Locala, August 2021, Volume 1, Issue 3

Page 1

BECKY SINN

Surgeon of Song Her Voice Fills Ocala with Joy

ESMIRNA CARABALLO

Business Leader Opens Doors for the Ocala Hispanic Community

KRYSTAL DALE

Empowered Finding Balance Through Motherhood

Volume 01, Issue No. 03 • AUGUST 2021


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LISA ANDERSON MEDIA, LLC chief executive officer LISA ANDERSON website LISAANDERSONMEDIA.COM © Lisa Anderson Media, LLC and Locala. All rights reserved. August 2021, Volume 01, Issue Number 03. Locala is a monthly publication, which is published by Lisa Anderson Media, LLC, 1701 NE 42nd Avenue, Suite 201, Ocala, FL 34470. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For reprint or reuse permission, email info@localamag.com.


TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

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Dear Ocala Let’s Celebrate Womanhood

BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS

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Her Experience Became the Reason She Now Helps Hundreds of Women a Year

FOLLOW ME

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Hitting the Road: The Conclusion of Mrs. Shelley’s Story

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Surgeon of Song: Her Voice Fills Ocala with Joy

FROM THE EXPERTS

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Brand Vision: Remote Art Departments Help You See Clearly

THE CHEWS LETTER

ON THE COVER

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31

Vivir La Vida: Bakery Celebrates Latin Flavors

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Made with Love: She is Sweeter than Her Cakes

ARTIST Q&A

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Couch Sessions, Episode III: The Forge

HOW DO I

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Get Home Traveler or Directionally Challenged?

C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

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Strong & Bold: Building a Community of Warriors

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Harmony: The Dynamics of Love

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Empowered: Finding Balance Through Motherhood

F E AT U R E

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Business Leader Opens Doors for the Ocala Hispanic Community

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

LISA ANDERSON

Photo by Bailey Aro Hutchence

DEAR OCALA,

This issue could have easily been filled with hundreds of amazing women! Our community is bursting with movers and shakers, mommies, and women of strength. The stories, this month, are just a small sampling of what our city has to offer. I am in complete awe of all the women interviewed. Several of the women didn’t believe they had stories to tell. Is it because women don’t always believe we have something to offer, or is it because we simply want to hold someone else up to the spotlight and see them shine? The women who stand up and say “I have a story” are just as fascinating to me as those who think their story is unimportant, because we are so much more than the box we’re regularly put in. Esmirna Caraballo,

for example, came to Ocala and decided to fill a hole in the community by opening the Hispanic Business Council (HBC). Find her story on page 26. Becky Sinn is following her dream of being a full-time musician, Kara Mangum took her grief and turned it on its head by helping other women who have experienced miscarriage, and Jackie Korpela has found love through raising her

children with her husband and her girlfriend. These are just a few examples of the strength women have to carve out a beautiful life. From moms to trainers, musicians to entrepreneurs, these women’s stories will knock your socks off! Most Sincerely,

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BREAKING SOCIAL NORMS

Her Experience

BECAME THE REASON SHE NOW HELPS HUNDREDS OF WOMEN A YEAR

KARA MANGUM Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON

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K

ara Mangum’s mission is to provide resources and care packages for women experiencing miscarriage in the United States. Her nonprofit, Our Hearts Align, averages 400 care packages per year since its inception in 2017. This year, they are on track to send out well over that number.

THE YEAR OF HIGHS AND LOWS

She was a hard-working teenager. Her time at Lake Weir High School was focused on the academic track. Kara participated in many of the available clubs and community service opportunities. When she graduated from high school, she attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She chose to continue on with her master’s and was accepted for an internship at Shady Hill Elementary School in Ocala. Three weeks into her internship, she was offered a permanent position that she held for three years.

This is so common. I learned one in four pregnancies end in loss, so why are there not any resources? — Kara Mangum

The internship had begun in August 2013. On October 5th, she married Daniel Mangum, and on his birthday, November 5th, she told him he was going to be a father. The couple headed for Ireland over Thanksgiving break to have their honeymoon. When they returned, they began looking at prenatal care. “I wanted to have a natural birth,” Kara explains. The couple had scheduled two appointments: one with a local birth center and the other at an obstetrics (OB) clinic. The tour of the birth center was first. Daniel and Kara completed the tour, and the midwife offered to have them listen to the baby’s heartbeat. She retrieved her Fetal Doppler and began searching for it. After a while, the midwife replaced the Fetal Doppler with another. She assured Kara and her husband that either there was something wrong with the equipment or the baby was just in a position where they would be unable to hear the heart. When she was still unable find the heartbeat, the midwife sent Kara for an ultrasound, as a precaution. “It was a stat ultrasound. They get you in immediately, but they can’t tell you anything. I saw the baby on the screen,” Kara recalls. She was told to return to the birth center to hear her results. Kara continued to hold out hope that everything was fine. She and Daniel were greeted at the door by the midwife, who had tears in her eyes, and they were given the news. There was no heartbeat. “Obviously, I was devastated. How was this happening? This was not on the radar at all.”

SAYING GOODBYE

The couple contacted their family, and Kara was encouraged to seek a second opinion at an OB clinic. She was able to move her previously scheduled appointment to an earlier time, but her experience was far from pleasant. “I went there looking for a second opinion. Instead of being greeted with the second opinion, I was greeted with, ‘You know your baby is dead in there, and we need to get your baby out now.’” The doctor wanted her to go directly to the hospital for a dilation and curettage procedure (D&C), a surgical procedure to remove the fetus. “Whoa! That’s not why I came here!” Kara recollects her thoughts at the time. “I’m an emotional wreck. I’m by myself. My husband is at work. I didn’t know what to do!” She told the doctor she would need a moment to call her husband. She’s grateful she took the time to do so, because she left the clinic without going to the hospital. “My midwife was giving me options. The OB was not giving me any options.”

