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Letter from the Editor


Apropos of Nothing

Give Receiving is nice, but giving is the real gift. Handmade gifts can be simple, meaningful, and spark the creative juices. You’re never too old to run away. But just be prepared for panhandles, flocks of birds, and dehydration — in that order.

By Jamie Beckett


Listen Gravity — that unseen force pulling on everyone might just be the musical talents of newlyweds Stephen and Leslie Cornelius.

By Meredith Jean Morris


The Games We Play The B.Rich Project isn’t about getting rich, but it is about teaching at-risk youth how to live abundant lives.

By Merlisa Lawrence Corbett


Treasure Performances by the puppet troupe of Parkland Baptist Church serve as a ministry to audiences and the puppeteers alike.

By James Coulter


Cover: Savor Holiday cooking and baking is a tradition for many families in the 863. Luckily, recipes for these delish sweets are not-so-secret.

By Mary Stein Hurst


Non-Profit Spotlight Hearing Loss Association, Lakeland Chapter


December 2013

From the Editor


lthough I love the holidays, you won’t catch me humming “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…” right now. I tend to reserve that jingle for August when my kids go back to school. But I will admit that my taste buds are singing happy tunes. I can’t get enough of all the special holiday flavors, such as coffee creamers. Why can’t my coffee taste this delish year-round? Maybe I’ll just have to learn how to make my own festive flavors… In any case, making delicious holiday treats is an annual custom for many families in the 863. Ideally, those traditions are handed down the generations and warm smells and good eats each year are a reminder that the holidays have arrived yet again. We’ve profiled a couple of families who’ve shared some of their holiday heritage in the form of sweet recipes. Find this mouth-watering story on page 12. Area teachers Stephen and Leslie Cornelius make sweet sounds with their duo band called “Gravity.” She plays the drums and he plays the guitar while singing. The newlyweds play original and cover songs, the lyrics sometimes slightly tweaked, with messages of faith. Check out their story on page 7. Per formances with messages of faith are also the aim of the Parkland Baptist Church Puppeteers. Popular with children, the troupe — largely comprised of children — travels frequently to per form inspirational shows. Read all about the puppeteers on page 10. Inspiring kids to be their best is what drives Brandon Richard. His “B.Rich Project” uses sports to teach life skills, such as how having good ball control in basketball is similar to making good decisions in life. Developing both can help kids in the program elude defenses and opposing obstacles later in life. Our Non-Profit Spotlight for December is the Hearing Loss Association of America, Lakeland Chapter. The group helps those with hearing challenges through education, support and advocacy. Happy holidays 863’ers — stay safe! Until 2014,

-Andrea Cruz

Publisher | SERGIO CRUZ Editor | ANDREA CRUZ Contributors | JAMIE BECKETT


Head Photographer | JODI L. FOSTER Cover Designer | DEBORAH COKER Ad Sales Reps | SERGIO CRUZ


Cover photo: Holiday cooking traditions can get creative. Find the “No-Bake Mice” recipe on page 5. Story on page 12. Photo credit: The 863 Magazine is independently owned and produced in Winter Haven, Florida. For more info:


December 2013

H liday Gifts from the Heart


ift giving can be a special — and sometimes especially stressful time. Simplifying the thought (that counts) and giving something from the heart, made by the hands, is a great way to both honor the gift receiver and giver alike. Here are a few gift ideas that are creative, meaningful, and just might spark other ideas. Food: Go beyond the homemade cookies in a tin -- get creative and surprise them with a cake or cobbler in a jar, a homemade meat rub (combine different spices), flavored marshmallows, or candied nuts. Yum! Service Coupons: Design and print “coupons” that can be used toward things the gift receiver will like such as a back massage, help with yard work, breakfast in bed, a car wash, or a night out. This is a great idea for little ones to create and give to others. Their “coupons” might be an extra chore, a hug, or sharing a favorite toy. Repurposed Jewelry: Re-string some vintage jewelry found at thrift stores. Create “new” necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with the beads of older pieces. Mix and match to make a fabulous new look. Buy inexpensive clasps and findings at a local craft store. Homemade Body Scrub: Not as difficult as it seems, a sugar-based scrub is a sweet gift not meant to eat, but rather to use as a scrub for skin. Granuals of sugar are combined with a cold-pressed plant-based oil (called carrier oil), food coloring, and an essential oil for smell. Art Prints: Is there an artist in the family? Photograph their works and use a computer to create paper gifts such as a copy of the original work in a matted frame, or put the image on strips to make bookmarks. Laminate, punch a hole, add a ribbon. Personalized Pendants: Use doming resin to cover a photo, postal stamp, or image cut to fit a blank bezeled pendant. No-Sew Fleece Craft: Scissors will be your best friend with this one, and you’ll be grateful fleece doesn’t fray. A long cut of fleece with cut strips of “fringe” on the ends makes an instant scarf. A little superhero might enjoy a cape -- use ribbon to weave through holes cut at the top.

