Caitlin & Andrew – Tell Us Your Wedding Story

Caitlin & Andrew – Tell Us Your Wedding Story

The wedding itself at the Wellington Community Center was simple and perfect. As family members from California, New York and Philadelphia looked on, the couple exchanged vows, then danced their first dance as husband and wife to “Head Over Boots” by Jon Pardi and “One Wish” by Ray J.

Wellington High School alumni Andrew and Caitlin Holloway have known each other almost all their lives — even though they were not initially aware of it.

“We were going through some old T-ball photos, and I said, ‘Hey, I had that coach!’ Turned out we were on the same team, back when we were five and six years old,” Andrew explained.

Fast forward to ages 16 and 17, and the two were re-introduced by mutual friends on the Boys & Girls Club baseball fields during batting practice. They began hanging out on their own and then dating. On March 25, 2017, they tied the knot at the Wellington Community Center.

But Andrew knew they were meant to be together long before that.

“I knew Caitlin was the one the day we met,” Andrew said. “I’ve never had a connection with anyone like the one I have with her. She’s my best friend and my world.”

Caitlin is thankful to have a husband as supportive as Andrew.

“I knew Andrew was the one during college,” she said. “His support of my goals and growth were unparalleled to anyone else. He believes in me, and I love him with all my heart! He’s my favorite person.”

The official proposal took place in Spain, while the couple was on a 12-day Contiki European excursion.

“I had planned to ask her during the trip,” Andrew said. “I brought the ring with me and carried it around for 10 days, just waiting for the perfect opportunity. It was while we were in the hotel room, talking about our relationship and reminiscing about the time we’d spent in Europe and the memories we’ll have, when I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. We’d been together forever.”

The wedding itself at the Wellington Community Center was simple and perfect. Caitlin wore a dress that she had purchased at Mariolka’s Bridal Boutique in Boynton Beach, and Gina Sullo of Gina Marie Photography was the photographer.

For the big day, Andrew’s three brothers served as groomsmen, while Caitlin’s three cousins were bridesmaids — all honored equally.

As family members from California, New York and Philadelphia looked on, the couple exchanged vows, then danced their first dance as husband and wife to “Head Over Boots” by Jon Pardi and “One Wish” by Ray J.

“We didn’t go on a honeymoon, but we travel a lot — about twice a month for softball tournaments,” Andrew explained.

As part of the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Adult Slow Pitch Softball Travel Team, the couple has been to Oregon, Tennessee and throughout Florida to locations such as Tampa, Sebring and Tallahassee.

“Every trip with her is a honeymoon to me,” Andrew said.

So, diamonds really are a girl’s best friend — baseball diamonds, that is.

 

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Let’s Ask A Wedding Photography Expert: What To Look For When Hiring The Perfect Wedding Photographer

Let’s Ask A Wedding Photography Expert: What To Look For When Hiring The Perfect Wedding Photographer

Most brides and grooms describe their wedding day as among the most magical moments of their lives. However, moments do not last forever — unless they are captured by your wedding photographer. We spoke with award-winning wedding photographers Stacey and Brandon Poirier of Poirier Wedding Photography to get their pointers and suggestions about what to look for when hiring a photographer for your big day, and how to capture forever those amazing memories that will last a lifetime.

Q: How long have you been wedding photographers?

 A: We began our wedding adventure in 2010, and over the last nine years, we have had the honor of photographing more than 450 weddings. Our wedding experience is priceless. We approach each wedding with advanced technical know-how, and we are able to individualize our approach to ensure that we capture a wedding story that is unique to each client.

Q: What primary photographic style do you identify with?

A: Our style is a fusion of photojournalistic along with a modern casually posed flair. We approach each wedding as a love story waiting to be captured. We believe in preserving all the beautiful details of your wedding to complete your story. We love to photograph everyone having the time of their lives celebrating your love as a married couple. Real reaction and real emotions are what we strive to capture. We also understand that there is a time during the day to direct and lightly pose you both, along with your family, for those must-have family formals. We stay true to the immediate family portraits that we all have come to love over the years. Our images are fun, authentic and timeless.

Q: Do you have experience shooting in various lighting situations?

