Page 1

ISSU E 4 4

Cultura Hispana DREAMERS CEASELESS STREAM TO BEGIN AGAIN LATIN FOOD TOUR


2

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Whether you are pregnant, trying to conceive or simply needing obstetric/ gynecologic care, our specially trained OBGYN physicians and providers are here for you. Our compassionate care team offers comprehensive healthcare to meet your unique needs at our Grasslands Campus and Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children. As your premier destination for childbirth, the Pavilion offers spacious private suites where both parents can stay overnight, technology that lets expectant mothers move around until delivery and many special touches, all designed to make sure your family’s experience is one to remember.

Begin a lifetime of treasured moments with us. Lakeland Regional Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Providers:

Sue Connell Certified Nurse Midwife

Lindsey Hahn, DO Urogynecologist

Diana Narvaez, MD Obstetrics/ Gynecology

Virginia Pagani, MD Obstetrics/ Gynecology

To make an appointment with one of our providers, call 863.284.6860. Xavier RomĂĄn, MD Obstetrics/ Gynecology

Beth Williams, MD Obstetrics/ Gynecology

myLRH.org/obstetrics-and-gynecology

Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children + 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd + Lakeland, FL 33805 Grasslands Campus + 3030 Harden Blvd + Lakeland, FL 33803 I SS U E 44

3


R

www.badcock.com


Eleven Polk County locations to serve you! Lakeland-Lake Gibson 6625 US 98 North (863) 858-3866 Lake Wales 126 Hwy. 60 W. (863) 676-6515

Lakeland Combee 1225 N. Combee Rd. (863) 665-3111

Lakeland Christina Lakeland North 1409 N. Florida Ave. 6100 S. Florida Ave. (863) 646-2921 (863) 682-8107

Frostproof Ft. Meade 500 N. Scenic Hwy. 1401 Hwy. 17 N. (863) 635-2645 (863) 285-9757

Auburndale 521 Hughes Rd. (863) 967-6602

Haines City 35495 Hwy. 27 (863) 422-3144

1350 N. Broadway Eagle Lake (US 98) Bartow 1515 Hwy. 17 S. (863) 533-1611 (863) 294-7749


PROFESSIONAL CARE MEETS

Personal

SERVICE

GENERAL HEALTH + WELLNESS

|

ACUTE CONDITIONS

WOMEN’S HEALTH

|

|

CHRONIC CONDITIONS

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

Trinity Medical Group is a family primary care practice with locations in Lakeland and Winter Haven, that builds long-term relationships with its patients while also specializing in cutting-edge medical technology and preventative medicine.

3240 Florida Ave S #105, Lakeland, FL 33803 (863) 646-4000 TRINITYMEDGROUP.COM


p p m e h t u u P e u m l Vo n

ee

and s

ft ca i l d i a liqu t a h w

a m u l o V Buy 1

luma, syringe of vo

Receive 1

er syringe of fill

Half Off

you. r o f do

Ele ctr oly sis

Buy

3 Ge t1

Free

Elec

troly sis

Coo lScu pltin g Call TrueMD Today for a FREE Consultation (863) 646-3376

et G 1 y

1

f f O f Hal plting

Bu

lScu

Coo

SPECIALS EXPIRE 8.30.18 | COUPONS CANNOT BE COMBINED

BOTOX | FILLERS | LASER HAIR REMOVAL | SMARTLIPO | CHEMICAL PEELS | PRP HAIR RESTORATION | & MORE

www.TRUE-MD.com • 3627 S. Florida Ave • Lakeland, FL 33803 The patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hours of responding to the advertisement for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination, or treatment. Limit one coupon per customer per visit. Coupons and special offers cannot be combined. Copyright 2017, True MD. All rights reserved.


8

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


CHANGE YOUR LIFE

WITH DENTAL IMPLANTS Nearly half of the adults living in the United States have missing teeth. At Walding and Associates, we understand the pain and embarrassment you feel if you are missing one, several, or all of your teeth. We offer a life-changing procedure that is cost-efficient and requires little to no downtime for patients who have missing teeth. We can give you the smile of your dreams using a unique dental implant procedure. Invest in yourself; call today to learn more about this natural-looking, life-changing solution and find out if it’s right for you.

Old Highway 37

Call today to reserve your appointment.

37

444 W. Pipkin Rd.

W. Pipkin Rd.

863.226.4401 | DRWALDING.COM I SS U E 44

444 W. Pipkin Road, Lakeland, FL 33813 37

9


C O N T E N T S ISSUE 44

ON THE COVER Sayra Lozano rose above adversity and uncertainty to live a life dedicated to being an advocate for her community. Photo by Daniel Johnson

10

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


CONTENTS

54 FEATURES

42 • CULTURE

54 • TASTE

64 • PEOPLE

76 • SHELTER

Art In Motion

Hecho Con Amor

To Begin Again

ART/ifact’s recent exhibition “Ceaseless Stream” gives new cultural perspective through atypical art forms by Cuban-born exiles

Nicaraguan recipes that are unique, diverse, and made with love

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Lakeland has become a new home to many Puerto Ricans wanting to start a new life

To Live Slowly, To Live In Love

12

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

The elegance and charm of Spanish Revival style architecture in Lakeland


legacy securing your

Since 1988 Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. has been committed to protecting business and family assets through the work of dedicated, caring attorneys. Experience the difference that Lakeland’s most trusted legal team can make.

Real Estate Corporate Law Estate Planning Tax Law Commercial Litigation Elder Law Medicaid Planning

500 Florida Ave S #800, Lakeland, FL 33801 cclmlaw.com


CONTENTS

88 • LATIN FOOD TOUR

Variety In Similarity Sampling the cuisine from some of our city’s favorite Latin restaurants

100

100 • PEOPLE

Through His Veins For Dr. Gustavo De Jesus, opening Vein & Vascular Experts did not come without great time and investment

108 • SPECIAL

To Rise Above Sayra Lozano grew up in the midst of uncertainty. But this didn’t stop her from living a life dedicated to helping her community

120 • BUSINESS

First-Generation Legacy, Seond-Generation Dream

120

The story of Bartow Ford’s Benny Robles Sr. and his son Benny Robles Jr., and how the dealership made their family’s dreams come true

88 DEPARTMENTS

14

16 • MASTHEAD

20 • CONTRIBUTORS

26 • METRO

18 • EDITOR’S NOTE

22 • LETTERS

130 • HISTORY

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Curt Patterson Jason Jacobs • Brandon Patterson PUBLISHER

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS

Brandon Patterson EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Annalee Mutz

Daniel Barceló

MANAGING EDITOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Advertising ADVERTISING DIRECTOR ADVERTISING SALES

Lakeland’s newest Sports Bar experience!

Curt Patterson | 863.409.2449 Brandon Patterson | 863.409.2447 Jason Jacobs | 863.606.8785

Editorial CONTRIBUTORS

COPY EDITOR

Victoria Bardega, Priscilla Burr, Tara Campbell, Giovanna Favilli, Emily Johnson, John Kazaklis Laura Burke

Creative DESIGNER PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anushka van Huyssteen Dan Austin, Daniel Johnson, John Kazaklis, Loree Rowland, Tina Sargeant

Digital DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTOR

Sally Ibarra Barceló

Circulation CIRCULATION DIRECTOR VP, FINANCE GENERAL COUNSEL

Jason Jacobs Deb Patterson Ted W. Weeks IV

Issue 44 The Lakelander is published bimonthly by Patterson Jacobs Publishing, P.O. Box 41, Lakeland, FL 33802. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written permission of The Lakelander is prohibited. The Lakelander is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions.

Patterson Jacobs

Contact Patterson Jacobs Publishing, P.O. Box 41, Lakeland, FL 33802 863.701.2707 • thelakelander.com

Customer Service: 863.701.2707

HOURS: 11AM–12AM

4960 Florida Ave. S. Lakeland, FL 33813 dukesbrewhouse.com 863.647.9464

16

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Lively & Cheerful

A home that reflects your life.

With hundreds of exterior and design combinations to choose from, you’ll help us design the home that’s perfect for your life and your budget. $0 Down • $0 Closing Costs • Up to 4,000 SF From $1,140/month (total investment) • From $75/SF Up to $16,000 in new home options

800.496.4096 MySouthernHome.com North Lakeland, South Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale, Haines City, Bartow, Lake Wales, Dundee, as well as, On Your Lot Bring this ad in to receive $500 in new home options I SS U E 41

From $1,140/month total investment!

17


E DITO R ’ S N OTE A SHARED EXPERIENCE “keeping It cool since 1984”

air conditioning services you can

trust

I remember being a kid and dreading the question, “Where are you from?” As a Filipina-American who grew up in Japan and then the Deep South, the question was complicated to answer, to say the least. But as I grew older, I began to deeply appreciate the beauty in such complexity and how that complexity exists all throughout American culture. Because whether we grew up in a multicultural home or not, we all call this multicultural country home in some capacity. Like most of our country, Lakeland is intertwined with many cultures. In this issue of The Lakelander, we’re celebrating a multitude of ways that the Hispanic/ Latino culture, in particular, is expressed in our community and how it impacts who we are as a city. From the business owners who continue to grow our city to the influenced architecture we admire, we could not say we truly love Lakeland without paying homage to a culture that regularly influences us. We tell these stories to better make sense of the world that exists around us — to better engage with the community

Annalee Mutz

MANAGING EDITOR

863-682-3803 acu-temp.com 18

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

we live in daily. And although not all these stories explicitly detail out the ancestry and history of those being highlighted, they all share how Hispanic/ Latino culture has left its mark on our city for the better. Most importantly, these stories remind us that truly hearing, understanding, and celebrating our diverse backgrounds is what binds us together. So, we’re not only asking the, “Where are you from?” question, but we’re unpacking a bit of the why behind that question and how it influences us in the subtle and not-so-subtle ways, too. And that is truly a beautiful thing.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, THESE STORIES REMIND US THAT TRULY HEARING, UNDERSTANDING, AND CELEBRATING OUR DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS IS WHAT BINDS US TOGETHER.


What’s

Secret?

Your friends and family can’t quite put their finger on it. There’s a youthful glow that radiates from you. Where did it come from?

With an eye for subtle detail and natural looking results, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Faeza Kazmier has helped countless patients restore their sense of self-confidence and achieve their aesthetic goals. Calling upon 17 years of experience, she works to create individualized plans based on each patient’s priorities and desires, and offers a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments that can help you achieve the look of your dreams. • Facial Rejuvenation (Facelifts, Eyelifts and Minimally Invasive Browlifts) • BOTOX®, Dysport and fillers for the face and hands • Breast enlargement, breast implant revision, lifts and reductions • Drain-free tummy tucks • Liposuction • Laser treatments (fractional, spider vein, brown spots, vaginal and labia rejuvenation with diVa®) She is also thrilled to offer Clear + Brilliant , a new Fractional Laser treatment designed to maintain healthy, youthful looking skin through an in-office treatment with no down time. TM

Dr. Kazmier and her staff want you to have the best results and experience possible. They look forward to caring for you!

Women’s Center 1400 Lakeland Hills Blvd. • Suite B • Lakeland

Bartow 2250 Osprey Blvd. • Suite 100 • Bartow www.WatsonClinic.com/Kazmier

863-680-7676

Model Shown


C O N T R I B U T O R S THE WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT MAKE THE LAKELANDER

GIOVANNA FAVILLI

“To Begin Again” written and photographed by John Kazaklis pg. 64

JOHN KAZAKLIS Born and raised in the DC Metro Area, John Kazaklis came to Lakeland to study at Southeastern University in 2007. After graduating, he made Lakeland his home for the quality of life and close-knit community. A traveler and visual storyteller, John shares stories that often go untold. He currently works as a freelance creative and works alongside We Are Curio here in town. His career goal is to become a photojournalist focusing on people groups, population movements, minority languages, and ethnography. Do you remember your first photoshoot? I sure do. Remember when everyone asked for a Canon T3i for Christmas back in the day? That was me. I took my new prized possession (at the time) and asked every family member to let me take photos of them. My sister and her family were my first victims. How do you draw inspiration? As far as inspiration, getting to know the subject’s story and personality helps greatly in crafting a final product. If I take photos of people and don’t take a little time to get to know them in the process, then I feel like I can’t accurately represent them in my work. Also, traveling and reading definitely help bring perspective to the way I write and shoot. It opens up your mind when it comes to creativity and empathy. I also like to constantly research and see which photographers and writers out there inspire me through their work. You can’t do it alone. Their influence and inspiration are key! And finally, my family and upbringing in DC are big influencers as well. As a traveler and visual storyteller, what has been your favorite cultural experience? There are many favorites, but usually it’s whenever I get a chance to share a meal in

20

Giovanna is the co-owner of Hau Sweet, an allnatural shave ice shop with influences from both her and her partner’s backgrounds. A Lakelander since the age of six, she was taught early on the value of working hard and embracing people from all walks of life. This, along with her deep desire to explore land, food, and culture, is intricately woven into the heart of her work. hausweet.com

someone’s home in their country and cultural context. I usually enjoy being a tourist, but when I can get a glimpse of everyday home life in another country, it brings me life. My most recent shared family meal was in Amman, Jordan, back in June. What inspired you to write and shoot this issue’s People feature, “To Begin Again”? I have been wanting to write some local pieces for some time, and I began to brainstorm and research about different segments of our Lakeland community. I think we sometimes forget about certain pressing issues that make it to the news (i.e., Hurricane Maria), but the aftermath and effects of it sometimes get lost in translation. I knew we had a significant and growing Puerto Rican population in Lakeland, so I knew there was a potential story there connected to Maria. I gave Ana Rivera from the Hispanic Chamber a call, and that’s how it all began. As an avid runner, where are your favorite spots to run in Lakeland? Honestly, with life being crazy and busy, I am pretty boring when it comes to running. I love the consistency of Lake Hollingsworth. I know exactly what I’m getting myself into every time. The Fort Fraser trail on the south side is great, too.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

VICTORIA BARDEGA Victoria Bardega is a content creator and proud Lakelander. She finished her bachelor of science in journalism/public relations at Southeastern University and avidly contributes to Darling Magazine and The Everygirl. When she’s not photographing a love story or writing lifestyle pieces, she’s filling up the pages of her passport. vbardega.com See the masthead on p. 16 for a list of all contributing writers and photographers.


BRANDON LEGAL GROUP

L E T T E R S COMMENTS FROM LAKELANDERS

TWENTY SEVEN MADE THE LISTS OF LAKELANDER’S “LOCAL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS YOU SHOULD FOLLOW!” AND I AM OVER THE MOON! I’M THINKING WE SHOULD CELEBRATE ALL YOU LOVELY FOLLOWERS! ANY IDEAS?

A Full Service Law Firm & Family Law Mediation Center

@twentyseven.designs // Instagram

Family Law & Divorce, Wills & Trusts, Criminal Law, Bankruptcy, Business Law, & Real Estate Law

Melissa A. Gravitt Lakeland Of�ice Available by Appointment

LOVED FEATURING REAL COUPLES IN THE LAKELANDER MAG FOR THEIR WEDDING ISSUE. PICK IT UP AND TAG ME IF YOU FIND ME Ashley Holstein// Facebook

ENJOYED SHARING @NOPOSTAGEFILM WITH @LAKELANDERMAG AT THE FLORIDA #REDCARPET PREMIERE! I LOVE #LAKELAND! @CharleeneC // Twitter

Brandon Of�ice 22

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


OUR FAMILY TAKING CARE OF YOUR FAMILY “One of the most important things my dad, Dr. Mike, taught me was to put the patient first. This will always be our #1 priority. We strive to provide our patients with the highest level of comprehensive dental care and prevention, using the most advanced cutting-edge technology. Our focus is listening to our patients’ concerns and coming up with a solution that best fits their desires. We love our patients, we love Lakeland, and we’d love to meet you.” Dr. Drew

South Lakeland Office

North Lakeland Office

2410 S. Florida Avenue Lakeland, FL 33803 863-682-1500

1805 Lakeland Hills Blvd. Lakeland, FL 33805 863-682-1500

AgniniDental.com We accept CareCredit

24

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


I SS U E 36

25


M E T R O NEW AND NOTABLE IN LAKELAND

A letter from Ana Rivera De Ramos, founder of the Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County Written by Ana Rivera De Ramos

There are many reasons why people have found themselves in Lakeland. There are even more reasons as to why we may have chosen to stay and plant our roots here, too. So, why call Lakeland home?