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No-Bake Mice Essentially, these 863 cover models are rum balls, specially shaped and decorated. They are super simple! Ingredients: - 1 1/4 cups finely ground vanilla wafer cookies - 1/2 cup powdered sugar - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional; for coloring) - 2 tablespoons honey - 1/4 cup rum Toppings: Sugar or sprinkles (to roll the mice in) Black and red licorice (black for eyes and tail, red for nose) Sliced almonds (for ears) Directions: Combine crushed vanilla wafers (a minute or so in a food processor should grind them well enough), powdered sugar, cocoa powder, rum, and honey. Mix until a consistency of moldable dough. It’ll be slightly tacky to the touch. Shape into mice bodies. If a coating is desired, roll in sugar or sprinkles. Use cut pieces of licorice to make eyes, tail and noses. Add almonds for the ears. Chill until ready to eat. - From the kitchen of 863 editor Andrea Cruz


Apropos ofNothing

An Editorial by Jamie Beckett


aybe the straw that broke your personal camel’s back happened when you were 6 and your mom balked at the idea of an all-candy lunchtime extravaganza. Or perhaps it came when you were 10 and your dad suggested it might not be your best move to relocate to New York City in a vain attempt to attract the eye of the Yankee’s manager in time to play in the World Series. It makes no difference. Most of us answer the call of independence


December 2013

many years before we’re truly ready to handle the load. It’s the American way. Then again, there’s no shame in running away from home when you’re deep into middle age, working hard, and would love to have a plausible reason for not mowing the lawn for a few weeks. In my case the stars aligned around a business trip to Texas, followed a week later by a business trip to California. Sure, I could fly out and back then stay home for a few days before flying out and back again. That’s what a normal person would do. That would have been the responsible option, surely. That’s not what I did. Nope. I changed the oil in the car, rotated the tires, and headed the tiny toaster I drive in a westward direction. Incidentally, I rotated the tires myself after stopping in to the garage on three separate occasions and found them unwilling or unable to do the work. Being an irascible jerk with a tendency to go off half-cocked, I learned an important lesson about rotating the tires on your car in the driveway when time is tight and the proper tools aren’t available. Here is what I learned – don’t do it. We old dudes don’t have the lower back muscles we had when we were young irascible jerks. Ouch. Seriously. In case you’re interested, or should you ever decide to model your life after mine and run away from home, it takes the better part of a day to drive from the 863 all the way to the Sunshine State’s western boundary. From there it’s just a short jaunt through the panhandle of Alabama, followed by a similarly short trek through the panhandle of Mississippi, followed by several days of wondering why nearly every state in the south has a panhandle attached to it. I still have no idea. Running away from home is not all chocolate cake and ice cream sundaes, by the way. Lovebugs attacked my grill with a vengeance as I motored through Louisiana. A flock of cute little birds took revenge on my hood in Fort Worth, Texas. The surprisingly modern and oh-so attractive city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, made up for those assaults when the hotel I was staying at left a waffle iron unattended even though a large vat of batter was close by. Consequently, I left New Mexico happily stuffed and oozing syrup, which is exactly what you need to survive in the wilds of the high desert. I believe Kit Carson was the trail guide who first discovered that fact. I’d have to look

it up to be sure, though. Tempe, Arizona, is my original home, although in the years since I left I forgot how stunningly dry it is. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how quickly you can become dehydrated in the desert, but if you’re enough of a puddin’ head to really want to know, you can simulate the experience by stitching together a quilt made of silica gel packets. Now sleep under your new quilt while making sure you have established good silica gel-toskin contact. If you survive the experience you will have gained some valuable insight into the reason people in the desert always have water close at hand. Usually, lots of water. Joshua Tree, California, is every bit as dry as Tempe, Arizona. But in the autumn it also has a tendency to become wintery cold as soon as the sun goes down. Not frost-on-the-windshield cold, but pretty darned close. And for a Floridian that hit the road in a hurry (as all good runaways do), shorts and a t-shirt are woefully inadequate for the occasion. Incidentally, if you’re going to head west and keep going like I did, prepare yourself for windmills. I mean thousands of windmills. From Sweetwater, Texas, to the Pacific Ocean, they’re out there in massive numbers. Holland ain’t got nothin’ on us, baby. As I jot down these lines I find myself in a luxury hotel room directly across Ocean Avenue from the Santa Monica Pier. This is Los Angeles. A California paradise by the sea. And I realize suddenly that if I give up on my quest for independence and slink back home with my tail between my legs, I’ll have to brave dehydration, cold, angry birds (the real kind), and teeming swarms of insects to do it. Plus, I’ll have a lawn to mow that hasn’t seen sharpened steel in weeks. Go home again? Let me get back to you on that. It might just be simpler to stay here and develop a full-blown case of mid-life crisis. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a government program that pays benefits for that sort of thing. Hmmm... Jamie Beckett appears to be an average, everyday guy who just happens to hail from Arizona, Connecticut, New York City, and Central Florida. He wears many hats — pilot, mechanic, writer, politician, musician, stay-at-home dad — often an odd combination of all those things. Frankly, we don’t care. At The 863 Magazine we just keep him around because we think he’s funny. That’s that.