A: Yes, we are skilled photographers and can work in all types of lighting situations. Whether rain or shine, day or night, a wedding must go on, and we pride ourselves in the ability to capture amazing images regardless of the elements presented to us. We love natural light photography, but what do you do when there is no light? As wedding photographers, we need to be fully prepared to work in any type of lighting condition, because you never know what you may encounter on the wedding day. Therefore, we are considered full-gear wedding photographers, meaning we will bring all the proper equipment to each event we photograph. Do not make the mistake and just trust any photographer for your wedding day. Choose an experienced and equipped photographer, because you only get one shot to capture your wedding day.

 

Q: Can couples see an entire wedding from start to finish?

A: Absolutely! This is one of the most important things a client can ask of the photographer. Wedding photographers need to work fast and be able to shoot in any type of lighting situation. We are seasoned, experienced wedding photographers and know the ins and outs of the unpredictable, moment-driven nature of weddings. We love it and are happy to showcase any love story our clients would like to see.

Q: Do you offer video services?

A: This is a new adventure for us, but our team now offers video. Over the years, during our wedding adventures, we have discovered that weddings are fast-paced with lots of emotions at every turn. You plan your wedding many months, and sometimes years, in advance, and before you know it, the day is over in the blink of an eye. Our goal is to make sure clients enjoy every moment while in the moment. We believe a wedding is an intimate celebration with family and friends and should not be a production with a large team pulling the bride and groom in all different directions. Our team works flawlessly together to beautifully capture the day without being obtrusive or competing for the shot.

Q: Tell us a bit about the wedding collections you offer.

A: Our wedding collections are à la carte, which gives clients the freedom to custom design the collection that will best suit their needs. Most couples receive about 800 to 1,000 images. We do remove duplicates, test shots, images with eyes closed, etc. The high-resolution files are included with all wedding coverage. The files are delivered via a private online gallery that is viewable worldwide. From the gallery, clients are able to download directly to their computer.

Q: Do you travel for weddings?

A: We do! We are based in Palm Beach and Tennessee. Although many of our weddings are in Florida and Tennessee, we love to travel wherever clients would like to take us. We have photographed weddings in Maine, Cape Cod, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and our most favorite magical location, the Disney World Wedding Pavilion.

Q: What kind of equipment do you typically bring with you?

A: We carry more than $20,000 in professional Nikon digital camera equipment to every event we photograph. We use Nikon D3s and D750 camera bodies and carry a full line of Nikon professional lenses. We are full-gear wedding photographers and bring all the proper lighting to skillfully document each wedding. We have multiple lenses and camera bodies as backups in case of a malfunction.

Q: Are you available to shoot extra hours?

A: Of course. All wedding coverage begins with eight hours. This coverage fits us best to properly capture a wedding and not miss any priceless moments. We offer a hands-on approach to photography and work with clients closely to design a perfect schedule for the wedding day. If more wedding day coverage is needed, we will be happy to add it on for an additional fee.

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CCTV Agent Provides Top-Of-The-Line Security Camera Services In Wellington

CCTV Agent Provides Top-Of-The-Line Security Camera Services In Wellington

Tatiana Yaques first began riding horses as a young girl growing up in Miami. In high school, her trainer moved to Wellington. Yaques began commuting from Miami to Wellington to continue her equestrian training and fell in love with the community.

It was the early 1990s, and Wellington looked vastly different than today. Yet the village has always been beautiful and welcoming, and it stayed in her heart. Even after Yaques graduated from law school and began practicing law in Miami, both she and her husband knew they wanted to return to Wellington.

The opportunity arose when James Yaques, Tatiana’s husband, was presented with a job offer from Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington, and they both knew it was kismet. He accepted the position as band director, she transitioned to a position at a law firm in West Palm Beach and they moved to Wellington.

That was 14 years ago, and the Yaques family plans on remaining in Wellington for the rest of their lives. Their two daughters were born at Wellington Regional Medical Center and both attended Equestrian Trails Elementary School.

As an attorney, Yaques represented many Wellington businesses and residents. Her practice focused on commercial litigation and land use law. “I had the opportunity to represent and become familiar with businesses in many different industries, weighing and weaving in business interests with whatever legal issues a client was facing,” she explained.

As an advocate, it was also her job to become an expert in her clients’ industries. For these reasons, Yaques knew that her law practice gave her great insight and experience into the business world.

