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Grandmaster Gustavo Pope-Guerriero Elevated To 8th Degree Black Belt

Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Grandmaster Gustavo Pope-Guerriero Elevated To 8th Degree Black Belt

Story by Jason Stromberg • Photos by Abner Pedraza

Grandmaster Gustavo Pope-Guerriero takes pride in being humble. He doesn’t consider himself better than anyone else. He tries to lead his students with actions and life lessons, not by telling them how much recognition he has received over the years or how many black belt ranks he has moved up.

“My goal in martial arts is to make my students better people,” said Pope-Guerriero, director of Xtreme Tae Kwon Do at Ultima Fitness in Wellington. “My personal achievements, I kind of put them to the side because my students are my personal achievement.”

His students, ranging from 3-year-olds to adults, can all take a bow the next time they see their grandmaster. That’s because Pope-Guerriero was recently promoted to the rank of 8th degree black belt.

This highly prestigious honor was presented by Grandmaster Patrick Petitjean, a 9th degree black belt, the highest ranking. At the May ceremony, many of Pope-Guerriero’s black belt students were on hand to pay their respects to their grandmaster.

“I think, personally, achieving this ranking is better for my students,” Pope-Guerriero said. “There comes a point in martial arts, because you’ve been doing it for so long, that you get this recognition. When I received the news, I was very excited, but I’m not going around telling everybody I’m an 8th degree black belt. It’s for my own personal satisfaction and growth in martial arts.”

Tack on another accolade to the long list of achievements for Pope-Guerriero, who is also a Hapkido 4th degree black belt. He placed first in the 1980 South American TKD Championship. He placed third in the 1983 World TKD Championship. He’s a former Argentine national champion, a two-time champion of the J. Park International Tournament and a 1999 Florida Winter Cup heavyweight champion. Pope-Guerriero is a three-time Florida state champion (1999, 2000 and 2004), who placed first in the 2003 Atlantic Games and third in the 2004 AAU Nationals.

Just don’t expect to hear him bragging about it. “I think being humble is a very good characterization of people. It’s good to be recognized on the things that you do, but if you’re humble, I think it goes a long way. It’s very important,” said Pope-Guerriero, a native of Buenos Aires. “You don’t go walking around telling people, ‘I’m a black belt, I’m a black belt, I’m a black belt.’ That’s something that you need to keep for yourself. My last promotion for a 7th degree black belt was seven years ago. Now, I need to wait eight years for my 9th degree black belt.”

Confidence, determination, respect and strength are the true qualities that each student learns from Pope-Guerriero’s teachings. The grandmaster first started training in 1972 and received his 1st degree black belt in 1979. He has been with his instructor, Pedro Florindo, every step of the way. Pope-Guerriero’s program has been located in Wellington for 14 years and counting.

“I teach self-defense, discipline and all the great things that come with tae kwon do,” Pope-Guerriero said. “The best part about teaching martial arts for me is that I can see kids come in here, very scared and very unsure of what they’re going to do, and then to see them progress and become more confident is what it’s all about. It’s kind of like a diamond in the rough. You see a rock, and I kind of start shaping them, and then they become black belts, and you can see the confidence, and you can see how much they have progressed. And this carries on in all aspects of life. The confidence that you get, the discipline that you learn, it helps you at work and it helps you at school. That’s why I love teaching martial arts.”

Pope-Guerriero competes extensively in Argentina and in the United States. When it comes to training his students, he allows each one to spar, wearing a full complement of protective gear. The protection isn’t for just you, it’s for your partner as well. Everyone has to follow the rules.

“I think it’s very important for every child and adult to know at least something to protect themselves,” Pope-Guerriero said. “Whether it’s a technique, a front kick, something you know that can get you out of a situation.”

He loves to teach self-defense. Rule No. 1 of self-defense is being aware of your surroundings. The Little Dragons, ages 3-5, are his most challenging students.

“With the little ones, it’s discipline being taught. Having the attention span. Looking someone in the eyes, saying ‘Yes, sir, No, sir. Yes, ma’am, No ma’am,’” Pope-Guerriero said. “I introduce them to the very basics of martial arts, which are the front kick, the stance, the balance. With the other age groups, we get a little more into the martial arts. We still work on the discipline and concentration aspects. My goal with the adults is teaching the self-defense aspect.”

Xtreme Tae Kwon Do offers classes at Ultima Fitness, located in the Wellington Plaza at 12799 W. Forest Hill Blvd. For more information, e-mail tkd@ultimafitness.com or call (561) 795-2823. Learn more at www.ultimafitness.com.