Kara returned to the birth center a few days later and opted to continue her care with her midwife who gave the choices of having a D&C, taking medication to induce labor, or giving the body time to naturally trigger the miscarriage. “I made the decision. I wanted a natural birth, so I wanted to do this the natural way.” She scheduled an appointment at the hospital to obtain the medication if it was needed, but about two weeks later, Kara’s body prompted the miscarriage. “It was two days after Christmas. Holidays are kind of hard.”

OUR HEARTS ALIGN

Kara had not been told what to do with the baby after she miscarried. So, the couple held a small service and buried the baby next to a tree planted in memory of her great-grandmother. Following the event, Kara realized how common pregnancy loss is for women, and she was frustrated by the lack of resources. “I did lots of praying and, finally, just felt called to make a difference. I didn’t know what that would look like. Eventually, I decided to found a nonprofit.” Along with directing Our Hearts Align, Kara is working on a book to help explain pregnancy loss to children. She is now the mother of three daughters.

EXTENDED CONTENT See more information about Our Hearts Align and a video about Kara’s story on the blog.

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C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

Strong & Bold

BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF WARRIORS

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SHAE TOZZO Story by JODI ANDERSON

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Photo by Lisa Anderson

C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D


C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

My mom said that when women hit a certain age, they disappear. ‘People don’t see you anymore.’ I’m like, ‘I’m gonna be a chihuahua! They’re not going to see me, and then [they’ll] wonder why their ankle hurts.’ — Shae Tozzo

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Towing a baby, Shae surprised her parents at Christmas. They were then running a personal training studio, the first of its kind in Ocala. She started taking their overflow clients and was also the group exercise coordinator at another gym. “I’ve been a personal trainer since 1998,” she says. “At some point, I’ve done it all: spin, yoga, pilates, Tae Bo, kickboxing, mixed martial arts.” Shae and Dave, a firefighter (now retired), met and married over 20 years ago. In 2008, Dave discovered CrossFit. He was the first to earn his coaching certification. “If you changed your license plate to say ‘CrossFit’ and took a picture, they would give you a free Level 1,” she laughs. They opened CrossFit Zoo in

Photos submitted by Shae Tozzo

hae Tozzo, co-owner of CrossFit Zoo with her husband Dave, has been in gyms nearly her entire life. Her father was head hunted by gyms looking to get established and become financially successful, so her family moved around a lot, as his career required. Her first job, at 15, was as an aerobics instructor in one of her father’s gyms. The gym was a family affair, with her mother running women’s exercise programs and her brother working on the administrative side. A desire to get out of her afternoon high school classes led Shae to take the ASVAB, during a visit by military recruiters. She scored high in linguistics. Shae was assigned Russian as a language and was first stationed in Germany, until the first Gulf War began. “You learn to roll with things real fast,” she says of her military experience. She never did use her Russian; she ended up being the driver for a colonel, whom she drove all over Saudi Arabia and Iraq. When Shae got out of the military, she went to college, continuing to do personal training and exercise instruction part-time. She graduated with a degree in English and thought she might be a writer. Then, she got married and pregnant and moved to Hawaii, so her husband could pursue the military. It didn’t work out; neither did their marriage.

FROM YOGA TO CROSSFIT

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2010 and began to volunteer at the CrossFit Games, moving into leadership with CrossFit HQ three years later. They are both Level 2 (out of 3) coaches now. She likes CrossFit because of what differentiates it from other kinds of training: it teaches people skills that they can take outside of the gym, rather than focusing solely on increasing muscle or ability in a single sport. “CrossFit is about teaching you how to pick stuff up and put it down without hurting yourself. It’s teaching you to play with your grandchildren, with your children.”

MAKING A COMEBACK FROM AN INJURY

“We’re the longest running one-owner gym” in Ocala, Shae observes. “The aura of the gym takes on the owner’s. There’s something out there for everyone.” CrossFit Zoo is a place that collects people who might feel awkward in a regular gym setting or who have been injured, she says. Perhaps that is because Shae knows how to come back from an injury. When her daughter was young, a driver ran a red light and hit them while they were in the intersection, totaling their car. “I ended up with a bulging disc on C5 and C6. They said I’d always be on pain pills, and I’d never use the arm. I’m not supposed to be able to use this hand at all.” She smirks as she extends her arm and flexes her hand. “It took me about two-and-a-half to three years to rehab it. I have most of my abilities back. I’m not on

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pain pills.” Last year, just before the pandemic shut everything down, she had a hysterectomy. “I healed a lot faster than I expected. I wasn’t able to exercise. I was literally in the bed for six weeks. I was able to start working out again last August. So being fit does help that.” When asked about the criticism that CrossFit causes a high rate of injuries, Shae is adamant. “I call BS. I have, over the years, coached many a mom with a child who does volleyball, and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had bad elbows and bad shoulders and bad arms and had to go to physical therapy. And these kids are in high school and elementary school.” She says anyone can get hurt in CrossFit, so it comes

down to the coach to make sure the athlete is listening and doing movements properly and at the right weight. “One of my favorite things is having someone come in with a movement issue that makes my brain think, ‘This is what I want to do; this is where I want to go.’” She also enjoys taking a “regular person” and making them into an athlete, doing things they never thought they could. Shae has begun to think of the future of her business. “Most things I do, I do myself, and I’m 50,” she states. “I’m gonna go as long as I possibly can.” She has also been thinking about her legacy. “I would like the gym to continue in the spirit that we started it: all included, everyone can do it.”