Listen :: Gravity Band


n most Saturday mornings, schoolteachers relish the opportunity to sleep in and enjoy a day off. Not so with Lake Alfred Addair Middle School band director Stephen Cornelius. At 4 a.m. he’s awake and working on a new song. “I’ll wake up early, bored and just open a notebook and start writing,” Stephen says. “Maybe I’ll take notes on a topic. A recent one was people who got hurt at church and stopped coming. From those notes, the melody comes from that.” A few hours into his work, his songwriting partner joins him. “After I’ve been working on the melody, Leslie wakes up and I’ll tell her, ‘Here’s a song,’” Stephen says of his wife and musical partner. “We’ll put it with the guitar, maybe change some lines and then put it on the computer. We’ll eventually have a song that’s ready for the public.” All this work happens between 4 and 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. During the last six months, the songwriting duo has shared their music with a growing audience as Gravity, a two-person band. Stephen and Leslie Cornelius are a modern-day love story. They met on an online dating website, and after several months of traveling between

Orange and Polk counties for dates, became engaged. They celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary on Oct. 27, 2013. “Music has been a part of our lives since our childhoods,” says Leslie, an upbeat sixthgrade language arts teacher, of their mutual passion. That passion was part of what drew them together. After getting married, Stephen and Leslie brought their musical talents to Dundee’s Church on the Hill, where they play in a praise and worship band. Leslie plays the drums; Stephen, the guitar. “We both are part of the worship team at Church on the Hill,” Leslie says of their Sunday morning and Wednesday night activities. “Even though Newlyweds Stephen and Leslie Cornelius make up the two person Christian rock musical group called “Gravity.” we are both Christians, we also enjoy playing music music Christian radio stations play,” Leslie that has a bluesy, rock feel to it.” says. “We felt there was a need to write An interest in different styles of music lyrics that were honest about the struggles led them to start writing songs in June of both Christians and non-Christians.” 2013. That mutual struggle inspired the “The music we like isn’t the typical name for their band. “Everybody has something that’s pulling them, whether it’s good or bad,” Stephen says. “There are lots of forces in our life pulling us and sustaining us. In my life, it’s my faith. Other people have other things pulling at them. Gravity is just one of those we don’t think about.” Stephen and Leslie want their music to relate to people regardless of their religious background. “People often look at Christians and think they have to be perfect,” Stephen says. “We need to be honest Continued on page 11


The Games We Play: The 863 Sports In

By Merlisa Lawrence Corbett Photos by John Bennett

Brandon Richard:

Mentoring Through Sports


ince James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, the concept remains the same: two teams, one ball and two baskets. Every dribble, steal, pass and dunk contributes to the ultimate goal of winning the game. Brandon Richard, a former Winter Haven High School basketball standout, combined the lessons his parents taught him with the discipline he developed playing basketball to create a syllabus for life. It’s called the B.Rich Project, a mentoring program for at-risk teen boys. Since 2009, the B.Rich Project has held a series of tournaments and events centered around basketball as an outlet to help teens succeed. The underlying theme is that like in basketball, it’s those little things, those daily decisions and choices made everyday, that David Coicou, a contribute to winning in trauma nurse of life. Lakeland Regional Richard came up Medical Center, with the idea for the and recently B.Rich project in 2005 to added executive serve as an example for director of The his son. B.Rich Project, Inc., He was a student at gives 5th grader Florida State University Miracle Lomax of when he found out that Griffin Elementary his college girlfriend was pointers on how pregnant. Although they having good agreed to raise the child ball control in together, Richard says he basketball is similar struggled with not being to making good able to see his son day decisions in life. to day “I wanted to develop lessons I would teach him so he could be well-rounded,” Richard says. Richard grew up in a nuclear family and had a strong relationship with his father. He wanted his son to benefit from the same. “Developing the project was an extension of me trying to show my son how to be successful in a number of ways,” says Richard, “not just athletically or even just intellectually, but holistically as a human being.”

Continued on page 16


r p e u p w o p behind pets the


henever Parkland Puppets puts on a performance, whether it’s for preschoolers or nursing home seniors, they’re sure to bring a smile to anyone of any age. After all, who doesn’t like puppets? An outreach ministry of Parkland Baptist Church in Winter Haven, this puppet team hosts musical performances with colorful puppets and upbeat Christian music, performing at churches, preschools, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, bookstores, community centers, and parks all across the county. They have hosted shows at The Mission, Citrus Festival, Denton Center, Junior League of Lakeland, and even mission trips in Argentina, Guatemala, and West Virginia. The church hosts annual performances at Christmas and Halloween; the Halloween performance is extremely popular because it is backlight with glow-in-the-dark puppets, often drawing in crowds of 500 children. The group does not charge, but rather they accept donations for the ministry-filled performances. The puppeteers are both young and old share a love for entertaining people while

by james coulter photos by andrea cruz

sharing the Christian faith. In addition to puppets, the performers use props including signs and instruments. Many of the puppeteers are children ranging from elementary age to those in high school. Working with young people has proven quite the challenge for the adults, but a rewarding one at that, as they have watched these children grow through the ministry both physically and spiritually. Elizabeth Heath, 20, has been in the ministry with her mother, Patricia, for 13 years. As a young girl raised on children’s puppet programs, Heath has always had a desire for puppetry and longed to join her church’s puppet ministry, which she was allowed to do once she turned 10. As with most amateur puppeteers, she began working with signs before later moving on to instruments and eventually puppets. Keeping her arms raised over her head while working the puppets has always been her main challenge, but Heath has since gained the upper-body strength to endure longer performances. She now shares her 13 years of experience with the younger puppeteers, aiding them as they start out in the ministry. “It’s interesting to see the kids now

