Wild Ivy’s Salon and Karma Couture bring unique combination to Brooksville

Many small businesses begin with a dream. Wild Ivy’s & Karma Couture began with two.

The business is a conversion of two entities, each inspired by the passion of their owners, Ivy Cordell and Donna Brooks, and began separately in different locations.

Ivy Cordell is a cosmetologist who specializes in hair and nails and has been perfecting her craft for nearly 20 years. She opened her salon, Wild Ivy, seven years ago on Ponce de Leon Boulevard where she immediately began building a clientele that has remained loyal.

Donna Brooks started selling gifts, accessories and handbags out of her house while maintaining full-time employment. It was a side business she learned after working for years with Joe and Donna Giarratana, owners of Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant, developing such a tight bond with them and assisting them in running their gift shop.

“They introduced me to the wholesale market and taught me the trade,” Brooks remembered.

She eventually expanded her business to a small room inside another local salon. Called the Hidden Closet, Brooks began building a client base that loved her quality products and unique styles. She offered wholesale prices on unique gifts, accessories and jewelry pieces, which she sold in a traditional retail environment while also doing parties and special events upon request.

In December, the two women decided to merge their businesses into one unique, cozy beauty salon and boutique. They chose a quaint downtown shop on Main Street, bringing a creative concept to the heart of Brooksville’s historical business sector.

Inside, guests are greeted with the boutique-style décor, flashy and catchy patterns and tropical and bold colors of handbags, makeup bags and totes; jewelry pieces; candles; and so much more.

In the back of the store, Ivy and her beauty staff work on client’s nails, from acrylics to gel applications, hair styling, perms, color treatments, etc.

“We are a full-service salon,” Cordell said.

Both women are long-time residents of Hernando County whose hearts belong to their community. Therefore, both are big into giving back.

Brooks has a soft spot for cancer support, triggered by the diagnosis of breast cancer a few years ago of a dear friend. Last year in April she coordinated a benefit for breast cancer awareness, collaborating with a local artist to create a T-shirt design, and held an open house at her previous location.

The artist, Crystal Buck, designed an image of an elegant, wispy spirit with a gentle ribbon of pink. The image was put onto T-shirts by Island Tees and Graphics, along with the slogan, “Believe in a Cure.”

A copy of that original design still hangs in Texas Roadhouse on Cortez Boulevard and has made its way across the country.

The money raised helped support breast cancer research and treatment options for local residents.

This year, on the anniversary of that event, she and Cordell were busy preparing for the second annual Blueberry Festival. But Brooks still envisioned another T-shirt by the same artist in collaboration.

This one, depicting a similar image but of an angel, would support all cancers by including the different rainbow of colors in support.

The new shirt was debuted during an event both Brooks and Cordell held to support all cancers as well as an effort that is dear to Cordell’s heart that collects, packs and mails gift boxes by request to a special force of the military serving overseas.

The event, held earlier this month, raised money to help pay for the postage for gift boxes for the troops and brought awareness to all cancers.

A major factor leading to the success of any small business, particularly during a slowed economy, is its ability to be creative.

Ivy Cordell and Donna Brooks combined two very creative industries into one, providing a cohesion that only magnifies their commitment to their customers who live, work and play in their community.

How they display their unique presence in the community with beautiful, affordable gifts and grounded beauty care services, while combined with a commitment to paying it forward, makes them a dynamic team.

Water safety precautions

On a bright Florida evening, Jody indulged in a phone conversation with her 16-month-old son’s father while out by the family pool. Her hand was only inches from the son’s shoulder. Yet she was distracted just long enough for toddler to plunge head first into the deep water.

Jody responded with a knee-jerk reaction, grabbing her son’s shirt and lifting him back to safety. Yet she stood shaking for a minute afterward, fully aware of the fact that, given a few different scenarios, the outcome might have been different.

“I was standing right next to him,” Jody said, remembering with clarity as if it happened yesterday. “When you have young children, you just can’t be too careful around water.”

According to the Department of Health, drowning can be a silent catastrophe and can happen in a matter of seconds. In the time it takes to answer the phone or retrieve a towel, a child left unattended near a pool can drown.

“Florida loses more children ages 1 to 4 in drowning than any other state. Annually in Florida enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown and do not live to see their 5th birthday.”

That statistic is troubling to Jim Billotte, the Director of Education for Spring Hill Fire Rescue. He therefore works diligently on educating residents about water safety and the importance of creating barriers between children and open water sources.

Pools aren’t the only danger, he said. Children can drown in any body of water as little as a few inches deep. Bath tubs, hot tubs, lakes, creeks, retention ponds are all drowning risks to children who are left unattended.

A collaborated effort to keep awareness constant and at the forefront of conversation will help prevent future accidents, thereby protecting innocent lives.

Constant supervision is the best defense against accidental drowning, the second leading cause of death in Florida for children ages 1 to 4. More people have pools, Billotte said, and a lot of children using them. That combination alone makes the need for awareness and education even more important than ever.

Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Law, effective Oct. 1, 2000, requires that new residential swimming pools have at least one of the following:

“An enclosure, pool safety cover, exit alarms on doors or self-closing, self-latching devices on entries to the pool. The enclosure must be a barrier at least four feet high on the outside and surround the perimeter of the pool. Gates to the swimming pool must also be equipped with self-closing and self-latching locking devices. The residence may be used as one side of the barrier if it does not contain doors or windows that provide access to the swimming pool.”

Laws alone will not prevent accidental drowning, however.

Therefore, an effort to reduce the number of children dying in Florida from accidental drowning begins and ends with vigilant education, consistent awareness and a commitment from the community to work in a collaborated effort to protect its youngest citizens.

The Florida Department of Health, Office of Injury Prevention, launched a drowning prevention awareness campaign, WaterproofFL, which is a statewide initiative. Through WaterproofFL, the focus is on incorporating “layers of protection,” which includes supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness.

By providing public education, expanding partnerships and utilizing web based outreach resources, the message from WaterproofFL will reach millions of Floridians. The purpose is to make them aware of their role in saving the lives of children when around bodies of water that, while attractive sources of summertime recreation, can prove deadly if precautions are not taken.

“Although we all have a right to enjoy the sun and fun,” the WaterproofFL website reads, “owning a pool comes with responsibilities. So whether you’re a parent, caregiver, neighbor or business, pool safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

WaterproofFL is dependent on the collaboration of several organizations to keep the message circulating through communities and protect its most innocent members.

Billotte agreed that the responsibility belongs to everyone, particularly those who own pools. Fundamental precautions should be in place, he said, like pool fences with latching gates, pool alarms, and reinforced latches on doors and windows.

Pool toys also should be kept away from the edge of the pool. Young children are attracted to bright colors and may try and reach for the items. Ladders for above-ground pools should be kept inside the pool when not in use. A phone should be kept near the pool and all members of the household should be trained in CPR.

Flotation devices also should be kept near the pool, especially if adult members of the household cannot swim, Billotte said.

The Fire Corps of Hernando County offers CPR classes and the local fire houses stock informative brochures about safety, including how to protect your child and others from the risk of drowning.

Water safety training is also a good practice for all children, Billotte said. The local chapter of the YMCA offers water safety classes to children of all ages. And classes are free.

“The Y wants to help (children enjoy summer) safely while still having fun. From Gulf beaches to backyard pools, supervision and skill are key to enjoying the water this season.” Instruction is available for any child in the community, and swim lessons are free.

Billotte, who also is a father, takes a strong role in water safety. When he and his wife added a pool to their home, they were careful to take every precaution. “My daughter was only a year old,” he said.

They installed a pool fence, alarms, extra locks on windows and doors and made every family member take CPR classes.

Of course he knew none of these efforts would ever take the place of constant supervision while children are playing near water.

“It can take just a second for a child to drown,” Billotte said. “Texting or answering a phone can put the child at immediate risk.”

The startling fact is that any child is at risk. “Unfortunate accidents happen to good parents,” Billotte said.

Tinnitus can prove serious

Daniel J. VanceSpeaking on DisabilitiesMost people don’t think of tinnitus as causing a disability, but our featured person this week does.

The National Institutes of Health describes tinnitus as “the medical term for ‘hearing’ noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. The noises you hear can be soft or loud. They may sound like ringing, blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling or sizzling.”

“Steve” isn’t his real name. His experience with tinnitus began as a “hissing” sound in his left ear on a 2008 airplane flight and later that year ratcheted up a notch following a noisy wedding reception.

“Then it really got bad in 2010 while I was out driving a tractor,” said 60-year-old Steve, a farmer. “I woke up the next morning to a loud hissing noise. It was so bad I had to see a tinnitus doctor in (a nearby city). I had to have relief. It was driving me crazy. The doctor there injected something into my ear, but that didn’t help.”

Since then, he has tried everything imaginable to stop it. Because of the hiss, he often experiences periods of depression, can’t concentrate performing work tasks and becomes irritable. One night, the hissing sound in his ears became so loud and annoying he had strong suicidal thoughts. So he checked into a suicide crisis center.