Photos submitted by Shae Tozzo

C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D


C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

Harmony

Photo by Lisa Anderson

THE DYNAMICS OF LOVE

JACKIE KORPELA Story by LISA ANDERSON

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C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

It’s a very loving dynamic that came together organically. She’s brought a balance to our lives that we desperately needed.

J

ackie Korpela is the cool mom. She’s the kind of mom who fights for her kids, kisses them goodnight, sacrifices, and lets them be whoever they want to be; she does it all with a punky hairdo. She’s also a fierce wife and a girlfriend. “My girlfriend is the first girl in 38 years that I wanted to date or be in a relationship with. It’s brought a lot of balance to my life. I love [my husband] Dave, but his personality type and mine are different enough that I found myself very lonely. [Stephanie] fills in the hole.”

A NEW COMMUNITY

Jackie moved to Ocala, in 2005, with her first husband and two-year-old child. Originally from Hollywood, Florida, she remembers, “When I first moved here, there was nothing but churches, pharmacies, and horses.” She wanted to know where all of the young people with kids were, and she didn’t know where to find them. “I actually made business cards,” she giggles. “I was part of an online group called Punky Moms. My cards said Ocala Punky Moms. Anytime I’d see a parent out in the wild with fun hair or tattoos, I’d just hand out a card.” She invited the parents to potlucks and playdates. It’s how Jackie built her network of friends. Some of her closest friends have come from those early days, even Dave, a single-parent, was given a card.

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A stay-at-home mom for the first five years in Ocala, Jackie, now a mother of two, returned to the workforce when she and her first husband got a divorce. “I started working at Sonic during my divorce, and I realized as an adult that I could roller skate!” She would try out for the new roller derby team, while she worked there, but wouldn’t actually join them until nearly 10 years later.

GROWING IN LOVE Jackie and Dave eventually turned their

Photo by Rachel Falcone Photography (submitted by Jackie Korpela)

— Jackie Korpela


C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D friendship into a romantic relationship, and after three years of dating, she married him in 2013. A few years later, Dave adopted Jackie’s children so he could act as a legal father. “Dave has a very good relationship with the kids,” Jackie states with pride. For Jackie and Dave, it has never been about pushing out her ex-husband. It has always been about giving the kids more protection. Adopting them allowed the children to have two legal fathers who can take them to things, such as doctor’s appointments. Jackie’s ex is still a big part of the family and spends a lot of time in their home. Jackie spent a few years photographing births and assisting a local midwife. During this time, she began to ache for another child with Dave. “We had these three amazing kids we loved so much, but I knew I wasn’t done. My husband had had a vasectomy. We had never planned on having kids together, but at this point we had already been together about four years. It was really heavy on my heart that we weren’t finished.” To her surprise, Dave agreed to have a reversal and the journey to grow their family began. Jackie worked as many jobs as she could to save for the reversal and a new baby. Within a few months of the procedure, Jackie was pregnant, and their family grew to four children.

Stephanie and Jackie met when Jackie joined the roller derby team over two years ago. “Right away, I picked her,” she recalls, thinking about how she knew they’d be best friends.

become a third parental figure in our household. My kids respect her. When we first got together, my teenagers had mixed feelings about her. Over time, they’ve seen her help to provide and to be a part of what we’re building. I think she’s really earned her place in their lives by showing up and being a real partner and not being disrespectful to [Dave]. “I didn’t go into this thinking we’d be polyamorous. Polyamory looks so different for everybody. There’s so many different dynamics. Currently, I’m the only one that’s technically polyamorous in my relationship. Both of my partners are monogamous by choice.” The hard work and conversations have paid off. “It doesn’t mean jealousy doesn’t exist,” Jackie explains, but they have built a loving relationship for all parties concerned.

Photo by Rachel Falcone Photography (submitted by Jackie Korpela)

Photo by Lisa Anderson

FINDING THE WAY THROUGH POLYAMORY

The two hung out every day before and after practices. After a while, Jackie realized she had a crush and told Dave about it. They both laughed it off, but the crush grew, and Stephanie felt the same way about Jackie. “Once she made it clear she had feelings for me, then I talked with Dave. We had a lot of weird, uncomfortable conversations about what it meant. I’ve never loved two people at once before. I didn’t even know it was possible. Out of respect for my husband, I would have ignored [my feelings], but my husband is a more open-minded type of guy. It took a lot of time to figure out what it would mean or what it would look like. Over time, we just kind of found our groove. “It’s twice as many conversations, but in the end it’s so good. She has

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C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

Empowered FINDING BALANCE THROUGH MOTHERHOOD

KRYSTAL DALE Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON

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C E L E B R AT I N G W O M A N H O O D

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he had continually identified with her career, but that all changed with the birth of her son at age 32. Married at 19 years old, Krystal Dale and her husband Roger weren’t in a rush to have children. Krystal focused on her career, content with her dogs. After obtaining a master’s degree in business, she applied to work for a local Ocala-based company, Combined Insurance Services, founded by Bob Taylor. “He had an administrative assistant position. That’s the position I applied for, and I remember, to this day, sitting there with him. He called his son in, and [Bob] asked me, ‘Where do you see yourself if I were to hire you, today?’ I looked him dead in the face and said, ‘I want his job.’ [I pointed] directly to his son. It was the first time I felt empowered. I knew this was what I wanted to do, and this is where I was going to go, and I was going to help Bob build his dream,” she states emphatically.