While Yaques enjoyed the practice of law, there comes a time in everyone’s lives where they examine where they have been, where they currently are and where they want to be in the future. Her goals were to have more time with her family and to own her own business.

In searching for a business opportunity that would best match her skill set, Yaques discovered CCTV Agent, the largest security camera company in Palm Beach County. It was a strong and well-established company, with a loyal customer base, a long history of success, and a great reputation for quality and service. After reviewing the company’s history, she made the decision to purchase CCTV Agent, becoming its CEO.

“CCTV Agent is not your typical security camera business,” Yaques said. “In many ways, it parallels the way that people view Wellington. Wellington is large, but it retains its small-town feeling. Wellington offers exceptional facilities and has high-caliber people behind them. So does CCTV Agent.”

CCTV Agent is a large-scale security camera business with a small business feel. When clients call or e-mail them, they are always answered with live and local support. As CEO, Yaques is always available to any of her customers. If a client needs a service call, they will typically see a CCTV Agent tech on site, who can resolve their problem quickly, instead of having to wait weeks for someone from a different county to find time to come help them with a problem. “CCTV Agent offers only top-of-the-line products, because we believe in offering clients quality for their money,” Yaques said, adding that the company warrantees all of its products.

CCTV Agent specializes in commercial installations, having installed and serviced security camera systems in shopping malls, schools, homeowners’ associations and condominiums, retail establishments and government facilities. In fact, CCTV Agent installed all the security cameras used by the Village of Wellington in its facilities, including the Wellington Community Center, the Wellington Municipal Complex, the Wellington Amphitheater, the Wellington Tennis Center, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Environmental Preserve and other locations.

As a lifelong equestrian, Yaques has owned horses for many years. She has been very involved in the equestrian industry in Wellington as an attorney and is quite familiar with the needs of the industry. The family and their horses live on a farm in the Little Ranches neighborhood. Their oldest daughter rides and competes in the pony hunters at the Winter Equestrian Festival and other shows.

As an equestrian, Yaques appreciates the deep connection between horses and their humans. “Our horses become our partners, and it is our responsibility to protect and care for them,” she said, adding that she believes Wellington’s equestrian community is in need of a strong and dependable company that it can turn to for security systems.

CCTV Agent can fill that need because the company’s experience and expertise in providing security camera systems is second to none, Yaques said, noting that her experience in the equestrian industry, combined with the company’s experience in the commercial arena, make it the ideal match for the Wellington equestrian community’s security camera system needs.

In addition, Yaques also knows how important the sense of security is for everyone living in Wellington.

“The Village of Wellington is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States. Some of the reasons so many people choose to make Wellington their home are because of the beauty of its neighborhoods and the great sense of community that exists here,” she said. “Another reason is the sense of security that they feel in this serene, but busy village.”

The word “security” has many meanings, but CCTV Agent knows that the feeling of security is the single most important thing that people can feel in their homes. Security is an important issue for many of the neighborhoods in Wellington. Many people make the choice to buy a home in an HOA or condominium community in Wellington based on their desire to live in an area that has additional security and that can provide a greater peace of mind because security concerns are addressed on a community-wide basis, Yaques added.

CCTV Agent has partnered with numerous HOAs and condominiums in Wellington to install security camera systems that help add to the security of these communities. With Yaques at the helm, CCTV Agent intends to continue providing high quality security camera systems and unparalleled customer service to those in Wellington and beyond.

For more information about CCTV Agent, call (561) 249-4511 or visit www.cctvagent.com.Fea

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The Poke Company Reframes Traditional Hawaiian Dish For Florida Fish Lovers

The Poke Company Reframes Traditional Hawaiian Dish For Florida Fish Lovers

The Poké Company is fast casual food in a build-your-own bowl, balanced with both flavor and texture in every single bite. The concept is basically sushi in a bowl, quick and delicious.

The growing franchise opened in June in the Pointe at Wellington Green. It is run by Alan Cockerham, a Florida native who hails from the Keys. He grew up in his family’s marina business. After studying marine technology, Cockerham worked as an engineer on cruise and cargo ships while traveling the world for a decade before shifting gears. He is now the first franchisee in Florida, aside from two corporate locations in Boca Raton owned by co-founders Seth Shaning and Maximo Cortese.

