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Generational Women

Generational Women Understanding Motherhood And The Bond Mothers, Daughters & Granddaughters Share!

Generational Women, our focus this month, explores how the unique familial bonds that are shared can extend into successful business partnerships.

Many people have their mom as the top person on speed dial when the good, bad or ugly happens in life. And this is for good reason. There is scientific evidence pointing to the incredible bond between mother-daughter relationships, which trickle down to granddaughters as well.

Moms are likely to understand where you are coming from when faced with life’s challenges, as she has experienced a similar journey. She is also less likely to pass judgment.

Mothers and daughters know how to get on track and stay on track, easily taking a disagreement to a laughing frenzy in moments — and their unconditional love for one another stays intact. But it is a big leap taking this unique relationship into the business world.

On the following pages, you will learn about three unique families, and how they prove that mother-daughter teams can work! Whether it is within the equine industry, lifestyle or the beauty world, learn how it all began and how their success continues through the strength and determination of Generational Women. Who better to build and capitalize on then your mom?

 

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A Strong Foundation

A Strong Foundation Kristen Hamel Tackles Motherhood & Her Family’s Foundation With Grace

By Sydney Jones

It’s not always about what you have, but what you can give. In 2017, Kristen Hamel and her husband Jim set out to make a difference by providing financial support to organizations that help their local communities, as well as the education and well-being of disadvantaged people through their own Hamel Family Foundation.

As a mother and new grandmother, Hamel has always made it a priority to teach her children to help others and be active in their communities.

Although Hamel and her family are based in Richfield, Wisconsin, she has always spent a lot of time in Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival. Growing up on a farm, she developed a love for animals, especially horses, at a young age. Fostering that love in her daughter Sydney became a way for their connection to grow and for their ties to the horse world to deepen.

“It has always been a dream of mine to own a barn here in Wellington,” Hamel recalled. “We purchased the barn in July of 2020 with the intention of me being here more often. However, the pandemic actually allowed my husband to work remotely, so we bought a home here as well, to allow the family to visit more often. Through the horse world, I’ve met a lot of really great people, so my network is here. My animals are here. It just fits us.”

Although the Hamel family is constantly moving in many different directions, the foundation provides an outlet for them to come together throughout the year and discuss their ideas.

Hamel’s two older sons, Nickolas and Jacob, are both married, while Sydney is currently attending Scripps College in California.

Along with their children, Kristen and Jim come together to decide which organizations they are going to focus on that year. “We do it as a family. We discuss who loves what and what research they have done. We put it all on the table and take a vote on who we feel could best benefit from our support. Not only has it been great for our kids to be involved with giving back, but it has allowed Jim and I to learn what they’re really passionate about as they grow up,” Hamel said.

The Hamel Family Foundation takes pride in the organizations it supports. “We follow along with the charities that we support to keep up with what they’re doing,” Hamel explained.

The family dedicates their time to organizations that are consistent in their efforts and that maximize their donations for the true cause of the organization.

“We support a charity in Wisconsin called Family Promise. This organization sets out to help battered and abused women who need life’s essentials: housing, clothing, food, etc. They work through several churches and apartment buildings in the area, and I feel really strongly about it,” Hamel said. “Another organization that we are especially passionate about is Casa Guadalupe. This charity was brought to the table by Sydney, and it places emphasis on supporting the Hispanic communities in our area by providing them with the resources to become citizens, receive medical care, get an attorney, etc. We feel that especially in the last couple of years, everyone needs help, and we are grateful to make a difference where we can.”

For Kristen, supporting the equestrian community also weighs heavy on her heart. The foundation proudly supports the National Horse Show with the Hamel Family Foundation 3’3” Equitation Championship, as well as a scholarship through the United States Hunter Jumper Association. “I’ve always loved supporting the sport. I love watching the equitation championship at the National Horse Show because it’s a little mix of everything, and it’s such an important stepping-stone in junior riders’ careers,” she said.

The USHJA scholarship is also an important piece of the puzzle for the Hamel Family Foundation.

“Education has always been very important to Jim and I. It started with our kids; we didn’t care what they wanted to do, as long as they were educated in it. So, we started the scholarship with the intention of helping out whoever needed it, whether they were extending their education or just starting out,” Hamel said.

Hamel’s heart for giving has been passed down to her daughter Sydney.

“It’s a great feeling to have the opportunities that I do to give back,” Sydney said. “It’s a little nerve wracking to take on decisions that have the power to change lives, but it’s great to be able to help people who need it most. I love that we get to connect with different charities and actually see a difference happen through our donations.”

The Hamel Family Foundation is a family affair, but Kristen wouldn’t want it any other way.

Learn more about the foundation at www.hamelfamilyfoundation.org.