EMPOWERED TO REACH HER FULL POTENTIAL

Krystal’s mom became a single parent when Krystal was in sixth grade. She watched her mom work two jobs to not only pay the bills, but provide opportunities for

I knew I wanted to run a company. That was always my dream. I wanted to be in the C-suite. — Krystal Dale

her children to participate in costly extra-curricular activities, such as cheerleading. “Anything she put her mind to, she did. You could say she started it all,” Krystal clarifies, referring to her own persistence. “And Bob just kind of carried it on. If it wasn’t for him being a mentor, I probably would not have gone as far in my life.” Krystal laughs, as she recalls her interview. “You have to think about this. I’m in an interview with two larger males that are rather intimidating. Here I am, young me. I want this position, but I’m not hired, yet, and I’m telling Bob I want his son’s job. It’s all because of the story he told me about Combined.” There were many happy moments of inspiration and empowerment for Krystal during her 16-year tenure at Combined Insurance Services, but a shift in her mindset began to occur, when she became a mom. It set her on a new path.

EMBRACING MOTHERHOOD

“We weren’t sure we were going to have kids. We had dogs, and the dogs were our babies,” explains Krystal about her and Roger’s decision to wait over a decade to have children. “It was a huge change for me because I had been so career-focused. Then, you have this new baby that needs…EVERYTHING! Trying to find that [worklife] balance—I can honestly say, that was very difficult for me, early on. I think it’s difficult, because you kind of get the mom guilt. Then, you also have the professional guilt.” While she felt fortunate to have an understanding employer, who worked with her to find the balance she needed as a new mom, Krystal was still worried she would let the company down or her career would tank. It took her over five years to she realize she needed to find a better solution. As a mom, “you get this shift in your priorities. Yes, my career has always been my priority, but I’m willing to step back,

because I need to put my kids first right now.” Krystal admits she mourned the loss of being career-focused but rejoiced in her new role as mom. Now, a mother of two, she moved on to a new position at Crippen & Co., so she can have more time with her family. She wears many hats in her position as Business Operations Coordinator, and she doesn’t mind it all. “It works well for me because of the operations part of it. It’s been fun! I always loved process management, getting people to hold hands, and making this work. Just fitting those puzzle pieces together was always my jam.” In addition to finding the work-life balance she craved, Krystal has also enjoyed the opportunities Crippen provides to help and improve the community. In fact, the community programs are a big reason she plans to stay and grow with the company. Her children, now four and seven years old, are her main priorities, but Krystal likes having the opportunity to grow her career as she has always done, while being there for her kids. It’s a solution of harmony. From a shy young woman to an empowered business leader, Krystal is an inspiration to herself, her community, and her children.

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FOLLOW ME

Hitting the Road

THE CONCLUSION OF MRS. SHELLEY’S STORY

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FOLLOW ME

theater, others chose different paths, but in the book they gave to Janet, they all talk about what theater did for them. “Like, how they have more faith in their ability to communicate, or they learned how to problem-solve. They learned how to be a part

2021 as their year for retirement, because she had been deeply affected by the passing of her friend and OCT landmark, Mary Britt. Janet knew it was time to stop working and go enjoy life with her husband, children, and granddaughter.

People think, ‘Oh, theater is fun, and it’s fluff.’ No! It’s not! It’s hard work. — Janet Shelley

JANET SHELLEY Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON

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eaching isn’t always easy. “We have these days where you think, ‘Oh my gosh, why am I doing this? This so difficult.’ But I’ll tell you what, there are so many awesome moments that you don’t even think about. Like, you don’t even know how you’re reaching kids, until, sometimes, years later,” Janet muses. “They had a surprise for me at our International Thespian Society ceremony. I was blown away. It was all of these kids that had graduated. They did Shakespearean soliloquies—little bits and pieces of Shakespeare that they edited together. They did a book for me, [too], Things that Janet Shelley Taught Me. Some of the things are hysterical,” she laughs heartily.

THE LEGACY OF THEATER

The graduates of Janet’s theater program have a multitude of jobs and careers. While some pursued

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of a team. That’s what I love,” she says with fervor. “It’s not necessarily that they’re making a million bucks, but that they have used what they learned in a theater classroom in a variety of jobs and careers. And that’s what people need to know. “People think, ‘Oh, theater is fun, and it’s fluff.’ No! It’s not! It’s hard work. It can be really stressful! You should see some of these kids, sometimes. They are in it, and they put their whole heart and soul into it. And then, when it’s over, they say, ‘I did this. I made this, and we did this together.’ The collaboration and the camaraderie that they develop is just wonderful to see.”

RETIREMENT

Janet fractured three vertebrae in 2017 that put her out of school for three months, and she began to think about retirement. It wasn’t until 2019, however, that she and Jim named

Kiara Feliciano, a West Port alumnus, is taking over where Janet left off. She has some big shoes to fill, but as she is Janet’s former student and had shadowed her since 2019, Janet has every confidence in her. “I had great peace about leaving,” she states. Don’t expect to catch Janet and Jim bumming around the Downtown Square. They are packing up, selling their home, and traveling the country in their RV. If they do decide to set down roots again, the couple are currently looking at Georgia. We may be losing Janet to the open road, but for 37 years, Ocala was a better place because of her. Thank you for your service. We’ll miss you and the fire you ignited in this community. Correction from part one of Janet’s story published June 1, 2021: She taught for 33 years.


