Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Adams Scholarship Recipients, Foundation Supporters, Donors And Volunteers Honored At WCF’s Annual Thank You Soirée

Adams Scholarship Recipients, Foundation Supporters, Donors And Volunteers Honored At WCF’s Annual Thank You Soirée

By Shannon Anastasio

The Wellington Community Foundation hosted its annual Thank You Soirée on Thursday, May 18 at the Boynton Financial Group offices in Wellington. The event celebrated this year’s Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients, embodying the foundation’s commitment to supporting educational endeavors within the community.

The soirée, which featured a vibrant tropical theme, was made possible by the generous hosting of Ben and Joanna Boynton and the dedicated team at the Boynton Financial Group. With catering by Nosh Catering and an array of wine selections provided by Star Wine & Spirits, the evening was a resounding success.

Recognizing and honoring the foundation’s supporters, donors and volunteers was the top priority at the event. The annual Thank You Soirée was conceived as an opportunity for the Wellington Community Foundation to express gratitude to the individuals whose crucial support enables the nonprofit’s efforts. These sponsors, donors and volunteers play a pivotal role in empowering the foundation’s work. In his opening remarks, Wellington Community Foundation Chair Barry Manning emphasized their invaluable contributions and the importance of their continued support.

Also honored were the winners of the 2023 Arle and Ken Adams Scholarships. Scholarship Committee chairs James Seder, Joanna Boynton and Don Gross recommended the winners to the WCF Board of Directors at the May meeting. After meticulous review of numerous applications, the committee unanimously chose three outstanding candidates — Marlena Hutchinson, Abigail Lofstead and Victoria Loredan, whose achievements and dedication shine brightly.

The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients impressed the committee, the board and attendees as their accomplishments were read aloud.

Marlena Hutchinson, a student at Wellington High School, finished with a weighted GPA of 5.09 and has amassed 281 hours of community service. Her involvement as a leader in the Florida Future Educators of America club and her dedication to volunteering with the Best Buddies program highlight her commitment to education and inclusivity. Hutchinson aspires to be a pediatric occupational therapist, and she will be attending the University of Florida to pursue her dreams.

Abigail Lofstead, a student at Palm Beach Central High School, has demonstrated exceptional academic prowess with a weighted GPA of 5.27, ranking fifth in her class. With 253 hours of community service, she has exemplified a strong sense of civic duty. Lofstead’s passion for empowering women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math led her to found the Women in STEM club at Palm Beach Central. She will attend the University of Florida, aspiring to become a pediatrician. When not studying, Lofstead also enjoys snorkeling.

Victoria Loredan, a student at Wellington High School, stands out as an exceptional leader with a weighted GPA of 5.38, ranking second in her class. Alongside her 192 hours of community service, Loredan’s involvement in various organizations like the Black Leadership Achievement Student Team (BLAST) showcases her dedication to empowering her peers. Her goal is to become a pediatric psychiatrist. Loredan, like the other winners, is headed to the University of Florida to continue her education.

The legacy of late Wellington philanthropists Arle and Ken Adams live on through their many efforts throughout the village, and the foundation continues to honor their tremendous contributions to the community through its first scholarship program. These remarkable individuals, longtime residents of Wellington, dedicated their lives to serving the community.

Ken Adams, a former Palm Beach County commissioner and supporter of the village’s incorporation, believed that Wellington’s accomplishments were made possible by great people and leaders who care about future generations. He enthusiastically joined the foundation’s inaugural board of directors when it became an independent nonprofit organization, and the scholarship created in honor of both him and his late wife Arle brought him great pride, which he expressed prior his passing in 2020.

The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship is just one of the many ways that the Wellington Community Foundation demonstrates its commitment to supporting Wellington students in their pursuit of educational success. The scholarship program serves as a beacon of hope for those in need of a helping hand to become tomorrow’s leaders.

In addition to the scholarship program, the Wellington Community Foundation remains dedicated to providing ongoing support to local students. This year, the foundation will be distributing 600 new school uniforms and 600 backpacks filled with essential school supplies. These foundation initiatives aim to alleviate the financial burden on families and ensure that every child has the necessary tools to thrive academically.