Wellington Weightlifting Teammates Capture Individual State Crowns

Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Wellington Weightlifting Teammates Capture Individual State Crowns

By Jason Stromberg

There’s a banner in the Wellington High School gymnasium with the names of Chloe Odom and LeeAnn Hewitt on it. The banner lists Odom and Hewitt as state champions in girls weightlifting. It’s a history-making banner that puts the Wolverines’ girls weightlifting program in elite company.

Earlier this year in Kissimmee, Odom and Hewitt became the first state champs in girls weightlifting in Palm Beach County School District history.

“It’s a great honor to coach two girls to that feat,” Wellington High School coach Peter Callovi said. “We got lucky with two girls who are very talented and hard-working. For Chloe, she had been a state runner-up the year before. There was an extra push there to win a state title.”

High school girls weightlifting features the bench press and clean and jerk events. Practice starts in October, with the state championship taking place the first weekend in February. As a team, Wellington placed fourth at the state meet.

Odom competed in the 139-pound weight class, winning the individual state championship with a 205-pound lift on the bench and a 175-pound clean and jerk lift. In her two previous seasons weightlifting at the high school level, she competed in the 154-pound weight class.

“The 154-pound weight class was too competitive. I knew I wasn’t going to put up as much weight as I needed to in order to win the title, so that’s why I dropped the weight,” Odom said. “This year, I felt more comfortable at 139 because getting first place was more in my reach. I felt like it would be a little less of a struggle to get to the weight that I had to bench press and clean and jerk.”

In her first year at the statewide event, she placed 12th. That shows how much Odom has improved over the past three years. The WHS senior went out on an incredibly high note.

“I was crying, kind of overwhelmed,” Odom said after claiming the 139-pound individual state crown. “I knew I had it. I already knew what everybody else’s scores were because they have the board that sits there with all the scores on it. It was pure elation for me.”

Hewitt had that same emotion after her scores were reported. Competing in the unlimited weight class, Hewitt bench-pressed 255 pounds and lifted 230 pounds in the clean and jerk. With a 485-point total, Hewitt broke the tie-breaker with Desire Davis of Orlando’s Evans High School, who clean-and-jerked 205 pounds and bench-pressed 280 pounds. The tie-breaker was broken because Hewitt weighed less than Davis.

Each student-athlete competing at the state meet was required to bench-press and clean-and-jerk one time in three attempts. The best lift is kept for the official scoring.

“I was definitely overjoyed. It was nice to finally win,” Hewitt said. “You put in the effort all the time, all the energy, the blood, the sweat and the tears. It was nice to see that all come together, to get rewarded, and place first. That was definitely something special.”

It was a nice way for Hewitt to cap her junior season. Yet, that doesn’t mean her time lifting in the gym is complete. Hewitt trains and competes in powerlifting during the off-season. She has competed in the Powerlifting World Championships as part of the USA World Team. She also set some records in this year’s International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Texas.

In the IPF event, Hewitt squatted 575 pounds, which is a sub-junior and junior world record. On the bench, she lifted 253 pounds, a sub-junior and junior world record. In the dead lift, she put up 524 pounds, a sub-junior, junior and open world record. The total amount powerlifted by Hewitt was 1,356.9 pounds.

“She’s a well-rounded lifter,” Callovi said. “She works incredibly hard. She’s good at it. She enjoys pursuing it. And the best news is, I have her for one more year.”

Last year, Hewitt placed fifth at the state event. Like her co-captain teammate, Hewitt rose to the top.

“The key to winning was I trained exceptionally harder. I just had that fire, that hunger to bring home the gold,” she said. “I started doing powerlifting right after my sophomore performance at state. I wanted to start competing outside of school. That allowed me to maximize my strength. I don’t have an offseason. I powerlift and weightlift all the time. It can get intense at times. I’m always training for different competitions all over the world.”

At 4-foot-11, Odom feels more comfortable on the bench.

“It’s probably easier for me to do the bench press, as opposed to the clean and jerk, because my arms are shorter than most other girls my age,” Odom said. “I feel more confident when I do it.”

It’s a tough decision for Hewitt. “It’s a toss-up for me because the bench, I feel like it’s less technical and easier to train in,” Hewitt said. “But then, clean and jerk involves a lot of finesse, and the motion itself is beautiful.”

You can’t argue with Callovi when he said that Odom and Hewitt are team leaders and role models on how to work hard in this unique sport. Odom is going to weightlift for fun as she heads off to Barry University. Hewitt said “there is no stopping me now” as she tries to win back-to-back individual state titles.