“I’m very picky with the quality of fish because of where I grew up. There’s no compromise for freshness,” Cockerham said. “I’m third-generation from the Keys. I’m from Islamorada. My whole family is still there. It has all been a very seamless transition, with the handling of fish and seafood. It’s all very second nature to me.”

Poké is a Hawaiian concept.

“Originally, they would take the scraps from less tasty fish, and they’d mix onions, Shoyu sauce, which is the traditional poké sauce, along with a little bit of seaweed. That’s how they’d mask the slightly gamey flavor. That’s how poké was created. It has since been adapted, and the bowl concept was introduced in California. It has become popularized and migrated east,” Cockerham explained.

The Poké Company offers sushi-grade tuna, salmon and steamed shrimp. Fish is locally sourced and remains fresh during the entire transportation process.

The first decision to make is what size bowl and how many proteins you want. “We try to accommodate anyone with allergies, or gluten free, or on the paleo diet. We have a lot of options for that as well,” Cockerham said. “There’s one family that comes in every day. They can’t have soy or gluten, so we give them the unmarinated fish, because our fish is usually pre-marinated, but we have options in the back for anyone with allergies.”

After you decide how many proteins you want, you pick your base — white or brown rice, mixed greens or cauliflower rice. You can mix and match to suit your taste.

“We’re big on tasting before you put it in your bowl. We want you to build the best bowl that you can,” Cockerham said. “We’ll nudge you in the right direction to make sure your flavors are matching up with one another.”

Then it’s time to choose your proteins. Tuna, salmon, spicy tuna and steamed shrimp are traditional poké choices, and tofu and chicken are also available for those who prefer non-fish options. From there, you move on to the mix-ins.

“The proteins get mixed in a separate bowl from the base, which is in a paper bowl. That’s where we create depth of flavor,” Cockerham explained.

Mix-ins include cucumber, sweet onion, jalapeño, edamame, cilantro and hijiki seaweed. They get mixed in a steel bowl with the protein. Then, it’s time to select a sauce.

“This is where we hammer home what we’re really about,” Cockerham said. “The chef and co-founder, Seth Shaning, worked at Nobu for 10 years. He’s classically trained.”

There are three soy-based sauces.

“The first is the company sauce, which is garlic flavored with a bit of a kick. It’s infused. So, the sauce is the base, and we marinate, or infuse, ingredients in them, to create depth of flavor. Everything we do is by hand. It makes a big difference,” Cockerham said.

There’s also the sesame shoyu. It’s a toasted sesame-based soy and is the traditional poké sauce.

“The notes you pick up are a nice sesame oil, fish sauce and coconut water,” Cockerham described. “Meanwhile, the citrus ponzu pairs well with salmon and shrimp with underlying notes of lime.”

After the mix-in sauces, come the toppings — from tempura flakes to crispy onions, wasabi peas to ginger, scallions, avocado and more. There’s an array of topping sauces that follow to bind it all together, such as spicy mayo, eel sauce and avocado lime, which is the most popular.

“We portion everything appropriately so you’re getting a good bite of rice or salad of your base with everything you choose to put on top,” Cockerham said.

The prices are right on point, too. “For the quality of food that we offer, I don’t think there’s anyone who can come close,” he noted.

A small is priced at $7.95, while a regular is $10.95. Chicken bowls start at $5.95. There are a number of drinks to add to your experience, like Japanese bottled sodas and teas, as well as fountain drinks by Stubborn Soda. A selection of craft beers from Cigar City Brewing is also available, as are several wine options.

The Poké Company is sustainability minded, trying to stay away from single-use plastic items as much as possible. All bowls are compostable paper. Lids are Ecoware, which is recycled plastic. The same with the knives, forks and spoons.

For Cockerham, cleanliness is number one. “We have no grease traps, no hoods, no ventilation. Nothing cooking in the back. That’s what’s great about the poké concept. You’re able to keep everything so clean, so fresh,” he said.

For dessert, try the key lime pie ice cream, straight from his aunt’s kitchen.

“My aunt operates out of a commercial kitchen down on Islamorada,” Cockerham said. “We brought on her ice cream, which is just phenomenal.”

The ice cream has been such a hit, it will soon be found at other Poké Company locations. There are currently four locations in all, but there will be eight by the end of the year.