He said, “Obviously, I didn’t follow through on the suicidal thoughts, but I did think seriously about it. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with that loud noise in my head.”

In desperation, he visited a well-known tinnitus clinic in Memphis, Tenn. There and at other places, doctors used drugs, lasers, and ear and neck injections without results. No treatment offered more than 24 hours of hiss-free relief. Believing the loud hiss possibly could be psychological, he spent $300 an hour on a mental health professional specializing in tinnitus.

He said, “It’s highly annoying. I bet I’ve spent $20,000 of my own money (seeking relief) the last several years and who knows how much through insurance.”

Steve chats on Internet forums with other people experiencing tinnitus. They share information about helpful drugs and treatments. His No. 1 priority right now in life is finding a cure.

He said, “Some days it never goes away and on those days my only break is sleep.”
– See more at: http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=http%3a%2f%2fhernandotoday.com%2fhe%2flife%2fhealth%2ftinnitus-can-prove-serious-b82492804z1&d=4811747739764574&mkt=en-ww&setlang=vi-VN&w=HjN-teiU7fOMIRKNaAxG_WATLUG4bK0B#sthash.0FZ0NIvL.dpuf

Health Department to offer free STD tests

SPRING HILL – The Florida Departments of Health in Hernando and Pasco counties have partnered to offer free HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C, and Syphilis testing in a few weeks.

The Pasco World AIDS Day Committee Inc. also worked in conjunction with the two health departments to help provide the free tests in recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

The testing will be provided by the Mobile Medical Van at Advanced Auto Parts at 15826 County Line Road in Spring Hill. No registration is required.

Free food, give-aways and resource information will be provided, and those tested can enter to win a free oil change and tire rotation.

Advanced Auto Parts said they allow the county to use their parking lot for various activities and that the health departments are funding the incentives.

Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and almost one in five don’t know they are infected.

“Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV,” reads a statement about the upcoming testing, released by the Hernando County Health Department. “If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.”

Syphilis is easy to cure if detected early, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but if left undiagnosed and untreated symptoms of late stage syphilis include: difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and dementia. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease damages the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

This damage can result in death, according to the CDC, and without treatment, infected persons can continue to have syphilis in their body even though there are no signs or symptoms.

In the U.S., almost half of all persons with hepatitis A and hepatitis B report having no risk factor for the disease. Among persons with chronic hepatitis B infection, the risk for premature death from cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma is 15 to 25 percent, according to the CDC.

Likewise, most persons infected with Hepatitis C remain unaware of their infection because they are not clinically ill, and persons newly infected with Hepatitis C typically are either asymptomatic or have a mild clinical illness. Hepatitis C virus infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the U.S., with an estimated 3.2 million persons chronically infected.

Chronic Hepatitis C infection develops in 70-85 percent of Hepatitis C-infected persons, and 60-70 percent of chronically infected persons develop evidence of liver disease, according to the CDC.

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected, according to the CDC. For more information, call 727-861-5250 ext 177.


(352) 544-5271

Applying for Social Security disability insurance because of dementia

If you are younger than 65 and are diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s or any other dementia related disease, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

In February 2010 The Social Security Administration added some dementia ailments to the Compassionate Allowance Initiative. This is supposed to expedite the process of being accepted for benefits. Acceptance by SSDI will provide a monthly income for those who are not old enough for Social Security and are victims of these maladies. It will also automatically qualify them for Medicaid. (Keep in mind that Medicaid does not kick in until 24 months after the date the application was first submitted.)

Personally, I find this waiting period deplorable! There’s no telling how fast and far the disease will have advanced during this delay. These people need proper medical assistance now!

The Compassion Allowance applies to several types of dementia. For instance: Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Creutz-Jakob Disease, Primary Progressive Aphasia and what are called “mixed dementias,” such as Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and several more. These illnesses are caused by multiple etiologies.

To apply for SSDI, contact the Social Security Administration. Call and set up an appointment at (800) 772-1213 or visit their website at www.ssa.gov

If for some reason you get turned down, there is another route which can be taken. You may choose to hire a disability attorney or an SSDI representative to assist you with the application and filing.

Another interesting avenue was described to me when I recently spoke with a woman who said her mother was denied. In her case, she contacted her local congressman who helped her immensely.

You will need the proper paperwork containing your diagnosis, so before you start this process, speak with your doctor and gather all of the information regarding the diagnosis. Unfortunately, one slight mistake on the application and you may find yourself starting all over again.

Gary Joseph LeBlanc was the primary caregiver of his father for a decade after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He can be reached at us41books@bellsouth.net. His newly released book “Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behaviors,” “While I Still Can” and the expanded edition of “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness,” can be found at www.commonsensecaregiving.com.

Morton’s Neuroma and foot health

Living in Florida can be hard on your feet. Warm weather kind of tempts Floridians to indulge in bare feet or scarcely dress in cool ill-supported flip flops. But taking care of the health of our feet is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Discussions of foot health often focus on shoe support. Many remember growing up with conversations about flat support contributing to falling arches or high-heeled shoes causing bunions or constricted nerves.

Certain conditions are prevalent today in discussions of foot health, particularly as we age. Awareness is almost always the key to finding solutions or, at the very least, coping mechanisms for foot issues.

According to the National Institute of Health, Morton’s neuroma is a condition defined as the thickening of the nerve tissue in the ball of the foot that might be attributed, at least in part, to compressing and irritating the nerve of the foot.

Morton’s neuroma is an injury to the nerve between the toes, causing thickening of the tissues and resulting in pain. Morton’s neuroma commonly affects the third and fourth toes.

Dr. Jude-Farley Pierre, DPM, of Access Health Care, said that many of his patients who suffer from Morton’s neuroma typically experience the sensation similar to walking with a pebble in their shoe when none exists.

“It is inflamed nerve tissue,” Pierre explained, that typically affects the area between the first and second or third and fourth toes. “And it can be very painful.”

Patients might experience tingling or the sensation of electricity running through their toes. “The pain might shoot up toward the toe or down toward the ankle,” he said.

The National Institute of Health described the following symptoms of Morton’s neuroma as follows:

• Tingling between the third and fourth toes

• Toe cramping

• Sharp shooting or burning pain in the balls of the feet

• Pain that seems to increase when wearing shoes or when pressing the area

• Pain that seems to increase over time

Ironically, Dr. Pierre usually recommends that his patients who suffer from Morton’s Neuroma wear high-heeled shoes to elevate the feet.

“Often times the nerves run along the sides of the toes,” he explained. So elevating the foot inside heels often takes the pressure off the nerve.

Pierre described a few patients who have actually relieved their pain from walking in heels even though some experts believe high heels may contribute to the condition. He described on patient whose condition was exacerbated with flat shoes. Wearing heels helps alleviate the pain, she told him.

Diagnosis of Morton’s neuroma begins with a complete exam of the foot by a medical professional. Xrays of the foot is usually ordered to rule out any bones issues.

An MRI or high-resolution ultra sound can usually successfully diagnose Morton’s neuroma.

Once confirmed, treatments for Morton’s neuroma might include non-surgical solutions like :

• Padding or taping the area of the toe that is affected

• Shoe inserts

• Anti-inflammatory medicines

• Nerve-blockers injected into the affected area

• Physical therapies

In some cases, surgery might be recommended to remove the thickened tissue.

Dr. Pierre isn’t a fan of surgery for Morton’s neuroma, however. “Surgery could actually make it worse because we are talking about inflamed tissue,” he said. While the pain may be relieved by removing the tissue, numbness might occur for the rest of the patient’s life.

The tissue that is left behind could morph into stump neuroma, he added. “They often inject the area with steroids,” Pierre continued, “but sometimes the patient suffers for the rest of their lives. It may not be as severe but they still may have some issues going on.”

Instead, Pierre typically tries a series of other solutions including injection therapies to help relieve the problems without surgery. Cortisone is often used as an anti-inflammatory agent injected into the area.

He also injects a nerve obstruction agent. “It shrinks the nerve,” he said. “It might be a better outcome than the cortisone injections because we can give a lot more of them. But the drawback is that it is very painful.”

Dr. Pierre sees patients for various foot problems in addition to Morton’s neuroma including issues that stem from diabetes. “I see a lot of diabetic patients,” he said. “There are a lot of things that diabetes will affect and the feet are really crucial. If not cared for, they could lead to some kind of infection.”

He is also firmly against going natural with the feet, suggesting that, while not medically confirmed, going barefoot might actually contribute to Morton’s neuroma. It certainly can exacerbate the condition. In his opinion, it is more often a contributor than walking in high heels.

“Walking barefoot is never a good idea,” he said, “especially here in Florida. I don’t care what you’re suffering from, walking barefoot is horrible.”

Walking around bare foot can also lead to all sorts of other problems. “Many of my patients who walk around barefoot run into all kinds of issues,” he said, including splinters, warts and even the HPV virus that can cause Herpes.