A

lthough I am the president and founder of the Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County, I did not always call Lakeland home. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in New York City, adaptability and adventure came second nature for my family and me. So, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, my husband and I found ourselves deciding on where to move to next. Following the path of previous pioneers, we headed south to our new lives in Central Florida. In light of recent events, we decided to live in Florida but felt that Miami was too similar to NYC. After several trips to Orlando and Tampa, we stumbled upon a Signature Homes’ billboard ad off exit 32. Well, a down payment

26

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


later, we became Lakeland homeowners. Once in our home that fall of 2002, we decided to explore our new home city and happened to stumble into The Hispanic Club of Lakeland’s festival, which was at that time held at Munn Park. Here is where I saw a major opportunity for a new demographic to find a new home. How did I promote the beauty, enchanting charm, and eclectic culture to a new demographic looking to also put their dash of Sazón to a new and changing Lakeland? It was simple: by promoting and introducing future entrepreneurs who were moving into the area to one another and giving them a reason to say, “Presente Latino!” My mission was to marry three very important components lacking elsewhere but which we adopted easily. These were and continue to be the most important words that make up the purpose of all Latinos who have moved to and made Lakeland their home: “Community, Culture, and Commerce.” This very simple recipe has been the success of 10+ years of an organization that introduced itself to a group of over 60 in a public library’s conference room on an August afternoon back in 2007 — the birth of our chamber. There are an array of reasons why one must transplant to a new city. We’re here to let others on the outside understand why Lakeland is a great place to call home just like it has been for us. When people ask me about my adopted home, I simply tell them in my native tongue: “Es arte, es musica, es sol, y es la luna. Un paraiso, y me encanta compartirlo contigo!” “It’s art, it’s music, it’s sun, and it’s the moon. A paradise, and I adore sharing it with you!”

I SS U E 44

“HERE IS WHERE I SAW A MAJOR OPPORTUNITY FOR A NEW DEMOGRAPHIC TO FIND A NEW HOME.”

27


METRO

BC KIDS Always looking for ways to better service the women in the Lakeland community, The Balance Culture officially launched childcare at their studio. Available times, pricing, and pre-registration for BC Kids are all available on their app or at thebalanceculture.com.

LINEMAN STATUE

Continued Development

Three Lakeland High School students helped design a commissioned metal sculpture honoring electric linemen as first-responders. On June 27, the sculpture was installed on the lawn between Lake Mirror and Lakeland Electric.

The Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency continues to move forward with projects that breathe new life into our city.

T

he Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency (LCRA) has made it their priority to revive blighted areas of our city –– specifically in the downtown, Dixieland, and midtown areas. Over the past few years, Lakeland has seen numerous projects come into fruition through the efforts of the LCRA. Some of these include the Lincoln Square single-family residential development, Mass Market, and Lakeland Christian School’s urban farm project. A six-days-a-week food-truck park supplemented with a small dog park and comfortable bar is the LCRA’s most recent idea to add to the continued efforts of redeveloping

28

the Parker Street neighborhood. The food-truck park is to be located next to Mass Market on North Massachusetts Avenue and will include regularly rotated food trucks. The project is looking to be completed next April. The LCRA is also still accepting applications for commissioned art projects that are continuing to be added around the city. Up to nine different historical eight-foot-by-eightfoot portraits along Lake Parker’s shareduse path, as well as three murals on walls of participating local businesses, are among the blank canvases up for grabs for professional artists. Applications are being accepted until August 20, and those interested can visit lakelandcra.net to apply.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

TENOROC KAYAK TRAIL On June 30, local kayakers raised their paddles for the grand opening of Wetland Wanderer Trail. This newly marked paddle trail was put together by members of the Heartland Chapter of the Florida Trail Association and is located off of Combee road at 3829 Tenoroc Mine Road.


METRO

Mixed Ideas

Local artist Sam Romero seeks ways to help us better understand how culture influences us. Mezcla: a Spanish word which translates into “mixture” — also a local clothing brand created by Sam Romero. “I am interested in how we as humans create culture and how culture influences us,” says Romero. For local artist Romero, the idea behind this clothing brand, along with a great deal of his professional endeavors and artistic expressions, has been centered around this idea of mixing and understanding the impact of culture. Romero is an interdisciplinary artist who currently serves as an associate professor and program director of art and graphic design at Florida Southern College. Among his dedication to higher education, he also commits his time to other efforts that focus on highlighting our innate cultural influences. One way Romero has worked toward expressing this interest is through Mezcla. “The inspiration of my clothing line comes from my experience as a Chicano living in Central Florida,” he says. The brand is intended to collaborate with other designers in order to share and engage with varying perspectives of American culture. In addition to this clothing brand, Romero has also been working on a project called The Eagle Eye, a documentary that focuses on the history, logo, and brand of the United Farm Workers Association and its cultural impact. “The documentary is an extension of the research I did for a panel that I chatted at the College of Arts Association titled ‘¡Sí Se Puede! Brand Identity, Activism, and Art-Historical Analyses,’” Romero says. The film will discuss how artists were influenced by the efforts put into the United Farm Workers Association brand and how intentional messaging can leave a significant impact. This past July, Romero also attended a week-long convening with the U.S. Latinx Art Forum (USLAF), an organization that is dedicated to the art and art history of the United States Latinx community. According to USLAF website, their mission is to connect a “network of artists, university and college faculty, independent researchers, museum staff, critics, and graduate students who are interested in and committed to expanding and enhancing the visibility of U.S. Latinx art within academia, exhibition spaces, private and institutional collections, and archival initiatives.” The organization also puts an emphasis on mentorship and professional development, supporting initiatives that continue to grow and cultivate U.S. Latinx visual arts. Romero serves as a key member of this organization and says that “insight from these meetings will allow USLAF to move forward with a strategic plan.” Romero uses these opportunities to create meaningful expressions that remind us of how our perceptions of culture are fundamental to our personal influences. Be on the lookout for Mezcla’s next pop-up shop, updates on The Eagle Eye documentary, and how the initiatives put forth by USLAF impact our community. mezclaapparel.bigcartel.com uslaf.org

30

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Pink Ribbon

22NNDD AANNNNUUAALL

GG AA LL AA

Raising Raisingfunds fundsto togive givehelp helpand andhope hope to tofamilies familiesfacing facingbreast breastcancer cancer

19 19 OCTOBER OCTOBER 2018 2018 HAUS HAUS820 820 820 820NNMassachusetts MassachusettsAve, Ave,Lakeland, Lakeland,FL FL33801 33801

Cocktail Cocktailhour hour6:00–7:00 6:00–7:00pm pm Live Liveauction, auction,silent silentauction, auction,dinner, dinner,and andband band SPONSORED SPONSOREDBY BY

For Formore moreinformation, information,sponsorship sponsorshipopportunities opportunitiesorortickets, tickets, please pleasecontact contactLeah Leahatat(407) (407)361-3967 361-3967ororleah@bcfcf.org leah@bcfcf.org


METRO

C R

Music Made in Lakeland

V

Y

E

S

L

T

E

A

Z

L 32

Written by Aaron Marsh

An introduction to an up-and-coming artist who found her soulful sound as she crafted her new album here in Lakeland.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


FLORIDAPOLY.EDU

100%

CORE STEM EDUCATION

1445

STUDENTS (AND GROWING)

6 2

BACHELOR’S DEGREES

MASTER’S DEGREES

19:1

STUDENT/FACULTY RATIO

1269

AVERAGE SAT SCORE


METRO

An EP release show was hosted at Credo in downtown Orlando on June 1. Velez was accompanied by (above, left to right) Kevin Sumner, Casey Newton, Evan Eliason, Nixaide Lopez, Bryce Rivera, and Bela Pierce (not pictured).

34

Crystal Velez’s new album, Make Up My Mind, begins with a trembling synthetic atmosphere. Her voice, along with a head-bobbing beat, comes in quickly. “I don’t know what you’ve done to me. All I know is something’s missing when I’m not with you.” Her voice is effortless; the songs are soulful and instantly grabbing. Even when she sounds heartbroken, somehow an air of romantic optimism shines through. Crystal Velez came to Lakeland from Puerto Rico in 2013 to attend Southeastern University. It was at SEU that she met Evan Eliason, a fellow music student and up-and-coming music producer who she would later collaborate with to develop a sound for her first solo album. She says, “When I first got to Lakeland, I was in a different place (artistically). I knew I wanted to pursue music, but I didn’t have a sound. All of that came in Lakeland.”

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

She began working on music with Evan at a local recording studio in Lakeland early in 2017. By the time they’d finished her first single, “Sweet Music,” Crystal was having problems with her voice. She underwent surgery to remove nodules from her vocal chords, a scary procedure for a singer. The surgery left her on strict vocal rest; there would be no singing or talking for several months while she recovered. When her voice was fully healed, she got back to work in the studio. “It felt like a long time coming,” she says. “‘Sweet Music’ really felt like a tease. It wasn’t until my senior year, after my surgery, and after I had released the single that I realized I wanted to cultivate what Evan and I had started.” Crystal went through countless voice-memo song ideas, bringing her best writings from the past two years to develop in the studio with Evan. Evan’s production on the album is striking but never overpowers Crystal. The instrumental arrangements stay sparse and focused, making use of traditional funk and hip-hop grooves in the drums and bass, while layers of synths and manipulated vocals fizz and swirl around Crystal’s confident melodies. Despite the elaborate production, Evan challenged himself to keep the listener focused squarely on Crystal’s vocal. “I wanted there to be a revealing sense of Crystal’s true vibe, one that’s always playful and can find a way to laugh in any situation, even if it’s right after singing one of her most heartbroken lyrics.” Make Up My Mind was released on all digital platforms on May 4, 2018, with an album release party at Credo Coffee Shop in Orlando. Crystal says, about the creative community in Lakeland, “When I think of Lakeland, I think of a place where a lot of my artistry and creativity in my craft was developed… Lakeland is a place where art is being birthed, and we may not see all of it yet, but it’s coming to the surface.”


Have New Teeth in Just One Day! Like many others, you may think you’re not a candidate for new teeth, that bone loss prevents you from getting dental implants, or you don’t want to invest years getting your teeth corrected?

Actual “New Teeth Now” Patient

Our state-of-the-art approach enables you to receive new teeth in a single day, under the same roof.

We offer affordable options... • General Dentistry/ Checkups

• Dental Cleanings

• Complete Smile Make-overs

• Tooth Colored Fillings (Bonded)

• Intra-Oral Cameras

• Implant Restorations • All Porcelain Crown and Bridges • Veneers • Low Dose Digital X-rays

• Non-surgical Periodontal Therapy • Night Guards • Professional Whitening at Home or in Office

“Making Lakeland Smile” Call today

(863) 648-5338

Kawveh Nofallah, DMD

3624 Harden Boulevard | Lakeland, FL 33803 www.MakingLakelandSmile.com I SS U E 44

35


METRO

The Lakelander’s College Back-To-School Guide The not-so-essentials that may not be on your current packing list, but should be

Summer break is coming to a close and the fall semester is looming. The arrival of college can stir up an array of emotions –– one of them might include the anxiety that ensues from packing. So, on top of being sure you signed up for your classes and battling through your existential crisis of whether you’re truly pursuing the right degree, you’re also expected to make sure you come ready with the right gear. No need to worry; The Lakelander has you covered. Although there are

36

some necessities to remember when packing for your dorm (such as the right bedding –– don’t underestimate the power of a good memory-foam topper), be sure to add some hometown love to your collection. So, whether you’re gearing up for the fall semester or you’re wanting to gift a student who is about to head out for college, check out our list of locally curated, back-to-school, not-so-essentials (but also, very essential).

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Stationery Loft

Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware / Marshall Jewelers

Get Organized

Get Hydrated

Between a full schedule and extracurriculars, organization is essential. What better way to keep up with homework assignments, the never-ending to-do list, and all your social engagements than in style? Stationery Loft has an assortment of practical yet stylish agendas, notebooks, and writing utensils, including brands like Rifle Paper Co., Leuchtturm, and Le Pen.

Hydration is key –– yes, we are aware of what we just quoted about coffee –– but mastering drinking the right amount of water daily can be difficult. Carrying around a water bottle can help you better keep tabs on the amount of water you’re drinking. Luckily, Crowder Bros. and Marshall Jewelers carry one of our personal favorite brands: Corckcicle.

stationeryloft.com 230 North Kentucky Avenue 863.248.4438

acehardware.com 2633 South Florida Avenue 863.683.6702

Concord Coffee / Patriot Coffee Roasters

Bent’s Schwinn Cycling & Fitness / David’s World Cycle

Get Fueled

Get Moving

In the words of fictional character Lorelai Gilmore, “One bag of coffee per cup of water, right?” Between all your collegiate commitments, coffee is necessary to keep you fueled and alert. So why not fill that bottomless coffee cup with some of your favorite hometown roasts? Concord Coffee and Patriot Coffee Roasters both offer subscription services so you never have to go too long without the taste of home.

Depending on your college campus, riding a bike may be the quickest and most cost-efficient way to get around. Plus, staying active helps with your overall health and emotional well-being, which are important yet often neglected areas of life while in college. Check out Bent’s Schwinn Shop or David’s World Cycle to figure out what bike is best for your daily commute to class.

concordcoffee.com patriotcraftcoffee.com

bentscycling.com 1058 South Florida Ave 863.688.2126

I SS U E 44

marshalljewelerslakeland.com 2535 South Florida Avenue 863.682.4725

davidsworld.com 2125 South Florida Ave 863.682.7160

37


Lakeland’s Newest Healthcare Destination Katie Ash was 27 weeks pregnant with her second child in May 2008, but Liam wasn’t moving. One terrifying week later, Liam was born, weighing a mere 2 pounds 4 ounces. He remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center but needed a high-frequency ventilator to breathe, something not found in Polk County. He was flown by helicopter to Tampa for care, leaving behind his parents and two-yearold sister. The Ashes drove to Tampa to be with their newborn, leaving their daughter in the care of others or hiring someone to watch her at the hospital while her parents tended to Liam. After two weeks, Liam returned to the Lakeland NICU. It was a stressful time, Katie Ash said. “They didn’t even allow children there,” she said about the Tampa hospital. Having a child treated in Tampa or Orlando was the norm, but it doesn’t have to be any longer. On June 15, Lakeland Regional Health opened the $275 million Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women & Children so critically ill children up to age 18 can be treated at the only Level III NICU in Polk County. “Just to have that available here — a private room, a higher level of care — he wouldn’t have had to leave,” Katie Ash said. Here,

38

“Families can come visit and not be on top of each other.” Now nine, Liam is doing great, without any lingering effects from his low heart rate before birth, his parents said. The pavilion houses millions of dollars of state-of-the-art specialty equipment, increased security, stations to prevent germs, and much more. But you also feel the special touches designed to soothe children who are hurting. The letters spelling Children’s Emergency at one entrance are built in colorful blocks. Inside, artwork by two women with local ties adorn the entryways while colorful, peaceful photos can be found in rooms. Women can also receive specialized obstetric care there. “The pavilion was built by the community for the community, meaning that community members’ input was utilized in the design phase of the pavilion,” said Joyce Arand, the associate vice president for Women’s and Children’s Services. In addition, the community helped “make the vision a reality,” Arand said. Barnett, the daughter of Publix Founder George Jenkins, contributed millions to the project, but many other people also donated, and the hospital recently kicked off a public

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

Your child needs care? Lakeland’s got you covered. Written by Lenore Devore

campaign to raise $5 million to “accomplish all its goals,” LRH President Elaine Thompson said. No longer are babies born in a sterile room then whisked off to a nursery. Here, mothers give birth in their rooms, and their babies stay with them. Spouses can spend the night on fold-out couches. “The pavilion was well-planned to include plenty of space for patients and their families,” Arand said. “When caring for a newborn or a pediatric patient, we are caring for the whole family unit. In the pavilion, we have space to accommodate family members who are essential to the well-being of the patient.” Maybe your children are grown and you have no plans for more. But there’s still reason to care about this eight-story, 350,000-squarefoot gem just north of downtown Lakeland. “The pavilion is integral to Lakeland and Polk County because infant health is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a community,” Arand said. “By increasing the availability of certain services, such as expert and specialized pediatric and obstetrical care, right in our own community, we are optimistic that the health of our infants and children, and therefore our community, will only improve.”


