Kasey Perry-Glass Joins Forces With FullBucket To Bring ‘Be Good & Do Good’ Mantra To Wellington

Kasey Perry-Glass Joins Forces With FullBucket To Bring ‘Be Good & Do Good’ Mantra To Wellington

With many titles to her name, including an Olympic bronze medal and an FEI World Equestrian Games silver medal, dressage star Kasey Perry-Glass could be content with her busy life. However, while she is a competitive athlete driven by success, her passion for philanthropy also plays a large role in her life.

Her drive for success with horses began young, and she quickly advanced up the levels as a young rider when she decided to focus on dressage at age 14. Little did she know that years later, her determination and dedication to the sport, in combination with the talent of her Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet, would lead her to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she would help Team USA secure the bronze medal. Fast forward a few years, and the pair have had other notable performances at the FEI World Cup Finals, the FEI World Equestrian Games and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Originally from California, Perry-Glass is based in the winter equestrian capital of the world during the season. Her busy routine consists of training multiple horses with the assistance of U.S. Dressage Technical Advisor Debbie McDonald.

Outside of the time she spends in the saddle, Perry-Glass is dedicated to expanding the awareness of philanthropy within the Wellington community and beyond. Her longtime support of Brooke USA, a nonprofit that funds programs to help equine owners in developing countries, has been a key part of her life. Inspired to help working equines in Central America, she was thrilled to recently become a brand ambassador for FullBucket, a one-for-one giving business with an extensive line of veterinary-strength digestion supplements.

Perry-Glass first learned of the company when she needed a higher-quality probiotic supplement for Dublet when travel was stressing his digestive system. Since beginning to use the probiotic line in 2018, following a recommendation from her vet, she not only witnessed the benefits of the scientifically proven ingredients, but she was exposed to FullBucket’s important promise — for every FullBucket product purchased, another will be donated to treat horses and donkeys in developing countries through the company’s giving program. This is a promise that Perry-Glass felt needed to be brought to the attention of all animal lovers, and she proudly joined the team as an ambassador.

FullBucket was founded by veterinarians and surgeons determined to use their business to make a significant difference in the world. The team developed the highest concentration of probiotic-based equine, dog and cat health supplements on the market, but they wanted to continue helping animals. With their mantra “Be Good & Do Good,” FullBucket used the supplements as a springboard into helping working equines around the world.

“When we first began donating products to these communities, we recruited the help of local veterinary colleges to test the donkeys, horses and mules’ stool and soil samples to better evaluate what was needed in their diets,” explained Dr. Rob Franklin, one of FullBucket’s co-founders. “We were then able to craft a unique blend to fit their specific nutritional needs. In addition, we hired local mills to produce the supplement to stimulate job growth, and we developed a channel to distribute on an ongoing basis, which delivers free to the developing communities who really need the assistance.”

While the products are used by top veterinary practices around the country, FullBucket’s unique business model is a steadfast reason that it has become a staple for many pet owners as they make the choice to give their pets FullBucket products over others.

Perry-Glass is one of many to make FullBucket her first choice in keeping her horses feeling and performing their best. 

“I am so excited to be working with a company with such good values and a great product — that is really important to me, and giving back is a passion of mine,” she explained. “What they do for working equines is amazing, and I’m looking forward to telling more people about FullBucket, especially in the animal-loving community of Wellington, and their one-for-one giving business model.”

FullBucket has shaken up the animal healthcare industry as the first successful giving one-for-one business. With support from its customers, the company has distributed more than 13,000 buckets of nutritional products to impoverished villages throughout Central America. Taking their support one step further, FullBucket’s team of professionals organize giving trips to communities that need the most aid. 

“During our annual giving trip, we invite several veterinarians and industry professionals to volunteer in a program that allows them to use their skills and help these working equines and the families that rely on them, and see firsthand what goes on in these impoverished communities,” co-founder Robo Hendrickson said. “For a week, we vaccinate, float teeth, trim hooves and tend to saddle sores like you’ve never seen before.”

It has been nine years since their first trip, and the community behind FullBucket has served hundreds of tons of nutritional supplement and helped thousands of malnourished working equines and their families.

“More than 170 volunteers have experienced the lifechanging gift of serving those in desperate need,” Hendrickson added. “To be able to return to a community a year following our initial visit and see the vast improvement in the health and care of their working equines by our support and the educational tools we provided, makes our journey even more special.”

The devotion of FullBucket’s time and resources to social issues close to her heart epitomizes the philanthropic aspirations of Perry-Glass. 

“We were thrilled to have Kasey as our first official rider in our athlete ambassador program,” co-founder Dr. Keith Latson said. “When we launched FullBucket as a supplement line that developed first-class products for veterinarians to use for digestive issues, we quickly realized that our team shared an innate ambition to help others. We redesigned the business from the ground up to align with our personal objectives to help others and working equines. Kasey shares our passion to try your best each day and to leave people, animals and the world better than you found them.”