The Thank You Soirée provided a joyous occasion to celebrate the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients and express gratitude to the foundation’s dedicated supporters. The evening was filled with appreciation, camaraderie and the shared vision of creating a brighter future for Wellington’s students. Through scholarships, uniform donations and school supply provisions, the foundation continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals, ensuring that they have the resources they need to succeed. Through these efforts, the Wellington Community Foundation helps foster a thriving educational environment that empowers students and builds a stronger, more vibrant community.

To learn more about the Wellington Community Foundation, or if you would like to contribute to the nonprofit’s many ongoing initiatives, visit online at By getting involved, you can play an active role in building a stronger community and empowering future generations to achieve their educational goals.


Protect Yourself And Your Future

Protect Yourself And Your Future
Edward Jones Financial Advisor Lou LoFranco Enjoys Helping Local Residents With Investments And More

By Callie Sharkey

The world of finance and investing is constantly changing. Opportunities arise, and trends emerge and disappear without much warning. It can all be overwhelming. This is why finding the right financial advisor is worth the time and effort. Lou LoFranco, who works with the financial firm Edward Jones, enjoys investing his expertise as a financial advisor to help people in the Wellington area.

“The best thing about our office is we answer the phone,” LoFranco said. “We are a private company. We don’t sell a specific product or fiduciary, and it’s not about what we can make off our clients.”

LoFranco has worked in different sectors of the finance industry since the 1980s. He began working on the budget management side with UPS and shifted to a consultant role for GE, managing logistics for wind energy. Then he found FPL and took a position, also in wind industry management. After commuting from Fort Myers to Philadelphia, he realized that his family wasn’t happy, and they soon moved to South Florida permanently.

With six children being homeschooled by his wife Maria, LoFranco knew that there had to be a better way to take care of his family.

“I called my financial advisor, and he said that it’s time to come on board. I’ve been in Wellington since 2015, and what started as temporary work, well, it’s now nine years later,” LoFranco said. “It has been a great experience and a blessing to be working with the community and helping a lot of the elderly — that I really enjoy.”

He has a deep concern for senior care and quality of life, especially after being a caretaker for his own mother for more than four years. LoFranco worries when he learns of people taking advantage of the elderly.

“I just want to make sure they never run out of money and can live the life, have the lifestyle that they need, and they’ve worked all their life for,” he said. “I like to teach clients that it is more than just looking at the financial picture. We look at health insurance, life insurance or umbrella insurance. If we don’t have the whole picture, we can’t give a good plan for success. We try to do the deep dive; it’s building that relationship, personally getting to know their families, their kids, their grandkids. It’s a long-life process of legacy planning.”

Whether clients are looking for retirement and estate planning, or just trying to figure out where to begin, LoFranco and Edward Jones are there with research and data backing their plans. The company does not deal with any investments that are not federally approved, such as cryptocurrencies.

“I’m a faith-based advisor. We do everything ethically and morally,” he said. “I think we have a good client base that trusts us.”

LoFranco has clients who get more than just financial advice. He has helped them set up bill pay and is even helping a client get a new roof.

“It’s not about making money, it’s about comfort. We go car shopping with clients, too. ‘Can you help me find a boat?’ they’ll ask. We helped a client find a house,” LoFranco said. “So, that’s what I love about it — it’s more than the investments. Being a financial advisor has been a blessing because it gives you work-life balance. You can make all the money in the world, but if you don’t have time for family, it doesn’t matter. Now I’m living the dream of helping people.”

When asked his top advice on where to begin, LoFranco made it clear that it is important to tackle and manage debt. Clients may walk in with crippling credit card and student loan debt, but he has a strategy to help.

“I lay out a plan. If they have four or five credit cards, depending on the balance, we can help them pay it off within 24 to 36 months. If they don’t have debt, we look at their goals. What is important to you? We do a three-minute ‘priority’ quiz,” he said. “We’ve found that for clients, family is the most important, then travel and then retirement.”