20 18 HOME S CHEDUL E 8/25

University of the Cumberlands

10/27

Edward Waters College

9/8

University of GC

11/3

Keiser University

9/22

Bethel University

11/8

Faulkner University

LAKELAND'S COLLEGE TEAM

I SS U E 44

39


TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FUTURE AT THE ESTATES! “…Just Right for Two Thorough, Retired Engineers.”

Being in control of your life shouldn’t change as you transition to retirement. At The Estates, it won’t. In fact, we make it even easier for you to live life your way! HEALTH – An enriching, well-balanced lifestyle, featuring our Elevage Wellness & Fitness programs, helps you stay in control of your health! Best of all, as a Life Plan Community, we also offer assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation right on site. FINANCES – With Lifecare at The Estates, you’ll have access to future health care services if needed – guaranteed for life – at the same monthly rates you are paying for independent living. Tax benefits included! SOCIAL LIFE – Indulge in a delicious, chef-prepared meal. Take a dip in the pool. Stay fit with our on-site trainer. Learn something new at a cultural event. Chat with a friend in the bistro. Be creative in the woodworking shop. Bond with your dog at the dog park. Or simply relax in the privacy of your spectacular new apartment. All this and more is within reach at The Estates! YOUR HOME – Whether you choose a studio, one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment home, you have the opportunity to make customizations in our Design Center.

“The Estates’ Move-In Coordinator, Patti, and the contractors worked closely with us to extensively renovate and customize our apartment to make it just right for two thorough, retired engineers. We enjoy our low-maintenance lifestyle and having more time and energy since The Estates provides so many services: move-in concierge, meals, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance. Best of all, should one of us need health care in the future, we won’t have to be separated.” - The Callahans


Why Did the Callahans Choose The Estates?

IT’S TIME FOR A NEW LOOK!

This bright, active couple enjoyed a well-planned life – and that didn’t stop with retirement. Here were some of the deciding factors in their choice to move:

WHY A CCRC? • • • •

You don’t enjoy doing lawn and house maintenance The house is too large to maintain easily The idea of a housekeeper sounds good Meals are becoming a chore that you don’t look forward to • You don’t think you will still be driving on the day before you leave the earth • You don’t want to be separated from your spouse if/ when one or both of you need assisted living or skilled nursing care

WHY THE ESTATES AT CARPENTERS?

• Choice of CCRC-A or CCRC-B (rental) – pay same(A)/more(B) when more care is needed • Excellent reputation • More amenities than smaller CCRCs • Large enough to find other people who share your interests but still has a small-town feel • Everything is under “one roof” – you don’t have to worry about the weather report • Many apartment sizes available • Customization of apartments is invited

WHY NOW?

• Moving and downsizing is a BIG job. Do you want to make your own decisions or leave it to someone else to decide? • Do you want to make big life adjustments when it’s easier or much more difficult? • Make it your home – and enjoy it – BEFORE life circumstances force you to move • Do you REALLY think that you’re in control of your health, auto accidents, etc.? • It’s better to be 5 – 15 years early than one day too late (e.g., after a stroke, auto accident)

Great news: Our exciting renovation project is complete, and we’re excited to share the results with you! Even better news: We’re offering one more opportunity to enjoy premier construction savings of $10,000 to $30,000 on entrance fees – now through July 31! Plus, couple this with our VIP MoveIn Program – a $2,500 value, complimentary with select Signature Series plans. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to lead a vibrant, worry-free retirement lifestyle – that time is NOW – before all our floor plans are wait-listed!

Call Jeanie at 863-588-7284 to schedule your tour today.

1001 Carpenters Way | Lakeland, FL 33809

EstatesAtCarpenters.com

Like Us on


CULTURE

“Art has the capacity for us to not only see a piece of work, but to immerse ourselves within its story; to hang around long enough to understand new complexities.� Written by Annalee Mutz Photographed by John Kazaklis

42

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Lakeland ART AND EMPATHY ART/ifact’s recent a new home to many Puerto has become exhibition “Ceaseless Ricans wanting to start a new life. Can art help people develop cultural empathy? Stream” gives new Art and its ability to evoke empathy isn’t cultural perspective necessarily a new conversation, but it’s one that through atypical art has been buzzing more frequently as of recent forms by Cuban-born years. Even researchers have taken time to truly exiles. investigate art’s impact on our social awareness The name “Ceaseless Stream” was inspired by a Japanese poem that left an impression on featured artist, Musaschy Filgueira. The poem reads: “The flow of the river is ceaseless and its water is never the same.”

44

and understanding. A recent study from Tulane University says that medical students who spend more time engaging with art exhibited higher levels of empathy. Art has the capacity for us to not only see a piece of work, but to immerse ourselves within its story, to hang around long enough to understand new complexities. Art has the ability to humanize a story in a way that words alone can oftentimes not accomplish. It takes us out of ourselves and gives us bigger perspective of the world around us. “Art has the power to connect us all,” says executive director of ART/ifact, Elizabeth Hults. On April 20, the ART/ifact gallery opened an exhibition titled “Ceaseless Stream.” This exhibition ran through the month of May and included artwork from five Cuban-born exiles. It was the

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

first art show of its kind in Lakeland. According to Hults, her hope for this exhibit was to expose the community to another culture as well as atypical art forms. A CEASELESS STREAM “Ceaseless Stream” was inspired by a Japanese poem from painter Takesada Matsutani’s A Matrix which reads: “The flow of the river is ceaseless and its water is never the same.” Exhibition organizer and featured artist, Musaschy Filgueira (aka Niten), is a devotee of Matsutani and drew parallels between the poem and Cuban exiles crossing open seas to reach America. Filgueira is a doctor who was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1970 and migrated to Polk County in 2004. “This exhibition represents water flowing with unknown ends, such as the art from Cuba,” says Filgueira. Selected artists provided both figurative and abstract pieces that reflected this theme. “The title is a very suggestive title that gives rise to a continuity of events that can be projected in the future,” says featured exhibition artist Jesus Rivera.


I SS U E 44

45


Over 20 artists submitted artwork for consideration into this exhibit. Exhibition curator, Olga Chao, narrowed down the selection to include Cuban-born artists Antonio Guerrero, Francisco Miranda, Musaschy Filgueira (Niten), Adriano Nicot, and Jesus Rivera.

46

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


I SS U E 44

47


Cuba has longed endured a difficult history — one filled with over 50 years of painful separation between those who left Cuba and those who stayed. Since Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959, Cuba sustained a massive flow of migrants with multiple waves of Cubans headed to the United States due to political and economic conditions. Cuban exiles have clung to hopes of returning to Cuba someday. However, it seems to be a continual pull between hope and apathy among each generation even with Fidel Castro gone. The long history of these hardships are, of course, more complex than just that, though. Perhaps an excerpt from the exhibition booklet from “Ceaseless Stream” curator, Olga Chao, can give even more insight into the deeper layers of Cuban exiles:

Although Cuban-influenced, “Ceaseless Stream” focused on contemporary art rather than traditional Cuban paintings.

Cubans have a historic destiny to exile. Since the first famous exile of Jose Maria Heredia in 1806, in the United States, to his descendant, a cousin, Jose Maria de Heredia, 1906, in France, dozens of notable artists, poets, writers, and philosophers went into exile, including a young exile, businessman Miguel de Aldama, who in 1870 or so, was one of the three richest men in the United States. Then came us: one million Cubans in exodus from their island from 1959, away from a tyrannical government which has laid Cuba to waste — like Dresden, or Syria. NEW PERSPECTIVES “The idea for the exhibition was largely organic in terms of process,” says Hults. “Connections began to form during a prior exhibition by the Hispanic Club of Lakeland.” Initially, Filgueira desired to find a way to showcase different approaches to art. Olga Chao, who is also a licensed art appraiser, saw Filgueira’s artwork at Polk State College. After this initial connection, Chao asked Filgueira to put together a collection of artwork from professional artists comprised of Cuban exiles living in South Florida. From there, about 20 artists submitted their art for consideration into this exhibit. Chao narrowed down this selection to five artists: Antonio Guerrero, Francisco Miranda, Musaschy Filgueira (Niten), Adriano Nicot, and Jesus Rivera. Each of them brought their own personalities through their artwork to not only highlight their personal efforts, but also to educate the local community regarding the art of Cuban-born artists. “These artists were selected because their art does not necessarily present what is traditionally known as ‘Cuban art,’” says Filgueira. Through the showcase, viewers encountered pieces such as Nicot’s mixed media that dramatized dark colors “to create a new language of the traditional Cuban painting,” says Filgueira. On the other hand, Miranda, “who is considered one of the best landscape artists from Cuba, showcases landscapes from the contemplation of what is inside him, not what is considered a traditional landscape,” says Filgueira.

48

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


DOCTOR of PHYSICAL THERAPY Florida Southern College is launching a new doctor of physical therapy program in Fall 2019 that will supply highly trained physical therapists to healthcare facilities in Florida each year. Graduates of this new program will complete their course of study in 2½ years, including 36 weeks of clinical experiences.

Over the next eight years the number of physical therapists nationwide is projected to increase 28 percent. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physical therapist positions take longer to fill than any other health-related field with 60% of positions requiring at least 61 days to fill. Florida Hospital Association

For more information, visit flsouthern.edu/DPT

Accreditation Graduation from a physical therapist education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states. Contact: 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; accreditation@apta.org Florida Southern College is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the Pre-accreditation stage, on December 1, 2018. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.


Along with a more contemporary look to these pieces, what made this Cuban-influenced gallery unique was that it encompassed some of the best Cuban artists, not necessarily artwork specific to Cuba. “Their pieces could be displayed in any exhibit or museum around the world, and are great examples of contemporary art,” says Filgueira. And Filgueira himself decided to showcase a new abstract and expressionism piece. It was important to all involved in the gallery to promote Cuban-born artists and their art that isn’t stereotypical to Cuba. Hults, Filgueira, and Chao all desired to highlight what these artists have accomplished within the realism of their lives today. “It was an honor to be with such an outstanding group of excellent artists,” says Rivera, who has been recognized for his expressionistic flora and landscape paintings which have been displayed over the past 20 years in Cuba. Rivera included in “Ceaseless Stream” a collection of circle paintings, which he has called “Scared Circles” because “they carry with them a great energy capable of shaking souls and feelings,” he says.

50

“This exhibition represents water flowing with unknown ends, such as the art from Cuba.” – Musaschy Filgueira Selected artists provided both abstract and figurative artwork that reflected the exhibition’s theme, “Ceaseless Stream.”

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


POWERING

WORLD-CLASS TRANSPORTATION Lakeland Electric’s story is about strengthening the communities throughout our territory. We are proud to partner with the Lakeland Linder International Airport to help create a more sustainable airport that boosts the local economy, enhances our customers’ quality of life, and provides critical transportation connections for residential and commercial customers.

I N PA R T N E R S H I P W I T H

lakelandelectric.com


(Pictured above, left to right): Jesus Rivera, Antonio Guerrero, Elizabeth Hults, Musaschy Filgueira (Niten), and Adriano Nicot.

52

BRIDGING THE GAP Overall, the exhibit received positive feedback from the city. “I was so proud of the Lakeland community for showing up and supporting such an endeavor. People are asking, ‘What’s next?’” says Hults. For Filgueira, he aspires for this showcase to be a catalyst for even more investment into the Lakeland art community. “It is my hope that the Lakeland art scene would consider opening more spaces for artists to showcase their works,” he says. With the intention of sharing new cultural and artistic perspectives, highlighting well-known Cuban artists may have created new momentum for the Lakeland art. “I believe we were able to bring an art movement to Polk County from wellknown Cuban-born artists, with the intention of

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

sharing with the local art scene a different point of view regarding art,” says Filgueira. “Artists from all over the world, including Cuban artists, want to share their art with all American people from all walks of life and cultures. As a new frontier, Polk County provided a wonderful opportunity for this to happen.” By taking the time to see what artists see, exposure to art may help bridge the gap of cultural misunderstandings by cultivating new global perspectives. “I think it’s important for people to be exposed to other cultures and art forms,” says Hults. “My hope is to continue to build this momentum through exposure to not only culturally diverse art, but largely experimental art forms as well. I hope to challenge and grow our community by engaging them through art.”


We can give you 8,000 reasons, our legion of independent STIHL dealers nationwide. We count on them every day and so can you. To give you a product demonstration, straight talk and genuine advice about STIHL products. To offer fast and expert on-site service. And to stand behind every product they carry, always fully assembled. You see, we won’t sell you a chainsaw in a box, not even a big one. Are you ready for a STIHL?

To find a dealer: STIHLUSA.com | STIHLUSA.mobi 1-800-GO-STIHL The Home Depot and Lowe’s are registered trademarks of their respective companies.

2 Lakeland Locations

WDER BRO O S. R C

Southgate Center | 2633 S. Florida Ave. | 863-683-6702 Sandpiper Plaza | 6549 N. Socrum Loop Rd. | 863-859-9909

AVAILABLE AT

WDER BRO O S. R C

MAKE EVERY SIP AN EXPERIENCE

2 Lakeland Locations Southgate Center 2633 S. Florida Ave. | 863-683-6702 Sandpiper Plaza 6549 N. Socrum Loop Rd. | 863-859-9909


ht TASTE

con

54

Hecho MADE

WITH

LOVE

Amor TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Written by Giovanna Favilli Photographed by Tina Sargeant

Nicaraguan food is unique and diverse, with many dishes influenced from other cultural cuisines. This creative fusion along with the thoughtfulness taken into each dish not only creates a delectable meal, but also an experience that reminds us why meals are meant to be shared with those we love.

I SS U E 44

55


N Nicaragua is the land my parents once called home. The first place they knew. My two siblings and I are U.S.-born children of foreign-born parents. I am a second-generation American, and I am thankful every day. Growing up with privilege has allowed me to grow in an entirely different environment. An environment that leaves me ignorant to their early lives — lives filled with struggle, hope, determination, and war. Although my siblings and I grew up in America, it never meant we had to strip ourselves from all the culture and traditions that ran through our veins. Nicaragua has always been my home away from home. Because of that, the love my parents had for food and where it came from has never gone unnoticed. My mother always made food a top priority. Every day after school, she would pick us up, drive to the local grocery store, patiently remove all the junk food my brother and I would try to sneak into the cart, and then drive home to cook us dinner. The amount of work my mother did throughout the day must have left her dead by this time. But even then, she always managed to cook us a beautiful meal. From cow’s tongue dressed in the most decadent sauce to squid-ink fried rice, we could always expect to go to bed with our bellies full. There is only so much my parents could do in Lakeland to give us a taste of their country. For us to get the full experience, we had to see it for ourselves. Every year since I was a year old, my parents would take us to Nicaragua for two weeks. We’d spend that time traveling back and forth between Masaya, the city where my mother grew up, and Majagual, the beach where my father grew up spearfishing. In Masaya, we’d walk the crowded streets full of life in search of a good fritanga stand. You’d always know you were getting close when the smell of carne asada (grilled meat) filled the air. The best home-style Nicaraguan foods come from fritanga stands. From delicious vigoron (recipe follows) to queso frito (fried cheese), you can always find something that will make your taste buds want to hit a Mariah Carey high note.