Access Health Care is located at 3502 Mariner Blvd. For more information about Dr. Jude-Farley Pierre, visit his office or call him at (352) 666-1913.

Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at Damewrites@yahoo.com.

Autism awareness starts at home

When Aubree Lopez was diagnosed in an amniocentesis with a chromosome abnormality, the geneticist advised that symptoms similar to characteristics of autism might be experienced.

And although Aubree seemed to grow normally for her first 12 months of life, delays in communication, social interactions, and a prevalence of repetitive behaviors seemed to indicate the speculation was on point.

Officially diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Aubree’s parents were told that her autism was likely caused by the chromosome abnormality. They were lucky, the family learned, because many families whose children are diagnosed with the disorder never know the origin.

According to Autism Speaks, autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States. As many as one in 88 children are affected nationwide. Among boys the number is one in 54. And the numbers keep growing.

Ironically, autism also receives only five percent of the funding of less prevalent childhood diseases. In fact, the National Institute of Health’s 2012 $30.86 billion budget allocated just $106 million to autism Research. That equates to only .55% for a disorder that affects millions of children every day, is vastly growing in numbers, has no medical detection available and exists no cure.

In Hernando County alone, more than 680 children are diagnosed with ASD (autism Spectrum Disorder). Many of those families have been left to muddle through a system that is lagging behind in terms of services available.

That realization prompted Danish Hasan, a Springstead High School Senior, to inquire last year why services weren’t available in his own county. Having only a basic understanding of autism, he researched further and determined that awareness had to be the key to unlocking the main piece of the puzzle toward understanding the disorder and prompting more services for families.

Autism awareness became the foundation for Hasan’s community project last year to meet his IB requirements for graduation, after he visited the International autism Convention in Orlando, Florida. He decided to organize a community event to help bring awareness to the disorder while also prompting families living with autism to initiate more assistance.

The community event combined local venders, high school students and organizations connected to autism to come together in support.

“It was a great success,” Hasan said. The festival raised more than $4,000, including a generous donation of $5,000 by KIA Motors of New Port Richey, to be split between C.A.U.S.E autism Support Group Hernando County and CARD USF.

That first year was focused on raising money, he said. But this year’s purpose is centered more on bringing awareness to the community.

“I think that is what we are lacking,” Hasan said. “We have the means necessary to do great things in the county but not enough people are aware of the facilities.”

On Saturday, April 6 from 1 to 4 p.m., several local vendors with connections to services for autism will decorate the track at Springstead High School to promote awareness and the availability of services for families living with the disorder.

In addition, Springstead High School students, many from the IB Program, will be working the event. “A lot of the students will be volunteering their time,” Hasan said. “It’s a good cause and something fun for them.”

The following have committed to the event; C.A.U.S.E. Support Group Hernando County, CARD UF, Sheriff with DARE vehicles, YMCA of the Suncoast, Surfing for autism, Mid Florida Head Start, Golden Rainbow Ranch, Bay Care Behavioral. A Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid will be present as well as Face Painting by Ms. Katie, Muzi Man DJ Billy Farias, and the Glass Man from Friendly Kia.

The event isn’t just for families with autism, Hasan said. The fun-themed afternoon appeals to anyone interested in supporting the community while learning more about autism. Admission is free and all proceeds from the event will be donated to C.A.U.S.E. for the benefit of summer camps and activities for children with autism in Hernando County.

Hasan made a direct appeal to the autism community. Efforts to bring bigger events to the area were met with skepticism, he said, because of lack of support.

C.A.U.S.E and Hasan have tried to organize seminars and invite guest speakers, but are unable to do so because of the lack of support. “We need the numbers,” he added. While Hasan is very empathetic to the families who walk the path of autism on a daily basis, he did stress that they are the key to bringing better services to their own community.

He understands the overwhelming responsibility of raising children with autism, he added. “But we are a group of high school students and look what we were able to do. If everyone comes together in this cause, then there is no obstacle that may exist that will prevent families in our county for getting the required assistance that they need.” It is now up to the community to keep the event growing for the future and make it into an annual event.

For more information about the autism Awareness Fest, contact autismfest.cause@yahoo.com.

Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at Damewrites@yahoo.com.

Guardian ad Litem offer foster children more than legal help

A newborn’s umbilical cord tests positive for illegal drugs and the hospital makes a mandatory abuse report. Rather than place the child in the care of the mother, he would be sheltered under the wing of the Dependency Court.

“The infant would be retained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he would be treated for drug dependency and perhaps placed in a medical foster home with foster parents who have medical experience to care for him,” said Sandra Roth, a Guardian ad Litem.

A caseworker would typically be assigned to work with the parents. But it’s a Guardian ad Litem that is assigned to advocate for the child.

Sandra Roth has been a Guardian ad Litem for five years. Her role in all cases is to ensure the child is safe and to advocate for the best interest of the child in court. While the goal is always to reunify children with parents, the parents must demonstrate to the Department of Children and Families and the court that the factors triggering the removal of the child have been resolved.

“But there are all kinds of situations that might warrant a child being removed from a home,” she said. “When that occurs, we make sure the child is in a safe place, either a foster home or perhaps placed with a relative.”

According to Guardianadlitem.org, a Guardian ad Litem is “a volunteer appointed by the court to protect the rights and advocate the best interest of a child involved in a court proceeding.”

But Roth said there is so much more involved. She has assisted children with learning disabilities get the proper services in public schools, helped others who suffer trauma from violent households receive counseling and bonded with her cases through mentoring they would not have received otherwise.

“It can be difficult work but is a very rewarding experience,” she said.

Children in the foster care system are at risk for health-related issues that are blamed on the physiological impacts of detachment on children who are still growing physically and emotionally.

Consider this from the Center for Assessment for Policy Development of Foster Care and Early Childhood Development:

“It is in the context of secure attachment relationships that children receive the physical contact and attention they need, are provided with food and shelter, learn to interact socially and develop expectations about their social interactions and others, develop language skills, and are provided with safe opportunities to explore themselves and their environment.”

Without active adults in a child’s everyday life, certain fundamental skills are never established. Children’s identities, self esteem, and psychological health are compromised if raised in the system without ample guidance for learning life skills.

Life skills taught by demonstration through a loving parent or caregiver help children make sense of themselves and their environments. And they lay the foundation for the development of language and emotional regulation.

Guardian ad Litems make dramatic impacts on children in the system. Roth said many of the volunteers become important role models for these kids and go above and beyond the call of duty.

Roth, a former police officer in Philadelphia, became a guardian after searching for volunteer work that would be meaningful. “I had a friend who was a Guardian,” she said. “I really didn’t even know what one was. I took the training and found out it was right up my alley.”

Classes are offered several times a year and can be taken online. The process is usually completed in about two months, Roth said, and new guardians are gently transitioned into their role after mentoring with an experienced guardian.

“We are desperate for volunteers,” Roth said.

According to Sylvia Simmons, who is the Senior Guardian ad Litem attorney for Hernando County, there are approximately 77 volunteers appointed to more than 300 children.

Special resources are available for teens 16 to 18 who are learning independent life skills before they age out of the system.

Kristie Ruppe, a private practice criminal attorney and a pro-bono attorney for the Guardian ad Litem program, is concerned about the older teens in the system. While programs are in place to assist these kids, many are falling through the cracks.

“It’s not that the system is failing,” she said. “There are just too many children in need and not enough resources to help them. Unfortunately many of these kids have been in my office on criminal and civil charges because they never learned how to get a driver’s license or pay their bills,” Ruppe said.

Bottom line…there is a drastic need for awareness to the program and its need for volunteers and financial funding.

Fine Lines Boutique in Spring Hill was alerted to the Guardian ad Litem Program through Simmons, who also is one of the store’s dedicated customers.

At Simmons’ suggestion, Fine Lines decided to support the Guardian ad Litem Program for their annual charity Fashion Show, scheduled for Saturday, April 6, at the Palace Grand in Spring Hill.

Sandra Roth and her husband, Doug Roth, have been financial supporters for two years running.

The event, called “Magic in Your Closet,” benefits a different charity each year.

“We always do a charity event every year,” said Janet Schuller, co-owner of Fine Lines Boutique.

The fashion show events use as many as 25 models, all customers who volunteer their time.

There will also be a luncheon, auction and prizes. Tickets are $30 and can only be purchased at the shop until the Friday before the event.

Fine Lines Boutique, co-owned by Janet Schuler and Lois Diaz, is an upscale shop that focuses on women’s clothing, casual, semi-casual, career, and dressy for sizes 2 to 14.

“We’re geared toward the customer,” said Schuller. “If it doesn’t look good, we won’t sell it.”

Fine Lines Boutique carries accessories, purses, jewelry and an assortment of popular clothing styles for most tastes and budgets.

The business has managed to stay afloat even during a rough economy.

Perhaps their success is at least in part due to their charitable giving.

The annual charity event is the highlight of the year for Schuller and Dias. They’ve helped the Dawn Center, Hospice and other important organizations that focus on keeping the donations inside Hernando County.