because many of them remind me about how I was when I first started,” Heath says. For puppeteers like Jodi Reeves, who has been involved with her daughters, Carly and Casey, the puppet team provides them a family activity that allows them to be involved with Christian ministry. “It’s a good, creative outlet,” Reeves says. “I may come in here on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and feel out of it, but when we are done, or after we do a show, I feel good afterwards.” For others like Dee White, the team has given their family the opportunity to attend church and become introduced to the Christian faith. White started three years ago with her grandson, Tyler, and later invited her niece, Melissa. Their whole family soon started attending their puppet shows, and later, the church services. They have all since become baptized Christians and full-time church members, with her son, Mike, serving as a deacon. “I have a whole family who I know are going to heaven because of this ministry,” White says. “There is no prize greater than that.” Parkland Puppets is the fruit of labor of both Donna and Chuck Doolittle, both of whom have served together in the puppet ministry for 18 years. Donna Doolittle works as the puppet leader organizing shows and training puppeteers, while her husband, Chuck, works as their soundman and prop maker. Their endeavor into puppetry began in 1995 at First United Brethren Church in Findlay, Ohio, where Donna Doolittle was originally involved with children’s church. While flying home from Colorado, Doolittle says she felt divinely compelled to start a Continued on page 15


December 2013

Gravity Band, cont. from pg. 7

about our struggles because they are the same as what the nonChristians have.” In addition to playing original songs, a Gravity performance might also include music ranging from Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana to contemporary Christian and nearly everything in between. “We got the idea to start the band back over the summer when we were sitting in a restaurant,” Stephen says. “We were thinking about the live music in the restaurant. With a drummer and a guitar player, we thought, we could do this.” While Gravity is building its fan base, Stephen and Leslie have had consistent gigs in local restaurants, including Acropolis Bistro and Island Grill and Bar in Winter Haven. “The places we play have great food and atmosphere. We like to eat at the places we play,” Stephen says, chuckling. “That’s part of playing at a restaurant — we don’t want our people coming to a place where we wouldn’t eat.” Chris Cobb recently attended a Gravity show. “When I heard them play, there was some Johnny Cash and then something you’d hear at church,” says Cobb, the worship leader at Church on the Hill. “Stephen is a funny guy, so he interacts with the crowd really well. They both are musically very talented. There are not many bands that are just drums, acoustic guitar and vocals, but they come together with a very eclectic, diverse style.” Gravity plays music for fans of all ages, Cobb says. “When we were there listening to them, I was trying to get my little girls up on the dance floor,” he says, laughing. “It’s just a good time at their shows.” The growing fan base has been a surprise for “Gravity” is Stephen and Leslie. a husband“When we started, we didn’t really expect to have wife team band. a lot of people come out,” Stephen says. “Maybe just Stephen Mom and Dad and a couple of close friends. For our Cornelus first show, half of our church showed up. It was pretty (above left) rad.” plays guitar As their audience grows, Stephen and Leslie are and sings, working on a record of their original music. while his wife, “Our goal over the summer was just to get enough Leslie, (below money to get a record done at a good studio,” left) plays the drums. Stephen says. “We’ve played enough gigs to pay for it, and a friend at church had a fundraiser for us.” After having spent time in the studio in November, Gravity will have its CD release party at Island Bar and Grill on Dec. 14. The CD will be available on iTunes, and Napster. “We think people will really enjoy hearing our music,” Leslie says. “God really has blessed us. Just because you can write music doesn’t mean you’re going to work well together. We just love the music and want to share it.” For more info visit



oliday eritage Sweet Family Traditions By Mary Hurst Photos by Andrea Cruz & Mary Hurst

Homemade frosted sugar cookies various sprinkles are a family favorite for the Duncans of Lake Alfred.


am Duncan and Danielle Garrison have the holiday baking under control. They’ve had years of experience — thanks to their mothers. Sam, 8, says he’s been doing it about five years. “I was doing it when I was 3, right mom?” he asked his mother, Heather, at their Lake Alfred home. “Well, I know you were eating them when you were 3,” she says. “You were maybe 5 when you started helping.” The artist and assistant manager at Pier 1, and her husband, Lake Alfred City Commissioner John Duncan, have two other children, Bailey, 12, and Catherine, 10. The Duncan family bakes and decorates sugar cookies every year together, just as Heather and her brother had done with their mom when they were children. Heather’s brother is married but doesn’t have children so the quarterinch thick, soft sugar cookies don’t get made at his house anymore. “But sometimes we send him some,” Heather Duncan says.


December 2013

The cookies are soft thanks to using milk in the recipe, she says. And she keeps it simple. Three cookie shapes – Christmas trees iced green, bells iced blue and stars iced in yellow. It’s the sprinkles and other

decorations that make the cookies unique to each child. Heather’s mother got the sugar cookie recipe from her husband’s mother. “If they wanted cookies, they just went to grandma’s to get them,” Heather Duncan says. “It was my paternal grandmother that did all the baking.”

Heather Duncan says while the sugar cookies are a tradition, they also make rosettes, caramel bars and buckeyes, which are chocolate covered peanut butter balls. This Thanksgiving, when her parents visited from Arkansas, they began learning a new Norwegian tradition – making lefse, a thin potato pancake topped with cinnamon sugar. Of German descent, Daphne Garrison says her mother grew up in a family of 19. Each year, the Christmas cookie competition was fierce among the sisters in the family raised on an Indiana farm. “I remember my mother and sisters would bring their Christmas cookies in shirt boxes and put them on top of all the freezers they had,” she says. “Everybody wanted to be judged as having baked the best cookies,” Garrison adds. Having relocated from Chicago to Winter Haven as a State Farm Insurance multicultural specialist, she brought her Midwest traditions with her. Continued on page 19

Left: Bailey Duncan, left, and his sister, Catherine, put sprinkles on the holiday cookies their mother just baked. Right: Sam Duncan enjoys some frosting during the annual Duncan family Christmas cookie decorating tradition. Below: The Duncan family decorates sugar cookies. From lower left, clockwise: Bailey, 12, Catherine, 10, Heather (mother), Sam 8, and John (father). Photos by Andrea Cruz.