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Amazing Style Is Empowering

Amazing Style Is Empowering Mother-Daughter Team Claudia And Monica Diesti Help Keep Wellington Residents Looking Their Best

Story By Deborah Welky | Photos By Abner Pedraza

Today, well-known local stylists Claudia and Monica Diesti work together to keep Wellington residents looking and feeling great. However, the life they are living today seems light years away from where it began.

Claudia Diesti was only in her 20s when she grabbed her seven-year-old daughter Monica and whatever personal items she could carry and fled her homeland of Colombia forever.

“I was in an abusive relationship and struggling through a really bad divorce,” Claudia recalled.

The mother and daughter were able to stay with an aunt and uncle in Miami for a short time, but Claudia knew she had to move on.

“I saw my self-esteem go down. I was not in the best place in my life,” Claudia said. “But I discovered that putting on a good appearance made me feel better about myself. When I had a good hair day, it empowered me. Empowered women feel good about themselves.”

It was this realization that made her rethink her career goals.

“In Colombia, I was studying to be a dentist — a different kind of beauty. But I had to quit college. When I got here, I needed a new beginning,” Claudia said. “So, I went to the Total Nails & Hair Academy in West Palm Beach to learn to be a stylist. I learned hair cutting and coloring techniques.”

Watching her mother, Monica also got interested in the beauty business.

“I got interested through my mom, by watching her work,” said Monica Diesti, now an adult. “I was seven when she started to go to beauty school. She would bring the styling heads home to practice on, and I would play with them. When we moved here, we were running away from my biological father. We grabbed what we had and ran. In America, we couldn’t afford a babysitter, so sometimes she would bring me to the school with her. The owner was nice enough to let me sit on the side.”

Monica always enjoyed all things art, even during her school days.

“I was always very artistic,” she said. “I won art competitions in school and was always drawn to anything artistic or color creative. So that led me to want to be more of a colorist. I started out in salons just working as an assistant — doing shampoos, the laundry, making sure the salon was clean.”

In the meantime, Claudia was speaking with a Realtor, looking to move to a place with the best schools for her daughter. The Realtor told her that Wellington has the best schools.

By 1997, the mother-daughter team had moved in and made their home in the community.

“We love the families,” Claudia said. “The community is beautiful, and we’ve been growing together.”

“My mother has gone through many hardships and has some health issues,” Monica added. “I am grateful that I can now help her out. I get to give back to her for everything she has given to me.”

After her high school graduation, Monica attended the same beauty school her mother once went to.

“The owner knew me from when I was little, and I told them I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps,” Monica said.

As she has grown in the business, Claudia has gone from employee to independent owner.

“In the beginning, I was working for other people,” she said. “In 2000, I started working independently, renting a chair in someone else’s salon, and then having a little beauty room in a spa.”

By 2010, Claudia and Monica were working side by side. By 2014, they had their own corner studio in a professional business suite. Their Wellington Beauty Room is currently located at 1043 S. State Road 7, Building E, Suite 118.

Now known as one of the top stylists in Wellington, Claudia has taken advanced courses in Canada, Taiwan and Paris.

“I wanted the best schools around to improve my education,” she said. “I wanted to give clients confidence in my abilities as a professional. I wanted to know everything I could about how to achieve the best look for each person. We ask how much time they spend on their hair each day, then work to accentuate their features for their lifestyle. Because I work with my daughter, it’s like four eyes looking at one person. We love our work, and our clients know how hard we work. We realistically try to get the best look for each person and make each client feel good.”

Along the way, this mother-daughter team has diverged a bit in the type of clients they work with.

“My mom caters to the business owners, attorneys, doctors, doctors’ wives and other professionals,” Monica said. “Due to the creative aspect, I specialize in avant-garde colors, unicorn colors, fantasy colors, rainbow-colored hair. I work a lot with hair extensions — that’s one of our big things. We can also do makeup if a client has an event that day and doesn’t want to make an extra appointment somewhere else.”

Hair extensions are huge in the beauty industry now, but they take special expertise to do well.

“We’re certified in four different methods of hair extensions and many different brands,” Monica said. “My mother was a L’Oréal educator, and I spent some time at the London academy for L’Oréal.”

Because the Wellington Beauty Room is owned by these “generational women,” the mother-daughter team attracts many mother-daughter and husband-wife clients. More and more male clients are finding out about them — and the Diestis encourage men to think more about their hair style.

“Often they have shoulder-length hair, and they’re going for a short haircut,” Monica said. “We call it a hair transformation. My mom is the one who does men’s haircuts. We also offer a VIP luxury experience where we block out the salon from other clients and do a makeover.”

That’s certainly the answer for someone who isn’t sure how to visualize or communicate what they want but still wants to emerge from the salon like a butterfly from its cocoon.

“Sometimes the salon is the only place you can relax and have that time to yourself,” Monica said. “You come out feeling rejuvenated and refreshed and relaxed.”