For now, the two are going to continue enjoying this season’s feat. “I’m so proud to say that I accomplished something that important,” Odom said.

Hewitt feels the same. “I’m still so happy that we could bring home the state title for the first time,” she said. “It’s an honor.”


Jacobs Foundation Scholarships Will Support Wellington Students At Palm Beach Atlantic

Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Jacobs Foundation Scholarships Will Support Wellington Students At Palm Beach Atlantic

By Julie Unger

Several Palm Beach Atlantic University students will be receiving the gift of education thanks to the Jacobs Family Foundation, which is providing the school with $30,000 in scholarships to be spread out over the course of three years.

The scholarship is specifically for Wellington residents, and the $10,000 per year will be divided between five to eight students to assist with their education. The number of recipients will vary based upon the number of students who are qualified. “This is the first year that our students have the opportunity to be recipients of that,” Palm Beach Atlantic Vice President for Admissions Tim Worley said.

The Jacobs Family Foundation has a longstanding history of support and involvement in education.

“Our family sincerely believes that education is the cornerstone of opportunity, both for individuals and for the community,” JFF Board Member Lou Jacobs said. “We’ve supported education programs at all levels, but we believe this one meets a unique need by supporting adults who are highly motivated and really want to complete their degree, but would probably not be able to without scholarship assistance.”

In order to qualify for the scholarship, Wellington residents must be involved in specific programs offered by the MacArthur School of Leadership. In the fall, students are able to enter the semester in late August/early September and in October.

“We’re excited about the opportunity that the Jacobs scholarship provides for potential students,” Worley said.

Scholarship applications are expected to be assigned in August, Worley said, noting that students should still apply. Even if they are not eligible for the first round of scholarships, there will be more. Throughout the summer, he explained, students are still applying to the school’s graduate, evening and online programs.

The scholarship means a great deal to Palm Beach Atlantic’s administration, which is excited to be able to offer the scholarship to adult students in graduate and undergraduate programs.

“We’re very grateful, very fortunate, to have the Jacobs family invest in the university in this capacity. It means a lot to us because it allows us to have the opportunity to offer more students the PBA experience,” Worley said. “I think it will mean the most to the students, because it will provide financial assistance to them and very likely allow some to attend PBA who would not have been able to without that scholarship.”

Former teacher Katie Jacobs Robinson, also a JFF board member, stressed that access to education is key.

“I’ve seen first-hand how people’s lives can be transformed by education. For adult students in particular, pursuing a college degree can be a real challenge due to family and work commitments,” she said. “We hope this scholarship program will open doors of opportunity for members of our community, and to do so without going far from home.”

The school’s campus in West Palm Beach is just a short drive from Wellington, making it convenient for students to attend classes while working or raising families. The school also operates a campus on State Road 7 in Wellington.

“It’s great that the Jacobs family has invested locally and they’re trying to help provide opportunities for Wellington residents to further their education,” Worley said. “We want to thank the Jacobs family for their investment in the students and their trust in the university. We’re grateful that we’re going to be able to impact Wellington residents with the scholarship.”

JFF Board Member Charlie Jacobs emphasized the foundation’s support for Wellington, and why the foundation chose Palm Beach Atlantic for its scholarship. “Palm Beach Atlantic, under the stewardship of President Bill Fleming, is working hard to help the Wellington community, and their Wellington campus is a great asset to this village which we also call our home,” he said. “Our foundation aims to support programs that have a significant impact, over the long-term, in Wellington. Education is one of our four focus areas. Therefore, this scholarship program is a perfect fit, and we’re proud to provide our support.”

Worley and other school officials are appreciative of the foundation’s scholarship and the impact it will have on students. Over the next three years, more than a dozen students will have an opportunity they might not have otherwise had without the scholarship.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the Jacobs Family Foundation to bring more opportunities to Wellington residents in the future,” he said.

For more information about the Jacobs Family Foundation, visit www.jffwellington.org. For more information about the scholarship, call the Office of Graduate, Evening & Online Admissions at (561) 803-2122. Learn more about Palm Beach Atlantic University programs and classes at www.pba.edu.


Coach Proud Of Emerald Cove Middle School’s Best Softball Season Ever

Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Coach Proud Of Emerald Cove Middle School’s Best Softball Season Ever

By Ron Bukley

The Emerald Cove Middle School Pirates softball team went undefeated last season on the way to winning the Palm Beach County championship for the first time.

Coach Matt Estes, who also coaches Wellington’s softball traveling teams, couldn’t be prouder. He coached two girls fast-pitch softball teams that enjoyed unprecedented seasons.