Their goal for this year’s event is to surpass last year, “and we did very well,” Schuller said.

In addition to meeting a financial goal, Fine Lines hopes to raise awareness to the Guardian ad Litem program, thereby encouraging volunteers.

Anyone interested in helping as Guardian ad Litem volunteer, contact Lynn Sennett, recruiter, at (352) 274-5231or visit www.guardianadlitem.org.

For more information about Magic in Your Closet, contact Fine Lines Boutique at (352) 666-8843 or visit the shop at 5168 Mariner Blvd. in Spring Hill.

health events ar 302172

Jazzercize to host benefit class

Jazzercize will host a Thanksgiving Day Jazzercise class at 9 a.m. Nov. 24 at the Spring Hill Jazzercize Fitness Center, 7257 Forest Oaks Blvd., in the Forest Oaks Plaza. Participants should attend dressed to exercise. Organized by Jazzercise instructor Becky Mooneyham, the 60-minute class will include a warm-up, high-energy aerobic routines, muscle toning and cool-down stretch segment. Jazzercise combines elements of dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and more to create programs for people of every age and fitness level. Admission to the class is a nonperishable food item, paper products or monetary donation, and the public is welcome to attend. Donations will be given to People Helping People of Hernando County, which serves hot meals and provides free clothing, groceries and resource materials to those in need in the county. For information, call Becky Mooneyham at (352) 442-8595.

Dana Bennett event at Strong Tower

Strong Tower Vineyard & Winery will host the Dana Bennett Beneficiary event from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the winery, 17810 Forge Drive. Bennett was recently diagnosed with breast cancer; and due to her liver disease, her physicians in Denver, Colo. advised her to return to Denver for her mastectomy surgery. The fundraiser event is to help Bennett with the expense of moving back to Colorado and to help pay for some of her medical expenses. Ticket cost for the wine-tasting event is $20 per person, and all proceeds will benefit Bennett. If unable to attend the event but would like to make a donation, checks should be made payable to Diane Rowden/Dana Bennett Beneficiary and mailed to Diane Rowden, 10350 Fulton Ave., Weeki Wachee, FL 34613 or call Diane Rowden at (352) 573-4178.

Memory screenings at Meridien Research

Meridien Research will offer free memory screenings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at its facility at 16176 Cortez Blvd., off Fort Dade Avenue. The event is being held in honor of the Alzheimer’s Foundation’s National Memory Screening Day. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged. The public is welcome. For reservations or information, call (352) 597-8839.

Health series at Southern Woods

Oak Hill Hospital will continue its For Your Health community education series from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Southern Woods Golf Club, 1501 Corkwood Blvd. Dr. Andre Brooks will present “Living Successfully with Heart Failure.” Dr. Brooks is board certified in cardiovascular disease and is on staff at Oak Hill Hospital. A question-and-answer session will follow. Admission will be free, and a complimentary hot meal will be served. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. To register or for information, call (352) 597-6333.

NAMI to feature presentation

NAMI of Hernando (affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) will feature a presentation by Kim Garcia, owner of GIME Fitness, on the topic “How to cope with medications through nutrition and exercise” at 6:30 p.m. today at the Beautiful Mind Center in the Brothers I and II Plaza, 10554 Spring Hill Drive. The event is free and is open to the public. For information, call (352) 684-0004 or visit www.namihernandofl.org

Healthy Hearts series at Oak Hill Hospital

Oak Hill Hospital will offer its Healthy Hearts Education Series from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria conference room of the hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. Mary-Anne Flowers, RD, LD (registered dietitian, licensed dietitian), Oak Hill Hospital’s clinical nutrition manager, will discuss “Healthy Eating for the Holidays.” Admission will be free, and complimentary refreshments will be served. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, visit www.OakHillHospital.com or call (352) 597-6333.

CPR training at Brooksville Regional

A CPR/AED class will be offered at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 in Room 120 of the new Brooksville Regional Hospital Medical Arts Complex, 17240 Cortez Blvd. The course meets the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the American Safety and Health Institute. The class is designed for the professional health care provider, but anyone is welcome to attend. At the successful completion of the class, the student will receive a two-year certification card. The cost is $20 per person for the complete course to include CPR and Automated External Defribulation. Since seating is limited and classes fill up quickly, early reservations are advisable. For reservations or information, call (352) 597-8875.

‘Surviving the Holidays’ program

Northcliffe Baptist Church will offer a GriefShare program, “Surviving the Holidays,” from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd. A video and panel discussion will be featured. The speaker will be Fran Welch, and the topic will be “Heaven.” A question-and-answer session will follow, along with a light brunch. The program is for anyone who has lost a loved one, and it does not matter how long it has been since the loved one has died. The event is free, and the public is welcome. For reservations or information, call the church at (352) 683-5882.

Filthy Fun Run at The Concourse

Pasco Pediatric Foundation will hold a 5K “Filthy Fun Run” Nov. 19 at The Concourse, 15325 Alric Pottberg Road. The event will feature an obstacle course built into the race route, wherein participants will crawl through mud, climb over walls, and swing from tree limbs to reach the finish line. Participants can sign up for a wave starting every half hour – the first will begin at 8 a.m. and the last will begin at 12:30 p.m. The entry fee is $50 per person. A party featuring a band, disc jockey and catering by Buffalo Wind Wings will run throughout the event and is open to racers and spectators. The fun run is being held in memory of longtime Pasco Pediatric Foundation supporter Dr. Jeffrey Baumrauker, and sponsorships are still available. The race is open to adventure lovers ages 18 and older of all, or no, athletic ability. To register for the event or for information, visit www.FilthyFunRun.com or call (727) 863-2266.

Hospice to hold volunteer orientation

HPH Hospice will hold a two-day volunteer orientation from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 17 at the HPH Hospice office, 698 S. Broad St. Attendance on both days is required. Volunteer opportunities will include office duties, patient support visits, clerical support and helping at the Hospice House and Care Center. Registration is required, and lunch will be provided. To register, call Jacqueline Lambert, volunteer coordinator, at (352) 796-2611. For information, visit www.hph-hospice.org

Deaf Literacy Academy offers free program

Deaf Family Literacy Academy (DFLA) of Pasco and Hernando counties is currently enrolling families in the area for a free educational program to teach young deaf and hard-of-hearing children, ages infant to12, and their parents how to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). Services are offered at no cost to families. Test results show deaf children have the same potential as their hearing peers to achieve the highest levels of academic success. Yet most are failing due to their lack of mastery in a first language as well as substandard reading comprehension skills. To address these critical educational needs, the DFLA program provides families in the community a unique opportunity to learn and practice ASL in their home. Trained deaf mentors go into the home of each family for weekly sessions. To enroll or for information, email Jeff Thomas, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida, at jthomas@deafhhsfla.org or call (727) 853-1010. The Deaf Family Literacy Academy of Pasco/Hernando is a program of the Volunteer USA Foundation, www.volunteerusafoundation.org

Chatterboxes support group

Community Chatterboxes meet from 3 to 4 p.m. every other Thursday at Community Hospital, 5637 Marine Parkway. Community Chatterboxes is a support group to assist individuals suffering from communication deficits (i.e., aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria, etc.) as a result of a cerebral vascular accident or other neurological disorders. The group was originally established for outpatients that had been discharged from traditional speech therapy but still wished an outlet to practice and interact with others with the same problems. Caregivers and spouses are encouraged to attend. For information, call (727) 845-0757.

‘Look Good’ program at New Hope

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope has announced that it will host the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good…Feel Better” program once a month in its conference room, 7154 Medical Center Drive. The program is held periodically on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m., and the next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 17. This is a free group program that teaches beauty techniques to female cancer patients to help combat the appearance-related side effects of treatment. “Look Good… Feel Better” is free and open to all women cancer patients in active treatment. Reservations are required. For information, call Mary Capo at (352) 596-1926 Ext.150. For information about the Florida Cancer Institute, call 888-206-0054 or visit www.FloridaCancerInstitute-NewHope.com

In addition, a Look Good Feel Better Support Group meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the Florida Cancer Institute’s Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, in the Medical Arts Building, next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. The next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 16. For information, call Peggy Beckett, R.N., support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Ostomy Assoc. meets 3rd Thursday

Hernando County Ostomy Association meets from 2 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, except July and August, in Conference Room 2, first floor, of Brooksville Regional Hospital, 17240 Cortez Blvd. The next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 17. New members are welcome. For information, call Linda Ravenhorst, ostomy nurse, at (352) 686-1956 or Ellen Boldt, president, at (352) 597-5426.

Birthplace offers pediatric CPR

The Birthplace at Community Hospital will hold a pediatric CPR class from 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 19 at the Birthplace, 5637 Marine Parkway. The class is offered the fourth Saturday of every month at the Birthplace. Pediatric CPR teaches how to save the life of a child. Participants will learn the skills of the American Heart Association course, “CPR for family and friends.” The fee is $15 for one person and $25 for two people. For reservations or information, call (727) 834-5630.