Visits to Claudia and Monica Diesti at the Wellington Beauty Room are by appointment only. For more information, call (561) 632-5425 or visit www.wellingtonbeautyroom.com.

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Holland To Wellington

Holland To Wellington
Show Mom Patricia Bade Van Motman Is Passing Down What She Learned To The Next Generation

By Olivia Airhart

Growing up in a horse family is like being raised with communal parenting; instead of one mother raising her child, every pony in the barn gets a chance to impart life lessons. Growing up as a rider in a horse-centric family means being raised by your toughest critic, but also your biggest fan and supporter.

In a realm where the horse bug is passed down from generation to generation, life-long equestrian and now second-generation horse show mom Patricia Bade van Motman has made it her life’s mission to not only raise her daughter by the ways of the barn, but also give equestrians all across Europe the same opportunities by founding an educational hunter and equitation organization, HJE Holland.

Originally from Westchester, New York, Bade van Motman grew up on the back of a horse. In her words, it all started when “my dad married my mother and her horse.” Bade van Motman had the horse hook deep in her soul, devoting herself to the cause not just as a hobby, but as a way of life that would end up coming back to her full circle.

“My poor mother drove the family station wagon and our trailer to any pony club event or horse show I wanted to go to,” Bade van Motman recalled. “So, when I had a daughter of my own, I knew that I would raise her the same way my mother raised me — in the saddle.”

After moving to The Netherlands and having her daughter Candice, Patricia was eager to share her love of horses, so she did as any horse mom would do and bought Candice her first pony at just three years old.

“When Candice was old enough to actually ride and not just go around on the leadline, one pony grew to five with 15 little kids riding with Candice at our home. I studied the full set of USPC [United States Pony Club] manuals to do my best at teaching all those children, and we ended up having a homegrown pony club right in our backyard,” Patricia recalled. “Once Candice was six, we also started hunting together. I would go out on my 17.3-hand horse, and she would gallop ahead of me at the very end of the leadline on her 11-hand pony. I thought my arm would eventually grow in length trying to hang onto her as she kicked that pony along faster than my horse! When she was old enough to do it on her own, she would gallop ahead of these experienced men and their massive hunt horses and out-jump them over every single hedge on her tiny little ponies.”

Pony after pony, Patricia watched Candice develop into an incredible young rider.

“She just had that calming nature about her and determination to figure out how they ticked,” Patricia said. “Being trained in the American style of riding in the hunter and equitation rings myself, taking my child to horse shows in Holland where the sole objective is to win at all costs in a speed-based jumping competition, I saw a risk to child safety and a lot of undue stress placed on the ponies that, as an equestrian myself, made me really upset and frustrated.”

As the demand for Patricia’s training grew larger, she knew she had to enlist some extra hands.

“If you want kids to learn to spell, entice them by making it a spelling bee,” Patricia said. “I wanted to create the infrastructure for the young riders back in Holland, so they could learn to ride responsibly. I made my mission to make equitation fun and enjoyable, but also educational, so they would be able to carry those skills on in their toolbox for any ring they enter.”

When Patricia finally put a stake in the ground and committed to starting HJE Holland, a wise American horseman told her to “call Joanie.”

Little did Patricia know that “Joanie” was none other than Joan Scharffenberger-Laarakkers, a 10-year veteran of the USET, winner at Aachen and countless Grand Prix and Nations Cup events, as well as championing the equitation medal finals in her youth.

“From that day forward, Joan has been a devoted trainer, clinician and vice president of HJEH,” Patricia said. “Thankfully, Joan is now the primary trainer for Candice, as her abilities have progressed beyond my scope in the jumper arena.”

With a dream to build a foundation for proper technical riding that was available to children and adults alike of any socioeconomic background, Patricia gathered seven of her equestrian colleagues and flew here to Wellington.

“For you to put your shoulder to the wheel, you must see Valhalla,” Patricia said. “So, I organized a group of dedicated horsewomen who felt the same way I did about the lack of options for training in Holland to participate in a United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) judge training course. We were absolutely blown away by what we saw and experienced at WEF in Wellington. From the grandeur of the hunter derbies to the extensive offering of equitation classes, including the 50-plus divisions and the awesome tiny equestrians at Pony Island, my team was solidified on that one trip alone, and that is how Hunter Jumper Equitation Holland got started. In a country where practicality trumps passion projects, I knew I had to pull out all the stops to convince the Dutch public to try something new, and Wellington sealed the deal.”

Thanks to a collegial request from Joan, Candice was invited for an 11-week internship with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm in the fall of 2021. Candice experienced first-hand why Andre and his students are so successful. The attention to every detail of equitation training made an impression on the young pupil.

“She is so grateful for the opportunity, and I was impressed with the progress in her riding in such a short amount of time,” Patricia said. “Since then, her commitment has grown even stronger. The way in which you address riding and horses is similar to how you address life. You overcome fears, you laugh a lot, learn to control your temper, master the art of patience, always show kindness and learn how to work collaboratively in a group dynamic. I was able to not only teach my daughter all of these life lessons but watch her experience them for herself developing as a rider and avid equestrian.”