December 2013

Parkland Puppets, cont. from pg. 10 puppet ministry. Even though she lacked any prior experience in puppets, she faithfully answered her call. Doolittle proposed her ministry to the pastor and 15 other church members. Of those 15 individuals, 10 became the founding members of her first puppet team. Though the first few years were a learning curve for her, Doolittle would perfect her new skills during those five years in Ohio, which would prepare her for when they moved to Florida in 2000. Doolittle and her husband joined Parkland Baptist Church where they told of their previous ministry experience to Pastor Jim McKinney, who allowed them start their own puppet team there. Having left behind their old puppet gear in Ohio, they had to start from scratch assembling a new puppet stage and purchasing new puppets. To purchase their puppets, they held an adoption where church members could select puppets from a catalog, and in exchange for paying for them, name their puppets and receive adoption papers and pictures of them. The puppet team started with seven puppeteers, and since then, has grown substantially and currently has 20 puppeteers. More than 100 puppeteers have been involved with the ministry since its inception. Above right: The ministry has proven to be of great The Parkland benefit to the church, not only by drawing Puppet team people there, but also by presenting them behind the with the faith of the church. scenes during “Donna does a great job leading a show. the puppet ministry,” Pastor McKinney Right Center: explains. “She really makes it a ministry The cast poses where it is an outreach to our community, for a photo. whether it’s with children or with seniors. Below right: The There is a lot of fun, a lot of laughing, but puppeteers reveal through that laughter and fun, she shares themselves to the the message of Jesus Christ that can audience after change people’s lives and really make a a performance. difference.” Puppet troupe To create a single 30-minute puppet founder, Donna show, Doolittle requires three months Doolittle, stands to organize and another six weeks to far left. practice. Scheduling has always been their greatest concern. Not only do they have to work around church activities to find a convenient time to host shows and practices, but they also have to work around the busy schedules of individual puppeteers. Managing to work their way around scheduling conflicts has allowed the puppeteers to become more versatile in their craft, as they often have to fill in for their fellow puppeteers. Working with different people and using their talents and abilities to reach others with the Christian faith has always been the biggest blessings for Doolittle and her husband, who plan on continuing their ministry until either puppeteers stop showing up or God instructs them to create a new ministry. To have as many people volunteering for her ministry — people that her ministry could not do without — Doolittle considers herself more than blessed. “People that want to do puppets are unique and very interesting to work with,” Doolittle says. “They’re creative and upbeat people.” To learn more about Parkland Puppets, visit To book a performance, contact the Parkland church office at 863-324-6349, or call Donna Doolittle at 863-293-9868.


B.Rich Project, cont. from pg. 9

The B.Rich Project focuses on self-development through mentoring and community. The goal is to help young men improve themselves academically, emotionally, psychologically and physically. “It’s a holistic approach,” says Richard. Even though the program has its roots in basketball, Richard seeks to expose kids to more than sports. In the spring he took some of the participants to Coral Springs for a basketball tournament and to the beach. Many of the kids had never traveled outside of Polk County. “This trip was as much about the travel experience, as it was about competing on the basketball court,” says Richard. “Car rides became geography classrooms and driver’s ed prep sessions.” Richard recently enlisted the help of David Coicou, a non-sports mentor. Coicou is a registered nurse who lives in Lakeland. His career choice is an option few young minority males consider. Yet a career in nursing offers them better odds than the NBA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020. That’s faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for a registered nurse was $64,690. That may not be as eye-popping as multi-million dollar NBA salaries. However, there are more than 2.7 million registered


December 2013

nurses in this country. There are fewer than 500 players in the NBA. “We have to show young people there are more options,” says Coicou. “There are many prominent examples of success. Nothing wrong with NFL or pro basketball players. Who wouldn’t want to be Tyrin Jones, a second grader at Lake Shipp that guy? But there Elementary, is new to the B.Rich program. are so many other opportunities.” Richard discovered he had other options after he failed to make the FSU basketball team as a walk on. He joined the team as a manager his freshman year. Although he never played, traveling with the squad exposed him to cities and situations he may have never experienced. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Today he is an accountant for Packaging Corporation of America in Winter Haven. After work you can often find Richard at the Citrus Center Boys & Girls Club in Winter Haven. That’s where he helps young men with everything from their jump shot to homework. Richard believes some kids are incorrectly labeled. People see them as lacking vision when all they are missing is focus. Tariq Harris is one of those kids. Harris is an eighth grader at Don Woods Opportunity Center in Dundee, an alternative school for students with behavioral issues. Harris was a student at Westwood Middle School in Winter Haven before being sent to Don Woods. “I still support him and see his potential,” says Richard. Since joining the program Harris says he’s found new ways to deal with confrontations at school. “Being in school is like being part of a team. My teachers are the referees,” says Harris. “If I’m having a problem with another student, I can walk it off or tell the referee.” Richard says Harris developed that analogy on his own. That’s an example of the type of kid who is the perfect candidate for the B.Rich Project, says Richard. “He’s highly intelligent and charismatic. He just made some bad choices.” That’s the point Richard preaches to participants: you can survive bad choices. He wants students like Harris to view setbacks as obstacles to overcome instead of barriers Continued on page 20

Vintage Warehouse of Lakeland


he Vintage Warehouse of Lakeland is a gem of a place for thrifters and those who adore older items given new life. It is a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a vintage junkie. The prices are reasonable and the fun finds are off the charts.