Together, Perry-Glass and FullBucket Health are committed to continuing their philanthropic efforts into the future, and she looks forward to joining them on a future giving trip to Guatemala to see the good FullBucket brings to communities in dire need of assistance.

As a team, they hope to bring light to the conditions of the working equines that aren’t always lucky enough to receive top-of-the-line care, or even any care at all. Beyond the beautiful properties of Wellington, there are animals that need help and can benefit directly from FullBucket’s “Be Good & Do Good” mantra.

Learn more at www.fullbuckethealth.com.


New Ambulatory Surgery Center To Open Soon At Bethesda Hospital West

New Ambulatory Surgery Center To Open Soon At Bethesda Hospital West

Having an outpatient surgery procedure is about to get more convenient for residents in Wellington and the surrounding communities. Baptist Health South Florida is opening a new Ambulatory Surgery Center this fall on the campus of Bethesda Hospital West.

At the Ambulatory Surgery Center, surgical procedures that once required a hospital stay of two to three days can now be performed at the new outpatient facility, allowing patients to make faster recoveries and keep their healthcare costs more affordable.

Equipped with the latest in clinical innovation and advanced technology, the Baptist Health Surgery Center is a 15,000-square-foot center designed to offer patients comprehensive outpatient surgical services in a spa-like environment.

Upon entering the new center, patients will be greeted by a team of board-certified surgeons and specialty trained surgical nurses who are dedicated to providing the highest levels of quality and safety. As patients prepare for surgery, families are ushered to the tranquil, natural light-infused waiting room, where they will be able to track their loved one’s progress during their procedure in real time and enjoy complimentary wi-fi.

Thanks to modern medical advancements, such as minimally invasive procedures and new anesthesia techniques that reduce complications, patients can return home sooner from procedures such as orthopaedic knee replacement procedures and gynecologic surgeries.

Looking ahead to 2020, Bethesda Hospital West will embark upon its largest expansion to date. Currently 80 beds with all private rooms, the hospital is going to add 35 medical-surgical beds in all private inpatient rooms, with two new operating suites. Because of the hospital’s butterfly design, the new rooms will be built on the side opposite the existing patient tower. In this way, construction noise can be kept to a minimum for patients at rest. Construction is expected to be completed in 2023.

Bethesda Hospital West was designed to grow to 400 inpatient beds as the community grows. It offers medical and surgical care, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation services, an intensive care unit and a 24-hour emergency center for adults and children.

“These two new additions to the Bethesda Hospital West campus demonstrate our commitment to the people in western Palm Beach County,” said Roger L. Kirk, CEO of Bethesda Health. “Together with Baptist Health South Florida, we are making outpatient surgical care and inpatient hospital care more accessible, reflecting our continued commitment to providing compassionate care that will meet our community’s needs.”

Bethesda Hospital West, along with Bethesda Hospital East and its affiliated facilities, joined Baptist Health in 2017 to expand access to high-quality, compassionate healthcare across South Florida. Baptist Health South Florida is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with 11 hospitals — Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Hospital, Bethesda Hospital East, Bethesda Hospital West, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Doctors Hospital, Fishermen’s Community Hospital, Homestead Hospital, Mariners Hospital, South Miami Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital — and nearly 50 outpatient and urgent care facilities, spanning four counties.

Learn more at www.baptisthealth.net.


Meathead’s BBQ Is Now Serving Up Tasty Southern Barbecue

Meathead’s BBQ Is Now Serving  Up Tasty Southern Barbecue

The newly opened Meathead’s BBQ is serving up tasty backyard barbecue straight from the smoker to your plate.

What started as a way to raise money for his kids’ school fundraisers soon evolved into a catering business, turned thriving food truck, serving up savory southern barbecue creations to scores of people craving tender meats. 

Now, those meat lovers can curb their taste buds with beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage and more at a stationary location. Meathead’s BBQ pit master and owner Marcel Hicks, along with his wife Shay and their daughters, are ready to take your order at their newly opened and much-anticipated Royal Palm Beach restaurant. “I want it to have a backyard barbecue feel, like Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina or Georgia,” Marcel Hicks said.

The corner spot is already drawing a fast and steady business in its opening weeks. It sits just a few doors down from Publix in the Crossroads shopping center at the northeast corner of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards. The scent of the smokehouse leads you there.

Meathead’s BBQ has the ambiance of eating in a friend’s backyard, as picnic tables topped with the company logo are within feet of the counter, and customers, workers and the owners share friendly chat.

“People ask me about the process, so I show them,” Hicks said. “Their smiling faces make me want to do it.”

Hicks has been making people smile with his grilling since he was a child and experimenting with different rubs. That’s when the South Florida native earned the nickname “Meathead.” And he’s proud to show people his craft.

“I smoke the meats in a 72-inch water smoker by Myron Mixon. We’re doing 500 pounds of meat a day just at the restaurant,” Hicks explained.