Cockerham, who grew up in the “sport fishing capital of the world,” carefully chose the “equestrian capital of the world” to open up his shop. He plans to get involved with the Winter Equestrian Festival, as well as offer catering services soon, and spread his passion for poké and pairings of flavors to the sea of people in Wellington and beyond.

The Poké Company is located at 10120 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in the Pointe at Wellington Green. It is open every day 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Delivery is available through DoorDash. For more information, call (561) 323-2391 or visit www.eatthepokecompany.com.

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JP Picone Of Home Loan Experts Helps Clients With Their Mortgage Needs

JP Picone Of Home Loan Experts Helps Clients With Their Mortgage Needs

You never know on what path your life will take you. For John Gerard “JP” Picone of Home Loan Experts, what began as a dream of playing professional baseball has led to a successful career as a mortgage broker.

It all started in Newark, N.J., back in 1971.

“I was the only child in a middle class, Italian family,” Picone recalled. “My career goal at that time was to play second base for the New York Yankees. I played a lot of baseball growing up. I attended mostly Catholic schools — St. Thomas in Bloomfield for my elementary years and Holy Family in Nutley for junior high. I graduated from Clifton High School in 1989.”

After high school, Picone got a job as a senior file clerk at a top-shelf law firm with help from his mother, Doreen, who was employed there.

“I enjoyed my time there very much and was even offered assistance with college and law school, if I wanted to commit to becoming an attorney,” he said. “I really wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad, uncle and cousin; all hard-working men and business owners in their own right. These were the people I looked up to. I really wanted to be in my own business.”

After running his own towing business for three years, Picone relocated to South Florida in 1997. His extensive auto background led him to become a salesman for AutoNation. He attended AutoNation University with plans to move up in the company.

“For six months, I was an assistant finance manager, a finance manager for four years and finally, a director of finance,” he said. “My financial automotive career has taken me through many auto dealerships: AutoNation, Acura, GMC, GM, Cadillac, Hyundai, Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Chrysler and Mitsubishi.”

Picone, who has been married for more than 20 years to his wife Meredith, has two children: son Jared, 20, and daughter McKenna, 18. He has been a Palm Beach resident since 2000.

After a few years serving as a loan modification manager for a bank, he made the leap to the mortgage side and began originating residential and commercial loans.

“I worked with several companies before going with Home Loan Experts, a wholesale mortgage broker, in 2017,” Picone said. “I am licensed to originate loans in both Florida and Texas and can refer in all 50 states. My concentration is in Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens.”

Picone enjoys his position as a wholesale broker.

“At this level, I can offer my clients competitive rates and better service by shopping their loans while having access to every loan product available, for all the various credit profiles,” he said. “In effect, this gives me more control of the loan and allows my clients to close either on time or early, almost every time.”

Home Loan Experts makes sure to go the extra mile for each and every client.

“We have the ability to offer lower rates and zero broker closing costs,” Picone said. “This means both lower payments and lower out-of-pocket closing costs for our clients.”

Picone also strives to stay in contact with clients after the mortgage is done.

“I am available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week,” Picone said. “If you need something on a Saturday or a Sunday, I am available. Our services also do not stop after your closing. I assist my clients if something occurs after we close or if they just have a question. We are here for you.”

To contact John Gerard “JP” Picone, call (561) 275-3984 or (561) 318-5987. Learn more at www.homeloanexpertsusa.com.

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Above And Beyond Party Décor Turns A Client’s Vision Into Reality

Above And Beyond Party Décor Turns A Client’s Vision Into Reality

With life comes milestones, many of which are celebrated as special and unique occasions. Andrea Plevin of Above and Beyond Party Décor has built her business around making clients happy by bringing their dream celebrations to life.

With life comes milestones, many of which are celebrated as special and unique occasions. Andrea Plevin of Above and Beyond Party Décor has built her business around making clients happy by bringing their dream celebrations to life.

Originally from Westchester County, N.Y., Andrea moved to Wellington to support her family. Her two oldest children stayed up north for college, and her youngest, Kylee Plevin, joined Andrea and her husband Roger in Florida as they cared for her in-laws. The entire family has since reunited in Florida.

Andrea has long been involved in the communities that she has lived in, which led to her career in party planning.