The vendors at Vintage Warehouse each have their own space, like an antique mall. The inventory is constantly changing. One can find most anything, from old tools to jewelry to furniture to decorations — and lots more. Creativity abounds at Vintage Warehouse of Lakeland. Pieces that were no longer loved are often given a fresh coat of paint (sometimes fun chalk paint!), then distressed, texturized, or decoupaged (like the dresser to the left) and voilà — a piece of functional art has been created.

While perusing items at the Vintage Warehouse, one’s childhood may come flooding back. A particular dish pattern, a familiar apron, or a tin of antique buttons like the kind a great aunt used to wear on her homemade dresses may spark the memories of yesteryear. And whether your style is shabby chic, rustic, French Provincial, retro, or modern with a few vintage accent pieces, there is something for everyone at Vintage Warehouse. Oh, and aspiring pickers are always welcome. Vintage Warehouse of Lakeland is located at: 4308 Wallace Rd. in Lakeland. 863-904-5683 and VintageWarehouseLakeland


Non-Profit Spotlight


earing Loss Association – what’s it all about? Are you one of the 17% of American adults who have a hearing loss? Do you struggle to hear and understand the sermon, friends or family members, television, movies, or events? Do you wear a hearing aid, have a cochlear implant, or have hearing challenges? Are you interested in how technology may be able to improve your hearing clarity? Would you like to meet and learn from others who also have hearing difficulties? If so, then you might be interested in the Hearing Loss Association. According to the Better Hearing Institute and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), there are 48 million Americans with measurable hearing loss. Hearing loss is not just an “old people’s issue.” Sixty-five percent of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. Twenty percent of school-age


December 2013

children have a measurable hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common physical ailment and also the number one communicative disorder. The Hearing Loss Association is an organization dedicated to helping the hard-ofhearing. The Hearing Loss Association ( is a non-profit organization that reaches people with hearing loss through its network of more than 200 local chapters and state organizations. The Lakeland Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association was formed in March of 2012 and meets every second Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. Beginning on January 9, 2014, due to a growing membership, the Lakeland chapter will meet in Multipurpose Room A at the First Presbyterian Church, 175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland. The meeting room is “looped,” which means that those who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants can turn on their “t-coil” and the spoken words will be heard directly in the hearing device. Additionally, chapter meetings have CART Services, which means that the spoken words are translated by trained person and the words are displayed on a screen for all participants to read. Feel free to stop in at any chapter meeting. The mission of the Lakeland Chapter is to help the hard-of-hearing through education, support and advocacy. While chapter meetings are excellent opportunities for members and visitors to learn and support each other, the chapter will speak to local groups and organizations to promote the chapter and its various hearing-related projects. Some major projects promoted by the chapter include “looping” our community and “captioning.” Chapter meetings often include outside speakers, who bring a wealth of hearing-related information to

share with the members and visitors. Some past and planned topics include hearing dogs, looping, hearing technology, caption phones and assistive listening devices, relay services, prescription drugs and effects on hearing, aural rehabilitation, hearing and Law Enforcement, and much more. The Hearing Loss Association has a philosophy of self-help, and chapter members are hard working volunteers who are always ready to help themselves and others to learn and understand their hearing loss. As part of our advocacy mission, the Lakeland Chapter secured several grants and used the funds to assist 11 business entities in our area to install “looping” solutions. These are devices that translate sound into magnetic signals, which are picked up by the t-coil on hearing aids and cochlear implants. The loop devices bring the sound directly into the hearing instrument and the person’s ears without background noise and greater clarity, regardless of distance. As part of our education mission, the Lakeland Chapter will be holding a Hearing Wellness Expo at our new meeting facility on May 31, 2014, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May is national Better Speech and Hearing month. The Expo will include hearing aid providers, manufacturers, communication/relay providers, support groups, Cochlear Implant companies, Assistive Listening Device exhibits, and much more. We are seeking sponsorships and donations to help defray the cost of this event. For more info visit and HearingLossLakelandChapter or contact Art Matlock at hla-lakeland@hotmail. com or 863-853-3130.

Holiday Heritage, cont. from pg. 13 Left: The Garrison family recipe for Russian Tea Cakes. Right: From the top, clockwise, the Garrison family baked chocolate chip cookies, brownies and spritz cookies recently. Since they do it weekly, there are loads of containers filled with the goodies on a regular basis.

“We don’t have family in Florida so I wanted to instill family traditions in my children,” she says. Garrison’s daughter, Danielle, knew where the recipes are kept and has a new favorite cookie cookbook from Betty Crocker. “This is the second Betty Crocker Cookie Book I’ve bought,” Daphne Garrison says. “But we don’t just bake at Christmas. We do it practically every week.” While she says her oldest son is too “cool” to be seen baking right now, he enjoys it. “I have a rack in the kitchen with tall to small aprons so everybody can help,” she says. Because they bake so often, the Garrison’s Christmas baking is limited to Russian Tea Cakes, “pillow” cookies (Spritz cookies) and a Midwest carrot cake without the Southern-style cream cheese frosting. Instead, the basic spice cake recipe is topped with sifted confectioner’s sugar.