Meathead’s BBQ officially opened June 1 with a ribbon cutting and wishes of success from Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto, who stayed to eat. Hicks is proud to be part of the community and to have his family work alongside him. “I feel so blessed,” he said.

The menu includes meat delicacies from melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken, to baby back ribs, spare ribs and whole chicken.

“Everything’s from scratch, every day, all fresh. I smoke my brisket and pulled pork for 12 hours. Ribs and chicken for four hours,” Hicks said. “I use a dry rub. Nothing here is injected. What I take great pride in is my brisket.”

The three sauces are key. “I like playing with different flavors,” he said. “There’s the hickory sauce with a mustard inspiration from the Carolina region. The sweet sauce is based on the South Georgia-North Florida area, and then there’s the sweet spicy.”

Down home southern sides include collard greens, green beans, candied yams, and mac and cheese, along with potato salad, tossed salad, cole slaw, grilled corn, baked beans and corn bread.

The price for a half pound of beef brisket is $16, while a combo plate with two sides starts at $17. Family meals include a whole chicken with two sides for $25 and a full rack of baby back ribs with two sides for $32. Pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches start at $10 for a quarter pound of meat and one side.

There’s something for every barbecue lover. “The triple plate combo is one of the most popular items,” Hicks said. Another popular option is the fully loaded nachos or fries, topped with beef brisket, pulled pork, boneless ribs or chicken.

Daily lunch specials run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. A sandwich, side and drink special starts at $8. Customers also gobble up the “Turkey Leg Tuesdays” special.

Several drinks made from scratch are offered daily and include a traditional lemonade, sweet tea and fruit punch. Beer and wine are also on the drink menu, starting at $3.

After making a name for themselves at the Wellington Amphitheater’s Food Truck Invasion and many more events across South Florida, Hicks said that there’s potential for a Jupiter location in the future. That’s another area where they’ve built a dedicated following. Also on the horizon are Meathead’s BBQ’s signature bottled sauces and pit master t-shirts.

For this family, they’re savoring the success of their hard work. This year not only marks a milestone as they open their first restaurant, but for high school sweethearts Marcel and Shay Hicks, they’ll soon celebrate their 25th anniversary — a year that is truly sterling for them.

The restaurant is open Tuesdays and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. They are closed Mondays. Want your barbecue delivered? Delivery service is offered through Delivery Dudes and Grub Hub.

Meathead’s BBQ is located at 1232 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach. For more info., call (561) 249-2684 or visit www.meatheadsbbq.weebly.com or www.facebook.com/meatheadsbbqrestaurant.


Realtor Debbie Swinford Enjoys Helping The Community She Loves

Realtor Debbie Swinford Enjoys Helping The Community She Loves

A career in real estate can be both financially and personally rewarding. For Debbie Swinford of Bowen Realty, her profession provides a way to perform a task that is very personal: improving the lives of those around her.

Swinford, who grew up in West Palm Beach and attended Forest Hill High School, is married with three daughters and three grandchildren.

“As my children got married and the grandchildren started coming, I needed something where I could be available to them, as well as provide income,” she said. “Many friends were Realtors; one of my daughters, as well. So, I went to real estate school, and I have found it very rewarding. Real estate has provided me a way to spend time with my grandchildren and family.”

Swinford has always been interested in helping people. “I’ve done many medical mission trips to Ethiopia, Africa and Haiti,” she said.

Her current job allows her to assist others much closer to home.

“I make myself available seven days a week — after church, of course — to my clients in need of direction and answers,” Swinford said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to be trusted and help out my fellow man. Nothing is more rewarding than to know you did the right thing and brought happiness to people.”

Swinford makes every effort to assist buyers and sellers who might be confused about the real estate market and are looking for someone who can help them find the perfect situation for themselves and their family. Her connection to her company is strong.

“I will say this industry can be difficult, but when I found Bowen Realty, all that went away,” she said. “We are a locally owned firm that is heavily involved in the community it serves.”

Sometimes, that involvement focuses on a community of one. Swinford is part of a group who have come to the aid of a Lake Worth woman whose home is not in the best of shape.

“She has many issues with her house,” Swinford said. “But it’s paid for, and she is alone and wants to stay there, so we decided to just start helping her.”

Swinford arranged for a company to go out to the woman’s residence and patch her roof — pro bono, she’s proud to say — because raccoons were found running around up there.

“We have a long way to go because the large holes in her roof inside the home need to be totally dry walled,” she said. “We can get her in a better living situation, and as a Realtor, I know how much a person’s home means to them.”

Swinford works diligently for her clients. She looks for the best deals and is confident in her ability to get any deal done in a professional and efficient manner. With all that said, she’s guided by the personal principles that ground her life every day.

“In today’s age, we must help and be honest with one another,” Swinford said. “Setting our own agendas aside for someone else, we can choose honesty or deception. I choose honesty.”