The bond Patricia formed with her daughter over horses sparked a flame in the passionate equestrian’s core to not only be the best mother to her daughter, but step into the role of horse show mom for any and all equestrians, young and old, in The Netherlands. Just like her mother before her, Patricia Bade van Motman has earned the title and continues to pass down the equestrian lineage to the next generation.

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Expert Veterinary Care

Expert Veterinary Care Your Pets Are The Priority At ACCESS Specialty Hospitals Palm Beach County On Southern Blvd.

By Mike May

If you live in the western communities and your pet needs specialty veterinary care or emergency services, you can find what you need close to home. At the northeast corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7, you’ll find ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals Palm Beach County.

ACCESS stands for Advanced Critical Care, Emergency, and Specialty Services. And just like a human hospital, this animal hospital never closes. It’s open for emergency services 24/7.

Just as people, from time to time, need access to an MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, radiology treatment, cardiology care, the ICU or surgery, so do dogs and cats, which comprise the vast majority of the patients at ACCESS. If your pet needs a specialist in the area of veterinary oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, cardiology or internal medicine, ACCESS also has experts who can provide that kind of professional expertise.

The ophthalmology services at ACCESS allow it to provide unique vision assistance to dogs.

“Dogs don’t read or drive cars, but we can provide some assistance with their vision,” said Mark Garrison, technician manager at the Animal Eye Specialty Clinic, which provides outside ophthalmology services for ACCESS.

“We can equip a dog with ‘doggles.’ We call it goggles for dogs. And we have the expertise to treat cataracts, too,” Garrison added.

ACCESS is owned by veterinarians and the staff shares a deep love for animals. Pets are an integral part of any family’s life, which is why the business is guided by four principles: quality, integrity, compassion and service.

ACCESS is driven to exceed not just what patients expect but exceed the standards that the four owners have established for themselves. The practice is committed to finding ways to provide better care and treatment for every pet patient.

When it comes to integrity, ACCESS will always provide the best possible care and do what is right for you and your pet. Meanwhile, the commitment to compassion is not driven by a marketing slogan. You can see it on the faces and hear it in the voices of those who work there. The entire staff — from the receptionists to the most experienced, board-certified veterinarian — takes great pride in the role of helping animals heal so they can return home and lead a normal life.

Services available at ACCESS are broad and far-reaching. It starts with a friendly greeting as soon as you walk through the front door. This includes accurate and timely reporting, spending time with you, explaining the proposed medical treatment, and rising before dawn to check on your pet.

“We are the Mayo Clinic of veterinary medicine,” explained Co-Medical Director Marcos Unis, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA, a board-certified veterinary surgeon. “There’s a big need for specialty medicine for animals, and we provide it. We give clients all the information and let them make the final decision on treatment for their pet.”

According to Hospital Liaison Kami Kreaps, the majority of pets treated at ACCESS arrive based on a referral from a local veterinarian, but, again, the doors are always open if your primary veterinarian is closed or unavailable for emergency services.

ACCESS has been open for just over a year, having opened its doors in April 2021. In the last 12 months, the practice has established relationships with more than 400 veterinarians from across South Florida.

Capacity-wise, ACCESS can deal with many pets at the same time. It has room to house 120 pets in its more than 20,000-square-foot facility. There is a large staff of qualified professionals to take care of these companion animals: 75 surgery assistants/technicians, 16 veterinarians/specialists on staff, 15 exam rooms and four surgery suites.

ACCESS also has its own triage area, pharmacy, lab and laundry room on site. It even has generators on standby, ready to provide power in case of a storm or anything else that might knock out the power. ACCESS also has the ability to produce its own oxygen on site.

Personal service is important to the staff at ACCESS. As soon as a pet enters an exam room, a sign is put on the outside of the door with that pet’s name, so the attending veterinarian can provide personal service for the animal by name.

In addition to being a hospital for sick or injured pets, ACCESS also serves as a place for area veterinarians and veterinary technicians to get educated about changes in the veterinary profession.

“We have the room to host continuing education sessions for those who work in the veterinarian field,” Kreaps said.

While ACCESS is committed to helping your pet get well so it can go home, there are times when pets are not well enough to recover, and compassionate services are available for that as well.

“We also provide end-of-life services for those sad and tragic moments in any pet’s life,” Kreaps said.

ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals Palm Beach County is located at 10465 Southern Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) 774-8855 or e-mail info@accessvet.com. Visit www.accessvetsflorida.com to learn more.