Tours offered at Birthplace

The Birthplace at Community Hospital offers tours through its Family Education Program at the hospital, 5637 Marine Parkway. The next scheduled tour is Nov. 19. Tours are conducted by a Registered Nurse educator who will meet with small groups and guide them through the Birthplace. Participants will visit the labor, delivery, recovery, post-partum rooms and will observe the Birthplace’s Infant Safety and Security Program. Participants are welcome to bring questions with them. Since spots are limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, call (727) 834-5630.

Holiday grief workshop

HPH Hospice will host a holiday bereavement workshop for any grieving adult who is concerned about coping with the holidays. The free workshop will be offered from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at HPH Hospice’s West Hernando team office, 12260 Cortez Blvd. Led by an HPH Hospice bereavement counselor, the workshop will provide tips on coping with grief during the holiday season. Preregistration is requested. To register, call (800) 486-8784. For information, visit www.hph-hospice.org

Alzheimer’s research by Families to Rescue

Families to the Rescue will be conducting research on Alzheimer’s/Dementia beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The research is filed with the federal government at www.clinicaltrials.gov and the Alzheimer’s Association will be posting the research on the web site. The study is based on using hypnotherapy to enhance the body’s natural immune system to dissolve the beta-amyloid buildup in the brain. Similar study was done in the UK by Dr. Daniel Nightingale and Simon Duff several years ago with success. Each person will be rated on improvement in concentration, relaxation, motivation, activities of daily living, immediate memory, memory for significant events, socialization and the overall quality of life. Anyone interested in participating in the study should call John Bainum of Families to the Rescue at (352) 848-0612.

TOPS 604 meets at Forest Oaks

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Chapter 604 of Spring Hill meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Forest Oaks Lutheran Church, 8555 Forest Oaks Blvd. Weigh-in is held from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m., followed by an informative meeting from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Meetings include programs offering advice for losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. Visitors are welcome to attend the first meeting free. In addition to the meetings, social functions such as auctions and picnics are held throughout the year. New members, both men and women, are welcome. Dues are $26 per year and $4 per month. For information, call Nancy at (352) 592-1088 or Doris at (352) 666-9525.

TOPS 530 to meet at First Lutheran

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Chapter 530 meets at 9 a.m. every Tuesday at First Lutheran Church, 30419 Park Ridge Drive. Weigh-in is held at 8:15 a.m., followed by the meeting at 9 a.m. For more information, call Evelyn at (352) 796-0477.

Overeaters group meets Thursdays

Overeaters Anonymous of Hernando County offers a 12-step recovery program from 7 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at DaySpring Presbyterian Church in the fellowship hall, 6000 Mariner Blvd. The program is for compulsive overeaters, food addicts, and anorexic or bulimic persons. For more information, call Karen at (352) 200-8433 or visit www.oafreedom.org

Hospice speakers available for meetings

HPH Hospice has speakers available for church, club or civic groups. Educational presentations about HPH Hospice and end-of-life care will be provided. Presentations are generally 20 minutes and can be designed to meet the group’s needs and areas of interest. Advance care planning, how hospice works (common myths and misconceptions about hospice care), home health care and caring for the caregiver are a few of the topics offered by HPH Hospice. Speakers are available weekdays, weeknights and weekends. To schedule a presentation, call Community Relations at (800) 486-8784. For information, visit www.hph-hospice.org/speakers-bureau

Arc seeking volunteers

The Arc Nature Coast is seeking volunteers for its POSSE (Promoting Opportunities and Skills with Special Equestrians) Program, Enrichment Program at the Education Center or Neff Lake Road facility, any of several office locations, community outings and special events. Applications and background screenings are required for any position which involves direct contact with customers. There is a one-time fee of $28 for submission of paperwork to two outside agencies. Orientation and tours of the facilities will be available to all volunteers. For information and application forms, contact John DiRienzo at jdirienzo@thearc-naturecoast.org or by calling (352) 544-2322.

Free resources to quit smoking

Hernando County Health Department, in cooperation with Gulf Coast Area Health Education Center, offers free one-on-one counseling to help residents kick the tobacco habit. Veronique Polo, MPH, CHES, a trained tobacco cessation specialist, is available each Wednesday at the Brooksville clinic, 300 S. Main St. Polo will provide education, quitting strategies and support, and information and access to free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (patches, gum, lozenges). For information, call (813)929-1000 or visit www.gnahec.org. To schedule an appointment, call (352) 540-6800.

Alzheimer’s support group meetings

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point will hold Alzheimer’s support group meetings from 10 a.m. to noon the first Tuesday of every month in the second floor conference room, 14000 Fivay Road. Meetings are open to caregivers and interested people to discuss and exchange ideas, as well as help and encourage those involved in the care of Alzheimer’s patients. For information, call Maria Curley at (727) 992-1358 or Kathy Montero at AFO at (727) 848-8888.

AFO expanding volunteer program

Alzheimer’s Family Organization (AFO) is expanding its volunteer program. AFO services the central Florida area including Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, Lake, Sumter, northern Hillsborough and northern Pinellas. AFO has a new volunteer coordinator with many new opportunities available, such as assisting with fundraising and educational events, office help, health fairs, creating gift baskets, contacting newspapers and more. To volunteer or for information, call the AFO office at (727) 848-8888 or toll free at (888) 496-8004.

Crescent Clinic open for services

Crescent Community Clinic is open for services at its new location in the Winchester Plaza, 5244 Commercial Way. The primary health care and basic dental services clinic is for uninsured adults ages 18 to 64 who meet federal poverty guidelines. Patients must bring a photo I.D. and proof of income; e.g., paystub or other information verifying income. The clinic is open the first three Saturdays of the month excluding holidays. The policy for services has changed; a limited number of new patients can sign in between 8:30-9:30 a.m. only. Patients on file can sign in between 9:30-10:30 a.m. only. Lab patients with a script for blood work can sign in at 9:15 a.m. Basic dental services consisting of infection control, extractions and cleanings are now offered. Patients needing refills on prescriptions should have the pharmacy fax a refill request to the clinic by Wednesday. Prescriptions and renewals can be picked up after 2 p.m. on Saturdays. For information, call (352) 610-9916. The fax is (352) 610-9915.

New hours at Health Dept.

Health Department Environmental Health Office announces new service hours: from 7:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at its annex site, 15470 Flight Path Drive, Airport Industrial Park. For information, call (352) 540-6800.

LifeSouth in need of blood donors

LifeSouth Community Blood Center, 12395 Cortez Blvd., just west of Mariner Boulevard, has a shortage of donors with snowbirds up North, causing a struggle to meet the blood needs of local hospitals. Anyone 17 or older (16 with parental permission) weighing a minimum of 110 pounds and in good health is eligible to donate. A photo I.D. is required. The blood center is open seven days a week as follows: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. To make an appointment to donate at a different time other than times listed or to find the Bloodmobile locations, call (352) 596-2002.

Volunteer positions available at Oak Hill

Oak Hill Hospital Volunteer Association has a wide range of volunteer opportunities at the hospital,11375 Cortez Blvd. Morning, afternoon and evening shifts are available in both patient contact and non-patient contact areas, assisting support departments, helping in the gift shop, the hospital’s special programs, and in particular, the newly formed Oak Hill Hospital Partner’s Club. With the approach of the summer months, teens 16 years of age and older are particularly welcome. For information, call the Oak Hill Hospital Volunteer Association president, Dorothy Kaelin, at (352) 597-3038.

Brooksville Reg. seeking volunteers

Brooksville Regional Hospital Auxiliary is seeking volunteers for various positions. Morning and afternoon shifts are available, and year-round residents are preferred. For more information, call (352) 544-6117 or (352) 544-6080, or visit online at www.BrooksvilleRegional.net

NAMI offers free classes

NAMI of Hernando (affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) invites anyone who is dealing with a mental issue, or has a family member or loved one who is, to join its support activities. Its Consumer and Family support groups meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Wednesday; and another consumer group meets from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday, both at the Beautiful Mind Outreach Center in the Brothers 1 and 2 Plaza, 10554 Spring Hill Drive. Art classes, programs and speakers to inform the public about various aspects and treatments for mental illness will be featured. For more information, call (352) 684-0004.

Caregiver Support at Catholic Charities

HPH Hospice facilitates Caregiver Support Groups at 11 a.m. the last Friday of every month at the Catholic Charities office, 1423 Kass Circle, off Spring Hill Drive. Caregivers can meet and talk with others caring for loved ones with dementia. The information and guidance provided helps caregivers determine a plan for care while coping with the challenges of dementia. Meetings will be facilitated by a master of social work from HPH Hospice. The support group is free and is open to the public. For information, call JoAnn Laperle, MSW, at (352)597-1882 or Loraine Jones, BSW, at (352) 597-1882.