“I coach the team that went undefeated and won the county, and I also coached the Wellington travel team that won the World Series this past year,” said Estes, a park supervisor with the village.

The Emerald Cove girls are there for only three years before moving on to high school, but Estes has a good feeder program from the Wellington league, whose traveling team members also play with the recreational league and feed to the village’s three middle schools.

“We also have Wellington Landings and Polo Park middle schools. They are all in the same vicinity, so you really don’t know who you’re going to get until they arrive, but most of the kids who play in the rec league usually play in the local middle school,” Estes explained.

Each season, he takes the girls who show up for practice and tries to build a winning team.

“I’m fortunate enough that the girls who come to school there… a majority of them come from the rec program that we have here in Wellington,” Estes said. “Most of these girls have aspirations of playing in high school, college, the whole nine yards.”

The upcoming season, which begins the first week of school in August, looks good, with 10 of last season’s 18 team members returning.

The fast-pitch teams are extremely competitive, with pitchers usually receiving special training from specialty coaches, Estes said.

“To be a pitcher takes a lot of work,” he said. “For the most part, they have their own trainers. They have their own coaches who teach them how to pitch if they are interested in pitching. They start at a very early age.”

Wellington has a program that provides free pitching lessons during the softball season.

“They start at anywhere from 6 to 7 to 8 years old,” Estes said. “They start early, so most of the girls I get for my pitching program usually go to pitching programs themselves. I’m more or less of a teacher than a coach when it comes to middle school. I am also fortunate enough to bring experience from the rec and travel programs to my school.”

The recreational league has 100 to 120 girls participating, and from those participants, travel teams are chosen for different age divisions.

Estes’ travel team won the girls softball world series in Orlando last July, sanctioned by the United States Specialty Sports Association, the National Softball Association and the Amateur Softball Association. “That’s a big accomplishment for the girls,” he said.

Estes, who has been coaching girls softball for about 10 years, noted that Emerald Cove’s team went 14-0 for the first time in school history, on their way to winning last year’s county championship.

In the playoffs, they defeated Eagles Landing Middle School and Christa McAuliffe Middle School to reach the championship game against Independence Middle School, winning 5-4 in a Kansas City tiebreaker.

At Emerald Cove, Estes is helped by assistant coach Sergio Marquez, and the team receives strong support from Principal Eugina Smith Feaman and Athletic Director Brian Tilley.

Members of the 2015-16 team were: Victoria Cannata, Luna Curran, Danielle Dallas, Isabella D’Eusanio, Caridad Estes, Catherine Glenn, Alejandra Gonzalez, Briana Granitto, Aubrey Hockett, Sara Jenal, Rylee Jordan, Marlee Marquez, Lauren Nguyen, Nelia Peralta, Anabelle Standish, Adrianna Torella, Ashley Trevino and Alina Varga.


Integrated Fine Arts Programs Are Providing Unique Opportunities For Wellington Students


Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Integrated Fine Arts Programs Are Providing Unique Opportunities For Wellington Students

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Expanded fine arts programs at Wellington schools are making it easier for art, band, chorus, dance and drama students, among others, to further their artistic education without leaving the community.

No longer do these students need to be bused out to specialty schools now that several area schools at all grade levels are expanding their fine arts academies. With the addition of a new fine arts choice program at Wellington Elementary School, local students can now follow an expanded fine arts curriculum from Wellington Elementary School to Wellington Landings Middle School, and on to Wellington High School.

Perhaps nowhere is this expanded curriculum more noticeable than in the amazing show beings produced by Wellington kids at all levels. At the very end of the last school year, Wellington Elementary Choral Director Dave Morrison led his students in a mesmerizing performance of Annie Kids. At WHS, Drama Director Dennis Schaber directed, designed and choreographed while Chorus Director Bradford Chase provided musical direction for recent productions such as Guys and Dolls and The Addams Family. Wellington Landings will be getting ready for its first production this school year.

Wellington Elementary Principal Dr. Maria Vaughan explained that she worked with Wellington Landings Principal Blake Bennett and WHS Principal Mario Crocetti on the creation of this integrated fine arts curriculum once she realized that her colleagues were also working on expanding their fine arts programming.

Aligning the programs, she explained, is the ideal scenario, because it gives the students continuity and somewhere to go.

“When you set up an academy, you really want it to have the kids be able to transition from each level — elementary, middle and high,” Vaughan said. “Once we realized all three of us were doing that, we met and talked about what we were offering at our school and what they’re offering at the middle and high school levels to try to make sure that we’re offering the same types of programs.”