56

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


IT’S ABOUT COMING TOGETHER AND SHARING EXPERIENCES WITH THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT. WHEN WE LIVE IN A WORLD FULL OF FASTFOOD JOINTS, RESTAURANT CHAINS, AND FROZEN TV DINNERS, IT’S EASY TO FORGET THESE THINGS.

In Majagual, we’d camp on the most beautiful, untouched beach. A beach so beautiful, it would bring tears to my eyes. A beach that held so many of my father’s memories. A beach where I learned how to make my very first ceviche. I remember like it was yesterday: my father and I would wake up early and head down the beach toward the jagged rocks. We’d find where all the cucarachas del mar were hiding and spend hours pulling them off the rocks with a sharp tool, usually a shell we found on the walk over. On our walk back, we’d collect limes from all the citrus trees swaying in the sweet, salty air. Once we were back, I’d watch my father detach all the cucarachas del mar from the shells. He’d put them on a large flat rock he’d find nearby, and with his pocket knife, he’d split the limes in two and drown the little critters in lime juice. And just like that, I’d be eating the freshest ceviche of my life. As simple and rustic as it was, I’ve never had anything better. That’s what Nicaraguan food is about. It’s about knowing where your food comes from and preparing it with thoughtfulness and love. It’s about coming together and sharing experiences with the people you care about. When we live in a world full of fast-food joints, restaurant chains, and frozen TV dinners, it’s easy to forget these things. With that said, I hope these recipes inspire you. I hope they get you cooking with intention and heart. I hope they get you dancing around your kitchen with the people you love. I hope you enjoy them. Buen provecho, Lakeland!

I SS U E 44

57


ht

TA M A L E S

LA MASA 3-1/2 cups masa harina for tamales (20 ounces) 3 cups very hot water 1/2 pound lard 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup cotija cheese, grated 1 -1/2 tablespoons baking powder 1 cup chicken stock 2 tablespoons salt

In a large bowl, mix the masa with the hot water until evenly moistened. Add the cheese and knead several times to make a smooth dough. Remember to not be afraid of getting your hands dirty; your hands are some of the best tools in the kitchen. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the lard with the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the salt and baking powder, and beat at medium-low speed until it has been incorporated, about 2 minutes. While the machine continues to mix the ingredients, add the masa in four batches. Continue beating and occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the masa is smooth. Pour in the chicken stock and beat until the masa is soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Wrap the tamale masa in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. The masa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Before assembling the tamales, return the masa to the mixer and beat the dough at high speed for 1 minute.

Making your own masa helps you have more control over the moistness of the dough.

58


TOMATILLO CHICKEN FILLING 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 8 tomatillos, cubed 1/2 yellow onion, cubed 4 garlic cloves, halved 1 serrano pepper, halved and seeded 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 1 lime, juiced Salt and pepper Olive oil

Preheat the broiler. On a sheet tray, add yellow onion, garlic, tomatillos, and serrano peppers. Drizzle some olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Broil the vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until they get charred around the edges. Place the serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and tomatillos in a blender and blend until smooth. In a large sauté pan, combine the tomatillo mixture and the shredded chicken, and heat through. Set aside in a bowl to cool.

THE BUILDING PROCESS Bowl of masa Bowl of tomatillo chicken filling 15 corn husks, hydrated 15 banana leaves, cut into small squares Extra banana leaves to cut into strips and tie around tamales

Before wrapping the tamales, make sure the dried corn husks have been hydrating in a bowl of water. This will make them easier to work with. Once the corn husks have softened, place one small banana leaf square in the center of your corn husk. With a spoon, scoop a heaping spoon full of masa and fill the corn husk. Fill the center, leaving the top and bottom sections free of any masa. Add some of the tomatillo chicken filling right in the middle, making sure there is enough room and masa to wrap around the filling. Once you have filled the corn husk, fold the sides and the bottom into the middle. Do not fold the top part down. You want to keep that open to let some steam out. With the extra strips of banana leaves you cut earlier, tie the tamale around its waist. Do not tie the tamale too tight; you don’t want to give the tamale an hourglass figure. You just want to make sure it’s tightly sealed. To begin steaming the tamales, locate a large lidded pot. Use a metal strainer at the bottom of the pot to keep the tamales above the water. You don’t want the tamales getting wet. Fill the pot up to the metal strainer and add a pinch of salt to the water. Stack the tamales inside the pot, standing up, with the open end facing the top. Do not lay them on their side. Turn the burner on the stove to high and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot with the lid. Steam the tamales for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, checking the water level every 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

I SS U E 44

LAKELAND’S PREMIER COFFEE HOUSE & CASUAL EATERY

205 E MAIN ST

863.682.1210

59


TRICOLOR

TO STA DA S

1 package of corn tortilla tostadas

ROASTED TOMATO SALSA

REFRIED BEANS

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, whole 2 garlic cloves, halved 1 jalapeño, halved 1 yellow onion, quartered 1 lime, juiced Olive oil Salt and pepper Queso fresco for garnish

2 29-ounce cans of refried beans 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder Salt and pepper Roasted corn for garnish 2 ears of corn

In an oiled pan, sauté the chopped garlic and onion with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder, over medium heat. When the onions have turned translucent, add the two cans of refried beans. Cook the refried beans until they are nice and hot. For the roasted corn garnish, simply cut the kernels off the cob and roast them on a sheet pan with a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the corn in the oven at 400 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they have dehydrated. You want them to have more of a dry, chewy consistency. Sprinkle some of the roasted kernels over the refried bean tostada when you are ready to serve.

Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and jalapeño peppers on a sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil the vegetables until the outsides are charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Place the charred jalapeños in a small bowl and remove the seeds. Add all of the charred vegetables into a food processor and blend it until the salsa has a smooth texture to it. Set aside in a bowl to cool. For the queso fresco garnish, simply crumble the cheese over the roasted tomato salsa tostada when you are ready to serve.

Guacamole recipe online at thelakelander.com Spreading a thick layer of refried beans or guacamole on the tostadas helps holds the other toppings.

60

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


I SS U E 44

61


1/2 pound chicharron

YUCCA 3 pounds frozen yucca 1 yellow onion, quartered 4 garlic cloves, halved 1 cup olive oil 3 quarts water Salt

In a large pot, combine the water, olive oil, yucca, onion, garlic, and salt. Bring it to a boil and cook until the yucca is fork-tender (similar to boiling potatoes). Remove from heat and drain the yucca. While it’s still hot, use your hands to remove the woody spines from the center of the yucca chunks. Set aside and let cool.

SLAW 1 bag of shredded cabbage 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 1 vine-ripe tomato, finely chopped 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped 8 limes, juiced 1/3 cup olive oil 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar Salt and pepper

VIGORON

In a large bowl, mix the shredded cabbage, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Add the lime juice, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

! TA M A R I N D O

1 bottle of prosecco

TAMARIND SYRUP 2 cups tamarind pods, peeled 3 cups granulated sugar 3 cups water 1 lime, juiced

In a large pot, combine the water and sugar. Set the stove to medium-high heat and whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Add the tamarind pods and lime juice. Bring to a boil.

62

Salud!

CHAMPAGNE

CO C K TA I L

Once the syrup has boiled for about 2 minutes, lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. DEHYDRATED LIMES 2 limes, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and evenly distribute the lime slices on the parchment. Make sure the lime slices

are nice and thin. Pop it in the oven and let it dehydrate for 4 to 5 hours. Try not to open the oven too often. Let the limes do their thing. You’ll know when they’re done when they lose their stickiness and start feeling rough and dry. COCKTAIL 2 ounces tamarind syrup 5 ounces Champagne 1 dehydrated lime slice for garnish

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Dinner Is Served! Ribs Served nightly! I SS U E 44

63


PEOPLE

64

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


To Begin Again


Written and Photographed by John Kazaklis

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Lakeland has become a new home to many Puerto Ricans wanting to start a new life.

I

n late September 2017, Hurricane Maria swept through the Eastern Caribbean leaving a path of destruction in its wake. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was devastated, and millions of Puerto Ricans were left without basic resources. Large parts of the island were without electricity or running water for several months following the storm leaving much of the working population unemployed and many children out of school. “The kids were out of school for three months because there was no water there. That was one of the main problems,” explains Eric Cuevos, a Puerto Rican who recently moved to Lakeland to build a new life. What took place in subsequent months after Hurricane Maria was what some have termed to be an “exodus” from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States. According to a recent post from The Washington Post, this is possibly the largest exodus out of the island in its history as a U.S. territory. Being a natural haven and destination for Latin Americans moving to the U.S. due to its geographical location, Florida ended up receiving the highest number of Puerto Ricans fleeing the territory as a result of the storm’s devastating effects on the island. According to FEMA data, Florida received the highest number of FEMA applications as a result of Hurricane Maria, numbering at 5,500. New York received the second-highest number of FEMA applications, with a total of 1,003. The top six counties for these claims included Orange, Osceola, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Polk counties. As of March 2018, Polk County received the fourth highest number of newly enrolled students from Puerto Rico in the state of Florida. The Orlando Metropolitan Area was already

66

home to the second-largest Puerto Rican community outside of Puerto Rico prior to Maria. Historically, Puerto Ricans have migrated to the Northeast region of the U.S., with the New York City area being famously known as a primary destination for the community. But in the last 10 to 20 years, Orlando has become the newly crowned mecca for Puerto Rican migration to the mainland, so much that Puerto Ricans constitute the largest ancestral group in neighboring Osceola County. Polk County’s proximity to the Orlando area has helped establish a significant community in the northeastern parts of the county as well as in Lakeland. The Puerto Rican community has become one of the two largest Hispanic ancestral groups in Lakeland, the other being Mexicans, making Lakeland and Central Florida a destination for Puerto Ricans leaving their island after Maria. Many Americans also forget or do not realize that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States. The island became a U.S. territory in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War, and in 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act was passed which made anyone born on the island a U.S. citizen. Since then, Puerto Ricans have been able to travel freely between the island and the mainland, in essence being able to freely move throughout the American homeland just as any other citizen can. All these factors have played an important role in making Lakeland and Central Florida a destination for Puerto Ricans leaving their island after Hurricane Maria. While many decided to stay on the island after Maria, many made the decision to pick up and move to the mainland in order to build a new life. Leaving your land can be full of emotions and pain, leaving behind generations of family history, homes, communities, and parents. Some had family members or friends already established in Lakeland prior to Maria, while others did not but wanted to build a new life around the familiarity of an already established Puerto Rican community. Either way, those migrating to the mainland were in search of hope after experiencing such destruction and loss. We sat down with three individuals who chose to leave their homeland of Puerto Rico and journey to Lakeland for a new life after Hurricane Maria. They left their homes and their livelihood in the pursuit of hope and opportunity. They packed up their lives into suitcases containing only the essentials that were needed to begin again. We listened to their stories and learned about why they decided to make Lakeland their home.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

FACTS ON PUERTO RICO PUERTO RICO IS A SELF-GOVERNING COMMONWEALTH IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE UNITED STATES. IN 1493, PUERTO RICO CAME UNDER SPANISH COLONIAL GOVERNMENT INFLUENCE. THE ISLAND THEN ENDURED CENTURIES-LONG INVASIONS FROM THE BRITISH, DUTCH, AND FRENCH. AS A RESULT OF THE SPANISHAMERICAN WAR, IN 1898 PUERTO RICO BECAME A U.S. TERRITORY. IN 1917, THE JONES-SHAFROTH ACT WAS PASSED WHICH MADE ANYONE BORN ON THE ISLAND A U.S. CITIZEN. PUERTO RICO’S ECONOMY PRIMARILY RELIES ON FEDERAL AID FROM THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.


I SS U E 44

67


68

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Arrival Date to Lakeland: April 6, 2018 PR Hometown: Carolina

Eric Cuevos

Huddled closely together while fixated on a cartoon TV show, Eric Cuevos’ four children were spending the afternoon at their grandmother’s small apartment in North Lakeland while he shared about his journey leaving Puerto Rico for Florida. There was a combination of gratitude and loss mixed together in his voice, but overall, he was eager to share his story. With their whole lives packed into suitcases, Cuevos and his family arrived from Puerto Rico on April 6, almost six months after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. He was eager to begin his new life in Lakeland with his children. Life was not that easy for him in Puerto Rico prior to Maria, being a single father of four children who have learning disabilities, two of whom are autistic. Cuevos lived in different cities around Puerto Rico but decided that Carolina was the best fit for his family’s needs. “We moved to Carolina in order to have my two children with autism attend a school that had programs to meet their needs,” says Cuevos. His children were in the best school in Carolina for autistic children, but that wasn’t a good enough reason to keep them from weathering post-Maria conditions. When Maria hit his hometown, Cuevos and his family were living on the third floor of a Section 8 apartment building. “The windows were blown out during the storm and it was like waterfalls of water coming through the windows. We had water damage everywhere,” he says. According to Cuevos, the Section 8 communities of Puerto Rico were at the mercy of the electric companies. There was unstable electricity up until the day they left for Florida. “The power would still go out for two to three days at a time. It seemed like electricity was given to those with money all around the Section 8 communities,” he says. His children were out of school for three months in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed the school’s water supply. They eventually returned to school in January, four months after the storm. The already struggling economy of Puerto Rico took an even bigger hit with the storm. “Because of the damages from Maria, no one would hire because they could not support hiring employees. There was no work to provide food for the family,” says Cuevos. The lack of job opportunities forced him to find chibos, or small side jobs for cash. With a vocation in construction and a specialization in drywalling, Cuevos could not make ends meet with small chibos to provide for his four children. This was what eventually pushed him to consider leaving Puerto Rico for Florida. With six months passing after the storm, Cuevos gave it all he had to make things work in Puerto Rico but looked to Florida as an answer to his family’s long-term needs. WHY LAKELAND? Cuevos’ mother was already living in mainland United States for 28 years and was able to educate him about Lakeland’s opportunities and culture prior to his move here. “I heard that the city was good and calm compared to Orlando and Kissimmee. I wanted to make a safe move for my kids,” Cuevos says. He also did his research and heard great things about the police and sheriff ’s departments in Lakeland and Polk County. “I heard that there are laws that people listen to and follow here. At bus stops, I see how the policemen say hi instead of looking at you weird like they do in Puerto Rico.” Looking ahead, Cuevos has the desire to settle permanently in Lakeland and lay down roots. With his children already enrolled in local schools and programs that meet their needs, Cuevos’ face lights up as he conveys the ease in the process he has undergone to get their lives integrated into Lakeland.

I SS U E 44

69


A r r i v a l D a t e t o L a k e l a n d : November 12, 2017 PR Hometown: C i a l e s

Evelyn Rivera

“We have gained so much here in Lakeland within six months, but it came with great sacrifice.” – Evelyn Rivera

70

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


We are the place to turn to ... If you are 55+ years and never had a baseline hearing screening, have trouble hearing in restaurants and at parties, or think your spouse mumbles. Audiologist Hearing aid center nonprofit

If your child is having difficulty being understood, communicating with others, or struggling in school.

If your child has recurrent ear infections, is slow to speak or read, or often appears not to be paying attention.

If you or a loved one has had a stroke or been diagnosed with parkinson’s disease and is struggling to communicate.

Hearing aid center runner up - Audiologist

in the running for: Audiologist(3), hearing aid center, nonprofit, & customer service

Call Today to schedule your appointment! 863-686-3189 Special Offer! 3020 Lakeland Highlands Road | Lakeland, FL 33803 863-686-3189 | www.cfshc.org

Limited Time only! Expires 09/30/18

• free Hearing Consultation to see if you may have a hearing loss — or prove that you don’t! • free Second Opinion if you’ve already been tested and hearing aids were recommended.