Above: Cookies are a regular tradition at the Garrison household in Winter Haven. From left, Danielle, 10, Daphne, Joseph, 12, and Jake, 6, sit with old family recipes and their favorite cookie cookbook at their dining room table in Winter Haven. The family has three cookie presses and buys food coloring in large bottles to make Spritz and other kinds of cookies. Photos this page by Mary Hurst.

Share Your Favorite Holiday Recipes! Post your deliciousness on The 863 Magazine’s Facebook page or email Andrea@!


B.Rich Project, cont. from pg. 16

to success. The B.Rich project, says Richard, provides an opportunity for them to pivot from persistent problems to endless possibilities. Brandon Richard can be reached at Merlisa Lawrence Corbett is a freelance writer who lives in Winter Haven. A former reporter for Sports Illustrated, she is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow her on Twitter: @merlisa or visit

Have a fascinating sports-related story idea? Tell Merlisa about it:

Brandon Richard (left), president of the B.Rich Project, talks with DeCory Kelso (right), service and event director of the B.Rich Project, during a life skills basketball game.


December 2013

Mention or Check-In! Tell ‘Em The 863 Sent You and Support Local Business!


ave money at these businesses by either mentioning you saw them in The 863’s No-Cut Coupon page or use your smart phone to check in to the location on a social media website like Facebook or Foursquare. Restrictions may apply. No-Cut Coupons from this issue expire December 31, 2013.

Foster’s Photography 525 Ave B NW Winter Haven 863-206-2983 10% off Senior Pix: Class 2014

1:1 Tutoring Innovative Academic Solutions. Onsite available in most parts of Polk County. 863-660-3432 $10 off First Session

Eddie’s Chinese Food 1524 3rd St SW, Winter Haven 863-291-3886/3996 Free Soda w/ Any Special Combination Dish

Four Purls Yarn Shop 331 3rd Street NW Winter Haven 863-662-8288 Free Knitting or Crochet Class

Pizza and Pasta 3615 S. Florida Ave. Lakeland 863-607-6030 Free Cannoli w/ 2 entrees

Performance Tire 304 Avenue E SW Winter Haven 863-294-3181 Call for 863 Special

Sleep World 1806 1st St S, Winter Haven 863-294-9479 Free Gift up to a $79 Value with Bed Purchase

Andrea’s Family Restaurant 1498 Havendale Blvd., Winter Haven 863-299-4564 Free Ice Tea w/ Entree Purch.

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Sal’s Pizza 4660 E County Road 540A, Lakeland Highlands 863-816-5825 XL One Topping $11.99


Explore :: December’s Happenings in the 863 FDec. 5: 33rd Annual Lakeland Christmas Parade Kicks off at 7 p.m. with a fantastic fireworks display over Lake Mirror. The theme of this year’s parade is “I’m Dreaming Of...”. The parade will leave the Lakeland Center and make its way down Lemon Street and through Downtown Lakeland. FDec. 6: Make it Magical Food, shopping, musical entertainment, Santa Claus, carriage rides in historic downtown Lake Wales, presented by the Lake Wales Arts Council. 4 – 9 p.m. Info: 863-676-8426. FDec. 6: First Friday “Cookies & Carols” Celebrate a good, old-fashioned downtown Lakeland Christmas with all the trimmings. 6-9 p.m. FDec. 6-15: Lights of Lakeland An annual free walk-thru Christmas experience the whole family can enjoy. More than 500,000 lights, The Grinch, Santas Workshop, Reindeer Barn, Santa & Mrs. Claus, Walk-thru live nativity, food court, Sweet Shoppe, General Store. Runs every night 6:30 – 9 p.m. Located just south of the Polk Parkway on Lakeland Highlands Road. FDec. 6: Havendale Christmas Parade Annual Havendale Christmas Parade along Havendale Boulevard from Winter Haven’s Spring Haven to Publix in Auburndale will feature floats from numerous community organizations. Havendale will close to traffic at 6 p.m. Parade 7 - 9 p.m. Info: 863-291-5656. FDec. 7: Antiques, Arts & Oddities Downtown Lake Wales, in Market Square between Park and Stuart Avenues. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Info: 863-4126960. FDec. 7, 8, 14, & 15: Third Annual Home Sweet Home Gingerbread House Contest and Display Many opportunities for guests to view the display of gingerbread houses and engage in family fun activities Held at The Woman’s Club, located at 660 Pope Avenue NW in Winter Haven. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays; 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays. Info: or 863-698-5531. FDec. 7: City of Haines City Christmas Parade “Santa’s Workshop” Stepping off at Publix at 10 a.m. going east on 17/92 to 6th Street. Going south on 6th Street to the Banquet Hall where the parade disbands. Info: 863-421-3700. FDec. 7: Snowfest A holiday event for the entire family. A traditional snow mountain and a snow slide. A visit from Santa Claus, children’s entertainment, inflatables, arts and crafts, food vendors. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Lake Mirror Park,