LoFranco and his team of Yara Gonsalves and Tito Lopez have an office in Wellington that is open to walk-ins from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Gonsalves is also available to assist clients who speak Spanish. They are happy to work with clients and potential clients. Not only that, but the consultations are free.

“Appointments are an hour, and it usually takes two or three appointments because they might not be ready,” LoFranco explained. “There is no cost for the consultations, we don’t believe in that. We believe in finding out what’s important for them. It’s all about the long-term relationships because you become family. The trust factor is the most critical thing.”

Lou LoFranco’s Edward Jones office is located at 12020 South Shore Blvd., Suite 100, in Wellington. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call (561) 798-4106 or e-mail


Staying Ahead Of The Storm

Staying Ahead Of The Storm Village Of Wellington Aims To Be Prepared As Hurricane Season Begins

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

Living in Wellington means enjoying the beautiful weather here in our vibrant community. However, our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean also exposes us to the risks of hurricane season. Officially starting on June 1, and lasting until Nov. 30, hurricane season for us means hoping for the best and planning for the worst.

Be Prepared For The Season
It’s not just a motto; “be prepared” is good advice. Florida residents can attest that they didn’t expect Hurricane Nicole to be as devastating as it was when it slammed into their neighborhoods last year, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. In cases of severe disasters, the modern conveniences that we often take for granted — such as cell phones, ATMs and the ability to pump gasoline — become obsolete. That is why it’s important to make advance plans to take care of yourself and your family and make sure you have supplies on hand in case of an emergency.

Simple things such as developing a safety plan, stocking up on extra pet supplies and refilling prescriptions a few days early are some of the measures you can take to be prepared. As emergency managers point out, in times of disaster, resources are limited, so it’s important to take personal responsibility to lessen the impact on yourself and your family. This month, as we continue to prepare here at the village, I want to share some essential tips and guidelines for Wellington residents to proactively prepare for hurricane season.

Develop An Emergency Plan
Preparing a detailed emergency plan is crucial to efficiently navigate through a hurricane. Designate a meeting point for your family members in case of separation and establish a communication plan. Create a checklist of essential items, such as non-perishable food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights and a first aid kit. Stock up on necessary supplies well in advance, as stores may run out quickly during emergencies.

Stay Informed
This applies both before and after the storm. Keeping up to date with the latest weather information is paramount during hurricane season. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be able to find information on the village’s web site at Monitor local news channels, radio broadcasts and official web sites for updates from the National Hurricane Center. Sign up to receive emergency alerts through Alert Wellington at While you’re at it, download the GoWellington app from your phone’s app store for quick access to resources and information. Stay connected through Wellington’s social media platforms to receive real-time updates and helpful resources during an emergency.

Protect Your Property
Safeguarding your home against potential hurricane damage is crucial. Remember, all yard work and tree-trimming projects should be completed at this time to avoid overwhelming our waste collection system when a storm is approaching. Planning on cleaning out unwanted items in your garage or storage areas around your house? Do not wait! Do this now, so you have the space to store items during a storm. Consider investing in impact-resistant windows and doors for enhanced protection. Inspect your roof for loose or damaged shingles and repair them promptly. Review your property insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage for potential hurricane-related damages.

Evacuation & Sheltering
When authorities issue evacuation orders, it’s crucial to follow their instructions promptly. Prepare an evacuation route and share it with your family members. Identify local evacuation shelters and understand their policies, including accommodation for pets. Palm Beach County operates the Special Needs Shelter Program during emergencies for individuals with certain medical conditions. This special shelter is staffed with doctors and nurses, has backup power, and is in a wind-resistant building. To register for the special needs shelter, visit the county’s web site or call (561) 712-6400.

It’s also important at these times to look out for one another and check on friends and neighbors who may need assistance. Being prepared for hurricane season in Wellington is a responsibility shared by all residents. In the best of times and the worst of times, it’s good to be neighbors helping neighbors. It’s what brings us together as a community.

