasses the desire to stay safe. However, for first responders at Ocala Fire Rescue, the responsibility of safeguarding anyone in or near a body of water couldn’t be more present. Leading the country in drowning deaths for children between the ages of one and four, the state of Florida is no stranger to the effects communities are left to deal with after suffering a loss to drowning. In 2018, eight lives were lost to drowning in Marion County alone. Yet, unlike congenital or chronic illnesses, accidental drownings can be prevented. Supervision, barriers, and emergency preparedness, identified as layers of protection by Water Smart Florida, are three ways of keeping children safe from accidental drownings. Whether near a bathtub or bucket, a pool or body of water, the layers of protection can prevent a devastating situation. With distractions being just a cell phone notification away, the first layer of protection, supervision, is the most accessible, yet the hardest to fully achieve. To overcome distractions by way of electronics, conversations or books, Water Smart Florida suggests you assign a water watcher. A water watcher commits to supervising children in or around water for an hour at a time. Sharing this responsibility with other adults allows everyone to enjoy their time while ensuring the safety of the children you are caring for. The second layer of protection, barriers, is not only a physical deterrent, but in the case of home pools, a legal requirement




each, Aim, Motivate & Lead Educational and Social Services, Inc (RAMAL) celebrated their 10th anniversary of service to Ocala/Marion County on March 9th at Howard Academy Community Center. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has provided more than $15,000 in scholarships and partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Marion County for their Summer Academic Program. They also present regular educational seminars, workshops, and conferences, as well as providing school supplies, mentoring and tutoring services for students. During the holidays, they create Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas parties for at-risk children. Their mission is to provide information,

training, and life coaching to empower, inspire and motivate individuals to improve their lives and the community in which they live. They endeavor to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most through free services such as financial empowerment training; child and parenting services; and mentoring services, as well as assistance to students from Head Start to college through student sponsorships. “We advocate social services for the unemployed, unhealthy, frail, senior citizens, homeless, uneducated and those who are reluctant to apply for services and benefits,” explains RAMAL Founder and CEO Barbara J. Brooks. “We assist citizens to gain access to local, state and federal services.” The anniversary event was a festive affair

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Photos by Cynthia Wilson-Graham

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Jessica Nelson & Dr. Barbara J. Brooks

that included a ribbon cutting by the CEP to celebrate the organization’s anniversary. Guests enjoyed music, food, and had a chance to win prizes. Jessica Nelson was presented with the Dr. Barbara J. Brooks Scholarship at the College of Central Florida. FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit or call (352) 875-4237

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n March 23rd, CrossFit Iron Legion hosted their annual fitness charity competition Down for Donuts. The proceeds from the event help to provide free therapeutic and educational programs for individuals with Down syndrome and their families at GiGi’s Playhouse in Gainesville. GiGi’s Playhouse is an international organization that was created to change the way the world views a Down syndrome diagnosis and send a global message of acceptance for all. Their mission is to create a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced in their families, schools, and communities. The event was a day of fitness, family and fun organized by the owners of CrossFit Iron Legion, Ted and Karen Dreaver. The couple was inspired to create their annual fundraiser following the birth of their daughter Kierra, who was born with Down syndrome. GiGi’s Playhouse has been a vital resource for the



LEGION OF HEROES Dreaver family and since 2015 the Dreavers have become invaluable donors and supporters of the organization’s mission. The event has been growing steadily each year with 100% of the proceeds going to GiGi’s. This year’s event raised $6,500 and is just one example of the various ways that CrossFit Iron Legion gives back to the community. One highlight of the event is the truck pull competition, open to local businesses and sponsored by Real Truck of Ocala. Colin Rogers, Keith Auvil, Brandon Harris of Allan & Rogers AC and Refrigeration (pictured above) were the winning team. “One of my employees recently had a little girl with Down Syndrome. I wanted to get him to come and to know that he had a support system. He and his wife were able to talk with GiGi’s, which was great. A lot of people don’t know that there is a place like that in the area, where they can receive support,” explains Rogers. “It was a really cool event to be involved with. We didn’t expect to win it. We are three guys who don’t go to the gym. But our work is pretty physical. We’re moving air conditioning units every day, so I guess it paid off!” The family-owned and operated gym

reports that this year’s event was their biggest yet and, that in four years, they have gone from 20 athletes to a 100+ participants. The Dreavers are planning to continue to grow and evolve the event each year. The 5th annual Down for Donuts will take place on March 21st, 2020 on World Down Syndrome Day. The Dreavers also want the community to know that you don’t have to compete to support the cause. You can buy a ticket to attend as a spectator and support GiGi’s. “We’re grateful for Ted and Karen’s unwavering commitment,” said GiGi’s Playhouse Gainesville Program Coordinator Erika Quirk in a recent statement. “The Dreaver family views Down for Donuts as an opportunity to give back, have fun, and raise awareness about how awesome it is to have a child with Down syndrome. They want families, who are just beginning this journey, to know that everything is going to be ok.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit,, and GiGi’s Playhouse at