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A Focus On Quality Of Life

A Focus On Quality Of Life Inspired Living Brings Its Unique Take On Senior Living To The Western Communities

Story By Mike May | Photos By Abner Pedraza

If you are in your senior years and are looking for a place to live that can provide comfort and assistance with daily activities, or you are caring for a loved one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may want to consider an assisted living or memory care community — and if you are living in the western communities, be sure to check out Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach.

Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach opened in December 2020, conveniently located at 11911 Southern Blvd. This state-of-the-art facility caters to seniors who want to maintain their quality of life and yet need some type of daily support.

“The communities were designed and built with state-of-the-art technology, amenities and programs, with the intent to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of our residents and families,” Inspired Living CEO Steven Benjamin said. “We’re built for one purpose, to take care of moms and dads.”

Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach is a luxury senior living community designed with today’s senior in mind. Service and care plans are personally customized to each resident, providing them with a specialized life plan to help them maintain the quality of life they deserve.

“We are a resort-style senior living community that caters to residents 62 years or older,” Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach Executive Director Matthew Sarnelli said. “Our community has 104 apartments consisting of studio and one-bedroom apartments. We are licensed to care for up to 114 residents.”

Inspired Living provides a service that is in high demand.

“We provide the housing solution for adult children who are looking for a safe, homelike environment for their moms and dads,” Sarnelli explained.

At this local facility. Sarnelli and his team of caring professionals are personally committed to providing the best possible care and services.

“At Inspired Living, we are driven by a higher purpose, moved to serve moms and dads as if they are our own,” Sarnelli said.

According to Sarnelli, Royal Palm Beach is an ideal location for Inspired Living to have a brick-and-mortar presence because of the expanding senior population in Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee and The Acreage.

When residents move to an Inspired Living community, they are encouraged to transform their apartment into their own “home sweet home.”

“The residents rent their apartments, and we encourage them to personalize them as much as possible with family pictures, artwork, a favorite chair,” Sarnelli said. “Whatever they can to make their new home warm and inviting. We want our residents to live and not just exist.”

The amenities at Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach are numerous. They include a fitness center, bocce ball, shuffleboard, a putting green, corn hole, bingo and a movie theater. At the fitness center, residents have access to fitness classes, strength training, Zumba, yoga, tai chi and balance classes. These fun social and wellness activities allow residents to get adjusted quicker to their new living situation, which builds friendships, which, in turn, enhance their physical and cognitive health. That’s a win-win for all involved.

At Inspired Living, a holistic approach is utilized so residents get healthy and stay healthy. And if you need specific long-term therapy, such as physical, occupational or speech therapy, it’s provided as well.

When you move to Inspired Living, you deserve to live your best life, and Sarnelli and his team are focused on providing just that.

Other than care services, dining is a crucial aspect of selecting the right senior living community to call home. Inspired Living’s dining service features three chef-prepared meals daily with restaurant-style, tableside service. They offer anytime dining, which means you can elect to sit with friends during scheduled dining hours or stop in anytime of the day for a meal.

The facility also has a bistro with snacks and beverages available all day, providing a refined and delicious dining experience around the clock. As a side note, Executive Chef Evelyn Vega De Garcia recently won the Inspired Living Battle of the Chefs competition held in Orlando in March.

“The goal of Inspired Dining is to provide the personalized service which residents deserve and expect by combining creative cuisine, exceptional nutrition and service excellence,” Sarnelli said. “At Inspired Living, dining is an important social experience for our residents. We also have a happy hour from time to time, which is very popular.”

If a resident needs a ride to a certain location in the area, Sarnelli’s team is there to assist, thereby saving the resident a possible taxi, Uber or Lyft expense.

“We provide transportation to medical appointments, shopping outings, restaurants and scenic rides to the beach,” Sarnelli said. “And if provided with enough notice, we can take a resident to other locations, as well.”

Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach is open daily for private community and model tours. The community will also provide a complimentary lunch with your tour reservation. They have several special events going on each month that visitors are welcome to attend.

To learn more about Inspired Living Royal Palm Beach, visit www.inspiredliving.care or call (561) 507-0989 to speak with a senior living counselor.

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Tasty Delights From Colombia

Tasty Delights From Colombia
El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 Offers Patrons Flavorful Latin Food In A Casual Atmosphere

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

It’s Colombian food as authentic as being in the coffee-growing capital of Pereira itself. The mountainous coffee-growing region of western Colombia is known for mild Arabica beans and a number of traditional flavorful foods. It’s those delectable recipes and other regional Latin dishes that can be found at El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 here in the western communities.

Rinconcito Colombiano is nestled at the southeast corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7 in the Western Plaza shopping center with Home Depot. The tricolors of Colombia’s national flag with yellow, blue and red painted outside the restaurant proudly welcome customers as they walk in.

The doors at this location opened four years ago to complement its original West Palm Beach restaurant. For many longtime customers, like Patricia Recalt and her son Giovanni, the food here feeds their soul.