To contact Debbie Swinford of Bowen Realty, call (561) 370-4197.


For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is All About People, Not Paperwork

For Jo Ann Abrams, Elder Law Is  All About People, Not Paperwork

Jo Ann Abrams has always wanted to be an attorney. It was a goal dating back to her childhood in New York. Joining the Florida Bar in 1986, she has been practicing law in South Florida ever since, first in Broward County, and for the past 19 years in the western communities of Palm Beach County. Her practice has a focus on elder law and estate planning.

Married with four horses and six dogs, Abrams enjoys her work, and in her off hours, she spends her time taking care of her dogs, western-style riding, reading, scuba diving, traveling, working out and riding motorcycles. She has two Hondas, a Rebel 250 and a 750 Shadow, and in cooler months can be seen riding one to work.

“Basically, I do elder law, which includes estate planning, Medicaid and Medicare planning, guardianship, wills, irrevocable trusts and more,” she said.

The specific field of elder law is growing more important each year as the population continues to age. Wellington records indicate that 12 percent of the population is over age 60, consistent with the county percentage, although that figure is expected to grow with the census in 2020.

“I have been in practice for more than 33 years and have seen many situations in life. The thing that distinguishes my elder care practice is probably that I have been doing it for so long,” Abrams said.

One of the benefits for clients who work with Abrams is that she is an avid listener.

“I really believe that clients should be heard. Listening is the most important thing,” said Abrams, who remarked that when she understands their specific situation, she is ready to offer advice to clients based upon her experience.

Abrams’ experience manifests itself most strongly in the way that she listens to each client.

“I listen carefully to clients and let them fully express what they want and need,” she said.

Abrams explained that her elder care practice includes guardianship, estate planning, probate, preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and handling Medicaid and Medicaid planning.

“I will explain how to avoid probate of the estate, and I fully explain what to do with documents I prepare and make it as easy as possible for the client,” she said.

Unfortunately, the reality of elder law means that she is often working with clients in difficult situations. And in over three decades of practice, Abrams has seen a lot.

“I pretty much have seen it all — well, not everything, because things always come up,” she said. “I have many bad examples to explain to clients.”

Abrams strives to ensure that the legal documents she prepares accurately depict the wishes of the client, not a decision influenced by a relative. She said that nobody should be railroaded into decisions, and too often, elderly people are not listened to carefully enough.

Abrams spends plenty of time to make sure the client understands what the document is and what it does, and that it is indeed what the client wants. She added that her practice is a lot more about people than it is about paperwork.

While Abrams lives in the area surrounding Wellington, she takes a great interest in the community.

“I have many clients in Wellington, I shop there often and have many friends in Wellington,” she said, adding that she was involved with the best management practices for manure disposal when it came up in Wellington. “I mediated the agreement between Wellington and the South Florida Water Management District at that time so that Wellington would not be fined.”

Jo Ann Abrams’ practice is located at 11440 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 216, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information about Abrams and her elder law practice, call (561) 795-9590 or e-mail to j.a.abrams@att.net.


Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

Village Clerk’s Office Protects The Past And The Future Of Wellington

As custodian of the Village of Wellington’s vital public records, Village Clerk Chevelle Nubin leads a department that serves a key municipal function steeped in history.

“The profession of the clerk is the one of the oldest in history, second only to tax collectors,” Nubin explained. “It is one of the oldest public servants in local government, tracing back before biblical times. We are considered the hub. We tend to be that link between the residents of the community and the government.”

With more than 20 years of experience in the government sector, Nubin has been a municipal clerk for most of that time, joining the Village of Wellington two years ago. She is a master municipal clerk, which is the highest designation achievable for the position.

“I am also a member, and past president, of the Florida Association of City Clerks. So, I get to do outreach and represent our profession. I have served on the Florida League of Cities Municipal Administration Committee for the past three years and did some webinars for training. I enjoy it,” Nubin said.

After a long tenure with the City of Delray Beach, coming to Wellington was a significant transition for Nubin, but working with team members like Deputy Village Clerk Rachel Callovi made the change easier. Nubin referred to Callovi and her office as more than just a quality resource.

“What I love about Wellington, and what I saw quickly when I came here, was just the camaraderie. Wellington values its employees, and they are such a talented team and group of people to work with and work for,” Nubin said. “The atmosphere is amazing here — high energy and a demand for excellence. People deliver on that, and they give you the tools that you need to be successful.”

Some people see the clerk’s office as little more than secretarial work, answering phones, taking notes and keeping meeting minutes. Nubin makes sure that everyone knows that her team does so much more than attend council meetings.

“We serve as historians, responsible for transcribing minutes so that we can provide records to the public. The purpose for literally transcribing the minutes is to maintain an accurate, unbiased record of any legislative action that has taken place,” Nubin said. “We also do the legal advertising for the village, serve as supervisors over municipal elections and a huge part is records management.”