FOLLOW ME

Surgeon of Song HER VOICE FILLS OCALA WITH JOY

BECKY SINN Story & Photos by LISA ANDERSON

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FOLLOW ME

I’m so thankful I have this gift. I’m so thankful that I’ve never wasted it. — Becky Sinn

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ecky Sinn has been captivating Ocala with her voice since she was a teenager. She dazzles us with her smooth tones, powerful and playful lyrics, red gowns, opera gloves, and the carnival-style clothing she frequently wears. She regularly performs in town, as well as in Gainesville and The Villages. You may have seen her confidently perform as Dr. Sinn in Dr. Sinn’s Freak Island Musical Sideshow, as a solo artist, or as the lead singer in the band Swing Theory, but Becky hasn’t always had the confidence she does now. “I had a really hard time after I graduated high school. I lost my dad, and there were a lot of tragic circumstances. I was just in a bad place. I didn’t have the level of self-esteem that I do now.”

GROWING UP IN AN ARTISTIC ENVIRONMENT

“There was always music going on in the house. I don’t know how I remember it, but I can remember when I was about two or three, I was lifted up to the piano seat and allowed to bang on the keys as much as I wanted.” Becky’s parents encourage her and her brother to play music and make art. “I got my first electric guitar when I

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was about 14, but as soon as I was big enough to hold a guitar, my daddy put one in my hands. “I was never afraid to touch an instrument to see what sound it made or if I could play it. My parents always fostered that and encouraged us to pick up instruments.” Her voice is filled with admiration for both her parents. Her daddy played the banjo and her mama played the auto harp, the latter of which is now a part of Becky’s collection of instruments. They taught her everything they knew how to play. However, they played everything by ear, so Becky didn’t learn

how to read music. She eventually taught herself how to read guitar tablature from the guitar and rock magazines she had as a young teenager. Becky’s confidence took a big hit at sevenyears-old, and it was a few years before she found the courage to sing for people, again.

FOLLOW BECKY’S STORY

This story continues through our social media channels on Instagram and Facebook every Wednesday in August. Be sure to follow us @localamag to find out how Becky found her voice. #localafollowme


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Brand Vision REMOTE ART DEPARTMENTS HELP YOU SEE CLEARLY Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON

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f you want to effectively market to your clients, brand consistency is imperative. This means you want the overall look and feel to naturally flow between your logo, printed materials, website, and social media presence. Having a trained eye to assist you with all your marketing materials will ensure you navigate this sometimes-complicated world of RGB vs. CMYK, JPEG or PNG, vectors, and DPI’s with the least amount of frustration. Amy Keel went to school for a bachelor’s in fine arts. “I was going to paint my way through life,” she explains. Like most of us do, she quickly realized the need to make money, and headed back for a secondary degree in Graphic Design. She began her career doing piecemeal work for her clients, but she saw the inconsistencies on pieces she wasn’t helping to create. “A lot of small business owners don’t understand how important their brand image is or even what it is.” Some of her clients still want to do a few things themselves, so Amy has added an education element to her business. This helps the business owners feel confident in utilizing their brand image.

WHAT SHOULD A BUSINESS HAVE IN PLACE FOR A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP?

If you have existing marketing in place, your image files and a vector file of your logo are very important. When you’re just starting out, an art department can help you create those files.

No matter where you are at with your brand, one person should be the go-to and the decisionmaker. This makes it easier for your art department to communicate and complete your projects in a timely manner. Too many cooks in the kitchen can cause delays and sometimes diminish brand cohesiveness.

HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT DESIGN COMPANY FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

“I think it is very important to check out their portfolio and see if their style resonates with you. Make sure they are visually appealing and good at what they do. Check out what other clients they’ve worked with do, too.”

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS BUSINESSES ASK OR SHOULD ASK? Her clients don’t usually have to ask the common questions, because Amy has developed a system to answer them before they are even asked. She talks with her clients about their logo, voice, style, and the overall image they want to project. She takes the time to teach them what their branding says about the company.

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ABOUT AMY KEEL

Amy is the owner of Got Schwag? Promotional Marketing, LLC. Learn more about her business by visiting gotschwag.com.


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Business Leader Opens Doors for the Ocala Hispanic Community “I got the job because she gave me a good set of clothes.” — ESMIRNA CARABALLO

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iny, but fierce, Esmirna Caraballo is the founder of Esmirna’s Notary, Accounting, & Tax Services, ENAT Pro Services, and ENAT Consumer Collection Agency, as well as a co-founder of the Hispanic Business Council of Ocala (HBC). Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she has fallen in love with the Ocala community and all of the opportunities it has afforded her and her family. There is a sense of determination, gratefulness, and humility mixed together in this powerhouse of a business leader. Esmirna is here to make a difference for everyone in the Ocala community. “I knew God brought me down here for a reason, and the HBC is it. It’s the reason. It was needed and we did it at the right time.”

LAUNCHING A DREAM

Born and raised in the Midwest, Esmirna first toured Ocala in 2008 when she came to visit her parents in their new home. Esmirna and her family stayed in the area for six months. However, it wasn’t meant to be at the time, and they moved back to Cleveland.

YES, THE PANDEMIC WAS BAD, BUT IT WAS A BLESSING FOR MY BUSINESS. I WAS ABLE TO HELP THE COMMUNIT Y BY HAVING THAT FLEXIBILITY. — Esmirna Caraballo