Photos by Isabelle Ramirez, Valkyrie Photography




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Alumni Awards Scholarship

Tyrik Anderson, Twana Roberts, Greg Coleman, Reginald Willis Jr., Ann Kiner McKinney and Woodly Oralus


he Florida A&M University National Alumni Association of Marion County (FAMU) held their annual Scholarship Dinner and Dance on March 9th at One Health Center on Southwest 17th Street. The primary purpose of the group is to raise funds that will be awarded as financial scholarships to Marion County students who will be attending FAMU. Greg Coleman, former National Football League player, and

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the first African American punter in the NFL, served as104.7 the keynote speaker for the event. Coleman is a member of the Florida A&M University Football Hall of Fame, as well as a member of the State of Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame. He is also the co-founder of the Pepsi Minority Golf Tournament, which provides college scholarships to students and the founder of The Greg Coleman Celebrity Golf Tournament, which seeks to ensure the academic success

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of urban and under-served youth throughout the greater Twin Cities communities by funding after-school tutoring, mentoring, and programs that teach life skills. After the keynote by Mr. Coleman, the 2019-2020 scholarship awarded to TwaBreaking New was Ground na Roberts by Cynthia Wise and an Unsung Hero Award was presented to the organization’s president, Ann Kiner McKinney. Zombieland


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billion dollars per year. Symptoms associated with GERD include heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, dental erosions, asthma, chest pain, shortness of breath. Patient’s with reflux disease often suffer poor quality of sleep, reduced work productivity dietary, compromises to avoid symptoms and lifelong dependence on medications. Although lifestyle modifications and acid blocking medications are able to control the symptoms at times, studies show that 40% of those patients will continue to have symptoms. There is now growing concern regarding the association of acid blocking medications with osteoporosis, dementia, chronic kidney disease and myocardial infarctions. There is now a revolutionary approach to GERD. The LINX device is a small, flexible ring of magnets that is placed laparoscopically around the lower esophagus and opens to allow food and liquid down, then closes to prevent stomach contents from moving up. The procedure is completed within an hour and patients go home on the same day, and resume a normal diet as soon as tolerated. Patients after LINX implantation report 85% freedom from medications and heartburn, 99% freedom from regurgitation and significant improvement in their quality of life. Get your life back and solve reflux for good! Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Ocala is the only practice in town accredited to perform this procedure.

A REVOLUT It’s time to Reflux (al or GERD) is c called the low acid and bil the esophag esophagus, th 1 in 5 p GERD and blocking me on medicatio of those pat premalignan cancer. The billion dollar Symptom regurgitation erosions, as Patient’s with sleep, reduce to avoid sy medications. Although medications studies show to have sym regarding the with osteopo and myocard There is n LINX device placed lapar and opens to to prevent s procedure is go home on soon as toler Patients aft from medica regurgitation quality of life Get your l Minimally practice in to

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looking back

A Familiar Place T

here’s a new hotel rising on the Downtown Square, but the Hilton Garden Inn is hardly the first hotel to occupy that choice location. Historical accounts dating back to 1848 indicate it was originally the site of a boarding house called Ocala House. Around 1855, it was sold and transformed it into a full-fledged hotel, that leased office space to the Ocklawaha River steamboat company. In 1883, the hotel was sold again and torn down to make way for a new three-story hotel called The Ocala House. On the day of its grand opening, a devastating fire tore through downtown Ocala and destroyed the hotel before it could welcome its first guest. It was soon rebuilt, using fireproof brick. When completed, the dis-



tinctive L-shaped, three-story hotel featured a five-story tower with a wood shingle mansard roof, a two-story veranda, and sculptural window moldings. The formal garden, located at the back of the hotel, had a fountain and a walkway that led to the Atlantic Coast Line train station on Osceola. Travel-weary guests could simply step off their train and stroll right into the hotel. It quickly became a hub of social activity, where Ocala’s polite society dined and danced the evening away, as an elegant string orchestra played. There are only a handful of photographs and postcards of the hotel from its many incarnations, but there is a bit of celluloid that has forever captured it, dating back to the Roaring Twenties. In 1926, movie leg-

ends W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks were in town to film the silent movie It’s The Old Army Game. The primary shooting location was a pharmacy across the street from the hotel, so it is frequently visible in the film. By then, most of the tower, the gardens and the verandas were gone and the hotel had fallen out of favor. By the 1950’s, it was renamed Hotel Ocala and housed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and Swilley’s Bar on its first floor. The hotel would continue to decline until it was sold to the city and demolished, making way for the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce building. Now the site, that has welcomed so many for so long, is being transformed again to welcome a new generation of visitors to our region.

Historic photo post card courtesy of HOPS



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Ocala Magazine May 2019  

Ocala Magazine, the ultimate in Gracious Central Florida Living.

Ocala Magazine May 2019  

Ocala Magazine, the ultimate in Gracious Central Florida Living.

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