When records are created, the clerk’s team of eight people are responsible for following every step of its life cycle. From the initial filing, to the task of properly managing record destruction, the detailed process of having every document housed and scanned into digital form and catalogued is daunting. Digital access means the public, and the village, can save time and get back to work quickly.

“We have a team who do all the scanning of our records and archives on a daily basis. It’s a pretty interesting function. Adrienne Shaffer is the records manager, and she does an amazing job and works directly with the village departments about their records, too,” Nubin said.

The clerk’s office has managed to digitize more than half the historic records for the village, which is quite an accomplishment considering the size of the job.

Other members of the team include Assistant to the Village Clerk Tamika Rogers, senior administrative assistants Alice Machiela and Angie Butler, Administrative Assistant Shanti Singh and Transcriptionist Traci Mehl.

For Nubin, election time is a personal favorite function of the job. Meeting new people, from candidates to poll workers, directly connects her to the people she serves.

 “Essentially, we serve as the local elections supervisors. For the village, your clerk is your contact. We also hire the poll workers, gather the elections information, receive the campaign treasurer’s reports, and even go on election night to wait for the results,” Nubin said. “I am responsible for canvassing our absentee ballots. During election day, I travel around to precincts to make sure everything is flowing properly and that our workers have what they need. I am responsible for making sure I order the ballots and have to make sure we have enough. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s vital.”

Nubin, is also the official custodian of the village seal, and her team members are direct observers of all government business conducted in Wellington.

“No one day is the same, and although our work demands a level of versatility. We have to be alert, we have to be accurate and depending on what situation comes up — whether we are dealing with a resident or another colleague — it may require us to be extremely patient,” Nubin said.

This team mentality means everyone works together for residents of the community. Nubin shared a story of such a case.

“There was a lady who was extremely upset about the town center project. She had talked to a few people in a few departments, and finally the call came up to me. Upon me picking up the phone, I could tell she was upset. I let her get all of that out,” Nubin explained. “After I thanked her for calling, I continued listening, and in the midst of her comments, there was also a request for information she felt that she was not getting. Finally, after explaining her entire story, we were able to find the information — a survey her father had filed. She needed the survey before making important repairs to her home. That just made our day because, when we called her, she started to cry.”

Whenever possible, Nubin wants the answer to be “yes, we can,” not “no, we can’t.”

“We always look for a way to help while still being compliant with our charter, our code and the state. The mentality here is that we look for a way to get it done,” Nubin said. “We all have that same goal, and for us, that goal is to serve our residents.”


Olympia Home Features Plenty Of Space And Many Amenities

Olympia Home Features Plenty Of Space And Many Amenities

This large home in Olympia’s Cooper Village neighborhood features nearly 3,900 square feet, including five bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths on two levels. Only seven years old, the Callista model is on a large, fenced-in lot with a pool and sun deck. A wing of guest bedrooms downstairs complement two more bedrooms upstairs, while the entire back of the house makes up a huge master suite with its own private, screened-in balcony. The home is equipped with many extra amenities, such as a chef’s dream kitchen, salt system pool, a three-car tandem garage offering plenty of storage and the latest technology.


Front Elevation: Fresh landscaping shows off the impressive two-story elevation, while a charming front porch leads to double doors and a dramatic entryway.


Curved Staircase: Through the double doors is a dramatic two-story foyer with an elegant curved staircase with wrought iron and wood balusters and a built-in curved bench seat.


Dining Room: Entertaining is a breeze with the home’s great indoor and outdoor spaces, including the bright and airy formal dining room.


Master Bath: The large master bath is finished with wood cabinetry and marble counters. It also features a corner Roman soaking tub and a huge shower with a massive rain shower head.


Kitchen: The chef’s dream kitchen includes stainless-steel appliances with a double oven and French door refrigerator. There is plenty of storage with extensive wood shaker cabinets, granite counters and full granite backsplash, as well as a walk-in pantry.


Family Room: The spacious family room features easy access to the kitchen and slider access to the large covered outdoor patio.


Patio Area: There is easy access from the house to the covered patio area just steps from the pool deck, highlighting the home’s indoor-outdoor living concept.


Gazebo: The outdoor living space includes this gazebo, perfect for al fresco dining in the backyard oasis.


Covered Balcony: The master suite includes its own private 28-foot by 11-foot covered and screened-in balcony with amazing views of the property.


Pool Deck: The pool deck includes a free form salt system pool with a large sun deck and dramatic Travertine pavers.


The Wellington Community Foundation Awards Inaugural Arle And Ken Adams Scholarships

The Wellington Community Foundation Awards Inaugural Arle And Ken Adams Scholarships

Some of the best opportunities in life exist in your own backyard. That is especially the case when it comes to high school students and their parents who are searching for college scholarship opportunities. One of those scholarships with roots in Wellington is the new Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, which is administered by the Wellington Community Foundation.