For Vaughan, it’s exciting to work with nearby schools in this groundbreaking project. For her students, she said, it is also exciting because it gives them a glimpse at the future.

“It gives them a goal and ambition. It gives them motivation to continue doing well where they are, and helps them to strive for what’s at the next level,” Vaughan said.

The schools performed together at Wellington Elementary in the spring, with the chorus directors of each school speaking about their respective programs. Chase and Morrison joined Alayna Morton, the chorus director at Wellington Landings, to discuss the hard work and dedication it takes to be a choral student. Even in elementary school, rehearsals are up to four times a week, and it can take months to perfect a song. “It was an amazing experience for the kids,” Vaughan said.

About two months later, Vaughan’s students performed Annie Kids, and all three principals were on hand to enjoy the production. “It is absolutely amazing what Mr. Morrison has done with that program,” Vaughan added. “That show was just astounding. I don’t know how he’s going to top this one. It was pretty amazing, from the costumes to the set design to the acting… I’m very proud to be a part of that and to be able to help make that possible.”

Vaughan is looking forward to developing the school’s strings program with kindergartners and seeing the fine arts progress and integrate into the school’s curriculum. Hand bells, guitar, ukulele, TV production, art, journalism, chorus, drama, the student news crew and yearbook are just some of the ways the students have become engrossed in Wellington Elementary’s new fine arts academy. She noted that students will be able to select their strengths and develop as the program evolves.

Through the drama program, Vaughan said, once the students know what they are expected to do, they rise to the challenge and consistently exceed expectations. As students excel in the arts, other areas improve. “This is going to really impact the whole child. We’re looking forward to seeing how our kids are going to blossom,” she said.

At Wellington Landings, students do not need to have prior experience to take part in the fine arts curriculum, Bennett explained. Advanced classes, however, are audition-based.

Each student has two elective classes that can be filled with fine arts academy classes, such as journalism, band, chorus, hand bells, dance, art, speech/debate, law studies, drama and TV production.

Out-of-boundary students have to apply to the Wellington Landings academy, but all students zoned for the school automatically have access to the program.

“When I first came here, all we had was band, chorus, art and hand bells. All of the other ones, I’ve added over the years in hopes of pulling it all together to be a fine arts academy,” Bennett said.

Starting as early as kindergarten, Bennett said, allows the students to discover what they enjoy and where the arts take them. Having the options from kindergarten through their senior year in high school is a huge opportunity for the kids, she added.

Unlike specialty schools, the students at Wellington Landings are able to shift their focus from one type of fine arts to another and are able to take part in multiple classes, choosing to use one or both of their electives for fine arts classes.

“They’re performance-based classes, where they’re not being graded paper- and pencil-wise, they’re graded by their projects, products and performances,” Bennett said. “For example, in TV production, they’ll be producing the news — live. They’ll be writing scripts and producing.”

Children get to explore their creative side and are able to find different interests through arts programs, she explained.

“I think it’s just great for the kids,” Bennett said. “I think every community should have all the arts programs so that children can benefit from them. I’m really glad that the three of us worked together to make sure that all of the kids can enjoy the programs through their entire K-12 experience.”

On Aug. 8, new students can attend an orientation at Wellington Landings, where incoming sixth-graders can get their bearings.

As students progress to high school, they have access to remain with high-quality arts programs without leaving the Wellington area, Crocetti explained.

“We’ve had a fine arts program for quite a while, but with Wellington Landings and Wellington Elementary jumping on board, it makes a nice progression,” he said. “I’ve seen Wellington Landings students perform over the years and had the opportunity to see Wellington Elementary’s presentation of Annie, which was just phenomenal. It’s going to be a great pipeline.”

As part of the integrated program, the high school theater is going to be made available to the elementary and middle schools, Crocetti said.

Each of the schools are bringing in somewhere between 40 and 60 students from outside their boundaries to participate in their programs.

“They’re moving in all different aspects of the arts, whether it be the visual arts, vocal, instrumental, dance, theater — all areas,” Crocetti said.

Chase is excited about the new integrated fine arts curriculum, adding that it will make his job easier — especially with recruitment. “Having these kids discover what they’re interested in and find their passion, when they come to the high school, they’ll seek us out,” he said. “By the time they get to high school, we should have some students who are not only passionate about what they do, but they’ll also have training in those various art areas.”

In high school, the students take two fine arts classes each year and are encouraged to try different arts to be exposed to different things, he explained.

The WHS academy is in its third year and continues to grow. This is the first year with open doors through the lottery system.