Hurricane Maria proved to make life very difficult all over the island of Puerto Rico, but especially for those who lived in mountainous areas where many roads and power lines were completely destroyed. Inaccessibility was a norm in these hard-to-reach areas for several weeks following Maria. Evelyn Rivera’s home on the eve of the storm’s arrival was Ciales, Puerto Rico, a town located in the Central Mountains range of the island. Winding roads that entered and exited the town were cut off, leaving locals out of touch from the rest of the world for weeks after the storm. Evelyn’s sister back in Lakeland didn’t receive word from her family until one month after Maria. “They were losing their minds not knowing what happened or if we were OK after the hurricane,” says Evelyn. While roads began to be cleared and rebuilt, Evelyn and her boyfriend, Rey Ayala Rivera, faced difficulties with their employment. Rey was a native of Vega Baja, located on the northern coast of the island, and employed as a chef at a country club. Evelyn worked as an administrative assistant at a medical clinic but was left out of work for over a month after the storm. As Maria left the island in disarray, businesses suffered greatly. The Puerto Rican people were primarily focused on spending their money and resources on basic needs to survive and rebuild. This, combined with inconsistent electricity, meant little or no work. “My work week at the country club went from 40 hours to 10 hours. That was not enough income to support a life, and no one else was hiring,” says Rey. Once Evelyn was able to finally connect with family in Lakeland after the storm, the thought of seeking a better life on the mainland arose. Both she and Rey were forced to evaluate the current state of their lives as Maria left them with a fraction of the income they once made and still without electricity at home. Within a matter of time, Evelyn’s sister in Lakeland was able to find a job opportunity for her at a health clinic, and Rey was given a lead from his nephew for a chef position in Zephyrhills. But, leaving their lives behind

“My decision to move to Florida meant that I would be missing my son’s high school graduation.” – Rey Ayala Rivera

72

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Building Quality New Homes

Designed for Your Life Since 1996

• Beautiful new homes priced from the mid $100’s to $300’s

• Choose from 30+ home plans with 1,301 to 3,315 square feet of living space

• Personalize your new home to your style and needs with design options in every price point

Neighborhoods Near You:

Lakeland • Winter Haven • Lake Alfred • Haines City• Tampa Bay • Sarasota • Orlando • Ocala

Find Your New Home:

www.HighlandHomes.ORG • (863) 797-4999 *Prices, rates, terms, plans, and specifications subject to change without notice. See your Community Sales Manager for details. CGC #058580


Arrival Date to Lakeland: November 12, 2017 PR Hometown: C i a l e s

WHY LAKELAND? What made Lakeland a viable option was Evelyn’s sister, Minnie, who was already a resident. Minnie was able to pave the way and receive Evelyn and Rey with open arms. The high possibility of finding sustainable

74

employment in Lakeland made the decision even more enticing. But family and work weren’t the only reasons that carried weight for them. Like Eric Cuevos, Rey and Evelyn had heard of the tranquility and calm lifestyle that Lakeland offered in comparison to the bustling Puerto Rican communities of Orlando and Kissimmee. “The criminal activity in Puerto Rico was increasing after Maria, and we wanted to find a place that was calm,” says Rey. Since their move to Lakeland in early November, they have been able to settle in comfortably. They were able to live with family upon their arrival but moved into their own place in January and purchased their own car. “My long-term vision is to open my own restaurant in Lakeland that serves delicious and traditional Puerto Rican food,” Rey says with excitement. Both he and Evelyn were speechless and grateful at how quickly they were able to get integrated into Lakeland. From finding jobs in fields that they previously worked in, to getting acclimated to the local culture, it looks like Lakeland will be their home for the long haul.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

Rey Ayala Rivera

in Puerto Rico came with its difficulties as well. “My decision to move to Florida meant that I would be missing my son’s high school graduation,” says Rey. Evelyn adds, “We have gained so much here in Lakeland within six months, but it came with great sacrifice.” In order to start all over again in Florida, Rey and Evelyn sold everything they had, including a car, two of their three dogs, and left behind plenty of family and loved ones. Looking back, they are grateful and at peace that they made the best decision, despite what they lost. “My mom said it was 194 days until the power came back on at their house,” says Evelyn. That was more than four months after Evelyn and Rey left for Florida.


Extended 7am to 7pm Drive Thru and Saturday Hours


SHELTER

T O L I V E S L O W LY

The elegance and charm of Spanish Revival style architecture was introduced to us in the early 1900s, but there has been a resurgence of demand for it in the Lakeland housing market. Innovation from early developers, such as Henry Flagler, have affected the way we appreciate and view Spanish architecture in our city to this day. Learn more about the history of this romanticized idea while taking a peek into the Hults’ beloved and vibrant casita.

Bardega ria • to

Sargeant na • Ti

tten by V wri ic

otography b ph y


TO LIVE IN LOVE

I SS U E 44

77


A R C H I T E C T S A N D D E V E LO P E R S O F S PA N I S H C A S I TA A R C H I T E C T U R E D R E W I N F L U E N C E S F R O M O L D , T R A D I T I O N A L S PA N I S H M I S S I O N S .


W H E N I N N OVAT I O N M E E T S H I S TO RY

F For anyone who has had the privilege of calling Lakeland home like me for close to a lifetime, we have recognized how our city is surrounded by charming buildings that are rich in history and abundant in multicultural influence. One piece of history I’ve driven by numerous times and may never get tired of appreciating is our very own Lakeland Country Club (formerly the Lakeland Yacht Club) — a Spanish-inspired architectural beauty that has housed club luncheons, elaborate weddings, and private events for almost 100 years. I remember walking through the doors for the first time and feeling as though I had stepped back in time into an exquisite, European hall. Every indentation on the wall felt like a cherished story — nostalgic in every sense of the word. With curved roof tiles and rounded arches, its remarkable detail introduced Spanish Colonial Revival style to our community in the mid-1900s as the architectural style swept across the Southwestern states. Everyone from local government officials to actors and film producers were in complete awe of the romantic layout and whimsical interpretation of Spanish culture. While we know Florida’s cultural influence traces back to early Spanish settlements, its Mediterranean flare continues to hold a high demand in the Lakeland market.

I SS U E 44

Spanish casita architecture debuted in the early 19th century as a romanticized idea from American architects and developers of the Latin-American culture. They took influence out of old, Spanish colonization to create an American-made idea that would eventually become an architectural legacy in the United States. Architects and developers sought to affect the people’s interpretation of the Latino way of living by picking and choosing from the designs of old, traditional Spanish missions. Although the noteworthy features of Spanish Revival buildings are not an authentic homage to Hispanic native lands, they have quickly become a part of who we are and how we live. During our early development as a nation, states like California, Oklahoma, and Texas cultivated beautiful homes that highlighted both Mission and Spanish tiles, meticulously sculpted doors, and helical columns. In the process of construction, developers customized the architectural style to be practical according to the nature of the weather in each state. At the beginning of Spanish Colonial Revival style, many buildings were purposely developed to replicate some characteristics noted in historical Spanish Mission buildings from early settlers. The Alamo, a distinct landmark in the heart of Texas, illustrates this aesthetic and was constructed by early Spanish friars who desired to build a local church. Although the Mission style gave a distinct, aesthetic appeal, the style of roof was not favorable for the seasons of rain experienced in the state of Florida and parts of California, which sparked a desire to improve the construction of Spanish Revival style homes.

79


Although the noteworthy features of Spanish Revival buildings are not an authentic homage to Hispanic native lands, they have quickly become a part of who we are and how we live.

THE TURNING POINT FOR S PA N I S H R E V I VA L S T Y L E When the Panama California Exposition of 1915 came about, which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, several celebrities and social influencers — including Florida’s Thomas Edison — came to marvel at the new Spanish Revivalinspired structures. Its bridge, towering buildings, and adorned courtyard area were constructed to display a new way of Spanish Revival style that focused on highlighting more distinguished architectural features. It rapidly became prominent in Florida when American architect, Frederick Trimble, proudly introduced the style of architecture that was customized to suit Floridian weather. During the 1900s, Trimble’s incredible creativity led to the first blueprint layout for what would

80

become Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Although he was unable to move forward with his original design, Frank Lloyd Wright would pioneer the project by using some inspiration from Trimble. Henry Morrison Flagler was another American architect who introduced Spanish Revival style to Florida with the construction of several extraordinary buildings, including the prestigious Ponce de Leon Hotel and the worldrenowned Flagler College in St. Augustine. Although Flagler made a lasting impression in our state of Florida, he was originally a native from Hopewell, New York. As a businessman, Flagler pursued a career in salt, grain, and standard oil mining; but to our Floridian heritage, his creativity paved the way for our Spanish-Mediterranean inspired infrastructures. Architects

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

and visionaries like Flagler began to push Spanish casita architecture during Florida’s early years with hopes of enhancing tourism and creating a whole new experience that would affect how visitors perceived our state’s beauty. Developers desired to paint Florida as a new, thriving frontier that combined the uniqueness of its location with a nostalgic European-esque attraction. HIGH DEMAND IN THE HOUSING MARKET In addition to the yacht club, Lakelanders have given a high demand for Spanish Revival style homes as they have become quite exclusive and rare. Many of the homes in our town that highlight this architectural style feature highrounded arches and stucco-imprinted


81


interior walls. The flat roofs and aesthetic appeal fit perfectly with the Spanish influence found in our Floridian culture. In a 2017 article from The Washington Post, Michelle Lerner reported that the national rise of casita-built historic homes appeals to “the interest in an informal lifestyle focused on entertaining in the open kitchen and extending into the outdoors.” By living in more informal and relaxed environments, such as the Spanish Revival style homes, families connect with the space as an opportunity to host and entertain loved ones, while resting in the infrastructure’s stillness. In combining the elegance of history with the leisure of the wide-open courtyards, this historic architectural style gives an allusion of Spanish hospitality that brings a warm welcome to all who enter the home. Local artist and graphic designer Elizabeth Hults is one Lakelander who has discovered a deep love for the architecture, as she became the owner of a 1900s-built Spanish casita this past year. Being someone who finds fulfillment in visual perspectives, Hults was initially fascinated by the home’s interior. A DISTINCT FONDNESS “The first thing that captured my attention was the light,” Hults recalls. “The long arches and gate-arched windows allow the light to dance in every corner of the house at every time of day.” As she walked through the steps of what would become her cozy, Spanish casita, she shares how she fell in love at first sight. Back when she and her husband were just becoming friends, they ended up in front of this house during a long walk. “I waxed poetic about what a dream it would be to live here one day and fill it with all of our friends. That was eight years ago,” says Hults. And it was all thanks to a friend from the community, JP Phillips, who sold the home to Hults and her husband after they were

E L I Z A B E T H H U LT S (A B OV E ) A N D H E R H U S B A N D , S E A N , R E C E N T LY P U R C H A S E D A S PA N I S H C A S I TA

82

— A ROMANTIC

M U S T- H AV E F O R F I R S T-T I M E H O M E B U Y E R S .


Go digital, or go home.

Audiences are changing faster than ever, and you have the potential to connect with and grow your customer base in more ways than ever. Let us craft a unique digital marketing strategy to reach your goals.

lkldrcreative.com | 863.701.2707


In combining the elegance of history with the leisure of the wide-open courtyards, this historic architectural style gives an allusion of Spanish hospitality that brings a warm welcome to all who enter the home.


Licensed Insurance Agent? Join us. Advocate Health Advisors is a Veteran owned and Veteran operated health and well-being advisory company who provides the means for local agents to serve as trusted advisors within their community. Our unmatched knowledge and experience give agents an advantage to help individuals, families, and employers make informed and confident healthcare decisions. Our Agents are different because they make a difference. Call Advocate Health Advisors today to discuss this exciting opportunity. Mitch Berg, Regional Manager C:  (727) 243-8361 T: (800) 709-5513 mitch.berg@advocatehealthllc.com


S PA N I S H R E V I VA L S T Y L E O F T E N F E AT U R E S H I G H - R O U N D E D A R C H E S A N D S T U C C O -I M P R I N T E D WA L L S .

86

convinced this was their home-tobe. Although Spanish casitas are becoming sparse, they have somehow been established by first-time homebuyers as a romantic musthave, which continues to increase their popularity in today’s housing market. When asked to describe the architectural feel of her home, Hults defines her beautiful bungalow as “a cross between a Spanish and Mediterranean Revival” combination that “drips with romance.” Very suitable for such a vibrant space. When asked why Hults believes it’s important for Lakeland to still have and honor the design elements of Spanish Revival style, she says, “Spanish culture is so full of life. There’s an undercurrent of passion which transforms every ordinary act of life into one that is colorful and exciting. I think that’s why it’s so important to honor the design elements of the style and period. These spaces can remind us to live slowly. To live in love.” As we can see small remnants of the Spanish culture in our casita architectures, it is important to honor the style as a pioneering act of innovation from early American visionaries who sought to draw

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

more people into this country that they loved so much. But they could not have done this without the brilliance of other cultures, other perspectives, and other ways of life. Buildings are more than just their intricate, architectural designs. They are works of art that depict a way of living through someone else’s eyes. Buildings have become a place for us all to find belonging, meaning, and purpose, outside of just the physical appeal. They tell us a story every day. In the Hispanic culture that I’m so honored to be born into, we know that home, our casita, isn’t a physical place — although we do take much pride in the way we decorate it and the way we host in it — but rather, home is a warm feeling that can be felt with the people we love the most. Home is the welcome of intentional conversations at the dinner table, over a hot meal. Home is the seconds spent in deep laughter with loved ones. It’s our history, it’s our heritage, and it’s everything we discover in between. If architecture can bring us together to appreciate beauty, it also reminds us of the importance of admiring the beauty in each other. To live slowly and to live in love.


At The Twisted Teapot, we are dedicated to providing an unforgettable afternoon tea experience with quality food and exceptional service. Here, the customer comes first; whether it's catering to a special need or delivering a truly unforgettable experience for a special occasion. If you have any questions, concerns, or inquiries, don't hesitate to contact us or stop by!

OPEN TUES-SAT 11AM- 3PM Reservations are highly recommended

863.299.5000 200 1ST ST. SOUTH, WINTER HAVEN, FL 33880

twistedteapot.com

www.facebook.com/ TwistedTeapotWH


LATIN FOOD TOUR

Variety written by Tara Campbell photography by John Kazaklis

In A tour of some of Lakeland’s finest Latin food offerings

Similarity 88

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


The grocery store next to La Michoacana provides a variety of authentic drinks and treats to complement your meal and provide you with a full, Hispanic food experience.

Lakeland’s abundance and caliber of Latin cuisine is one of our city’s greatest assets. From street tacos from La Michoacana to capachas from the Arepazo Grill, there’s an array of diverse food offerings to help satisfy any Latin food craving. Here are a few of our favorites.

I SS U E 43

89


1

la m ic hoac a na

1725 w. m em oria l bouleva rd To say I’m a fan of La Michoacana is an understatement. Every few years, I make my way to southern Mexico, and the tacos at La Mich (as my friends and I call it) remind me so much of the food that is always so lovingly made for us by families in the small villages of Chiapas. And it’s cheap. A friend and I ate our fill, got a large horchata, and paid a combined $13. That kind of cheap. I love the big-plated, authentic Mexican meals that you get at places like Mega Mercado and Tapatio’s, but I can’t eat that way every day. However, I can eat $1 street tacos with meat, cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime every day, ordered à la carte, as many or as few as I like. This little taco truck sits on the side of W. Memorial Boulevard near Kathleen High School. In order to pay, you have to walk into the small Mexican grocery store next to it. All of the Bimbo snacks, Manzana cokes, and Mexican candy add an extra level of authenticity to the La Mich experience. It feels like being in Mexico. Go for the Al Pastor. You won’t regret it.