On a vacation to visit her parents in April 2016, she ran into her neighbor from her short stint in Ocala. This chance meeting sparked a series of events that brought Esmirna, her husband, and children back to Ocala in November 2016. They had purchased their former neighbor’s home and decided to give the city another chance. “We were outside. We’ve never had that in our life,” she exclaims, referring to their first Christmas in Florida. Esmirna had built a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm in Ohio, and she retained a few of her clients when she moved. Even so, she needed additional income, so she headed back into the workforce. She decided to open a small business accounting service a couple of years later. “I launched Esmirna’s Notary, Accounting, & Tax Services in January 2018. I quit my job in March; that was a leap of faith. “The first year, I was working from home. I literally had a desk that was a picnic table from outside. That was the desk in my house!” Esmirna’s face lights up with mirth, as she recalls those early days. She noticed that her clients, especially new clients, were leery of coming to her home, and she knew it was time to find an office space. She found one in the unlikeliest of places. It was located in Mattress Warehouse. The space was tiny, but it had a private entrance and checked all the boxes for a budding business. Esmirna and her team eventually took over the storage area next to them to create additional space. “I give everything to him,” she says, praising the owner of Mattress Warehouse, “because he was so nice to help me grow my business.” While the pandemic was shutting down hundreds of businesses in 2020, Esmirna’s business began to flourish. She quickly learned how to pivot and help those potential clients, whom other accountants were turning away. She also saw a desperate need in the Hispanic community and quickly raised her hand to help with taxes, translating loan forms, and offering her notary services. Most of the services she was able to transfer online, but for those that legally required in-person service, Esmirna still stepped up to the plate. “I said, ‘I’m available! Come to me. I’ll wear four masks!’” She bursts into laughter.

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“Yes, the pandemic was bad, but it was a blessing for my business. I was able to help the community by having that flexibility of taxes and notary,” she explains. Although she had just started the collection agency, Esmirna immediately shut it down. It was a decision she felt was necessary to help people who were losing their jobs. “We had to collaborate with the community,” she insists, despite the loss of a year’s income.

VISION, FAITH, & COMMUNITY

As her business grew, so did her notoriety. She won third place in her business category for Ocala StarBanner’s Best of the Best 2019; in 2020, she won. When her business was called during the virtual ceremony, Esmirna celebrated with gusto. Her family thought she had won the lottery, as they came pouring out of their rooms to see what all the commotion was about. “I screamed like a kid,” she laughs heartily. The growth of the business was a key factor in this victory, but Esmirna had begun networking in the spring of 2019. She had joined Strategic Allies, a local chapter of Business Network International (BNI), and had made many connections both in and out of the group. Those connections eventually led her to Julian Sinisterra. Both Esmirna and Julian were looking for a way to connect with


education sessions, translation services, and professional connections. Esmirna also had a dream that was inspired by her first interview straight out of high school. Her sister-in-law had given her professional clothes to wear. “I got the job, because she gave me a good set of clothes.” Now, Esmirna is paying it forward with a community closet at the HBC, where anyone can come to choose an outfit for a job interview. For Esmirna, the HBC isn’t just for the Hispanic community. The doors are open to everyone

who needs help. Growing up in a big city had made her feel like nothing was possible, but here, in Ocala, at this time, she feels like everything is achievable. She is helping to lead the way and support the community. Along with partners like Julian, the CEP, the Better Business Bureau, BNI, and the countless other connections she has formed, Esmirna is fulfilling her dream of growing with her city. Learn more about the HBC at hispanicbusinesscouncil.com

Photo by Infinity Photos

and help the Ocala Hispanic Community. Esmirna was disappointed to learn the HBC had closed down in 2012 and had never reopened. Bonded together by their desire to serve and provide a service they knew was badly needed, Esmirna and Julian began to discuss the possibility of forming another HBC together. With the level of determination she had shown in her own business, she told him, “Let’s do this. We have nothing to lose.” The collaboration officially began in June 2020, and by September, they were networking with the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) for once-a-month events. “Oh, my gawd! We had 40 people on our first day!” Her voice expresses complete awe and surprise. The Hispanic community was thrilled to have an event geared specifically for them. It didn’t take long for the CEP to extend further support to this new and growing non-profit. The HBC recently had a ribbon cutting at their new location, where they are able to offer such services as strategic business planning, marketing plan development, networking events,

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The Heart & Science

No. 02 Volume 01, Issue

• JULY 2021

BECKY SINN

Surgeon of Song Her Voice Fills Ocala with Joy

ESMIRNA CARA

BALLO Business Leader Opens Doors for the Ocala Hispanic Community

KRYSTAL DALE

Empowered Finding Balance Through Motherh

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Volume 01, Issue

No. 03 • AUGUST

2021

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THE CHEWS LETTER

Vivir la Vida

BAKERY CELEBRATES LATIN FLAVORS

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THE CHEWS LETTER

ARIANA LEE CARABALLO Story by CYNTHIA MCFARL AND

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Photo by BRETT GOLDIN


THE CHEWS LETTER

I have severe food allergies, so I wasn’t able to eat at birthday parties or sleepovers. — Ariana Lee Caraballo