History teaches that a lack of awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Wellington has been fortunate through the years to avoid the landfall of a major hurricane in our area. However, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

Preparedness is our best defense, and I encourage you to use this guide to assist you in keeping yourself and your family safe.





Lifetime Kitchen ‘Woof’ Paper Towel Holder By Everyday Solutions  Show the dog-mom in your life some love and appreciation with Lifetime Kitchen’s ‘Woof’ Paper Towel Holder — the “pawfect” counter accessory. The metal spring tension tail keeps your towels neat and tidy. $29.99

Barefoot DreamsLuxe Knit Throw From Macy’s Cozy up with mom this Mother’s Day underneath a Barefoot Dreams Luxe Knit Throw from the Macy’s Hotel Collection that features a super soft and sumptuous lofty volume. These knits are comprised of two distinct looks; a series of neutral solid shades and a set of bold patterned skins. This gift is sure to bring another layer of comfort to your mom’s home. $68.24

Ella Bella Collection Massage Candles Give mom a relaxing, spa-like experience using Ella Bella’s Massage Candles. These candles are made from coconut oil, vitamin E and essential oils. Purchase in-store or online. Contact Ella Bella Collection at (561) 779-6287 or visit $45.00

Pandora Birthstone Charm Bracelet Sentimental is mom’s middle name, and nothing is more sentimental than a customizable birthstone charm bracelet from Pandora. Add the birthstones of the people she loves most onto the bracelet, and she’ll be sure to cherish this gift. $110.00

Tommy Bahamas Fiesta Bahama Tote Mom will be the life of the party with this Fiesta Bahama Tote. Large enough for your next weekend getaway and light enough to carry every day, this bag’s faux-leather bottom base, storage pockets and island-inspired embroidery make it work for the boardwalk and beyond. $138.00

Brighton Pebble Medali Dual Tone Sunglasses These Balinese-inspired pebble and dot detailed sunglasses from Brighton are the perfect and practical gift for mom. The roundness of this frame gives it a soft look, and the cat-eye feels fun and feminine. Blonde tortoise-color frames are flattering and on trend. Lenses offer 100 percent UV protection. $150.00

Chico’s Ribbon Trim Hat Escape the Florida sun with Chico’s Ribbon Trim Hat. This beautiful hat pairs well with anything, from dresses to swimsuits, and is perfect for mom’s mid-day adventures on Mother’s Day. Decorated with a satiny ribbon trim, she’s sure to look sleek. $59.50

Natubri Coffee & Art Woven Fans Beat the heat this Mother’s Day using Natubri Coffee & Art’s handmade Colombian Woven Fans. This gift is multi-functional, as it can be utilized as a fan, or displayed as a beautiful piece of décor. You can’t go wrong with this unique gift. $12.00 each

The Mall at Wellington Green is a 1.2-million-square-foot, two-level regional shopping destination that features more than 160 stores. Retail and restaurant favorites include Macy’s, Dillard’s, Apple, Brighton, Chico’s, Forever 21, H&M, Helzberg Diamonds, Zales, Tommy Bahama, City Furniture, Lemongrass, Cask + Shaker, the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History and more. For more information, visit


American Superstar Polo Player Hope Arellano Will Rise To 10-Goal Status By The End Of 2023

American Superstar Polo Player Hope Arellano Will Rise To 10-Goal Status By The End Of 2023

Polo superstar Hope Arellano just completed a stellar season in Wellington that featured her being named Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship held at the United States Polo Association’s National Polo Center-Wellington. It’s safe to say that the 20-year-old Arellano has taken the world of polo by storm — and she’s just getting started.

With a myriad of titles, championships and notable victories on her trophy shelf, Arellano’s dominance and dedication to the sport is an inspiration, especially for other young women.

The Arellano family has deep connections to Wellington, and she can often be found here when not at her home base in Aiken, South Carolina.