H

olding tacos up outside of La Michoacana on US 92 at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, I wonder how I, Tara Campbell, a white former baker, have landed writing the Latin Food Tour for The Lakelander. John Kazaklis is helping photograph these tacos. Half Bolivian, a Spanish speaker, and well traveled, John is my good friend and guide. I suggested the restaurants because they’re some of my favorites, and John helps me order because my Spanish is functional at best. I can understand more than I speak (at one restaurant, I knocked something over with my elbow and John told some ladies nearby that I was drunk already at 9:30 a.m. — I heard you, John), and he is a big help by making sure that we get the best representation of authentic and popular dishes. As I hold up these carnitas and Al Pastor street tacos, I remember that I’m doing this because I suggested it. We have an incredibly diverse Latin food community in Lakeland, and it’s something I really appreciate about living in Florida. Originally from Arizona, and now Central Florida, I’ve always been used to having good Mexican food nearby. Currently, my next-door neighbors are from Mexico, and they love to throw parties. Tamales abound and life is good. Living in Central Florida though, it’s not just Mexican food. Puerto Rican food, Cuban food, Peruvian food, and other choices from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America can all be found within a few miles of each other. We often take for granted how lucky we are to have this type of

90

culture nearby. In my travels, I’ve tried to find good tacos in other parts of the world. Other places seem to believe that they know good Latin food, but it’s always just … wrong. In New York over Thanksgiving I had a conversation with a Dominican couple that had transplanted to the city from South Florida, and we lamented over how we couldn’t find any good Latin food unless you were in someone’s home and it was being made by their mom or grandmother. London was even worse. It’s my favorite city in the world, but wandering into the Mexican restaurant down the way from our hotel ended up being one of the funniest experiences of our trip. I’m British, and I can say, without a doubt, don’t let Brits near your Mexican food. Watery guacamole and cactus tacos are not high end; they’re a letdown. If living in Florida has affected my life in any way, it’s that I’m used to the heat, not used to the cold; I eat tacos once a week; and I have a strong opinion on what makes a good Cuban sandwich. There are so many restaurants in town that we had to create a sidebar to name all the ones we think you should visit. So, again, why am I, a white former baker, writing an article about Latin food for you? Well, it was my idea, but more importantly, we live in America, and we’re lucky to have such a diverse mix of culture in our country. Several of these restaurants are so good that I took several people with me and we rotated plates. It’s worth trying. All of it is. Everyone in town has their opinion on which are the best, but we’re lucky to have them here, and they all deserve your time. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Street tacos from La Michoacana are the perfect choice when you want a quick, authentic experience. Food is sold a la carte, so you can try as little or as much as you’d like.

I SS U E 44

91


“We have an incredibly diverse Latin food community in Lakeland, and it’s something I really appreciate about living in Florida.”

2

Capachas, savory corn pancakes, are a staple of Venezualan food and a standout at the Arepazo Grill.

a rep a zo gr i l l

c h e c k fa ceb oo k.co m/ th e a rep a zo g ri l l for loc at i o n This Venezuelan food truck pulls inspiration from other Caribbean food and is home to the only arepas in town — and definitely the best. They use simple ingredients (corn, meat, cheese, and avocado) and make an incredible authentic meal. If you’ve never had an arepa, it’s a flat, corn bread filled with your choice of meat and cheese. It is a staple of Venezuelan and Colombian food. Arepazo also serves capachas, flat corn pancakes filled with cheese and meat, and it’s my personal favorite. The owners of Arepazo are friendly and welcoming, and brought us a free order of tequeños, a breaded and fried cheese stick. I love being able to give a boost to someone running a small business. Arepazo’s food is worth your time, worth your trip, and worth your money.

92

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


I SS U E 44

93


O ther Resta u ra n ts I n Lakeland To Try cuban c uisin e Note – The C u b a n s a ndw ich wa s c re ate d i n Ta mp a a nd Sou th Florida by C u b a n i mmi g ra nts a nd not in C u b a i t se l f. The Ta mpa Cu ba n a ls o h a s sa l a mi o n i t , a n influ e nce from t h e I t a l i a n co mmu nity of th e time.

Elena’s 224 6 E . Ed g ewood Dri ve

Divic ious 128 E . Main Street N ote : B e st c a fé con le ch e in tow n

Cuba n Delights C a fe 1039 Cou n ty Road 540 A

Silver Ring C a fé 106 N. Te n n e ss ee Avenue

D’Luc a s 1037 Dixie lan d Mal l Lane

Nineteen61 1212 S . Flor id a Avenue

puer to r ica n / car ibbean cu isin e B ravo 24 35 U S H wy 98 N.

N ote : Lo c ate d i ns ide th e Bravo S up e r ma r ke t

Ma ria ’s Friq uitin 1037 E . Main Street

so uth ame rica n cuisine Z a rza 4 64 8 Cleve lan d Hei ght s B ou levard

94

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


masonslive.com 863.333.0096

5501 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813

95


m ex ic an c u i si n e D o n a J u l i a ’s 5375 S. F l o r i d a Ave nue

E l Pe r i co 615 W. D a u g h te r y Roa d

M e g a M e rc a d o 2 009 G e o rg e Je nk ins B ouleva rd

N ote : Located in sid e t h e M eg a M erc a d o groce ry store

Ta p at i o ’s 734 E . M e m o r i al B ouleva rd & 6 6 45 S. F l o r i d a Ave nue

Ta q u e r i a El Bur r i to 107 S. Co m be e Ro a d

3

la i m p er i al b ake r y

83 0 e. ma i n st re e t The charm of La Imperial is its family-run atmosphere. Lakeland has been in need of a daily bakery for a long time, and La Imperial’s rows of pastelitos, pies, and desserts do not disappoint. Neither do their sandwiches. According to La Imperial’s website, they love creating “Comfort food with a Latin twist.” On rainy days, my go-to meal is their mofongo with broth on the side. If you’ve never had mofongo before, it’s plantains that have been picked green and then fried. I’ve also had it made with cassava, and it is often either topped with meat or has meat in it. La Imperial’s has little chunks of pork in it. It’s not the best mofongo I’ve ever had, but it’s the perfect amount of food and warmth for lunch on a rainy day. The staff is friendly and helpful as well. The morning John and I visited, I asked them to make me something that they suggested. It’s not on the menu, but they pressed a sandwich on pan de agua (a bread) for me that had ham croquettes, ham, and provolone that was absolutely perfect. My favorite thing at La Imperial are the guayaba and queso pies. I don’t like to be skimped on my filling, and these are oozing with guayaba. It’s a sticky, delicious mess that I eat in its entirety no matter how full I am every time I order one — which is every time I go. La Imperial is an excellent place for breakfast or an easy lunch. The family-like atmosphere and bakery make it a welcome addition to Lakeland’s food scene and a great place to try something new.

96


¿Eres agente de seguros? ¡Únete a nosotros! Advocate Health Advisors es una empresa de asesoría de salud y bienestar que proporciona los medios para que los agentes locales actúen como asesores de confianza dentro de su comunidad. Nuestro conocimiento y experiencia incomparables brindan a los agentes una ventaja para ayudar a las personas, a las familias y a los empleadores a tomar decisiones de salud informadas y seguras. Nuestros agentes son diferentes porque hacen la diferencia. ¡Llama hoy a Advocate Health Advisors para hablar sobre esta gran oportunidad!

Jorge L. Maldonado, Regional Manager C:  (787) 688-6813 T: (800) 709-5513 jorge.maldonado@advocatehealthllc.com ¡Hablamos Español!

@ExclusiveCrPl

ExclusiveCruisePlanners

I SS U E 44

97


4

b ra s a l at i n a

3 123 u s 9 8 n o r t h I’ve heard the hype about Brasa Latina for a while. The Lakeland Food Facebook group raves about their food, but until this article I hadn’t actually been … and it’s an absolute shame. This Puerto Rican restaurant is known for some of the most impressive food in town, and it did not disappoint. I took two of my coworkers with John and me, and they allowed us carte blanche to order for them. Thanks to their lunch special, we all ate like royalty. Their two for $20 lunch special treated us well: Ribs with a side of mofongo, half of a chicken with yucca fries, pastelon de amarillos (sweet plantain lasagna) with a side of rice and beans, and ropa vieja with a side of sweet plantains. We came hungry, and we did not leave disappointed. As we rotated our plates around the table, we ate as a community picking off of each other’s plates and sharing our favorite dishes. The ropa vieja was a definite win. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, it was the table favorite. I preferred the pastelon de amarillos, a lasagna made out of sweet plantains, ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheese; and their mofongo is the best mofongo in town. Brasa Latina is a great place for a sit-down meal with a foodie friend or someone who wants to venture out and try something new. It’s all good.

98


NEED A PLACE TO STORE

YOUR TOY? +Covered & Fully Enclosed Facilities +Video Cameras & Flood Lights +Fully Fenced and Gated +Free Water, Ice, & Tire Inflation +Completely Paved Facility +30 & 15-amp Electrical Service

5915 WALT LOOP RD. LAKELAND, FL 33809 863.858.2650 | WWW.CENTURYBOATANDRV.COM I SS U E 44

99


PEOPLE

THROUGH HIS VEINS

100

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Written by Annalee Mutz Photography by Dan Austin

For Dr. Gustavo De Jesus, opening Vein & Vascular Experts did not come without great time and investment. His journey incorporates family influence, academic discipline, tough decisions, and a dedication to always put his family first.

I SS U E 44

101


“YOU CAN’T GET INTO SOMETHING FOR THE MONEY. IF YOU WANT TO BE A DOCTOR OR NURSE, YOU HAVE TO LOVE WHAT YOU DO.” – Dr. Gustavo De Jesus

W

W ith a father as a urologist and a mother as teacher, hard work and grit ran through Gustavo De Jesus’ veins. He grew up in a highly driven family that pushed him to value education and strive for big dreams. Born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, it was there that De Jesus would begin a long journey into the medical profession. While in his pre-med studies at the University of Puerto Rico, De Jesus pursued a bachelor’s in biology and a minor in anthropology. “If you were going to ask me, I was going to be an archaeologist somewhere just digging up bones and being bohemic in that way,” jokes De Jesus. Although he did well in school, he felt a lot of pressure to follow in the footsteps of his brothers and father. His oldest brother is also a doctor, and his other brother is a dentist. De Jesus is the youngest sibling, and his father looked at him to continue on as a surgeon just like himself. “He looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, come with me. Let’s see if you’d like to do this.’ So

102

I went to surgery with him and I really enjoyed it, so I knew I wanted to do something like that,” De Jesus says. He went on to complete four years of medical school and graduated in 2002 magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico Medical School. After that, “The only next logical step was into general surgery,” De Jesus says. He continued onward in his academic pursuits with the intention of training only in general surgery — a training that can be up to a five- to six-year commitment. But, after halfway through his third year, things changed. “I was midway through my training, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a general surgeon,’” De Jesus says. Then, he took a step back to evaluate his next move and figure out what he truly loved to do. He knew he enjoyed the process of surgery but did not feel at peace about staying only on the path of general surgery. “I started thinking about it a lot, and I realized what I enjoyed doing the most was fixing arteries and veins,” he says. So, midway through his general surgery pursuits, De Jesus decided to investigate a new field of study. Due to high crime in Puerto Rico, this provided many opportunities for practicing in the field of vascular surgery. “People are coming in with stabs and gunshot wounds, and it doesn’t matter what I’m doing at the time … I’m getting phone calls from people saying, ‘Hey, we got another one for you.’ So I go in there and I fix them up,” he says. Mind you, De Jesus is still in school at this point. “I’m not a surgeon yet, so I’m trying to figure it out,” he recounts. This fast-paced, hands-on experience provided De Jesus with not only more practice in the vascular field, but more insight if this was truly the profession he would want to continue pursuing. “The more I did it, the more I liked it,” he says. However, vascular surgery was a rare field of study in Puerto Rico. So De Jesus found himself finishing out his training in general surgery in Puerto Rico, graduating in 2008. He then relocated to

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


I SS U E 44

103


“I WAS MIDWAY THROUGH MY TRAINING, AND I THOUGHT, ‘I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS. I DON’T WANT TO BE A GENERAL SURGEON.’” – Dr. De Jesus

the U.S. mainland to study vascular surgery in Tampa at the University of South Florida. Vascular surgery training takes about two years to complete. “I think I aged 20 years in those two years because those guys drilled me,” De Jesus jokes. “You ask my wife, those two years were so hard.” De Jesus looks back to this training with great fondness and is thankful for his experience at Tampa General Hospital. “The amount of knowledge and work those guys gave me made me not only a vascular surgeon, but a better overall surgeon.” After completing comprehensive training in vascular and endovascular surgery in 2010, De Jesus earned his spot as the go-to vascular surgeon in San Juan. “My practice exploded,” he says. The plan was always to go back to Puerto Rico after completing school in Tampa. De Jesus had aspirations of opening his own practice, and he succeeded, but something still did not feel right. “It was affecting my quality of life. It was affecting my family life,” he says. There was a huge crime wave in Puerto Rico at this time; many homes were being invaded and this caused great concern for De Jesus and his wife who were wanting to add a third child in the mix. “We are Puerto Rican. We love our country. We love our island. But family comes first,” says De Jesus. When asked how his parents responded to the decision to move, De Jesus says, “They hated it.” His parents were born and raised Puerto Ricans, and the idea of their son leaving the island to plant roots elsewhere was unsettling. “Me moving to Florida was not with their blessing,” he says. De Jesus, his wife, and their children moved to Florida against all odds. “It was a decision I and my wife had to make for ourselves and our children.” A lot of their family understands and are supportive, but then others “look at me like a sellout,” says De Jesus. It was a difficult decision, but De Jesus and his family made the move to back to the mainland. “You can’t make everyone happy. But my wife is happy, and I’m happy, and that’s what counts.” Still aspiring to start his own practice on the mainland, De Jesus began to interview in several places throughout Florida but did not want to settle back in Tampa. “I really respect the people who trained me, so I didn’t want to compete with them — even though no one could really compete with them,” he says. De Jesus eventually accepted a contract with Bartow Regional Medical Center. “Not because they were going to pay me more,” he says. “I came here with my wife, and after the first day, it felt like home. I know it sounds corny, but I don’t know how to explain it.” Their family

104

After leaving Puerto Rico, Gustavo De Jesus and his wife, Jessica, decided that settling in Lakeland was the best decision for their family.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


willowcreek.com/events/leadership Experience this live simulcast leadership conference and hear from 14 different world renown speakers. Don’t miss this growth opportunity — you are called to lead!

@HPLAKELAND

HPLAKELAND.COM

Photo Courtesy of Special Collections, Lakeland Public Library

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was located on the corner of South Florida Avenue and Lemon Street in Lakeland, Florida. The congregation built a new church at 730 South Florida Avenue in 1935. It later became the Wesminister Presbyterian Church.

LAW OFFICES OF

TED W. WEEKS IV, P.A. LAWSUITS & DISPUTES | CORPORATE & BUSINESS LAW

2 1 1 7 H A R DE N B O U L E VA R D • L A K E L A N D , F L OR I DA 3 3 8 0 3 • 8 6 3 . 8 0 2 . 5 0 0 0

I SS U E 44

105


instantly connected with Lakeland and felt confident that this was where they wanted to plant their roots. “Our main focus was our family,” says De Jesus. After finishing his contract at Bartow Regional as an employed physician, De Jesus opened a clinic in North Lakeland called Choice Healthcare as a partowner. He continued to seek more knowledge in vein and vascular surgery and opportunities to grow in the medical field. De Jesus eventually parted ways with Choice Healthcare to start up his most recent business venture. Vein & Vascular Experts opened this past March with a mission to provide personalized, high-quality care. This brand-new, state-of-the-art facility is a full-service varicose vein clinic and vascular surgery practice. Because of De Jesus’ background in both general surgery and vascular surgery, he is able to offer a wide range of surgical options. “I bring the knowledge of being able to treat vascular conditions not only with open surgery, but also with minimally invasive treatments,” he says. With only occupying this space for a short amount of time, Vein & Vascular Experts has already established itself as a reputable practice in Polk County. However, De Jesus cannot credit such success to himself alone. “Not only do I have the knowledge and technique, but I also have a

106

staff with more than 20 to 25 years of experience.” Many of the current staff have worked with De Jesus in the past, and he is thankful for the skill and expertise they bring to the practice. Believing in cultivating a collaborative team effort, De Jesus takes advantage of the many years of knowledge amongst his staff. “They are my right-hand people,” he says. However, it was a long journey for De Jesus and his family, one that did not come without hard work and sacrifice. “It’s not like we moved here and opened up shop and everything miraculously happened,” he says. Even after the time and financial investment in higher education, De Jesus emphasizes the necessity of being a lifelong learner while in the medical field. “I still read almost every day,” he says. And although the financial investment is surely paying back its dividends these days, De Jesus says, “You can’t get into something for the money. If you want to be a doctor or nurse, you have to love what you do. Are there things that I need to do that I don’t like? Of course. But the actual work, the actual taking care of people and making them better and seeing them smile, that’s amazing.” Although it has been a long journey, it seems that this process paved a way for De Jesus to truly invest in a career that gives back far more than he could have ever imagined.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

veinandvascularexperts.com Vein & Vascular Experts 5907 Hillside Heights Drive Lakeland FL 33812 863.937.3139


I SS U E 44

107


PEOPLE SPECIAL

E S I R TO

ABOVE

As a Mexican immigrant, Southeastern alumna Sayra Lozano grew up in the midst of uncertainty. But this didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams and living a life dedicated to helping her community — wherever and however that may be.