Caregiver Support Group meeting

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope holds its Caregiver Support Group meeting from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at its Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, Medical Arts Building next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. For information, call Pamela McGee, support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Alzheimer’s Assoc. lists support groups

Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, offers support groups for family members, caregivers, and others interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease. Support group facilitators have received training as required by chapter and National Alzheimer’s Association standards. Program schedule is as follows: First Friday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Main Branch Public Library, 238 Howell Ave., Brooksville, Jerry Fisher, (352) 688-4537; first Thursday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Oak Hill Hospital-Senior Partners, 11361 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, Jerry Fisher, (352) 688-4537; third Monday of each month, 2 p.m., The Residence at Timber Pines, 3140 Forest Road, off U.S. 19, Spring Hill, Diane Koenig, (352) 683-9009; first Tuesday of each month, 11 a.m., Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 550 U.S. Highway 41 south, Inverness, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600; third Wednesday of each month, 11 a.m., Avante Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, 304 S. Citrus Ave., Inverness, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600; second Wednesday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Sunflower Springs Assisted Living Community, 8733 W. Yulee Drive, Homosassa, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600. Meetings are free and are open to everyone. Also, visit the Alzheimer’s Association online support group at www.alzsupport.com for a live chat at noon every Wednesday. Message boards are open at all times to post questions and leave replies. For program information, call the above-listed phone numbers. For other questions or to arrange free respite care in order to attend a meeting, call the Hernando office at (352) 688-4537 or (800) 772-8672.

Man to Man meets first Monday

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope holds its “Man to Man” prostate cancer support group from 6 to 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at its Brooksville Center, 7154 Medical Center Drive, off Kadri Boulevard, across from the High Point community. Topics frequently discussed are: importance of early detection, signs and symptoms, prognosis, disease stages, incontinence, impotence, various treatment options including hormone therapy and medications, and especially the latest research and treatment modalities. Speakers will include physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers and others. The support group is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society. For information, call Mary Capo at (352) 596-1926.

RSVP seeking volunteers

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is seeking volunteers, and the only requirement of the program is to be 55 years of age or older. A representative of the RSVP Welcome Center, 880 Kennedy Blvd. will find a position that will fit the interests and needs of interested volunteers. Some of the areas available are Meals on Wheels, senior centers, nature, museum docent or researcher, library, food banks, animal care, child or elder programs and more. If interested in volunteering or for information, call from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (352) 796-8117.

Northcliffe Baptist offers GriefShare

GriefShare recovery seminar and support group will meet from 9 to 10:30 a.m. each Saturday at Northcliffe Baptist Church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd. GriefShare features nationally recognized experts on grief and recovery topics. Seminar sessions will include “The Journey of Grief,” “The Effects of Grief,” “When Your Spouse Dies,” “Your Family and Grief,” “Why?” and “Stuck in Grief.” For information, call the church at (352) 683-5882.

Support Group at Christian Church

Christian Church in the Wildwood offers a Cancer Support Group which meets at 1:30 p.m. the second Monday of every month in the Building A Café of the church, 10051 Country Road. The purpose of the support group is to help caregivers, survivors or those currently dealing with cancer. The support group is free. For information, call Godfrey Eason at (352) 597-9916 or (352) 263-3784 or email geas46@bellsouth.net

Lost art of Kiko lessons at library

Kiko is based on Goju Ryu which means the five-storied pagoda, and not hard and soft, which is based on the five elements represented by the vowel sounds to which the consonants are added which determine the sounds and movements of Kiko which physicalizes and builds up the Ki into the body and life of the practitioner and manifests as health and/or martial arts power. Classes are held at 1 p.m. every Saturday at the Spring Hill Branch Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive. For more information, call (352) 544-5700.

Myeloma Support meets Wednesday

Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the Partner’s Club (formerly Spring Hill Enrichment Center), behind Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. For information, contact Pat Killingsworth at 715-271-5037 or email pat@helpwithcancer.org.

Leukemia Support meets Wednesday

Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets at 6 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Moose Lodge, 5214 Mariner Blvd. For more information, contact Lourdes Arvelo at (813) 963-6461 Ext. 11 or email Lourdes.Arvelo@lls.org or visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website at www.lls.org.

Respite Program has openings

Catholic Charities, one of United Way of Hernando County’s partner agencies, has openings in its Respite Program. The program is for people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease and other memory loss illnesses including stroke, Parkinson’s disease or senile dementia. The program offers caregivers some short-term, dependable relief from their day-to-day responsibilities, providing their loved ones the opportunity to participate in planned activities and friendships. For more information, contact Marie Monahan at (352) 686-9897 Ext. 22 or email mmonahan@ccdosp.org.

SHINE program announces new sites

Florida Department of Elder Affairs will offer the free SHINE program (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) at the following locations:


11 a.m. to noon, Brooksville Enrichment Center, 17222 Hospital Blvd., Medical Arts Building, Suite 120, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 544-6022.


Noon to 1 p.m., East Hernando Branch Library, 6457 Windmere Road, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 754-4443.


11 a.m. to noon, Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Medical Arts Building, Suite 105, Spring Hill. For information, call (352) 684-7568.

SHINE counselors offer information and assistance with Medicare (filling out paperwork, bills and filing appeals), Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare prescription drug coverage, long-term care planning and pharmaceutical assistance programs. An appointment is not necessary. For information or for counseling locations outside Hernando County, call the Elder Hotline toll-free at 800-262-2243.

Oak Hill announces new Partner’s Club

Oak Hill Hospital announces the formation of its new organization – the Oak Hill Hospital Partner’s Club. Membership is open to all existing Enrichment Center members, H2U members, Oak Hill Hospital volunteers, or any Hernando, Pasco, or Citrus county resident. The Partner’s Club offers a variety of activities and events that focus on health, education, staying active, and meeting new friends. The club will be headquartered in the soon-to-be remodeled facility formerly occupied by the Enrichment Center. The hospital will provide further information about enrollment in the near future. For information about the hospital, visit its website at www.OakHillHospital.com

Assistance for low-income elders

Florida Department of Elder Affairs has launched a pilot project to help low-income elders enroll for benefits. Florida’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, requires that most applicants for benefits fill out their requests online. However, a large portion of Florida’s 4.45 million seniors are not regular computer users, and statewide 58 percent of eligible elders do not participate in SNAP. The three-year pilot project will enable elders who are reluctant or unable to visit an office location or apply online to call the state’s Elder Helpline and have a trained professional enter the online data for them. Seniors who need help with a SNAP application should call the state’s Elder Helpline toll-free at 800-963-5337.

Volunteers sought for hospital/clinic

Brooksville Regional Hospital and Good Shepherd Medical Clinic are seeking volunteers for various positions. Shifts can be morning or afternoon at the hospital,17240 Cortez Blvd.; and from 7 a.m. to noon at the medical clinic, 8425 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill. Year-round residents are preferred. For information, call (352) 544-6117 or (352) 544-6080 or visit www.BrooksvilleRegional.net.

Volunteers needed to drive patients

American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program is in need of volunteers to drive cancer patients in Hernando County to their chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Schedules will be flexible, and training will be provided. Requirements will be a safe driving record, valid driver’s license, insurance and a smoke-free vehicle in good running condition. For information, call Joan at (352) 799-9078.

Hospice offers support groups

HPH Hospice holds bereavement support groups from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays at the HPH at 698 S. Broad St. or from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursdays at the HPH at 12260 Cortez Blvd. The organization invites any adult who is grieving over the death of a loved one. The groups are led by an HPH bereavement counselor and are open to the community. The support group is free, and reservations are not required. For information, call 800-486-8784 or visit www.HPH-Hospice.org.

Al Anon meetings at Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church conducts an Alcoholics Anonymous Family Group meeting at 7 p.m. each Tuesday in the Ministry Center of the church, 1214 Broad St. (U.S. 41). Meetings are open to the public. For information, call (352) 796-4066.

Elder Helpline offers support

West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging’s Elder Helpline offers support for caregivers and their aging parents. The Helpline provides information for older adults and their caregivers by helping callers make informed decisions about available assistance. It is the starting point in getting connected with programs or services that can meet the needs of the older adult or caregiver. For more information, call 800-96Elder (800-963-5337) or visit www.AgingFlorida.com.

Resource Room at Pinebrook

American Cancer Society has a Hernando Resource Room which is open from noon to 4 p.m. every Wednesday in Suite 203 of the Main Entrance at the Pinebrook Regional Medical Center, 14540 Cortez Blvd. Bras, wigs, prosthesis, turbans, and scarves are available free for uninsured or underinsured patients. For information on other American Cancer Society free programs and services, call 800-227-2345 or visit online at www.cancer.org.

Amplified phones for residents

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida offers amplified and text telephones and ring signaling devices free to Florida residents through its contract with Florida Telecommunications Relay. An individual must be over the age of 3 and certified as being deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, or speech impaired. Equipment will be available by appointment every Tuesday morning at the Spring Hill Enrichment Center, behind Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. To schedule an appointment for equipment or for more information, call 866-685-9477 or (727) 853-1010 or visit online at www.ftri.org/ptrichey.