“We’ve shared a lot of special meals over the years. My husband, Arnaldo, who was from Cuba, passed away two years ago. We would come here for the traditional soups,” Patricia Recalt said.

She and her friend, Marielena Hotusing, agreed it’s that soup and the many other Colombian dishes that they find both so comforting and appetizing.

“If we can’t make it, we will come and get it here, because it’s the same thing as making it,” Recalt said. “It’s home-cooked food, and it’s delicious.”

It’s delicious — and also as fresh as you can get.

“Everything is freshly made daily. We even have our own private butcher,” Rinconcito Colombiano’s General Manager Gladys Restrepo said. “We’re always busy because of the natural food and fresh ingredients.”

Fresh ingredients, like in Colombia’s national dish, Bandeja Paisa, from the Antioquia region.

The hearty meal includes grilled steak, fried egg, pork belly, sausage, sweet plantains, beans and rice, as well as a half an avocado. It and other platters range around $13.

The menu also includes flavorful seafood dishes and several chicken options, like Pechuga De Pollo Asada. The marinated and tenderly grilled chicken breast comes with rice and salad.

Tasty and very filling empanadas are enough for a meal in itself. While other areas of South America make the pockets with dough, Colombian empanadas are made from corn meal and deep fried, making for a soft-yet-crunchy bite into the full chunks of lean beef and potato mixture steaming hot inside. Aside from beef filling, you can get them with either chicken or cheese, and they are $1.59 each.

Sandwiches include the Colombian Burger topped with bacon, pineapple, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and oozing with ketchup, mustard and mayo, with a topping of potato chips and served with a side of fries.

The restaurant’s walls feature the typical street art in the city of Pereira, where Restrepo hails from, with a brightly painted mural of the mountainous landscape as a traditional bus travels along the Andes mountainside. A trellis hangs above with greenery. TVs fill the corners set to stations from the home country.

The restaurant is often filled with people from all ethnicities and ages enjoying the food and conversation. The cozy dining room features a mixture of tables of four to some booths and high tops. There’s seating for 55, as well as an outdoor patio. Or sit up at the bar and grab one of the traditional coffees, like cafe con leche, or a frothy cappuccino. There are also a number of fresh juices, like passion fruit with milk. Several imported libations are also available with a running special of a bucket of beer or Cubetazo at $19 for five.

A number of bakery items will tease your tastebuds, including cheese-filled breads like Pandebono. About a dozen delectable pastries are on display for the choosing. There are also gourmet desserts, like creamy rice pudding and more.

If it’s a meal to start out the day, breakfast is served every day until noon with a number of popular dishes. The Tamal Paisa, a breakfast tamale, is a favorite for many. A corn cake stuffed with chicken, pork, potatoes, peas and carrots, it is then wrapped in banana leaves with a side of rice or corn cake.

Latin music fills the background as people enjoy the cultural culinary delights. For many, it truly is a taste of home.

“Our staff is like family,” Restrepo said, adding that the nationally recognized Colombian food at Rinconcito Colombiano comes from many family recipes.

She wants all who eat there to feel the same love in those recipes, too.

El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 is located at 9900 Southern Blvd. in the shopping plaza at the southeast corner of State Road 7 and Southern Blvd. near Home Depot. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with breakfast served from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information or takeout, call (561) 304-8650 or (561) 469-1689.

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Exquisite Home In Binks Estates

Exquisite Home In Binks Estates
Spectacular Views And Gorgeous Landscaping Complement The Professionally Decorated Interior

This beautiful and pristine pool home in Binks Estates — one of the most sought-after communities in Wellington — is situated on .41 acres with views of the 10th green of the Wellington National Golf Club. The professionally decorated estate home features a lovely white kitchen with wood cabinetry, gorgeous quartz countertops, double ovens, and a large, walk-in pantry. The striking crown, base and decorative custom wall moldings enhance the unique architecture of the home. All four bathrooms have been tastefully renovated. Spectacular views await you as you step outside the home and see the gorgeous landscaping surrounding the heated saltwater pool, resurfaced just four years ago. This light and bright airy home also offers accordion shutters, a full house generator and an extended screened patio. This four-bedroom home is close to great schools and Wellington’s world-class equestrian venues.

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Rising To Meet Every Challenge

Rising To Meet Every Challenge Principal Cara Hayden Helps Students And Faculty Thrive At Wellington High School 

Story by Deborah Welky  |  Photos by Denise Fleischman

Back when Wellington was a fledgling community, there was no local high school. Teenagers were bused far away to schools on the coast. That all changed in 1988 with the long-awaited opening of Wellington High School on Greenview Shores Blvd.

For nearly 35 years now, Wellington High School has been educating and graduating generations of Wolverines at a school known for its strong academics and unique special programs, burnishing the Village of Wellington’s reputation for great local schools.

Since 2018, Wellington High School has been led by Principal Cara Hayden, who took over for longtime Principal Mario Crocetti when he retired.