108

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Written by Priscilla Burr // Photography by Daniel Johnson

One of Sayra Lozano’s favorite spots in Lakeland is located at Lake Mirror. Situated on the shore of the lake, the 41-foot-tall colorful Albert Paley sculpture, Tribute to Volunteerism, resonates with Lozano. As a Dreamer and advocate, she is passionate about community development. “I see the different colors and arms, all different but working together to make the sculpture. To me it represents that the community cares. Lakeland cares. I felt connected to it because I cared about Lakeland,” she adds. Often referred to as “Dreamers,” Lozano is one of 1.8 million immigrants who moved to the United States at a young age who were granted protection from deportation under President Barack Obama’s administration through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This act enabled Lozano and many other Dreamers the opportunity of pursuing higher education. After earning her associate’s degree in her home state of California, Lozano moved to Lakeland in 2014 as a transfer student at Southeastern University. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership, she quickly got involved in the Lakeland community. “Students I had met from Southeastern talked about the culture and community. It really resonated with me and spiked my interest,” says Lozano. During her first year at Southeastern, Lozano acclimated to student life through participating in anything from student leadership to student government. She soon gravitated towards Enactus, a global nonprofit made up of a community of academic and business student leaders committed to using

entrepreneurial actions to transform lives. The studentled club had more than six community development projects in Lakeland and one in Honduras. In 2015, with help of another Enactus member, Lozano started a program called Aspire to help post-incarcerated women obtain employment. They worked in partnership with Zoe’s Journey, a local nonprofit that supported women and children facing life-altering situations. “Once we put together the curriculum, we realized that [the women] were having a hard time building a resume, so we sat with them individually and helped them build their confidence. I watched as it gave them renewed confidence in their abilities. It made me realize how empowering basic resources can be in improving livelihoods. Aspire was one part of the puzzle in helping them piece their life together,” says Lozano. Through Aspire, students not only assisted in building resumes, but also taught the women how to start their own businesses through making and selling jewelry at the Downtown Farmers Curb Market in Lakeland. From there, they were taught how to budget and re-invest the money they made. While Lozano was involved with Aspire, she saw a number of women become employed, making it one step closer to helping them get their children back. “I really enjoyed Enactus because we were identifying need-gaps and filling them. I found my passion for community development and made this my career path. I got more involved in the community, and I loved how Southeastern was so much a part of the community,” says Lozano.

I SS U E 44

109


While lobbying in DC, SEU President Kent Ingle invited Lozano to meet with Florida representatives as a part of the Christian Council for Colleges and Universities.

“Sayra is a diligent leader, who has invested so much into our local community. I have had the privilege of getting to know her over the past year, and I have seen her relentlessly and selflessly advocate for others. We are proud to have Sayra as an alumna of SEU.” – PRESIDENT KENT INGLE

110

She continued to get involved with the Lakeland community through helping resident immigrants study for citizenship tests, as a volunteer with Vision Activa. After receiving her undergraduate degree in the spring of 2017, Lozano stayed at Southeastern as a graduate assistant to earn her master’s in business administration and interned at City Hall with the Community Redevelopment Agency. “That was an incredible experience to see how Lakeland was growing and how city development was working with the community. It was exciting to see another innovative side of community development,” says Lozano. In July of 2017, she participated in the Public Leadership Institute of Polk County. Although Lozano was not seeking public office, she found what she learned in the workshops to help her engage the community. In the leadership institute, Lozano spent time with local politicians, mayors, and city council members. She even assisted one of the local politicians with his campaign. “It was wonderful to be with people who loved the community so much that they gave up their time and money to help. It was very educational and inspirational. I hope one day to apply what I learned and serve a community in that way,” says Lozano. The leadership institute also shaped how she would engage the community in her work for Dreamers. A year ago, Lozano shared her story with several national newspapers, including the The Washington Post and The New York Times, but she felt somewhat of a disconnect as they weren’t local papers. “I felt a commitment to my community. I knew Lakeland and loved Lakeland. I knew this was something the community could help with. I reached out to The Ledger and they decided to do a full story on me,” says Lozano. Lozano shared how she moved to the United States at the age of five from her home country of Mexico. With a visa at the time, the goal was for her to pursue an education. “Education was always the main goal. It was the American Dream,” says Lozano. As her visa was to expire, her family met with several attorneys to see what options she had. They gave her only two solutions: be given up for adoption or marry a citizen at the age of 18. “Personally, I see marriage as something that is sacred, and I believe that God is bigger than my circumstances. It is unfortunate that those are the solutions Dreamers like myself are given,” says Lozano.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Lozano’s dream was to attend college, but without legal documentation, it would make this task nearly impossible. When she graduated from high school in 2012, President Obama passed DACA, renewable every two years, providing protection for Dreamers and a path for her to go to college. “It felt like it was an answer to my prayers. From there, I was able to obtain the basic documentation: a driver’s license and a work permit. Those two documents gave me a sense of humanity. I was no longer hidden. I was able pursue my dreams. Because I got those basic things later in life, I still appreciate them. I see every blessing as a stepping-stone to help others. It all ties into my passion for community development,” says Lozano. Lozano credits some of her work as an advocate to

an internship she had on Capitol Hill as a student. “It was a desire to learn more about how that process worked and how I can help others. This interest came about from the knowledge of how radically my life can be changed by legislators — how much laws can impact and shape someone’s life,” she says. She was one of 41 interns from across the nation chosen by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and was assigned to the office of Representative Raul Ruiz, MD. As an intern, she helped give private tours of the Capitol, write legislative letters, respond to calls from constituents, write briefings, and attend meetings. “I felt American in every sense of the word. Having that experience helped me see how politics work from the inside and helped with advocacy work,” says Lozano.


DREAMERS: BY THE NUMBERS

800,000 Immigrants have received protection under DACA

TWOTHIRDS

Of DACA recipients are under 25 years old

53% Of DACA recipients are young women

As an executive order of President Barack Obama, DACA soon came into limbo when President Donald Trump took office. The Trump administration announced early in 2017 that they wanted to phase out DACA. A deadline was set in March of 2018 for house representatives to pass legislation for the Dreamers. Although several bills have been presented from both sides, Congress has yet to compromise on the DACA issue — currently leaving uncertainty for the future of DACA recipients. With current legislation, DACA recipients are not given a pathway to earn citizenship. “I was at a moment when I thought it was going to be my last year in the United States. It was a matter of being able to find my voice not only for myself, but for others. I have always been taught not to be a victim of my circumstances, but rather to be a catalyst of change. The community was kind of silent about it. It felt like I was alone, but I knew it was what I was supposed to do,” says Lozano. When Lozano discovered that DACA was being phased out, she started to share her story publicly. She began sending letters to members of Congress but realized that the best way to approach it was to go to their offices to lobby and to be published in the newspapers that landed on their desks. In the fall of 2017, Lozano contacted The Ledger to tell her story of being a Dreamer. “Once my story came out publicly, the community responded in a positive way. For every troll I had online, I had twice as many people supporting me in person,” says Lozano. Since then, Lozano has been able to advocate for Dreamers on the local and national level. In the fall of 2017, she went to Capitol Hill to share her story with Congress. The President of Southeastern, Dr. Kent Ingle, was also at Capitol Hill and invited her to join him in some meetings.

2017 Pew Research Center study

112

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


LET ME SHOW YOUR FAMILY THE WAY HOME.

2000 E. Edgewood Dr. Suite 103 Lakeland, FL 33803

CELL

JOIN US FOR

Come be a part of this special VIP event and learn about diVa® laser vaginal therapy: a quick, comfortable, no down-time solution to a woman’s most intimate challenges and overall vaginal health.

diVa® can help with leakage, lubrication and laxity. Meet with diVa® providers from our Watson Clinic OB-GYN department.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Special prize drawing. Extra entry when you bring your significant other.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16 • 6 PM Watson Clinic Highlands

2300 E. County Road 540A

Lakeland

Space is limited. • Register now!

Special diVa® Date Night event pricing!

RSVP to 863-668-diVa (3482) today! • www.WatsonClinic.com/diVa DIVA® OFFER VALID 8/16/18 ONLY. CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH ANY OTHER DISCOUNTS. THE PATIENT AND ANY OTHER PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT HAS A RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PAY, CANCEL PAYMENT OR BE REIMBURSED FOR PAYMENT FOR ANY OTHER SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT THAT IS PERFORMED AS A RESULT OF AND WITHIN 72 HOURS OF RESPONDING TO THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE FREE, DISCOUNTED FEE OR REDUCED FEE SERVICE, EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT.

I SS U E 44

113


“I see every blessing as a stepping-stone to help others. It all ties into my passion for community development.” – SAYRA LOZANO

Photo by Loree Rowland

114

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


You them in Movies, T.V.and Commercials and Magazines! YouYou seesee them in Movies, T.V.T.V. Commercials in Magazines! them insee Movies, Commercials and in Magazines! Youinsee them in Movies, T.V. Commercials and in M

them in Movies, Commercials in Magazines! Youin see them in Movies, T.V. Commercials and Magazines! mmercials and Magazines! YouYou seesee them in Movies, T.V.T.V. Commercials andand in Magazines!

NGSTON ctric Print and Website.

You see them in Movies, T.V. Commercials and in Magazines!

They’re the SCOTT PFINGSTON MELISSA R Lakeland Electric Print Lakeland E JESS Advertisement and Website. Advertiseme ANDERSON They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS! MELISSA RIESENBERG SCOTT PFINGSTON BREANNE DICESARE They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS! JACKSON KUEHNLE They’re the JESS ANDERSON MO BREANNE DICESARE They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS! CALL FOR AN DAVIS BREANNE DICESARE JACKSON KUEHNLE MELISSA RIESENBERG SCOTT PFINGSTON DARRIN TYSON CALL FOR AN CALL FOR AN JACKSON KUEHNLE DARRIN TYSON MELISSA RIESENBERG MAKENZIE CALL FOR ANAll ages MODELS! & types needed No•experience necessary Free training All•ages & types needed • No • experience necessary • FreeMagazine training All ages & types needed No experience necessary • All ages & types needed No experience necessary • Free training APPOINTMENT Lakeland Electric Print Heartland Living Lakeland Electric Print APPOINTMENT Disney World • National TV APPOINTMENT APPOINTMENT

DICESARE BREANNEJACKSON DICESARE KUEHNLE DARRIN TYSON JACKSON KUEHNLE TYSON BREANNE DICESARE JACKSON KUEHNLE DARRIN TYSON DARRINBREANNE MAKENZIE DAVIS Optical Outlets TV Commercial World National TVDisney Heartland Living Magazine Optical Outlets TVHeartland Commercial HeartlandDisney Living Magazine Optical Outlets TV Commercial Disney World National TV World National TV Living Magazine Heartland and Living Magazine & Website Principal Role.&Role. Publix Website Principal Role. Publix Commercial and Promo. Fashion Shoot Principal Role.Role. Commercial Promo. Fashion Shoot Principal Role. & Website Principal Publix Commercial and Promo. Fashion Shoot Principal Training Film Film and Print Ad Training Fashion Print Ad. Principal Role. Training and Print Ad Film and Print Ad

Optical Outlets TV•FLORIDA Commercial Disney World National TV AVENUE, SUITE 115 • LA Heartland Living Magazine Disney Lakeland Print Lakeland Electric Print Optical Outlets TV Commercial World National TV Heartland Living Magazine HeartlandElectric Living Magazine Lakeland Electric Print 1037 SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITE 115 LAKELAND, FL 33813 1037 SOUTH AVENUE, SUITE 115 • LAKELAND, FL 33813 1037 SOUTH FLORIDA 1037 SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITE 115 • LAKELAND, FL 33813 TODAY! Fashion Shoot Principal Role. Advertisement andPrincipal Website. Commercial and TODAY! TODAY! & For Website Principal Publix Advertisement and Website. Advertisement and TODAY! & Website. Website Principal Role.Role. Publix Advertisement and Website.Role. Commercial andPromo. Promo. For 38 Years Fashion Shoot Principal Role. Commercial andEstablished Promo. Shoot Principal Role. LIC#1290000013 Established 38 Years Fashion Print Ad. Advertisement and Website. LIC#1290000013 Established For 38Fashion Years LIC#1290000013 Established For 38 Years Training Film Print Ad Training FilmCALL and and Print Ad FOR AN

863-688-9939 863-688-9939 863-688-9939 863-688-9939 S ANDERSON MODELS!They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS! APPOINTMENT CALL FOR AN JESS ANDERSON MODELS! thethe JESS ANDERSON MODELS! • No experience necessary • Free training CALL All ages & types needed • No experience necessary •They’re Free training CALL FORFOR AN AN They’re All ages & 33813 types needed •experience No experience necessary • Free training ages & types needed • No necessary • Free training TODAY! OUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITEAPPOINTMENT 115 • LAKELAND, FL 33813 1037 SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITE 115All • LAKELAND, FL APPOINTMENT APPOINTMENT SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, • LAKELAND, FL 33813 10371037 SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITESUITE 115 •115 LAKELAND, FL 33813 863-688-9939 EstablishedTODAY! stablished For 38 Years TODAY! For 38 Years863-688-9939 TODAY! 863-688-9939 Established For 38 Years

ROBERTS Commercial Ad for se Line.

LIC#1290000013

LIC#1290000013

Established For 38 Years

LIC#1290000013 LIC#1290000013

863-688-9939

All ages & types needed No experience necessary FREE TRAINING RAIMOND PEREZ RAIMOND PEREZ PEREZ RAIMOND PEREZ RAIMOND JAYDEN MIMIKOS LAURA LUSK

LAURA LUSK LIAM LANGFORD LIAM LANGFORD LAURA LUSK LIAM LANGFORD LIAM LANGFORD LAURA LUSK DisneyWorld World TVCommercial Commercial Disney World National TV Palms of Largo National TV Disney WorldWorld TVTV Commercial Palms of Largo TV Disney World National TV Disney World Disney World National TV Palms National Disney TV Disney World National TV Palms of Largo National National TVof Largo Disney TV Commercial Commercial and Commercial $500.00 a Day. andaPromo. andPromo. Promo.and Print Ad. Commercial $500.00 aa Day. TV Commercial Commercial and Promo. Promo. Commercial and Promo. Commercial $500.00 Day. and Commercial and Promo. Commercial $500.00 Day. and Promo. Princial Role.

ESTABLISHED 38 YEARS www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com

MARVETTE ROBERTS ROBERTS MARVETTE Disney Commercial and DisneyWorld WorldTV TV Commercial Print Ad forPrint Disney and AdCruise for Line. Disney Cruise Line.