The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, which was distributed for the first time this year, was created to serve those in need who can benefit from a helping hand in order to become one of tomorrow’s leaders.

According to Wellington Community Foundation Chair Tom Wenham, the scholarship will be awarded annually to two students from Wellington who have a proven track record of supporting the Village of Wellington and its residents.

The scholarship was named in honor of former Palm Beach County Commissioner Ken Adams and his late wife, Arle Adams. Longtime Wellington residents, Arle and Ken Adams made great contributions to the growth and development of the Village of Wellington, dating back to the late 1970s.

Key figures in getting Wellington incorporated as a municipality in the 1990s, there are very few aspects of Wellington’s growth that cannot be attributed to some kind of involvement or assistance from Arle and Ken Adams.

A scholarship committee led by Wellington Community Foundation board members James Seder and Joanna Boynton was given the task of recommending the inaugural recipients of the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship.

According to Wenham, there were 18 applicants, and making a decision was difficult.

“Our selection committee recommended two out of 18, and it was not easy,” Wenham said. “They all had great GPAs and résumés.”

Seder agreed that there was a wealth of qualified candidates who submitted applications this inaugural year.

“I am very proud of all of these young men and women,” he said. “We received 18 applications in our first year, which is an incredible number.”

The scholarship committee put the word out about the new scholarship by reaching out to local high schools.

“We relied on guidance counselors to put the word out there,” Seder said. “We also believed that the higher award amount of $2,500 could help a lot of people with expenses. Once the applications were received, the scholarship committee reviewed each application. I can assure you that we spent many hours and days reviewing these applications. Each one had its own merits. Committee members submitted their top candidates to the foundation’s board of directors, and votes were cast to award the scholarships.”

The first recipients are Wellington residents Sebastian Suarez, a 2019 graduate of Palm Beach Central High School, and Francesca Herman, a 2019 graduate of Wellington High School.

“We strived to make our scholarship different from the others by trying to focus on the values and qualities that Arle and Ken Adams exemplified over the years,” Seder said. “This includes an emphasis on public service, leadership and community involvement. We also considered academic achievement and overcoming adversity in making the award decision.”

Suarez will attend the University of Florida in Gainesville. As part of his commitment to Wellington, Suarez has rebuilt homes, painted houses and raised money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The scholarship money will help Suarez and his family pay the college bills when he enrolls at UF, where he will pursue a degree in architecture. Suarez added that that he had help in searching for college scholarships, which led him to apply for the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship.

“I found a lot of information on the bulletin board of my school’s web site,” he said. “The Palm Beach County School Board also has listed a number of scholarships for local students to apply for and pursue.”

Suarez, who had a 3.95 GPA and a 5.13 HPA at Palm Beach Central, noted that it just takes basic verbal communication skills to find out the existence of many scholarships.

“It’s important to ask advice from other people who have recently gone through the college scholarship process,” Suarez suggested. “Ask your friends about their experiences and speak with your school’s guidance counselor. I have an older sister who just recently went to college, so I learned a lot from her experiences, as well.”

At Palm Beach Central, Suarez was a member of the Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society and Interact Club. Those extracurricular affiliations helped, not only in his application for this scholarship, but for others as well, such as one he received from the Rotary Club of Wellington.

Even though he has graduated, he’s still hoping that he will receive another scholarship before he heads to Gainesville. “I’ve also applied for the Charles R. O’Melia Scholarship, which supports students who want to pursue a career in architecture,” Suarez said. “In the essay part of the application, you had to tell your story about how important architecture is to you.”

Herman, who eventually wants to graduate from medical school, earned great grades at Wellington High School — a 3.98 GPA and 5.36 HPA. She will be headed to Tulane University in August.

Herman feels that many scholarship organizations are more interested in a candidate’s level of community service than their grade point average — but it doesn’t hurt to have strong grades.

Herman founded a club at Wellington High School that helped the less fortunate. It’s called the Seed Those in Need Club. She also traveled to Gainesville last summer where she conducted research on how restriction enzymes can attack Type 1 diabetes.

Both Suarez and Herman agree that half the battle in winning college scholarships is taking the time to apply for them. Being able to put your thoughts in writing — featuring properly written declarative sentences — is often the biggest hurdle in earning a college scholarship, they both agreed.

That is something they both accomplished in their scholarship applications.

“Sebastian and Francesca were both strong academic performers and involved in the community,” Seder said. “What spoke to me was how they overcame personal adversity in their lives and were still able to find the time to help others.”

Also important is for applicants to point out how the scholarship will help them achieve their goals

“I would like to see future scholarship applications place an additional emphasis on financial need,” Seder said. “With education costs always rising, sometimes these scholarships make the difference in whether a student attends college or not. If our scholarship helps someone get to college, I believe it’s money well spent and a great investment in the future.”

To learn more about the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, call the Wellington Community Foundation at (561) 333-9843.