Happy Holidays from The 863 Magazine! located at 121 S. Lake Avenue in Lakeland. Info: 863-834-2280. FDec. 7 & 8: Carols in the Park 25th annual festival includes merchandise vendors, live musical performances, food and free photo with Santa. Come downtown and enjoy this two day holiday tradition. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central Park Downtown Winter Haven. Info: 863-295-9422. FDec. 7: Chain of Lakes Christmas Boat Parade Starts 6:30 p.m. on Lake May in Winter Haven. Includes lakes Mirror, Spring, Shipp, Howard, and Cannon (boats go counterclockwise in all lakes). More info: 863-293-2138 or Chamber1@ FDec. 12: Thursday Squared Food Truck Rally Around Munn Park, downtown Lakeland, 6–9 p.m. Info: 863-510-9723 or visit FDec. 12: Mistletoe Marketplace Holiday Festival in Eagle Lake with food, Santa, hayrides, entertainment, crafts, model train display, kids activities, decorations and holiday lights. Local schools, churches and dance groups perform on the city commission building stage. Hours are 6 - 9 p.m. (12th & 13th) & 4 - 6 p.m. (14th). Festivities at Eagle Lake City Hall Complex, located at 75 N 7th Street in Eagle Lake. Free admission and parking. Info: 863-293-4141 or FDec. 13: Glitter, Glisten & Snow Holiday entertainment, Mr. & Mrs. Claus, free roasted chestnuts and hot cider, gingerbread house competition, food and merchandise vendors, snow area. Hours are 5 - 9 p.m. Event at Railroad Park, located at 100 North 6th St. in Haines City. FDec. 13: Praise in the Park Local church praise bands perform in downtown Central Park in Winter Haven. Hours 6:30 - 8 p.m. Info: Nat West at 863-297-9387. FDec. 14: Polk County Fiber Guild Demonstration Day Spinning, weaving, knitting, bobbin lace, kids table, and more. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free and open to the public. Winter Haven Public Library. FDec. 14 & 28: Lake Wales Downtown Farmer’s Market In Market Square between Park and Stuart Avenues, downtown Lake Wales. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Info: 863-412-6960. FDec. 14: Winterfest - City of Davenport Santa and Mrs. Clause, electric nighttime parade,

cookie decorating, cruise-in with classic cars, holiday vendors, festival of trees and live entertainment. Hours 3 - 8 p.m. Eastern Downtown Davenport on Bay Street. Info: 863419-3300 or visit FDec. 14: Lake Come to the Stable... An interactive folk Christmas nativity presentation with live animals, music and narration, performers in period costumes, and a beautiful set. First Presbyterian Church at 637 Sixth Street NW in Winter Haven. Performances are 6:00, 7:15 and 8:00pm with receptions in McLeod Hall following each. Parking behind church. (In case of rain the performances will be held on Sunday, Dec. 15 at the same time.) Info: 863294-3121. FDec. 19: Snow Central Family fun in the snow happening in downtown Winter Haven, Central Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Free event. Vendors will offer food and more. Info: 863-291-5656. FDec. 20: Dulcimers in the Park Play the dulcimer or just want to listen? Participation is free. Begins at 5:30 p.m. Downtown Winter Haven, Central Park. Info: 863-297-9387. FDec. 20: Food Truck Rally Fifteen to 20 trucks offer one-of-a-kind food items for the monthly Food Truck Rally in downtown Winter Haven. More info: 863-295-9422. FDec. 21: 3rd Saturday Market in Downtown Bartow Vendors, including produce, local artisans, live music & more. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Fort Blount Park, West Davidson Street, Bartow. Info: 863-258-3561. FDec. 21: Family Fun & Fitness at the Fountain Wellness instructors lead fitness exercises. New to exercise or already fit, instruction for all levels. Downtown Winter Haven from 9 – 10 a.m. Info: 863-297-9387. FDec. 21: Cypress Gardens Water Ski show The Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team perform a 40-minute show reminiscent of shows held at Cypress Gardens. MLK Jr. Park on Lake Silver, Winter Haven, 6–8 p.m. Info: 863-224-9350. FDec. 28: 4th Saturday Market in Downtown Winter Haven Vendors, including produce, local artisans, live music & more. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Virginia Miller Park, downtown Winter Haven. Info: 863-258-3561.

Send Your Community Event to

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December 2013

Your Stuff :: 863 Readers’ Art “Bok Pond”

Art by Mark Kilvington History on Canvas: Acrylic Paint, Pencil and Ink Line


majority of Mark Kilvington’s career background and education has been involved with industrial design, but his true passion is for art and history. His primary focus is to bring historical times and characters to life through acrylic paint, pencil and ink line. At times Mark also incorporates different materials and surface textures to create a period feel to the subject. Primarily self-taught, the Winter Haven resident has learned much from talking with other artists and attending workshops. He has been influenced greatly by 20th century master artists such as N.C. Wyeth and Louis Glanzman, to name a few. His art has appeared in publications both locally and nationally. Much of his work can be seen in private and corporate collections. Images available as Giclee prints on Archival grade acid free paper-also available on stretched canvas. Kilvington’s art can be found through the month of December at Art & Framing On the Park, located at 88 4th St NW in Winter Haven.

“Treasure Hunt”

“I believe all my images have some historical significance, some more, some less. From the simplest landscape to a well-researched subject, the art represents some period in time and place.” - Mark Kilvington “First Snow”

“Quilted Land”

Got art? Send your poetry or images or other art to


The 863 Magazine - December 2013  
The 863 Magazine - December 2013  

Holiday Heritage: Sweet Family Traditions; The B.Rich Project: Learning Life Skills Through Sports; Parkland Puppets; Vintage Warehouse of L...