A fourth-generation polo player, Arellano knew at just nine years old that she wanted to be a polo professional like her father, Hall of Famer Julio Arellano. Her first adult tournament at the age of 11 served as the catalyst for her polo career, and since then, this phenom has yet to slow down.

“My dad was a professional polo player,” Arellano said. “So, ever since I can remember, I have been riding and been around the sport.”

At age 14, Arellano was rated as a 3-goaler in Women’s Outdoor. Now, six years later, she will achieve the ultimate mark of a professional with the coveted 10-goal handicap in both women’s outdoor and arena polo.

Set to rise to 9 goals in May and 10 goals in December, Arellano’s achievement also marks a significant accomplishment for American polo. She will be the first American woman to achieve a 10-goal Women’s Outdoor handicap since the legendary Sunny Hale, and the first American to achieve any 10-goal status since Polito Pieres in 2015. She is also the youngest American to reach a 10-goal women’s handicap.

It is an achievement that comes as a surprise, even to Arellano.

“I truly couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I definitely think I have a lot of work to do to be at that level.”

Arellano’s handicap raise comes fresh off her win in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. Competing with La Fe alongside Winifred Branscum, Pamela Flanagan and Hazel Jackson, Arellano’s stellar performance contributed six goals in the final and earned her recognition as the MVP.

“I was very fortunate to play with La Fe in this year’s Women’s Open,” she said. “They are a great organization. I loved every moment playing with Pam, Hazel and Winnie!”

That feeling was mutual. Praising Arellano’s skill after the match, Jackson noted, “For me right now, she’s the best player in the world. I feel like she’s got much more talent than myself. I think Nina [Clarkin]’s incredible, but I think Hope has got some things that I haven’t seen in other young girls. It’s amazing.”

Arellano was very proud of how her team worked together during the final.

“We really wanted to open it up,” Arellano said after their big victory. “It’s really kind of me and Hazel’s style to hit and run. So going into this game, we were like, ‘Let’s hit, let’s run, let’s spread the field.’ Playing on Field One, we really got to open it up — play our game. When we got our runs, the plan was for one of us to always stay back. We didn’t really do that so well in the first two [chukkers], but we got it together.”

She also thanked Flanagan’s efforts in organizing the team, and the La Fe organization’s continued support. “Pam has put so much work into this. Since last year, she has been working really, really hard,” Arellano said. “To win with Pam and this whole organization… to all the boys that helped out, it took a village! It all wouldn’t have been possible without the organization, so thank you to all of them.”

Aside from her own MVP honor, Arellano’s second chukker spare and sixth chukker horse, 9-year-old Macumba, got Best Playing Pony honors. Like any good polo player, it’s all about the horses for Arellano.

“Macumba is a mare that I purchased from Matias Magrini. He actually sent her to me to play her and sell her. I ended up falling in love with her,” Arellano said. “At the moment I bought her, she wasn’t one of my best horses, and now she has turned into one of my top five. Every time she goes onto the field, she gives me her whole heart and more. Anything I ask her, she goes into. She never second guesses me, even probably when I should be second guessed. I love her heart. She won me over with her heart.”

Arellano previously won the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017 with San Saba. Just age 14 at the time, she is still the youngest player to ever win the tournament.

Aside from the Women’s Polo Championship, Arellano played in a number of other tournaments in Wellington this season.

“I had a wonderful winter season in Wellington,” she said. “Fortunately, I was able to play in many mixed tournaments, including a few 6 goal, 8 goal, 12 goal and 18 goal.”

Arellano also made headlines last fall with her participation in the XII FIP World Polo Championship, also held at NPC in Wellington, making history as the first woman to compete for the United States in the international contest.

Her addition to the starting lineup continued Team USA’s forward momentum, allowing the red, white and blue to emerge with an electrifying 9-8 overtime win against defending champions and competition favorites, Argentina, to advance to the final. Hope’s contributions also helped Team USA put forth a strong effort in the final, forcing the game into overtime. While they fell in a narrow 11-10 loss to Spain, Team USA’s silver medal finish offered a great deal of hope for the future of American polo on the global scene.