RICHAR

Amscot TV and Print Ad. Princip

www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com www.jessandersontalentandmodelagenc

Join the professionals at the JESS ANDERSON TALENT & MODELING AGENCY! RICHARD BOYD RICHARD BOYD JAYDEN MIMIKOS MARVETTE ROBERTS RAIMOND PEREZ RAIMOND PEREZ LIAM LANGFORD LAURA LUSK LIAM LANGFORD LUSK JessAmscot Anderson index pg AUG18.indd 1 6/29/2018 9:10:159:10:15 PM LAURA TV Commercial Jess Anderson pg AUG18.indd 1 Commercial 6/29/2018 9:10:15 PM Jess Anderson index pg AUG18.indd 1 index Disney World Disney World TV Amscot TV6/29/2018 CommercialJessPM Anderson index pgNational JULY18.indd and Print Ad. $900.00 a Day. Disney World National Palms of Largo Disney World TV Commercial of Largo National TV TV 1 Disney World TV Commercial TV Commercial and Print Ad. and Print Ad forDisney World National and PrintTV Ad. TV $900.00Palms a Day. Principal Role. Commercial Promo. Role.Commercial Commercial $500.00 a Day. and Promo. $500.00 a Day. Commercial and and Promo. and Promo. Princial Role. Disney Cruise Line. Principal

1037 SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITE 115 - LAKELAND, FL 33803 www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com tandmodelagency.com www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com 6/14/2018 9:37:16 PM Jess Anderson index pg JULY18.indd 1

Jess Anderson index index pg AUG18.indd 1 Jess Anderson pg AUG18.indd 1 9:37:16 PM 6/14/2018 I SS U E 44

6/29/2018 9:10:15 PM PM 6/29/2018 9:10:15

6

115


Lozano was one of 41 interns from across the nation chosen by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and was assigned to the office of Representative Raul Ruiz, MD.

“Sayra is a diligent leader, who has invested so much into our local community. I have had the privilege of getting to know her over the past year, and I have seen her relentlessly and selflessly advocate for others. We are proud to have Sayra as an alumna of SEU,” says President Ingle, a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. “It felt like another God moment to have Dr. Ingle’s support,” says Lozano. “He taught me that, beyond the policies, this is a human dignity issue. His guidance and example have been transformative for me. I am beyond blessed to have his example of leadership in my life.” Ingle also invited her to speak at Southeastern’s yearly conference and executive board meetings.

116

Lozano had the opportunity to go back and advocate for a second time at Capitol Hill, where she spoke to more than 15 Florida representatives. “For me personally, it was very important as a Christian to be there and share my perspective. As Dreamers, we want to do things right. We are not asking for a handout; we are simply asking for the opportunity to do things the right way. All the life experiences I have had, culminated to my advocacy work. I would not have known how to approach this issue if I hadn’t had my internships. I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable to tell my story to the community if I hadn’t been so involved in it. Every step felt ordained for such a time as this,” says Lozano.

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


This has been our mission since we’ve opened the doors at Bank of Central Florida just a decade ago. We are a team of local, experienced bankers committed to building relationships, not just transactions. Seasoned professionals who work directly with you to find innovative solutions to meet all of your financial needs. And as Lakeland’s largest community bank in terms of market share with over $460 million in deposits, we know the importance of giving back in the communities we live and work. It is about establishing a culture that’s committed to helping others in need. We’re honored to be part of this community. Working together with you, our future is bright. - Paul Noris Chairman of the Board, CEO and President

THE ART OF INTELLIGENT BANKING

Splatter Splatter Splatter Splatter

I SS U E 44

117


With the help of a retired schoolteacher, Nancy Futch, Lozano was able to share her story locally at political events, a high school, community gatherings, and churches. “I was speaking from the heart. Once they heard my story and understood the problems, they realized this is something that could and should be resolved. I wanted to humanize an issue that has been so politicized. My story represents only one of the 1.8 million Dreamers across the nation. It is a perfect example how this legislation can radically impact someone’s life,” says Lozano. In December of 2017, due to her efforts for Dreamers, Lozano was awarded a certificate of appreciation for Outstanding Heroism and Being an Example by the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board of Lakeland. “To receive that support from the mayor and advisory board was very significant because it was scary for me to share my story publicly. I received it on behalf all of the Dreamers in our community. It reaffirmed my belief that Lakeland cares,” says Lozano. Her passion for community development ties into her upbringing. “Whatever I do in my professional or personal life, I am first and foremost representing God and my faith. But I also represent Dreamers and other immigrants, so I feel a commitment to keep proving how we contribute to our communities and the nation as a whole,” says Lozano.

118

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

In December 2017, Lozano was awarded a certificate of appreciation for Outstanding Heroism and Being an Example by the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board.

“To receive that support from the mayor and advisory board was very significant because it was scary for me to share my story publicly. I received it on behalf all of the Dreamers in our community. It reaffirmed my belief that Lakeland cares.” – SAYRA LOZANO


Paint Your Own Ice Cream Bowl!

PicassoZ Art Cafe

imperiallakeland.com “Comfort food with a Latin twist”

830 East Main Street Lakeland, FL 33801

863.500.4422 863.500.4411

FOR A CALENDAR OF EVENTS VISIT: FACEBOOK.COM/PICASSOZ

Marshall Jewelers 2535 S. Florida Ave. | Southgate Shopping Center

863.682.4725

marshalljewelerslakeland.com I SS U E 44

119


BUSINESS

F I R S T- G E N E R AT I O N

Legacy S E C O N D - G E N E R AT I O N

Dream

Written by Emily Johnson Photography by Dan Austin

We sat down with the owners of Bartow Ford, Benny Robles Sr. and his son Benny Robles Jr., to further uncover the dealership’s story enriched in culture, hard work, and an authentic business philosophy that they have been practicing for over 70 years. Meet the Hispanic family that ran after their American dream.

120


I SS U E 44

121


T H E R O B L E S F A M I LY

B

artow Ford was started, roughly 70 years ago, by a benevolent and caring man by the name of Ernest Smith. The dealership was Mr. Smith’s baby, and he ran it by this philosophy: “When you take care of the customers and you take care of the employees, everything else will take care of itself.” Benny Robles Sr., who came to the United States from Cuba and was working at Ford Credit, met Smith and discovered he could carry on the business in a way that would make Smith proud. Getting Here Benny Robles Sr., previous president of Bartow Ford, was born in Spain and lived there until he was about four years old, but when the Civil War started having true repercussions for his family, his parents decided to move them to Cuba, where they lived until Benny was

122

14. At that time, there was a lot of politics surrounding Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, and many thought he was going to get overthrown and that there’d be a revolution. So they started sending kids without their parents to refugee camps in the United States, including Benny Sr.; they called it Operation Peter Pan. Benny lived with a foster family in Michigan for a while. Then, in his senior year, his parents came to the U.S. and were living in Tampa, allowing him to move back down to Florida where he attended the University of South Florida, studying behavioral management. “I always found it interesting that my Michigan foster parents’ last name was Ford, with no relation to the company,” says Robles Sr. Then, roughly 40 years ago, in 1977, Ernest Smith began the process of handing over the company to Robles Sr. The whole process seemed to take 10 years or so, allowing Smith to stay and help the dealership here and there as long as he wanted, and as long as he could. Though Smith’s mind gradually started to become very sick, Robles Sr. is glad he was able to be there for him and bring him some peace of mind knowing that the business was going to be carried out following his original philosophy. The Second Generation Benny Robles Jr. assumed presidency as of January 2017 to continue and further grow his father’s legacy. Robles Jr. really started working at the dealership when he was around 12 years old though, washing cars, mowing lawns, and eventually becoming a part of the team full-time after finishing his undergrad in finance. Since Robles Jr. has started, he talks of how it has definitely been overwhelming because he has been working toward this his whole life and so intimately saw how his dad ran things. But, ultimately, he feels blessed to have grown up in this business and become equipped and inspired to carry on his dad’s legacy, because it is something he is authentically passionate about. “I am driven,” says Robles Jr. “Just simply carrying on my dad’s legacy isn’t enough. I need to create a legacy of my own.”

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


Fee Only Fiduciary Advisors specializing in: Personal Financial Planning Retirement Planning Estate Planning Tax Strategies

863.701.9717

Rob Hurlburt, CPA, PFS www.HurlburtFinancial.com ~ Info@HurlburtFinancial.com I SS U E 44

123


Robles Sr. also thinks the transition has been very successful and that 2017 was their best year yet. Through the conversion, Robles Sr. has still been very involved at Bartow Ford. But since he has been here for 40 years, he has decided it’s time for him to take it easy and relax. Overall, the Robles think it has been a good transition for the company and for the other partners that have been there for over 15 years who are all like family, looking out for one another. BARTOW FORD, A FAMILY Bartow Ford has a unique culture. Following the wise words of Ernest Smith, Bartow Ford really extends itself to excel in the care of its customers and employees alike. This, in turn, has produced little turnover all around. It is not uncommon for there to be two or three generations of people still working at the dealership. It’s a culture where you’re able to grow. The Robles share that at Bartow Ford you easily become like a family; even so that when something tragic happens in an employee’s life, everyone there is collecting money and checking in. From what is seen, it is a very unique culture — so much so that 70 percent of their business is repeat.

“I always found it interesting that my Michigan foster parents’ last name was Ford, with no relation to the company.” – BENNY ROBLES SR. 124

TH E L A K E L A N D E R

CULTURAL ROOTS RUN DEEP The Robles’ Hispanic heritage is consistently reflected through Bartow Ford’s operation. Spanish people are very warm: they hug, and they kiss, and most think that this is the culture they have created at the dealership, too. Robles Sr.’s father was an entrepreneur in Cuba, but he lost his business to Fidel Castro. He then came here and started over, but he didn’t take any money or social security; he just started over. This set an example for Robles Sr. to persist and work hard, which is definitely reflected at Bartow Ford. “I think the Spanish culture is definitely a hardworking culture,” says Robles Jr. “It is very reliable and consistent. And, as I have seen in my life, my father has always brought that to fruition. Honestly, I wish I would have gotten more of that from him, because he embodies these qualities so well. Consistency is what separates people from being good or being great, and I think my dad has been consistent for 40 years. I think it’s very reflective of the Spanish culture.” MAKING LAKELAND HOME Though the Robles definitely consider their community to encompass all of Central Florida, they are also all individually involved closer to home. For

One of the first vehicles purchased from Bartow Ford sits in its showroom today — a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe that was donated to Bartow Ford from the orginal owner’s family.


Lawn Spraying

Fungus Control

Shrub care

Insect Control

Weed control

Indoor Pest Control

I SS U E 44

125


As of January 2017, Benny Robles Jr. assumed presidency of the dealership to conintue and further grow his father’s legacy.

example, Robles Jr. is heavily involved with Central Florida Speech and Hearing, the Achievement Academy, and also with the coaching of a basketball team in the community. But, most importantly, as Robles Jr. shares, he lives here in Lakeland, so Lakeland is definitely home to him. “If I am going to go to the movies or to dinner — it’s in Lakeland,” he says. Robles Jr. also thinks that the community has definitely reciprocated their business model and says he wouldn’t know of any other way to do business but the one they have held to there. At Bartow, they are more about the big picture and taking care of the overall wellness of their people for the long run, ultimately emphasizing how the whole presence of the dealership feels, and Robles Jr. thinks the community has responded well and given back to them because of this.

126

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


All Creatures Animal Clinic

Compassionate Lakeland Veterinarians AAHA Accreditation - Top 12-15% in the USA! Chiropractic care offered Yes...we are cat friendly too!

RE/MAX Paramount Properties www.PolkCountyHomes.com 863-680-3322 Each office independently owned and operated.

(863) 646 - 5683

What Matters to You Matters to Us

REQUEST A QUOTE 24/7 AT HEACOCK.COM


“Consistency is what separates people from being good or being great, and I think my dad has been consistent for 40 years. I think it’s very reflective of the Spanish culture.” – BENNY ROBLES JR.

bartowford.com BARTOW FORD 2800 U.S. 98 North Bartow, FL 33830 800.303.4016

A MESSAGE FOR OTHER HISPANIC ENTREPRENEURS To other Hispanic entrepreneurs, Robles Jr. would say that the dream is still out there. “Unfortunately, there are people that are born here who say there is nothing for me to do, or no way to get ahead. And then there are people who come over here and they light up to the opportunity. Sometimes we forget how great we have it, not only in the U.S., but in Lakeland, too,” he says. So for Robles Jr., he would say to any minority, Hispanic or otherwise, that the dream is still there. “There is no other country in the world where you can go there, work really hard, and become very successful in your business,” adds Robles Sr. “I don’t think other countries have the facilities to do it as well as it is done here. You also see a lot of doctors in Cuba that when they came over here they were no longer doctors because they were not certified in the U.S. So they work as busboys or whatever they can get to get recertified and become doctors with successful practices, because they know there is so much opportunity here for anyone who will take it.”

FUTURE PLANS Thinking toward the future, Robles Jr. wants to hopefully take their business model and branch out to other dealerships. “We have so many managers who have been here for a long time who would do a great job managing a dealership or being a minority owner. I can only grow Bartow Ford so much, so I feel like my legacy will be to grow this same business model and take the same people who have been so faithful to our community and expand to other businesses and dealers,” he says. Bartow Ford has impacted the Robles’ family, the community, and the employees tremendously, so to expand that community would be Robles Jr.’s future dream as he continues his own legacy at Bartow Ford.

128


Since 1972 We’ve treated them like family.

• Comprehensive Medical Services • Professionsal Grooming & Stying • Comfortable & Spacious Lodging • AAHA Accredited 3710 Cleveland Heights Boulevard 863.646.2995 pethospital.com

Welcome Back To School!

richardfoxplumbing.com

863-816-9414

Polk County Catholic Schools

we serve students in Pre-K3 and VPK through 12th grade. Learn more about our schools at

www.polkcountycatholicschools.com I SS U E 44

129


HISTORY

This Spanish Mediterranean Revival home was built on East Edgewood Drive in Lakeland by developer H. A. Stahl, who purchased more than 500 acres of land on the south side of Lake Hollingsworth for his Cleveland Heights subdivision. The Spanish Mediterranean was one of many styles offered by Stahl’s Florida Properties Company. date: 1925 Photo courtesy of the Lakeland Public Library.

130

TH E L A K E L A N D E R


70 years of

EXPERIENCED MINDS handling

COMPLEX MATTERS Since 1948, Peterson & Myers has provided experienced legal advice to help our clients’ innovative ideas become a reality. We believe each client deserves attorneys who create learned, practical, individualized solutions in a constantly changing and complex environment. Please call us or visit our website today for more information about our time-tested legal experience.

SS U E 3 6 PETERSONMYERS.COM • 863.683.6511 • ILAKELAND | WINTER HAVEN | LAKE WALES

131


URGENT CARE OFFERING

WALK-IN CARE HOURS

THAT ARE CONVENIENT FOR ANY SCHEDULE WHEN YOU’RE STRUCK BY AN UNEXPECTED ILLNESS OR INJURY, YOU CAN EXPECT THE BEST FROM US. If you have a minor illness or injury that can’t wait for an appointment with your primary care physician, then Urgent Care, located at Watson Clinic Main in north Lakeland is the ideal solution. The facility offers a full staff of board-certified specialists and easy access to radiology imaging and laboratory services. It’s an appealing, low cost alternative to traditional hospital emergency room settings. Best of all, no appointments are necessary, and you can get the care you need in a time frame that works with your schedule.

Open Seven Days a Week (excluding major holidays)

Monday - Friday: 7 am - 10 pm Saturday & Sunday: 8 am - 6 pm

Urgent Care

(Walk-in Care Without an Appointment)

863-680-7271

1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. | Lakeland, FL | www.WatsonClinic.com/UrgentCare |

The Lakelander - Issue #44 / Cultura Hispana  
The Lakelander - Issue #44 / Cultura Hispana