Oak Hill announces ambassador service

Oak Hill Hospital announces the establishment of a new position of Patient Ambassador. The ambassador is an advocate for their patients’ needs while respecting the confidentiality of all involved. The patient advocate’s job duties entail greeting each patient at least twice per four-hour shift to determine whether the patient’s needs are being met – whether the patient needs a newspaper, directions, a water refill or simply a friendly ear, the ambassador will attempt to fulfill the needs and information request. If medical assistance is needed, the ambassador will alert the necessary medical staff. For information, contact the hospital at (352) 596-6632 or visit online at www.OakHillHospital.com.

St. Andrew’s offers support groups

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2030 Deltona Blvd., is offering the following Community Support Groups:

Divorce Care will meet at 7:30 p.m. in Krysher Hall of the church. Trained facilitators can assist and give support to people who are separated or divorced. For more information, call Geri at (352) 683-7013.

Griefshare will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday. The program is for people who have lost a spouse or close friend. Trained facilitators will be available to offer advice and support. For information, call the church office at (352) 683-2010.

Both programs are ongoing and can be joined at any time.

DivorceCare meetings

DivorceCare divorce recovery seminar and support group will meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, 5030 Mariner Blvd. Seminar sessions will include “Facing My Anger,” “Facing My Loneliness,” “Depression,” “New Relationships,” “KidCare” and “Forgiveness.” For information, call (352) 686-9954 Ext. 409.

Health Dept. offers family services

Hernando County Health Department offers family planning assistance at both of its facilities at 300 S. Main St. in Brooksville and at 7551 Forest Oaks Blvd. in Spring Hill. The Health Department family planning services are based on FDA-approved methods which include condoms, birth control pills, Depo-Provera, IUDs, diaphragms, along with abstinence and natural family planning methods; counseling regarding vasectomy services; pregnancy testing; and a comprehensive exam (health history, health promotion and community resource information, physical examination and lab tests including Pap smear and testing for sexually transmitted diseases). Fees for services are based on the client’s income. The services are free for those who have incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. To make an appointment or for information, call (352) 540-6800.

Lymphedema support groups

Community Hospital, the future Medical Center of Trinity, will host Lymphedema support group meetings at 3 p.m. the third Thursday of every month at the Medical Center at 5637 Marine Parkway. Meetings will be conducted by Alisha Cover, a licensed physical therapy assistant. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, call 877-4-HCA-DOCS (877-442-2362).

Florida Cancer Institute — New Hope will host its Lymphedema support group from 3 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at its center, 8763 River Crossing Blvd. Lindsey Wisniewski, licensed physical therapy assistant at Community Hospital, plans and conducts the meetings. For information, call Lindsey at (727) 845-0757.

Overeaters group meets Thursdays

Overeaters Anonymous of Hernando County offers a 12-step recovery program from 7 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at DaySpring Presbyterian Church in the fellowship hall, 6000 Mariner Blvd. The program is for compulsive overeaters, food addicts, and anorexic or bulimic persons. For information, call Overeaters Anonymous toll-free at 800-544-6353 or call Karen at (352) 200-8433. For detailed information, visit www.oafreedom.org


Autistic children support group

The Harbor Behavioral Health is offering a free support group for families with autistic children from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at The Harbor, 7074 Grove Road. The support group is for caregivers of children with autism. Babysitting will not be offered during the meetings, so prior arrangements must be made for child care. For information, call (352) 346-1677.

Respite Room at First UMC

First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill will feature The Respite Room from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday in Burns Hall of the church, 9344 Spring Hill Drive. The Respite Room provides a weekly program for persons with memory challenges such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Participants engage in meaningful and age appropriate activities. This opportunity enables a person to be part of a social setting and participate in activities that are specially designed with them in mind. The program provides caregivers a brief break from tasks and time for themselves. For information, call Christine Powers at (727) 863-6868 or Cindy McLoud at (352) 683-2600.

ER wait times available online

HCA Oak Hill Hospital, Community Hospital and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point now post Emergency Room wait times to see a qualified medical practitioner on their Websites and via text messaging. Visit www.HCAdocs.org or text ER to 23000. The Emergency Department wait times for these hospitals is updated approximately every 30 minutes using an average from the previous four hours.

Health Dept. offers childbirth classes

Hernando County Health Department/Nature Coast Community Health Center will offer Childbirth Education classes from 6 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday at the Health Department, 300 South Main St. Facilitated by Margaret Purdy, MS, ED, CBE, the series will offer pregnant women and a partner information, instruction and resources to promote a healthy delivery. A partner is not required to participate in the classes. The cost of the program is $60; and participants can pay by cash, check or credit card. The program is free for Healthy Start clients. Registration is limited to 10 participants and 10 partners. To register or for information, call Susan DeLise at (352) 540-6819.

Elder Options offers help

Elder Options, of the Mid-Florida Area Agency on Aging, exists to promote the independence, dignity, health and well-being of elder citizens; to plan, fund and administer a coordinated continuum of services; and to advocate for the needs of older Americans. Anyone who is 60 or older and is being hurt or taken advantage of by someone they know or trust, should report suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation by calling 800-96-ELDER or 800-965-5337. To report elder abuse, call the confidential Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-96-ABUSE (800-962-2873).

Memory program at CARES

CARES Early Memory Loss Program will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday at the CARES Rao Musunuru, M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway. The program is for individuals who are experiencing early memory losses and need a proactive day program to provide social support and memory retraining skills. The CARES “Senior Moments” Early Memory Loss program offers individuals and their families opportunities to reduce the progression and challenges of potential memory disorders through early intervention. For reservations or information, call Christine Powers at (727) 863-6868.

Hearing Clinic held at CARES

The St. John’s Hearing Institute will hold a hearing clinic at the CARES Rao Musunuru, M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway, from 9 to 11 a.m. the second Monday of each month. Ear wax checks and ear wax removal, hearing screenings and hearing aid checks will be provided. Participants who wear hearing aids will receive one free package of batteries. Amplified telephones are distributed to the hearing impaired by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at no charge to qualified Florida residents. For information, call the Center at (727) 868-6363.

Miracle on Wheels qualification

Miracle on Wheels announces that Medicare’s regulations make it easier for seniors and others with debilitating conditions such as arthritis, stroke, heart and breathing problems, or diabetes to obtain a power wheelchair at little or no cost. Anyone who is suffering from any condition that severely limits their mobility should call Miracle on Wheels toll-free at 800-400-4210.

Co-Dependency group to meet

The Co-Dependency (CoDA) Words of Wisdom (WOW) Group meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday at the Salvation Army, 15464 Cortez Blvd. The group is a 12-step fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and fulfilling relationships. For information, call Valarie at (352) 596-2492.

‘Children Loved’ support group

St. Frances Cabrini Center will offer an “Our Children Loved and Remembered” support group at 7 p.m. the first and third Friday of each month in Room 3 of the Cabrini Center, 5030 Mariner Blvd. The support group is for parents and grandparents that have lost a child of any age or religion. For information, call Dorothy at (352) 684-1369 or Carol at (352) 686-1310.

Celebrate Recovery at Life Center

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program for those with hurts, habits and hang-ups, will be held at 7 p.m. Fridays and Mondays at Bridge Family Life Center, aka First Baptist Church, 7279 Pinehurst Drive. The Friday program is a time of worship and a lesson followed by small groups for fellowship and discussion. Child care is provided on Friday nights only. The Monday program is the men’s and women’s 12-step study groups. For information, call (352) 683-2863 or visit the church’s Website at www.firstbaptistchurchsh.com

Yoga classes at Inner Peace

Hatha Yoga classes will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the Inner Peace Bookstore and Wellness Center, 421 West Jefferson St. Bring a mat or towel and bottled water. The cost is $7 per person, but the first yoga class is free with instructor Rachel Oleson, (352) 346-8619. For information, call the Bookstore at (352) 544-0304.

A Reiki clinic will be held at 7 p.m. each Wednesday at the Inner Peace Bookstore and Wellness Center. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning Universal Life Energy, an energy all around people. Reiki allows the person to feel deeply relaxed, calm and peaceful. The cost for the clinic is $10 per person or $22 per month, and Reiki books will be available for purchase. For information, call Maria at (352) 544-0304 or Vicki at (352) 442-1240.

Outreach Center offers support

Beautiful Mind Outreach Center, 10554 Spring Hill Drive, in the Brothers I and II Plaza, is a self-help rehabilitation and recreation center which helps those with a mental illness help themselves and also offers support and education to their families. The Center provides support groups, education groups, friendship groups, bingo, arts and crafts, computer classes, bowling, scrapbooking, guest speakers, social activities and more. For information, call the Center at (352) 684-0004 or Ginny at (352) 686-2687.

Brooksville Regional introduces EUS

Brooksville Regional Hospital, 17240 Cortez Blvd., has introduced its full-service gastrointestinal program incorporating a relatively new procedure, the Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS). EUS combines the techniques of endoscopy and ultrasound examination to obtain images and information about various parts of the digestive tract through a less invasive procedure than surgery. The procedure enables physicians to detect and determine treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, masses and lesions in body tissues at earlier stages, as well as determine how aggressively these masses should be treated. For information, call (352) 799-5019 or visit www.BrooksvilleRegional.net.