From Wellington, Arellano heads west this spring and across the pond this summer.

“I will be playing in Santa Barbara this spring then head to England in the summer,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the upcoming seasons and focusing on just trying to improve as much as possible!”

Meanwhile, Arellano is also quickly becoming a mainstay in the Women’s Argentine Open, competing the last two years in that prestigious competition. In 2021, she played with La Irenita Libra Seguros, placing third and receiving the Revelation Award for her performance. In 2022, she played with La Irenita E-Movility and advanced to the final, falling to La Dolfina in a hard-fought match. This year, she will compete with El Overo Z7 UAE, one of the strongest women’s polo organizations in the world.

A shining beacon of hope for the advancement of American polo, Arellano’s accomplishments pave the way for many other young professionals, showing that hard work and determination can flourish into a successful career in the sport. Now, with her soon-to-be 10-goal handicap, Arellano is set to continue breaking barriers and records in the years to come.


Enjoy Dinner By The Bite

Enjoy Dinner By The Bite Wellington Chamber’s Flavors 2023 Will Return On Thursday, June 1

By Mike May

If you don’t have dinner plans for Thursday, June 1, then consider signing up for Flavors 2023, the annual event which provides attendees with a chance to sample some of the tasty and diverse food from a number of different restaurants in Wellington.

This will be the 20th edition of Flavors, which is an annual event organized by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

“We have 20 exhibiting restaurants on board, and each one will provide a sample of something sweet and savory, plus a beverage,” explained Michela Green, executive director of the Wellington Chamber. “There will also be a few surprises along the way. Plus, we have three after-hours parties scheduled that night.”

In addition to the food and drinks provided at each restaurant, some venues will have live entertainment. Green said that all Flavors attendees are sure to enjoy themselves.

“Flavors is a great way to learn about the incredible hospitality partners, eateries and venues we have right here in Wellington,” she said.

Flavors will start and end at the new host location, which is the National Polo Center-Wellington, located at 3667 120th Avenue South. Attendees will gather there, register for the event, receive their armband, mingle with others, enjoy a snack, have a drink and then board one of the luxury buses, which will take the passengers to each of the eight stops. With 20 restaurants participating in Flavors, most stops will feature multiple places to sample food and drinks.

“We have eight luxury buses for Flavors,” Green said. “Each bus will have room for 56 people. Each stop will last roughly 17 to 19 minutes.”

The luxury bus service is sponsored by 10 businesses: Florida Power & Light (FPL), K&E Travel/Celebrity Cruises, First National Bank Coastal Community (FNBCC) Wellington, Meghan Buser, Hack Tax & Accounting Services, the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, JH Massey Group, the Edison Group, My Community Pharmacy and Casas Law PA.

The National Polo Center is delighted to be the host location for Flavors 2023.

“We are a very community-minded organization and enjoy being involved in events like this,” said Denise Dixon, the director of catering at the National Polo Center. “In addition to hosting the registration, we’ll probably serve a small pasta dish and garlic bread. We are also hoping to distribute our 2024 polo schedule.”

According to Green, registration will start at 5 p.m. and conclude just after 6 p.m.,

“We will then start boarding people onto the buses so we can get people to the first stop by 6:30 p.m.,” Green said. “People will be returned to the National Polo Center around 10 p.m.”

There are two main presenting sponsors for Flavors 2023 — K&E Travel/Celebrity Cruises and Florida Power & Light (FPL). Both are longtime supporters of the chamber and are involved because it’s a great way to support the local business community in Wellington.

“I sponsor Flavors because it’s good for my business,” said Mark Elie, president of K&E Travel. “It’s a phenomenal return on my sponsorship investment. I also plan to participate in Flavors. It’s my favorite Wellington Chamber of Commerce event of the year.”

To fully enjoy Flavors, Green suggests that people utilize a ride service to arrive and depart from the event or get a neighbor to drop them off and then pick them up at the end.

“You will be able to get Lyft or Uber to drop you off and pick you up from the National Polo Center,” Green said. “People should also utilize Lyft or Uber to travel to any of the after-hours parties.”