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here’s no doubt that the pandemic shutdown of 2020 left many businesses reeling. Yet, for Ariana Lee Caraballo of Ocala, Florida, it provided a wideopen door to launch ALC Artistic Bakery. She has not slowed down since. To say this 20-year-old is an overachiever is an understatement. Ariana has been baking since elementary school, and starting her own Latin-based bakery was a dream she nourished from the age of 10. “I have severe food allergies, so I wasn’t able to eat at birthday parties or sleepovers. That pushed me to start making my own sweets and to want to help others as well,” says Ariana, who is allergic to peanuts, eggs, and red dye, along with being sensitive to gluten. Having family members with diabetes also provided incentive for her to bake differently. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Ariana moved with her family to Florida during high school and is a 2019 graduate of West Port High School. As a child, Ariana learned in the kitchen, carefully watching her mother, Esmirna Caraballo. When Ariana baked and decorated her first cake at the age of nine, she knew she had found her passion. And, yes, those televised cooking shows definitely inspired this professional baker. She still enjoys watching reality shows and says Cake Boss remains her favorite. Her artistic inclinations extend beyond the kitchen. Drawing since she was a toddler, Ariana found her comfort zone in creativity—whether that meant baking, drawing, or painting. Hence, the name of her business, which combines her favorite things. “Our family has a sweet tooth, so being able to make our own baked goods, when and how we wanted, was a plus. And that was the inspiration for my bakery,” she adds. Social media has been a boon to ALC Artistic Bakery; orders are made online via Facebook or email. Customers either pick up their items, or Ariana delivers them in Ocala. She loves special orders, such as making sweets for people in cancer centers. In addition to “regular” baked goods, ALC Artistic Bakery offers vegan and glutenfree options. Latin flavor abounds as the bakery features guava pastries, cream cheese pastries, flan, tres leches cake, custom cakes and sugar cookies, which she hand-decorates with Royal icing, Ariana’s best-sellers are her vegan guava pastries and her sugar cookies, which she often customizes with a business logo or other special design. She’s also in demand for sweets catering and catered breakfasts. “I’m in the kitchen baking every day and also painting murals,” says Ariana, whose artwork can be found in local residences and at the Hispanic Business Council of Ocala, of which she is a member and sponsor. A typical day sees Ariana starting at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. Her home-based commercial kitchen has multiple stoves, ovens, and refrigerators, along with ample counters and tables for additional workspace. After turning on the ovens, she starts her prep work, laying out all the ingredients for the day’s baking. Depending on the orders, she’s usually done by mid-afternoon, but the day runs later if she has a catering project. For catering jobs, her family usually works with her. About 50 percent of the bakery’s orders are from people requesting vegan baked goods, which Ariana says is often due to allergies—something she clearly understands. One of her recent client requests was for gluten-free, nut-free, vegan chocolate cupcakes. “You’re only working with a handful of ingredients, so it was an experiment, but they turned out well and tasted amazing,” says Ariana. In fact, experimenting with ingredients is one of this baker’s favorite challenges, and she always relishes the opportunity to try something unexpected. “If I don’t like the taste or texture, I will change things out,” she notes. “For example, with vegan cakes, some will come out too moist. I’ve tried different ingredients so people don’t automatically think, ‘this is vegan,’ when they bite into it.”

Ariana points out that oil and butter give cakes different textures, as can various flours. “Baking vegan can change the texture of a cake because some vegan products taste thick and dense, and I want my cakes more fluffy than dense,” she says. For fat in vegan cakes, Ariana opts for coconut and organic vegetable oils. She uses regular all-purpose flour, as well as almond flour and gluten-free flour. To sweeten vegan baked goods, she uses both regular granulated sugar and also cane sugar, which is coarser and more golden until it is baked. Ariana was attending college, but when inperson classes stopped last year, due to Covid-19, she put all her efforts into the bakery. She plans to return to school, and the goal is to become a commercial/residential architect. She also dreams of having a brick-andmortar location in Ocala for her bakery. “Once our physical location opens, there will be a lot of glutenfree and vegan options. That’s what I’m here for: to accommodate people’s needs, when it comes to sweets.” The plan is for ALC Artistic Bakery to have a physical location by the end of 2021. “I’m ready!” says Ariana.

EXTENDED CONTENT

See additional photos of Ariana and her baked goods on the blog.

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THE CHEWS LETTER

Made with Love SHE IS SWEETER THAN HER CAKES

KANDICE D’AIUTO Story by LISA A . LISTWA

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Photo by BRETT GOLDIN


THE CHEWS LETTER

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n a strip mall on Silver Springs Boulevard, tucked inside Your Heart’s Desire, a home décor and gift shop, you’ll find Betty Cakes Bakery and Café, something locals (and beyond) know as an Ocala staple. Kandice D’Aiuto has been the co-owner/operator of Betty Cakes since 2017, along with another couple, Patrick and Mary Hill. Kandice started working for Betty 13 years ago. “After my youngest child went to kindergarten, I thought OK, now I want to do something and what is my passion? What do I want to do?”

It started out with just a little sugar and some coffee. — Kandice D’Aiuto

As it turns out, her passion for baking provided the perfect opportunity. When Betty was looking for somebody to help with the baking, a mutual acquaintance suggested Kandice, and she started baking for Betty. “Baking is a family thing,” said Kandice. “We just love to bake, and it was a good, easy fit.” Betty Williamson originally started the Betty Cakes business when a friend, the owner of the gift shop, asked if she would open a very small little place inside the gift shop. It was originally meant as a space for husbands to sit down and have a cup of coffee or piece of cake, while their wives shopped. “It started out with just a little sugar and some coffee,” Kandice says. It has grown organically over the years, slowly increasing in size and moving from that bit of sugar and coffee into the busy space it is now—a full lunch café and custom cake bakery. Betty Cakes has an on-site kitchen for preparing lunches, where the staff often sends out well over 100 lunches. “That may seem small compared to other spaces,” says Kandice, “but when you see the tiny space we have, that’s a lot of lunches.” A customer favorite is the chicken salad plate which Kandice says is “wildly popular and has a cult following.” A team of bakers in an off-site bakery (still located on Betty’s property) whips up ready-to-go shelf cakes, custom-made cakes, and numerous other baked goods. Betty Cakes’ signature shelf cakes are some of their best-selling items. Several varieties are available and anywhere from 30 to over 100 ready-to-go cakes go out the door with walk-in customers. The cake pudding—a spin on classic bread pudding—is also popular. Betty Cakes also offers a gluten-free bakery menu and takes custom cake orders. Betty Cakes is a unique and very special environment with a talented and creative team of people, some of whom have been there since the very beginning. “I’m blessed to be part of it,” Kandice tells us. “We treat each other like family, because we are.” She also loves the connection to people and community aspect of running Betty Cakes. “Somewhere around me, in my county, I am getting to be part of somebody’s celebration, and that is the coolest thought. That gives me goosebumps.” The one downside to the business is that Kandice doesn’t get to spend as much time in the kitchen enjoying the baking part. “As the owner of a business, you are CEO, payroll, human resources, head of marketing, ordering, shipping, and receiving—everything. But it’s still a passion.” In January 2020, Betty Cakes went through a renovation, preparing to move from counter service to table service. When the pandemic hit, no sooner had they begun than their doors were closed. “We converted our store immediately,” recalls Kandice. Both the gift shop and the café went to curbside service and changed their entire concept, in order to stay alive.