“I was very active and volunteered for any kind of function that involved decorating, and I really enjoyed it,” she recalled. “People kept saying, ‘You should do this for a living.’ I finally decided to do it.”

Planning parties keeps her busy, too. So far in 2019, Andrea has worked on more than 25 baby showers and first birthday parties alone. Many people don’t realize that doing everything for an event on their own can get expensive very quickly.

“Often, I have supplies here that they can use, and I just take them back, so it’s like a rental,” she explained. “That is going to be much less money than if they went out, bought everything themselves, and then after the party, they don’t know what to do with it.”

During her 23 years in the business of making magic, all three of the Plevin children have been involved in the company to some extent. Her daughter, Jordana Norring of Jupiter, and son, Andrew Plevin of Wellington, have both contributed many times over. “My son Andrew is the fastest at tying balloons that you will ever see,” Andrea said. “Recently, my youngest has become very involved in the business, too.”

Andrea is also now a grandmother of seven, including Dean and Brad Lamont; Grayson and Rayna Norring; and Celia, Hudson and Claire Plevin.

After growing up in Wellington, Kylee graduated from Florida Atlantic University with an emphasis on technical design. She worked in the healthcare field for years before deciding to follow in her mother’s footsteps and feed her creative side. “I’m like my mom, very creative, very hands on, very crafty,” Kylee said. “But I also balance out my mom in ways. I’m very logistic and structured.”

Above and Beyond Party Décor can handle any type of function, from a personal backyard birthday party for two, to a 500-guest event at an exclusive country club. Their unique specialty? Larger than life arches and sculptures made entirely of balloons.

“Organic arches are really in right now,” said Kylee, who explained the involvement of different shapes, sizes and layers of balloons. “To keep up with the trends, we have to adapt to what people are wanting. Sometimes that means we have to learn new and different techniques.”

For the best experience from start to finish, clients should always consider their timeline and realize that successful event planning takes time to execute.

“For large events, like a wedding or bar mitzvah, I suggest getting started at least six months in advance,” Andrea said. “Smaller events should start planning at least a month or two ahead.”

Because the schedule for party planning varies, Andrea is open to working with clientele in person or virtually. She and her daughter are quite tech savvy.

“If I have a picture, I can do it,” Andrea said. “I like talking to people, but I also text often, as more people have been contacting me that way. For people out of the state, we can literally do the entire party by text, and I don’t meet them in person until the event day.”

She explained that the planning portion is all about learning the client’s vision. The execution portion is where Andrea takes the reins and makes that vision real.

She knows the local venues and can draw many of them by memory, but that may not be the best way to translate a client’s vision.

“We work predominantly in Palm Beach County, but we have the capabilities to work outside of it, if that’s what the client needs,” Andrea said. “We also don’t put out packages because everything is tailored to the client. We are also very good at working within a budget.”

Andrea takes being a part of these important lifetime moments very seriously, and that is why clients return.

“One customer, I did all four kids’ [bar/bat] mitzvahs, and now I just did the first wedding for them, too,” she said. “It is fun, but my favorite thing is when it’s all done, and I’m really excited about how it looks. I can’t wait for my client to walk in and see the expression on their face. So many times, they say, ‘This looks even better than I pictured!’”

Above and Beyond Party Décor is located at 235 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach, and meetings are available by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call (561) 707-6606 or e-mail aboveand beyondparties@gmail.com. To see product examples and check out the extensive photo gallery, visit www.aboveandbeyondparties.com.

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Florida Eye’s Dr. Jason Gorscak Is Dedicated To Protecting Your Sight

Florida Eye’s Dr. Jason Gorscak  Is Dedicated To Protecting Your Sight

Protecting your eyesight is vitally important, and for more than a decade, the Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute has provided Wellington-area residents with advanced eyecare services using state-of-the-art technology.

“We’ve had a presence in Wellington for just over 11 years now, but opened our new office five years ago,” ophthalmologist Dr. Jason Gorscak explained. “There was an overwhelming need for good ophthalmic patient care in the area and looked at this opportunity to offer more care.”

Gorscak was born in New Jersey, attended Johns Hopkins University and then came down to Florida where he earned his medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine. He then completed his ophthalmologic residency at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey before joining Florida Eye in 2008.