Crocetti is excited to see what students from outside the area bring to the program through a fresh perspective and different, diverse points of view. “They’re an asset to the school,” he said. “They come with a different perspective,” he said.

All three Wellington schools are designated as choice schools, and are accepting students from out of the area to join in the programs. Students outside school boundaries are able to apply for the programs through the Palm Beach County School District.

For more info., visit www.palmbeachschools.org/choiceprograms or contact the schools directly. Call Wellington Elementary at (561) 651-0600, Wellington Landings at (561) 792-8100 or Wellington High School at (561) 795-4900.


Susan Rubin Of Beyond The Barn Specializes In Equestrian Design Services


Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Susan Rubin Of Beyond The Barn Specializes In Equestrian Design Services

By Julie Unger

Susan Rubin of Beyond the Barn Decor Services is not new to the Wellington community. In fact, she isn’t new to the equestrian community, either.

“I am a lifelong equestrian. As a little girl, I used to dream of living in a place where people rode horses, walked around in their britches, and there were paddocks and barns everywhere. It was a fulfillment of a dream to move to Wellington in 1999 and open up a business,” she said.

While she focuses on her décor services nowadays, Rubin also once ran a store called Beyond the Barn. The store catered to equestrians through a unique collection of gifts and home furnishings, all with an equestrian theme. In one corner, she did design and decorating. That niche is now her primary business.

Yet Rubin isn’t someone who just fell into the design business. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and has continued her education through multiple design courses. “I really love working with people to help them nest in their homes,” she said.

As an equestrian — dressage, specifically — Rubin understands the equestrian lifestyle and all the aspects that go along with it, from early-morning risings to having somewhere to relax between barn work.

Many in the community know Rubin from Beyond the Barn, but her design work goes much deeper than equestrian furnishings and accessories.

“I’m more of a relationship decorator. I get to know who my client is and what they want to reflect in their home,” she explained.

Often, interior decorators have a specific style. The homes Rubin decorates, she said, have an air of casual elegance and truly reflect the story of the life, interests, collections and trips of the owner, in an easy, balanced manner.

“I think everyone’s home should tell a story, and it should be a reflection of who you are,” she said.

Rubin works with her clients to find something they truly love, and often will go shopping with them, so an entire room can be designed around a piece that speaks to the owners.

“The whole process is really great,” she said. “A great part at a job is at the very beginning, when you walk into a room listening to the client say they don’t like this, or they like that; what they’re dreaming of or what they want to have. The whole slate is empty. There’s nothing on the drawing board, and the wheels start turning.”

Rubin describes the process as a jigsaw puzzle, combining items the client already has, or truly adores, and adding different items to bring everything together.

“Figuring it all out, that’s a favorite part,” she said.

Production and installation aren’t like they are on television, she explained, because you never know what might happen. Unforeseen complications can always alter the schedule.

“My favorite part is having it done, having it clean-pressed and ready, and having the client show up and doing the reveal,” Rubin said.

Rubin has an extensive network of subcontractors she works with that she has found over the years and vetted — people she trusts to maintain the privacy of her clients.

Havensafe Farm in Wellington, just one of Rubin’s many projects, originally started with a tack room and expanded to the house, additions to the house, landscaping, a covered arena and more since 2008.

Rubin provides concierge services for her clients where she works every step of the way with the owner. She can even create a certain ambiance for parties and enjoys finding special items.

One item she is proud of finding is a set of elegant heat lamps that don’t look like heat lamps, don’t make noise and still provide heat for the client. She has renovated a 1920s chandelier, wired it and found candle-like bulbs to make it a part of the home with an Old World look.

“I offer full service. I will bring pattern selections, things as needed, right to the client’s home. We will do site trips, as needed, to customize it as much to what the client needs,” Rubin said.

Whether it is renovating a barn, a room, a bathroom, or some combination, the sky is the limit, because Rubin can do it all. She isn’t just an interior designer.

“I like to think of myself truly as beyond,” she said.

Though many of Rubin’s clients prefer privacy, she was able to share a few: Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm, author Tammy Hoag, June Brody, the original Two Swans Farm for Carol Cohen, Hope Greenfield and more. She has worked in the Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club, the Aero Club and more.

“What I’m most grateful about is the repeat business, the continued trust, the referrals,” Rubin said. “That brings a lot of joy to my life, that I know I am making a difference in someone’s life and they’re entrusting me to other people and saying, ‘Hey, you need to give her a call.’”

For more information about Beyond the Barn Decor Services, call Susan Rubin at (561) 333-5255.