She is grateful for their strong, loyal customer base who placed orders for curbside pickup and purchased gift cards to keep them going. When asked about what the future holds for Betty Cakes, Kandice laughs. “It’s hard enough to hold onto this train, as it runs me over, right now.” She is quick to say again how grateful she is to be part of a busy, thriving business and to work with so many talented and amazing people. As for the future, Kandice says, “People often tell us they can’t get through on our phone line, and it’s true.” She would love to be able to offer online ordering to alleviate that, but she is cautious. Kandice wants Betty Cakes to maintain that special quality of the corner mom-andpop store, a place where customers can say, “They remember me, they know what I like, they share my football team.” “Handmade, homemade, made with love. It’s a passion,” she says. “I don’t want to lose that by becoming so large that I’m not doing what I believe in every day. Be sweeter than the cakes, and it works. When you treat somebody that way, you’ve really won their loyalty, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

EXTENDED CONTENT

See additional photos of Betty Cakes on the blog.

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Diane Cahal COUCH SESSIONS, EPISODE III: THE FORGE What type of an artist are you/What is your medium? I'm an all-over-the-place artist: painter, photographer, maker. I work in watercolors, acrylics, resin, gauche, air-dry clay; you name it, I probably have it in my stash of supplies. I love making miniatures and manipulating Polaroids, but creating paintings with big swaths of color is my jam. What is your background, and how has it informed your art? I'm from Texas, where I earned my degree in photography, met my husband Bobby (a forester), and had Zoe on an Easter Sunday. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Florida so Bobby could find work. We thought we'd go back, but once I swam in the Rainbow River, that was it. I'd found home. I was just developing my way of expressing myself through art, when we left Texas, so there's no denying that the clear spring waters influenced my signature style. What types of art and culture do you like to consume? Music is life, art is oxygen, and the shared experience that live performances provide...THAT is living. The band The National is usually playing the soundtrack to my existence. Is there a connection between your message and the way you make your art? Absolutely. How I'm feeling and what I'm trying to express dictates what medium I pick up.

What are you besides an artist? How do you define your role in life? I'm an advocate, a healer, co-director of NOMA Gallery, mom, friend, stroke survivor, hard worker, prone to anxiety and bouts of depression, but loving all parts of life. I'm here to learn. How do you define success as an artist or person? What do you hope to accomplish? Success to me doesn't directly equate to monetary gains, accolades, or popularity. I'm successful when someone relates to something I've made or when I feel like I'm making a difference. I have goals and accomplishments that I want to achieve, and I will probably never consider myself there yet. While I'm on my journey, I hope to be contributing positively to the lives of those around me and striving to make the world a better place.

FIND DIANE AT:

artisticlunasea.com IG: @DianeCahal FB: Artistic LunaSea TikTok: @dcahal

Photo submitted by artists

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HOW DO I

GET HOME

Photo by luckybusiness/DepositPhotos.com

Story by LISA ANDERSON

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he fact this was sixth on the Google search in an incognito window with a cleared cache and browsing history is either astonishing or extremely exciting. I’d consider it astonishing if this indicated a rash of people who simply didn’t know how to get to their house, but it would definitely be exciting if it was because people were going to new and fun destinations. Either way, the simple answer is if you are looking for your home, Google Maps is the answer you’ll find, if you Google it. Asking Siri? You’ll get the maps app on your phone. I suggest you follow the directions until the area becomes familiar. After that, turn off the voice. You will probably go a different route from your

map, and the voice will just insist that you make a U-turn. If you are on your computer and aren’t really trying to find your way home, notice all the other suggestions Google pulls up. You can find your way home anywhere in Minecraft, get a step-by-step guide on buying a home, follow 12 steps to

finding a home (pictures included!), learn how to Google your house, figure out how to qualify for a free home, or apply for a government loan. No matter what, Google has you covered. Don’t believe me? Google it yourself, and if you’re consistently getting lost and googling how to get home, pay attention to your surroundings!

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SHAMELESS We are shamed, bullied and gaslit. But we are more than our experiences, and it’s never too late to rewrite the narrative. This book serves as proof. It is a powerful and engaging collection of essays from forty women who wrestled with hardship, addiction, divorce, discrimination, body image, and more—women who rose above their circumstances, took the message life gave them and handed it back. These women found their power, their purpose and their place. Do you believe in your own potential? If you are a woman in search of your tribe, in need of a blueprint for empowered living, or looking for a way to shift your fears to focus, this book will help you understand how your failures can serve as momentum for a positive life. Journey with the forty women who turned their shame into shamelessness and found the courage to be leaders of light, shining the truth on the path for us all.

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BECKY SINN

Surgeon of Song Her Voice Fills Ocala with Joy

ESMIRNA CARABALLO

Business Leader Opens Doors for the Ocala Hispanic Community

KRYSTAL DALE

Empowered Finding Balance Through Motherhood

Alternate Cover • AUGUST 2021