In addition to sampling the food, desserts and drinks, participants will be asked to vote on their favorite Best Overall Taste, Best Cocktail, Best Dessert and the Best Stop.

To secure a ticket to Flavors, and a seat on one of those eight luxury buses, Green suggests that you quickly access the Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s web site at

“This event sells out, so we encourage those interested in attending to sign up as soon as possible,” Green said. “The charge is $50 for members of the Wellington Chamber and $65 for non-members. You must be at least 21 years old to attend, and there are no exceptions. We have had people as old as 90 participate in Flavors.”

To learn more about Flavors 2023, contact the Wellington Chamber of Commerce at or (561) 792-6525.


Gaining The Competitive Edge

Gaining The Competitive Edge How Wellington Students Can Sow The Seeds Of Success Over The Summer

Story by Jaime Joshi Elder |  Photos by Matt De Santa

Living in South Florida means no shortage of summer activities for high school students. Beating the heat by spending time on the water or visiting one of the state’s numerous theme parks provide a great chance to unwind, but summertime can also mean opportunity for high school students seeking to gain a competitive edge and secure acceptance to their dream college.

“Colleges not only want to see that a student is committed to extracurriculars throughout the school year, but they also look for evidence that students are developing their interests and stretching themselves during the summer, as well,” said Dr. Sapneil Parikh, principal and founder of Sapneil Tutoring.

An ardent believer in lifelong learning, Parikh graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a degree in finance and business administration. He earned his first master’s degree in public health from Florida International University and a second master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Touro College. He then went on to earn his dental degree from the LECOM School of Dental Medicine and completed a two-year general practice residency specializing in oral medicine and surgery from East Carolina University and Cornell University.

Parikh is also fluent in reading, writing and speaking Spanish.

If there is one thing that Parikh understands, it’s education, and he knows that the time spent outside of the classroom is just as important as the time students spend in the classroom.

“High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors might want to introduce an advanced class using FLVS or take courses through Coursera or edX,” he suggested. “In addition to offering the chance to earn professional certificates, these sites offer courses in many subjects from data science to American poetry. Students can participate in real time or watch past lectures from professors at schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale.”

Incoming sophomores and juniors should start thinking about the SAT and ACT and how to best prepare for success.

Research shows that students who participate in tutoring not only build a foundation for successful work habits that will guide them through their educational journey, but they also have a distinct academic advantage over their non-tutored peers.

A study conducted by San Bernardino Valley College showed that students who received one-on-one tutoring saw an average increase of 12 percent in their standardized test scores and outperformed non-tutored students in STEM courses such as biology, computer science, chemistry and math.

“Students in 10th grade may want to introduce themselves to SAT assessments to increase their comfort with the process of preparing for standardized exams,” Parikh said. “The SAT is going digital in 2024, and it would be a good idea for students to familiarize themselves with the changes for that. The test will be shorter, there will be two sections instead of four, and it is vital to note that students will not be able to see their battery percentage while in the digital testing app, and that test centers are not obligated to provide power to every student. Prepare accordingly and make sure your device is fully charged in advance. Preparation on all fronts.”

Academics aren’t the only avenues worth pursuing. Parikh strongly advocates that students diversify and look to community service, research, and business or entrepreneurship to flesh out their applications.

“Colleges look for evidence that students are developing their interests and stretching themselves during the summer,” he said. “Whether a student wants to explore a new activity or build on a current interest, there are so many options available.”

Jobs, internships and volunteer work serve as a chance to stand out as well as leave an indelible impression.

Getting a summer job or internship shows a level of maturity and responsibility as well as the willingness to be part of a team, while community service not only showcases a passion for a cause and a sense of civic duty, but also serves as a chance to grow personally, increase self-confidence and network with like-minded individuals.

For students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, Parikh recommended contributing to a research project.

In addition to consulting with the school’s guidance counselor to see what opportunities are available, students should also reach out to local labs, universities and hospitals to see who is seeking student support.