Ginger Lime Salmon At Stonewood Grill & Tavern


Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Ginger Lime Salmon At Stonewood Grill & Tavern

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Wellington’s Stonewood Grill & Tavern may be part of a larger chain, but it’s run like a local restaurant, where customers are honored guests, and the staff accommodates them with dishes made to order.

Executive Chef Khaliah Morris’s favorite dish, Ginger Lime Salmon, was once dropped from the menu, but now it is back, with a bright shining spotlight to let guests know that it is one of Stonewood’s signature dishes.

On the menu, multiple items are emphasized with a box, denoting them as some of the most popular favorites. The Ginger Lime Salmon is one such item, and Morris calls it a must-try.

“It’s served on a bed of Asian vegetables, or Asian slaw really — zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers and onions tossed in a sesame ginger dressing. It’s served with a ginger lime sauce,” Morris explained. “The salmon itself is marinated in a ginger lime marinade. It has a little citrus, has some honey. The base of it is pretty much soy and citrus. It is marinated for up to eight hours, then we grill it, and we garnish it with a little bit more of that ginger lime marinade and cilantro sprigs.”

From start to finish, the Ginger Lime Salmon is made in house, with fresh Atlantic salmon.

“It goes really, really well with the marinade,” Morris said. “It’s really subtle. It’s very light. Especially since it’s so hot outside, I think it’s a great summer dish. It’s not a heavy meal… Especially during summer, it’s just something light, refreshing and not too heavy.”

The flavor profiles blend together to provide a unique dish that may seem unassuming, but is quite special. It truly is one of her personal favorites, not only to make, but to eat herself.

“It’s probably, in my opinion, a sleeper hit,” Morris said. “People are hesitant to try it, because there is a little bit of crushed red pepper in it, but once they try the dish, every time they come back, time after time, I’ll do a table visit and I’ll hear, ‘That’s my favorite dish on the menu.’”

Morris should know — she has worked at Stonewood for almost nine years in multiple capacities, including as chef for about seven years.

General Manager Craig Conerly has been with the company for six years and thoroughly enjoys being able to bring a unique experience to those visiting Stonewood.

“We treat every guest who comes in like they’re family. That’s what makes us special,” he said. “When a guest wants something that’s not on the menu, or something a little different, we tell them, ‘Yes, no problem, we’ll take care of that.’”

Though Stonewood is corporate-run, the individual restaurant leaders are empowered to take care of the guests.

“It’s not just a place to eat food; it’s a dining experience,” Conerly said. “From the minute they walk in the door, the ambiance, the nice dark woods, the lights, the music, it all plays a role in the whole experience. And, of course, the food that Khaliah puts out is just the icing on the cake, so to speak.”

There is a family ambiance with many regulars coming in weekly, and some almost daily.

The menu boasts meat and fish, along with plenty of other options to suit all types of palates. Fresh, tasty food is on a menu large enough to be comprehensive but not so large that it is overwhelming.

Stonewood is primarily a steak and seafood place, Conerly said, but they feature other dishes, such as the Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon, Roasted Beet Salad, Oak Grilled Cheeseburger, Emerald Bay Crab Cakes and more.

And just about anything can be altered. Gluten-free? The menu denotes meals that can easily be altered. Don’t like a certain vegetable? They can switch it out. One of the benefits to everything being made fresh is that there is a sense of creativity that is able to accommodate any taste while still providing the Stonewood experience.

Opening every day at 4 p.m., Stonewood isn’t somewhere to just pop in for a quick meal. It is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience.

“Make it memorable” is a saying at Stonewood, Conerly said, where they want the dining experience to be something guests look forward to.

Stonewood Grill & Tavern is located at 10120 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in the Pointe at Wellington Green. For more information, visit www.stonewoodgrill.com or call (561) 784-9796.


Jesse Kearney Brings Real Estate Clients Top-Level Customer Service And Expertise


Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Jesse Kearney Brings Real Estate Clients Top-Level Customer Service And Expertise

Story by Matthew Auerbach • Photo by Abner Pedraza

Some people know their career goals from an early age, but many folks — like Jesse Kearney of Kearney & Associates Realty — have to navigate life’s waters a bit before laying anchor on the correct career choice.

Kearney was born in Bologna, Italy, and moved to Palm Beach County in 1982 after his father completed his residency at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Lantana’s Santaluces High School, then joined the U.S. Army.

Later, Kearney attended Palm Beach Community College and went on to Florida Atlantic University, where he majored in computer science. After moving to Chicago and trying his hand at being a stockbroker, he returned to West Palm Beach and FAU.