While Gorscak focuses on comprehensive eyecare for his patients, he specializes in the diagnosis and removal of benign and malignant eyelid tumors. He also treats cataract conditions, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

“I knew I wanted to go into medicine when I was in college. I wanted to help people,” Gorscak said. “When I was in Miami doing a rotation at Bascom Palmer, which is an eye hospital, there was an 85-year-old Haitian lady who spoke no English.”

Gorscak described how the quiet, four-foot-tall woman was completely blind due to severe cataracts that covered her entire pupils. “The resident did the cataract surgery, and the next day I was there as the patient took off her patch for the first time. She saw for the first time in who knows how many years,” Gorscak recalled. “This lady, who spoke no English, this smile grew on her face. She didn’t have to say any words. It was just amazing, and from that experience, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Florida Eye offers specialized care for cataracts, glaucoma, retinal conditions such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, and even pediatric ophthalmology.

“All the doctors at the Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute have an extreme desire to provide professional and compassionate care to all of our patients,” Gorscak said. “We truly enjoy what we do. Here in the Wellington facility, we have trained staff from technicians to the front desk that are all a very big part in providing excellent care to our patients.”

After more than a decade of practicing ophthalmology, Gorscak has seen what happens when patients don’t prioritize their vision.

“We recommend that anyone over the age of 50 have their eyes checked once a year, and every two years for someone under the age of 50,” he said. “I’ve seen 20- and 30-year-olds with severe glaucoma, which is a silent disease that can cause you to go blind. It’s not common, but it happens, and it’s worth getting checked.”

Sometimes patients come in because they have picked up some bad habits, like sleeping with their contact lenses in.

“So many people wear these extended-wear contact lenses, and they sleep in them for about a month,” Gorscak said. “I see so many infections from patients who do that, and despite what it says on the box that sleeping in contacts is not good for your eyes.”

After working and living in densely urban areas, Gorscak found a deep connection to the community of Wellington, where he now lives and is raising his family. In his spare time, he enjoys racing cars non-competitively on road courses throughout the country.

Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute is located at 2575 State Road 7 near the Mall at Wellington Green. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled online at www.fleyedocs.com or by calling (561) 792-1205.

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Not Just Playing With Numbers: Finance Team Keeps Wellington In The Black

Not Just Playing With Numbers: Finance Team Keeps Wellington In The Black

Wellington’s Office of Financial Management and Budget is setting the standard for practice and policy across the nation. More than just the purse strings for the village, OFMB is directly connected to every department — and every resident.

“We monitor all revenues and expenses for the village, and we provide services that the customers need, want and are willing to pay for,” said Controller Ana Acevedo, who has been with Wellington for five years. “In the finance department, we work very closely with all departments in the village, and I just enjoy seeing how our tax dollars are put to work.”

After 14 years on the job, Budget Director Christine Wadleigh knows the ins and outs of making things work for everyone.

“We give the financial support and guidance to all the other departments. We make the connection between what the residents see and the requirements that any government has to meet according to statutes and law,” Wadleigh explained. “We do the financial reporting, and then prepare and present a balanced budget. We make the translation between the fun stuff that everybody sees and the finances that make it happen.”

As a department centered around planning, OFMB is all about being prepared for the future.

“During the Great Recession, many local governments experienced debilitating hardships,” Acevedo said. “Wellington was able to continue to meet the needs of the residents during this difficult time by evaluating economic conditions and planning well for unforeseen events. I think that’s what finance is all about — planning ahead. We assisted with cost-cutting measures that kept the village running leanly while maintaining our excellent financial position.”

OFMB is not the largest department in Wellington’s government, but it touches every aspect. Between the purchasing, budget and accounting sections, approximately 20 people are tasked with crunching the numbers.

“We developed a priority-based budget model that every department completes, and it allows them to rank their budget requests,” Wadleigh said. “They do an awesome job of prioritizing, and I call them budgeteers.”

Another key step to this ranking system involves identifying all the core activities in Wellington and making sure those are funded.

“We implemented an annual budget survey, probably 10 years ago now, that really provides insight on the items that are important to the residents. That helps us to prepare our budget knowing that we are meeting the needs of our residents,” Wadleigh said. “We even identify the higher level, quality of life community add-on activities and make sure those are funded.”