Somerset Academy Of The Arts Opening Soon In Wellington

Somerset Academy Of The Arts Opening Soon In Wellington

A new tuition-free educational choice for families is opening in Wellington this fall. Somerset Academy of the Arts is now accepting applications for kindergarten through eighth grade.

Located at 1000 Wellington Trace, Somerset Academy will occupy the 13-acre former Eagle Arts Academy campus. It is currently being renovated, and the school will host weekly open houses each Tuesday starting June 4.

Somerset Academy will be the sixth Somerset Academy school in Palm Beach County. Since 1997, Somerset Academy Inc. has offered high-quality K-12 educational programs in Florida, Nevada and Texas that continue to achieve academic success.

Although all Somerset Academy schools share a vision, each campus has a unique and enriching educational program that is tailored to its community. This formula, along with strong support from parents, has made Somerset Academy a nationally recognized, award-winning family of high-quality public charter schools. As a network, the schools are fully accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In addition to the core curriculum, Somerset Academy will provide an elective track for music, dance, visual and performing arts. The arts will also be integrated throughout the curriculum, and a highly qualified faculty will use research-based techniques and methods to engage students at all learning levels.

Principal Elizabeth Sauri will lead Somerset Academy in Wellington. Formerly the assistant principal at Mater Academy of International Studies in Miami, Sauri has multiple degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in special education with varying exceptionalities, a master’s degree in international business administration and a second master’s degree in educational leadership. She is excited to share her educational and leadership experiences with the Wellington community.

“Somerset Academy of the Arts will distinguish itself by providing every student with a rigorous learning environment enhanced by creativity and personal artistic development within the visual and performing arts,” Sauri said. “Unique educators facilitate our students’ learning experiences with creative lessons that not only academically challenge the students but empower their creativity and self-expression.”

Students can apply to Somerset Academy regardless of their zip code or community. Enrollment is based on a lottery process. Once the school has reached capacity, additional applicants will be placed on a waitlist and notified when vacancies occur. Sauri hopes that parents will take advantage of the summer tours and register for the lottery early.

“Students enrolling before the summer registration have the best chance to be admitted in the first lottery, since all of the seats are open,” she said. “Students enrolling now will be invited to tour the school with their parents to see where they will create years of memories, which will shape their future educational endeavors.”

Because this is a new school, families have a chance to be part of something special — the first class. “As an extra bonus, any student registering before July 15 will have two votes in selecting the school mascot,” Sauri said.

In addition to the core curriculum and arts electives, students will have opportunities to participate in learning experiences outside the classroom through field trips and partnerships within Palm Beach county’s diverse arts community. School-sponsored art showcases and afterschool activities will round out the robust offerings.

“We will develop extracurricular activities throughout the school year to meet student visual and performing art needs. Students will also participate in school shows, exhibiting art, music, dance and theater,” Sauri said. “We’re also looking at afterschool enrichment clubs based specifically on student demand and needs.”

As the renovations on the campus continue, Sauri is excited to meet families and show off the progress. Somerset Academy plans to be not only an exciting and welcoming learning environment, but a safe and secure place for students and teachers alike.

“Student safety is of the utmost importance to me and my fellow educators,” she said. “We are building in several safety features, from a state-of-the-art camera system, to fencing and on-campus security guards.”

Charter schools are public schools that are publicly funded based on enrollment like other public schools and are held accountable to the same state and federal academic standards. Teachers are certified, and students take the same mandated tests that other Florida students take, and schools receive grades from the Florida Department of Education. A national survey revealed that 78 percent of parents with school-age children support having a public charter school open in their neighborhood.

Somerset Academy of the Arts is on Facebook and Instagram at @somersetartspb, and parents can apply online by visiting www.somersetartspb.com. Open houses are held every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. starting June 4, although the campus will be closed the week of July 4. Tours can also be arranged by calling (561) 421-5510.


Mountaineer’s School Of Autism Serves The Student And The Entire Family

Mountaineer’s School Of Autism  Serves The Student And The Entire Family

Mary Jo Walsh-Watson spent 20 years as a pediatric ER nurse and the past 17 as the mother of a son who is deaf and severely autistic. Between home-schooling, doctors’ visits, frequent trips to therapy and other responsibilities, “happy” was taking a backseat.

“And ‘happy’ is really important,” said Walsh-Watson, who founded the Mountaineer’s School of Autism in 2014. “As an educator and a mom and a nurse in the community, I wanted to create a school that served not only the student, but the family as well.”

Parents of children with special needs, such as autism, are often being pulled in multiple directions at once.

“One of the first things we did was to open a therapy center on site so students could get speech, occupational and ADA therapy while they’re at school,” Walsh-Watson explained. “That frees up the parent, so they no longer have to drive all over for these services. We provide a loving, safe and quality environment where the students can get their education while we strengthen the community by strengthening families to have a happier life.”