“I entered into real estate as a means of supplementing my income while attending school at Florida Atlantic University, this time as a criminal justice major,” Kearney said. “It turned out that real estate became my passion, and I placed my focus there. I then worked toward obtaining my broker’s license starting in 2003, and in 2005, I earned the broker’s license.”

Kearney makes certain that Kearney & Associates delivers top-level customer service and real estate expertise.

“I believe what makes our firm different than the others is our approach and philosophy toward real estate,” he said. “We focus our efforts on creating a customer experience that is unsurpassed in the industry. Our goal is to be the first and only name that our clients think about when they are ready to move or when referring their friends and family.”

The Wellington-based company is a full-service brokerage specializing in luxury property marketing and sales, residential real estate, leasing and property management across Palm Beach County. It has represented both buyers and sellers as far north as the Jupiter/Tequesta area and as far south as Boca Raton.

Kearney is no newcomer to Wellington, having moved here with his wife Kristen and their family in 2002.

“We felt it was the best place to raise our family,” Kearney said. “I feel what makes our area special is the sense of neighborhood, the pride of community, and the equestrian draw. In addition to the parks and events, there’s a feeling of belonging to something that not only brings you back to a time almost forgotten, but provides the modern amenities that people have become accustomed to. It is something that needs to be experienced as words cannot do it justice.”

Kearney has a positive yet cautious view of the future of the local real estate market.

“We have gotten accustomed to the dramatic gains of recent years, but many forget that real estate is, in fact, cyclical in nature,” he said. “I believe we will still see more modest increases in value moving forward but with longer marketing times than in recent years.”

Kearney appreciates the results of doing good work on a consistent basis.

“I am humbled that I have clients from 10 years ago who will still call me for advice,” he said. “I have met so many interesting people and families, each one having impacted my life.”

For more info., call Kearney & Associates Realty at (561) 792-7104 or visit www.thekearneyteam.com.


Palm Beach Polo Estate Offers Serene, Spacious Living With Many Amenities


Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Palm Beach Polo Estate Offers Serene, Spacious Living With Many Amenities

Story by Deborah Welky • Photo courtesy Casey Flannery

“Spacious serenity” are the words best used to describe this month’s featured home, located in the Maidstone section of Wellington’s exclusive Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club neighborhood. Beautifully landscaped right down to the tropical fruit trees, this expansive, 9,000-square-foot estate home epitomizes the best in South Florida living. With a kitchen that makes entertaining a delight and a welcoming backyard patio, guests may not want to leave — and they may not have to. The home offers six bedrooms, seven full baths, two half baths, and easy access to nearby equestrian facilities and shopping.


Dr. Jesse Skinner Joins All Paws Animal Clinic

Health_All Paws

Wellington The Magazine-August 2016

Dr. Jesse Skinner Joins All Paws Animal Clinic

All Paws Animal Clinic is proud to introduce its new associate veterinarian, Dr. Jesse Skinner.

Skinner was born and raised in Palm Beach County. A graduate of Lake Worth High School, he spent much time as a young man enjoying the area’s beautiful beaches, surfing with friends. After graduation, he decided to join the Florida Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004. It was there that Skinner discovered his interest in medicine.

Upon returning home, Skinner combined his newfound interest in medicine with his love for animals and decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. He began pursuing this goal by working in a veterinary clinic. “I was lucky enough to work for Dr. Patty Forsythe at All Paws as an assistant, which only increased my passion for the profession,” Skinner said.

Skinner attended Florida Atlantic University and graduated cum laude with a degree in psychobiology. He continued his education by obtaining his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from North Carolina State University, one of the nation’s most highly ranked veterinary schools.

During his tenure at North Carolina State, Skinner received an award for excellence in junior surgery, as well as the American Animal Hospital Association award for proficiency in primary care. His professional interests include surgery, geriatric care, clinical pathology, ultrasound and internal medicine.

Skinner enjoys the diversity of the veterinary medicine he can perform at All Paws Animal Clinic, as well as the client interaction. His goal is to always keep the client calm and well-informed, so that the focus can be on the pet receiving the best care. He brings a keen insight and strong diagnostic ability to All Paws. Combined with Forsythe’s extensive experience in veterinary medicine, they both look forward to providing the western communities “quality veterinary care with compassion.”

Skinner is a family man and enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Nicole, and two dogs, Trouble and Namani. He also stays active still surfing, going to the gym and playing basketball. Depending on the season, he can be found rooting for Florida sports teams, such as the Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat and Marlins.

All Paws Animal Clinic is located at 1011 N. State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) 790-9225 or visit www.allpawsanimal.com.