Hayden is someone who rises to meet every challenge, and she has been doing so since back in her own high school days, which were split between two different states — the first half in northern California, and the second half in Plantation, Florida. The one constant was her involvement in sports.

“My life was filled with athletics,” Hayden said. “I was doing varsity swimming and playing varsity water polo all four years. When I wasn’t doing sports, I was always working to take care of myself. I worked to save up enough money for college and to buy a car.”

Upon graduation, she was accepted into Florida State University, where she earned three degrees over the next nine years, including a bachelor’s degree in social work.

“I wanted to work with at-risk kids,” Hayden recalled. “I wanted to help them know that there’s something more out there than what is in their immediate social life.”

So, Hayden began her journey as a social worker.

“But then I saw that kids with disabilities weren’t getting equal access to high level courses and other services, so I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in disabilities and emotional disturbances.”

From 2000 to 2009, Hayden taught algebra and geometry to students who had trouble learning, then became a specialist on the subject. “I traveled from school to school, teaching students and showing teachers how to better teach them,” she explained.

An FSU certification in educational leadership in hand, Hayden made her biggest advance when the principal of one of the schools on her itinerary, Santaluces High School, created an assistant principal position especially for her.

“I was an assistant principal there for five years,” Hayden said. “I helped the school become an A-rated school and worked to make sure all students graduated. Then I got the call to become principal at Wellington High School.”

Hayden was excited by the opportunity to lead a school with such a stellar reputation.

“I always knew that I wanted to impact as many students as I could,” she said. “I wanted to eventually be able to run my own school and make sure all students received all the services they deserved.”

As if leading a high school with 2,700 students isn’t challenging enough, Hayden arrived at a challenging time.

“Coming to Wellington has been one of my greatest challenges. As soon as I arrived, the Stoneman Douglas incident occurred,” she recalled, referring to the deadly February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. “So, I had to take a school I’d only been in one month and change most policies to ensure the safety of our students and to do the best I could to make sure something like that didn’t happen at WHS.”

Then, just two years later, COVID-19 altered the landscape once again. Being suddenly thrust into remote learning presented its own challenges.

“I would say we’ve all learned a tremendous amount, and these tragedies have brought our staff and students much closer,” Hayden said. “We’ve learned to work as a team and to collaborate better than we would have if we hadn’t had to turn the school into a virtual school.”

Despite everything, Wellington High School continues to thrive. It is home to award-winning programs, both academic and extracurricular. It is home to four highly regarded choice academies: Equine/Pre-Veterinary, Fine Arts, Fire Science and Marketing.

“Each year, we see more students graduating from WHS with the tools and training that prepare them for college and the work force,” Hayden said. “We have record numbers earning AICE diplomas, college credits and industry certifications. Our athletic teams continue to achieve athletically and academically. Each of our performing arts groups — band, chorus, dance and theater — have earned Superior ratings at interscholastic competitions. Finally, we’ve expanded our leadership offerings beyond student government to include Latinos in Action, Link Crew and the Black Leadership & Achievement Student Team (BLAST).”

Personally, Hayden is thankful for the support she got from so many people along the way, such as Deputy Superintendent Edward Tierney; Keith Oswald, currently the school district’s chief of equity and wellness; and Dreyfoos School of the Arts Principal Blake Bennett. Each helped her at key points in her career.

“I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve worked with a lot of great people. Keith Oswald was a principal when I was teaching and gave me my first opportunity to step into a leadership role,” she said. “Edward Tierney was at Boynton Beach High School when I was teaching math there. He’s a very serious guy, and he came into my class to observe, wearing a very serious face. At end of class, he told me it was the best math class he had ever seen. Since then, he has always looked out for me. As a teacher, I did work incredibly hard and did everything I was supposed to do with the best intentions for all my students. Also Blake Bennett, who was an assistant principal back then, all three of them have really helped shape my career.”

Hayden is most proud of the amazing work done by the students at Wellington High School through challenging times.

“Even though students have had to adapt to a series of abrupt changes and unusual challenges over the past two years, at their core, kids still value the same things about being part of a school as always. They’ve always been supportive of their peers; now they have more social emotional learning skills to help their friends and classmates,” she said. “Students wish to be part of meaningful clubs and organizations; now, they know how to extend those efforts beyond meetings and classrooms by using social media and digital resources. Most importantly, they want to be seen, heard and valued.”

Hayden remains as excited about her position at WHS as the first day she arrived four years ago.

“I plan to hang out here as long as they’ll have me,” she said. “I want to continue to see our students be safe, have a meaningful learning environment and continue to grow academically and socially. I want to see human kindness. I want the students leaving Wellington High School to become citizens that we are all going to be proud of.”