At Mountaineer’s School of Autism (MSA), there are athletics, iPads, music and Spanish classes, sign language, playground time, and endless amounts of patience and love. Students learn academics and social skills alongside speech therapy, occupational therapy, independent living skills and social skills.

While students may think they’re only playing, the educators at MSA know that students are better able to focus and perform academically after “playing” on a crash pad, carrying a weighted ball, pulling on a rope or crawling through a fabric tunnel. All of these activities are fun, engaging and provide the necessary input to help the student become more regulated.

Walsh-Watson explained that self-regulation is a cognitive process and a necessary ingredient to making learning meaningful. It is in charge of executive functioning and is intertwined with both emotional development and social development. When a person is “dysregulated,” their ability to function in a meaningful way is disrupted. It becomes difficult to learn new information, make or keep relationships and build social skills. That is why occupational therapy is such an important part of the MSA program. The necessary tools are in each classroom. Every classroom has swings, crash pads, balance boards, trampolines and a host of other equipment to help the students function at their best.

Another challenge for teachers is dyspraxia — a student’s difficulty in planning, sequencing and carrying out unfamiliar actions. To help, MSA has planned activities, goals and objectives that address this need in a challenging and playful way.

A day at the school starts with smiles in a classroom featuring modified lighting and relaxing music. Students begin with sensory activities and social skill-building conversation, then continue their day with academics, playground time, sports, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Independent living skills are worked on daily — things like tying shoes, brushing teeth and cleaning up as a team. This sense of community and teamwork builds self-confidence and trust in others.

“At Mountaineer’s, we are a family, and a family works together for the success of everyone,” Walsh-Watson explained. “We listen and guide conversations, so respect and character-building takes place. This is a place where a multitude of a child’s growth takes place. It is so much more than simply academics.”

The primary purpose of the school is to recognize the unique characteristics of each student and to apply a curriculum specifically designed to meet their individual needs. Every student’s educational portfolio is individually tailored and executed utilizing a continuous multidisciplinary approach implemented by highly trained staff and therapists. This program determines that student’s educational format, daily routine and interventions implemented to maximize educational goals.

MSA utilizes a wide variety of resources throughout the course of a day. Depending on the developmental level of the student, any number of tools may be utilized, including manipulatives, kinetic sand/theraputty, iPads, computers, textbooks, workbooks and more. MSA utilizes Abeka, Attainment and Acellus curriculums based on ability.

The school has also partnered with HCI Nursing School and Cambridge Nursing School to train the next generation of nurses on how to best interact with autistic patients.

“It’s two days a week for eight weeks, and I’m the professor,” Walsh-Watson said. “It’s wonderful to see how these future nurses engage with our students.”

Educators at the Mountaineer’s School of Autism believe that recognizing and promoting each child’s strengths will build self-confidence and allow them to flourish both academically and socially. The small student-teacher ratio, together with educators and support staff with expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis and the various principles applied in the classroom, provides each family with a wide array of choices to meet the individual needs of each student.

Another problem that families of children with autism encounter is that whenever a traditional school is having a difficult time with an autistic child, they will call the parent to come pick them up.

“They lose income and, sometimes, their jobs,” Walsh-Watson said. “It creates an economic hardship.”

Because MSA in the business of serving families and creating happiness, the school has helped three of these parents obtain their GEDs and five to become registered behavior technicians, giving them the tools that they need to provide income for their families — and jobs at Mountaineer’s.

A nonprofit organization, the school serves grades K through 12 year-round. It also offers before care, aftercare and even a summer camp.

“We’re also open on Saturdays for babysitting and therapy to give the family time to nurture relationships with other siblings or significant others,” Walsh-Watson said. “Another difficulty we noted was healthcare. Children with autism are not able to have something as simple as blood work done. So, beginning next month, we will have a Saturday lab for onsite visits.”

Mountaineer’s also offers a program for students not on the autism spectrum.

“We also understand the strain of having one child with special needs at one school and another, neurotypical, child at another. So, this past September, we opened Mountaineer’s Academy for neurotypical siblings,” Walsh-Watson said. “The children at our academy have true compassion.”

There are currently 10 children enrolled at Mountaineer’s Academy and 48 at Mountaineer’s School of Autism.

Walsh-Watson’s goals for the school are to expand the school’s current space in West Palm Beach, find a location in Boca Raton and purchase another van for transportation, particularly from the Wellington area. One hundred percent of donations stay within Palm Beach County.

“There’s no quitting,” Walsh-Watson said. “I have so much respect for families who have kids with autism. It’s one of most difficult and amazing jobs you’ll ever have. It’s both wonderful and hard at the same time. We want them to be kids and be happy. We can’t do it on our own. If everyone is to have accessibility for all the services and support they need, for both themselves and their children, we have to share resources. Everyone’s good at something, and everyone deserves to live their most happy life.”

To learn more about Mountaineer’s School of Autism, visit www.msainc.org. To support the school, contact Walsh-Watson at (561) 932-3938.


Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004