DivorceCare meetings

DivorceCare divorce recovery seminar and support group will meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, 5030 Mariner Blvd. Seminar sessions will include “Facing My Anger,” “Facing My Loneliness,” “Depression,” “New Relationships,” “KidCare” and “Forgiveness.” For information, call (352) 686-9954 Ext. 409.

SHINE program announces new sites

Florida Department of Elder Affairs will offer the free SHINE program (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) at the following locations effective Feb. 1:


11 a.m. to noon, Brooksville Enrichment Center, 17222 Hospital Blvd., Medical Arts Building, Suite 120, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 544-6022.


Noon to 1 p.m., East Hernando Branch Library, 6457 Windmere Road, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 754-4443.


11 a.m. to noon, Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Medical Arts Building, Suite 105, Spring Hill. For information, call (352)684-7568.

SHINE counselors offer information and assistance with Medicare (filling out paperwork, bills and filing appeals), Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare prescription drug coverage, long-term care planning and pharmaceutical assistance programs. An appointment is not necessary. For information or for counseling locations outside Hernando County, call the Elder Hotline toll-free at 800-262-2243.

Celiac Group to meet 4th Saturday

Celiac Support Group meets from 10 a.m. to noon the fourth Saturday of the month in the Community Room at Coastal Region Library, 8619 West Crystal St. The support group is for those who have celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Everyone is welcome; bring friends or relatives who also may be gluten intolerant. Anyone who would like to bring a gluten-free snack, bring the recipe and/or list of ingredients for those with other allergies. For information, call Mary Lou Thomas at (352) 628-9559.

Mid-Florida Services provides meals

Mid-Florida Community Services provides nutritious meals year-round to seniors age 60 and over. Seniors are welcome to visit any one of its four dining sites within the county. In addition, the Meals on Wheels program provides nutritious lunches five days a week to seniors who are homebound. The daily contact by the program’s volunteers ensures a visit by someone who provides companionship, while checking on the person’s health and well being. Volunteers are welcome, and donations are appreciated. For information, call (352) 796-1425 or (352) 796-0485.

Leukemia group meets 4th Tuesday

The Florida Cancer Institute’s Leukemia/Lymphoma Support Group will meet from 5 to 6:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Florida Cancer Institute’s Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, in the Medical Arts Building, next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. Topics that are frequently discussed are: the importance of early detection, signs and symptoms of leukemia-lymphoma, prognosis, disease stages, the various treatment options, and especially the latest research and treatment modalities. For information, call Jeff Haight, R.N., support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Hearing services has phones

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida has recently announced the addition of several new telephones, ttys and captioned telephones which are available through its no-charge equipment distribution program. Deaf and Hard of Hearing offers amplified telephones and related equipment free to permanent Florida residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or speech-impaired. The telecommunications access program is funded by a surcharge on all landline phones in Florida. Equipment is available Monday through Friday at the Main Office, 8610 Galen Wilson Blvd. or at satellite locations throughout Pasco and Hernando counties. For information or to make an appointment, call (727) 853-1010 or 866-685-9477.

Medicare recipients eligible for wheelchair

All Medicare recipients should now be aware that if they suffer from conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disorders, and have difficulty walking or propelling a standard wheelchair, they may be eligible to receive an electric wheelchair paid for by Medicare. For information on Medicare eligibility, call 800-810-2877.

Grief support group meets Fridays

Survivors Grief Support Group meets at 1 p.m. Fridays in Conference Room 1 of Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. Everyone is welcome. For information, call Rose at (352) 596-6752.

Enrichment Centers list activities

Department of Veteran Services of Hernando County will be addressing concerns and answering questions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center, 670 Broad St., Brooksville; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday at the Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 11375 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill. Capri Home Care will be checking blood pressure and will host a question-answer session about general health concerns from 10 to 11 a.m. every Thursday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center. Contours Express will be sending a personal trainer to assist the exercise class at 8:45 a.m. every Wednesday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center. A volunteer will take blood pressure Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Spring Hill and Tuesdays at Brooksville. Support groups are available, such as Parkinson’s, diabetic, Alzheimer’s, Ostomy, nurses, well spouse and breast cancer. For information, call the Spring Hill Enrichment Center at (352) 597-6331 or the Brooksville Enrichment Center at (352) 544-5900.

Wishes on Wheels has wheelchairs

Wishes on Wheels has electric power wheelchairs available for nonambulatory senior citizens 65 years old and up, and the permanently disabled of any age, if they qualify. For information, call 800-823-5220 or visit www.threewishes2.com.

WOW program offered at YMCA

Hernando County Family YMCA offers a Working on Weights program that meets twice a week for four weeks on the Wellness Floor of the facility, 1300 Mariner Blvd. The program features one-on-one instruction with a personal wellness trainer to help achieve personal goals while addressing personal limitations and comforts. For information, call Olivia Matles at (352) 688-9622.

Yoga in the park

Yoga in the park will be offered Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at Hernando Park, 205 East Fort Dade Ave. The cost is $7. For information, call Rachel at (352)263-4923 or Hernando County Recreation Department at (352) 754-4031.

Editor’s note: Healthy Happenings events will only be listed as space permits. Email submissions to Karen Cuocco at kcuocco@hernandotoday.com.

Cob appeal

Frazier Farms is more than a produce stop. The covered shelter where the vegetables are displayed has an old-fashioned, country-store appeal, arranging varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk bins.

The smells of watermelon, corn husks and clean farm air fuse together and combine to engage all the senses.

“What is a barbecue without Frazier corn?” Brooksville resident Mickey Moran’s comment vocalized what the crowd was thinking as it stood inside the gate of Frazier Farms.

Cob appeal

A continuous line of customers came on this day to buy huge, thick, juicy ears of sweet corn, freshly picked and ready to take home. Many have made the trip countless times before, year after year, during harvest times. For this newest harvest of bicolor sweet corn, they were too late.

David and Sharon Frazier apologized to their customers, explaining that the field had been replanted and the harvest was about four or five days delayed. Fourteen inches of rain was the culprit, destroying the first planting in that field. All that was left, for now, was just about gone.

Customers were visibly disappointed but not upset. Most have been loyal to the Fraziers for years. Instead, they purchased other produce, all of it grown by local farmers, or visited for a few moments and made plans to return for the fresh picking.

Frazier Farms of Brooksville has been selling homegrown corn for decades. The cozy farm rests peacefully for a good portion of the year, serene and relatively undisturbed. But during two spring harvests in May and June and the fall harvest in October, the farm becomes a bustle of activity.

Harvest season openers mean long days for the Fraziers and barely a moment to breathe until the corn is gone.

David smiled as he described the craziness of each harvest season. At times, customers have lined up outside the gate and down the street. It has been like that for decades.

“My job is to put a perfect ear out here and it will sell itself,” David said.

That is exactly what happened this time. Within about 30 minutes, all the corn was gone, leaving behind several empty buckets.

Not one customer pulled down the husks to inspect the corn.

“They don’t have to,” David explained. “Every ear of corn they’ve gotten so far they’ve bragged about. Even people from up north say it’s better than what they get there.”

A few customers happily grabbed bagged corn, freshly shucked by Jake Elkins and Joshua Zapadenko, who sat off to the side, examining the ears for quality. They explained that sometimes the corn gets damaged during picking. They were performing “quality control,” making sure only the best ears made it to the customer.

Clearly David stumbled on a niche that others have tried to duplicate. But no one has gotten it quite right.

“About 90 percent of our business is word of mouth,” David said, testimonials that play like a folk song, motivating the Fraziers to keep doing what they’re doing.

David has experimented with other crops, including blueberries and strawberries. “But it got to the point where I didn’t have enough room for the corn,” he said. The 15 irrigated acres are now reserved for sweet corn: yellow, white and bicolor.

It’s more than just a business, though. David and Sharon can’t hide their pleasure when customers return, year after year, allowing them a chance to catch up. In fact, the conversation among visitors is casual, like small talk among friends.

The Fraziers greet each customer with warm smiles; many they address by name. There’s a strong sense of community, a connection bonded by a tiny peek into the past. Even the farm’s mascot, Buster, seems thrilled by the atmosphere. Fondly nicknamed “Corndog,” Buster shucks and eats his own corn on the farm.

Sharon Brown is a regular visitor to Frazier Farms. She stood in line to purchase her bag of freshly shucked ears. “It’s the absolute best,” she said.

Bill Shaw has lived in Brooksville for 50 years and has purchased Frazier corn for as long as the farm has been in business. “Today I came to buy vegetables,” he said, as he filled a bag with green beans. What were his plans for the beans? “I will give them to my wife,” he said with a chuckle.

Shaw admits it is largely the corn that brings him back. He prefers the white, which was expected to be ready in a few days. “But I also come for the family,” he said. “The Fraziers are great people.”