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Helping Combat Veterans Reintegrate

Helping Combat Veterans Reintegrate Local Nonprofit Unified Dream Helps Area Veterans Return To Daily  Life

Story by Mike May | Photos by Abner Pedraza

The biggest battle that many of today’s veterans face is not the enemy they found on battlefields in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it’s at home in their own communities as they attempt to reintegrate into regular society after serving their country in the United States military.

To help fellow veterans make a successful transition to civilian life after serving in combat, Jake Hampu, a retired U.S. Marine, has stepped forward and created an organization to help veterans re-adjust to civilian life.

That group is called Unified Dream, a locally based nonprofit that Hampu founded in 2017. Since its inception, the group has been volunteer-driven with Hampu at the helm as its founder and president.

“I knew that I had a greater calling in life than leading men in war,” said Hampu, 39, whose military service includes a 2002 deployment to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and a nine-month deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005. “I knew there were many veterans out there who needed help integrating back into regular society.”

According to Hampu, the strengths that many veterans display on the battlefield can actually hinder them in their daily lives when they return home.

“Soldiers are tough, stubborn and hard-headed,” explained Hampu, who once led 30 men into war and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2006. “Today, veterans struggle to ask for help and assistance when they return home. Veterans are looking for that sense of accomplishment and purpose that they had while serving in the military. When we get out of the military, we have to find a new mission.”

With Hampu’s leadership at Unified Dream, nearly 80 veterans to date, and their family members, have received assistance on finding that new mission. Often this means dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“PTSD is for real, and the impact of it is also felt by family members of their loved ones who have served in the military,” Hampu said.

While family members love their veteran relatives, their lack of understanding of life in combat often creates a major disconnect back home. “Unless you went through it, you can’t totally understand it,” Hampu explained.

One of his most impactful military experiences was dealing with the loss of a close friend and colleague. “The day after I lost one of my best friends in Fallujah, I was back out on the battlefield,” Hampu recalled.

In civilian life, people pause, mourn and reflect the loss of a close friend or a relative. In the military during wartime, the mission must continue. And it did for Hampu. “For years, I felt survivor’s guilt because my friend had a wife and child back home. Yet I survived that day for something greater in life,” he said.

For Hampu, that greater calling is his work with Unified Dream.

At Unified Dream, veterans are coached and counseled so they find hope, gain self-respect, deal with depression and look forward to daily life again. One of Unified Dream’s coaching tactics is to get veterans involved in community projects that help intertwine them with the local community.

“Veterans need a sense of accomplishment in their daily lives, just as they had when they wore a military uniform,” Hampu said. “Since 2017, our local veterans have helped more than 50 local nonprofit organizations. By veterans helping others, we help them.”

But that’s not all. “We also teach good health and wellness habits,” he said. “We get veterans using yoga and meditation. We also take the veterans on adventure group outings where we go snorkeling, biking, hiking and target shooting. We are now planning a paintball session.”

The element of camaraderie that soldiers experience during military life is a missing ingredient in their civilian lives, which is why adventure group outings are so important to them. “The friends you have back home often don’t compare to the friendships you form in the military,” Hampu explained.

It doesn’t take too long to make a positive impact on their lives.

“Within a few months, we begin to notice a difference in the lives of veterans,” Hampu said. “They regain their self-respect, they are looking for more things to do, and they start living a life of peace and purpose. Family members often approach me because they notice a positive change in lives of their loved ones.”

Aside from his work with Unified Dream, Hampu also has a full-time job with the Palm Beach Kennel Club, where he coordinates video, photography and marketing projects.

While he is the executive director of Unified Dream, it’s not a one-man show. Hampu has the dedicated assistance of many other local veterans, who support Hampu’s passion for helping fellow veterans reintegrate into daily life.

The organization has evolved with the help of Hampu’s longtime friend Matt Baker, a fellow veteran. “Matt fully understands the struggles of reintegration,” Hampu said.

His army of local supporters include a dedicated group of board members and volunteers, such as Bill Garland, Jeff Hmara and Matt Vermilyer.

“Bill Garland, a former member of the United States Army, is my right-hand man,” Hampu said. “Jeff Hmara is a retired U.S. Army colonel who cares. He has been instrumental in our growth and is somebody I look up to. Matt Vermilyer is a former Marine who is willing to help, very passionate about our cause, and is a true leader.”

While Hampu is delighted with the progress of Unified Dream, he’s not content with the status quo.

“My goal is to find somebody with a big heart and deep pockets who is willing to make a large donation so I can do this work full-time,” said Hampu, who spends 15 to 20 hours a week with Unified Dream. “My priority in life is my purpose. I don’t do this work for a pat on the back. I do it for the survival and betterment of my fellow veterans.”

Hampu knows that his work with Unified Dream is making a positive impact. “When we reintegrate a veteran back into regular society, they are your best citizens,” he said.

To learn more about Jake Hampu and Unified Dream, visit www.unifieddream.org or www.facebook.com/unifieddreamorg.

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