Getting the community to participate in surveys is no easy task. Other government agencies throughout Florida have tried and failed, so crafting questions that people want to take the time to answer is an art form in itself.

“I gave a presentation on it to the Florida Government Finance Officers Association in June, and many others have had difficulties getting it off the ground. We’ve had great support here,” Wadleigh said.

The results have received not only attention, but awards.

“I am extremely proud of the awards that the finance department has received throughout the years,” Acevedo said. “In 2019, we received a certificate of excellence award for our investment policy. This is awarded for investment policies that have been reviewed and professionally accepted by the Association of Public Treasuries of the United States and Canada.”

OFMB has also earned many recognitions from the national Government Finance Officers Association, including a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 22 consecutive years.

The GFOA has also bestowed upon Wellington its Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award for eight straight years. This award specifically refers to the creation of reports that are easily accessible and understandable to the general public.

The department’s proficiency in everything from policy documentation and organization to financial planning has also earned them the GFOA’s Award for Distinguished Budget Presentation for the past 23 years.

Past successes support a strong track record, but the department is always looking ahead.

“Our future plans are to always continue to meet the future economic challenges. We update our forecasting every year and want to keep Wellington in its current excellent financial position,” Wadleigh said. “That also means being able to change with the times and being aware of what’s going on out there and making sure we recommend financial and policy changes to keep ourselves in a good position, no matter what happens.”

There is also an internal plan in place to keep the department running at peak efficiency.

“We want to continue to grow our department and promote from within like a succession plan,” Acevedo said. “In the finance office, it is critical to cross-train to make sure that if anyone is out, we always have someone to cover during their absence.”

Both Acevedo and Wadleigh give much of the credit for their success to Director of Administrative and Financial Services Tanya Quickel.

“Tanya Quickel really just brings a great and welcoming culture. We meet weekly to discuss everything that’s going on,” Acevedo said. “It’s just a family, a home away from home. Our leadership is just exceptional.”

Wadleigh said that Quickel allows everyone to leverage each other’s strengths.

“We all respect that everyone’s strengths come together as a great team,” Wadleigh said. “We’ve got super-talented, devoted people. Even at quitting time, they’re not going home. They stay until the job is done.”

The pieces of Wellington’s government strive to fit together, working toward a common goal for the community.

“Our goal continues to be a great hometown, and that’s our mission and our vision for the village,” Acevedo said.

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RESCUE GROUPS Step up to SAVE COUNTLESS ANIMALS IN NEED

RESCUE GROUPS Step up to SAVE COUNTLESS ANIMALS IN NEED

If there’s one thing that Wellington-area families cherish more than our wonderful lifestyle, it’s our animals. Many of these pets live like kings with good food, lots of love, plenty of room and medical attention when they need it. But what about those not so lucky? Life can be grim for animals who find themselves lost, abandoned or stuck in a shelter. Luckily, there are a number of nonprofits that have stepped in to save them.

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Amber’s Animal Outreach

Amber’s Animal Outreach

Amber Nelson was just seven years old when she started helping established rescue operations in Broward County. Now 18 and living in Loxahatchee with her parents Kelly and Troy, Amber has already logged three years as a foster parent for a number of dogs through her own organization, Amber’s Animal Outreach.

Kelly explained that their nonprofit is not facility-based, but rather a foster operation.

“Amber takes in dogs that are about to be euthanized unnecessarily, gets them back to health and fosters them until they are adopted,” she said. “Many of the dogs are love-starved when she gets them. We also get calls from people going into nursing homes, who love their pets but can’t take them with them. If we can help, we do. Even though we are small, Amber saves hundreds of dogs every year.”

Like most rescues, the challenges for Amber’s Animal Outreach are twofold — getting funding and finding the right home for the right dog.

The hard-working teenager depends on donations acquired primarily through fundraisers and her Facebook page.

In an effort to find potential adopters, Amber and her supporters spend just about every other weekend at PetSmart, hoping to find homes for the dogs. She also is a presence at Roger Dean Stadium during baseball games.

“All this started because Amber couldn’t stand the thought of dogs being put down,” Kelly said. “As her mom, just seeing her following her dream makes me happy. Her love and compassion are amazing. She was home-schooled and just graduated this year. We’ll see where her path takes her now.”

To support Amber Nelson in her mission, visit www.aaodog.org.

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