“Participation in research projects can help advance chances for competitive colleges and universities,” Parikh said. “Research provides focus and showcases that the student is trying to be part of the problem-solving process. Who knows? You may even be the first or second author on a publication!”

While Parikh focuses heavily on academics, he is quick to note that learning is a lifelong process that is continually occurring. He encourages students to look beyond the borders of their comfort zone and travel if possible.

“In addition to being a great way to relax and detach, traveling with family and friends can help you become more well-rounded as an individual and can even serve you academically depending on where you go,” he said.

Summer is just around the corner, and with a little planning and balance, high school students can have it all — enjoying some well-deserved time off and preparing for the bright future ahead.

Learn more about Sapneil Tutoring at


The Future Of Arena Footing

The Future Of Arena Footing ArenaMend And NFW Partner To Create Environment-Friendly Noviun  Fiber

By Jillian Eberlein 

Dan Carr is a well-established footing entrepreneur who has been an active member of the Wellington community since 1993. Carr managed the Palm Beach Polo Club, worked on numerous golf courses and has been involved in various aspects of the horse industry for decades.

Carr, co-founder of ArenaMend, has dedicated the last 13 years to creating an arena footing that checks all the necessary boxes to meet the needs of both horses and riders. Through all of Carr’s years of experience, he noticed consistent issues in arenas all across the globe.

The first major problem he saw when installing arenas was how much water was needed for the footing to hold its integrity through each season. Carr aimed to find a solution in order to limit the amount of water used for arena maintenance. To tackle this, he decided to bring on another set of hands, his daughter and co-founder of ArenaMend, Alex Carr, who’s passion and background is in sustainability.

Using their combined knowledge, they began testing new footing materials. In 2019, they released their first product, which allowed them to fix some of the issues they saw in footing, and thus ArenaMend was born.

ArenaMend was founded to offer the equestrian industry first-in-class surface solutions with plastic-free, natural materials. In an industry saturated with synthetic, petroleum-based surface materials, ArenaMend is pioneering premium solutions that eliminate microplastic contamination and water usage without compromising on performance characteristics.

Sustainable innovation is at the core of ArenaMend’s forward-thinking products. Constantly striving, the company’s focus is to make all footing materials not just safe for the horse and human, but also the environment. In the last year, ArenaMend has saved more than 20 million gallons of water.

Through its collaboration with Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), ArenaMend via Noviun will eliminate millions of pounds of microplastic pollution from the ground, air and watershed. NFW is a material science innovation company giving industries plastic-free solutions to create responsibly.

Based in Peoria, Illinois, NFW invents and manufactures sustainable materials from nature, displacing petrochemical-based synthetics. Using only naturally circular ingredients to create high-performance, biobased textiles, foam, composites and more, NFW has been changing material reality for good since 2015.

Determined to find a plastic-free solution for its footing business, ArenaMend conducted exhaustive outreach and research to companies around the world to find the right fit. They chose to create Noviun with NFW, and together, they developed the first plastic-free solution for equestrian sand surfaces.

“Partnering with ArenaMend allows NFW to directly replace existing synthetic materials with more natural options, the core of our company mission,” said Steve Zika, president of NFW. “We are excited about this partnership and providing a climate-friendly, plastic-free option to this industry.”

With Noviun, energy efficiency is maximized by natural elastomers that reduce concussion and provide natural rebound for horses.

“Noviun offers a unique performance advantage over industry-standard waste polypropylene or synthetic tires. Our plastic-free, natural fiber blend gives sand surfaces both grip and absorption, providing confidence underfoot more like turf grass — horses’ natural and preferred riding surface,” Dan Carr explained. “The result is faster speeds, fewer injuries and quicker recovery.”

He said that Noviun is suitable for all sand types and environments and can be applied at a range of concentrations to meet the needs of every discipline.

ArenaMend has big goals for the future of the company and the arena footing industry as a whole.

“We want to continue to push the envelope,” Alex Carr said. “Our hope is that the industry continues to cater to the horse, rider and environment. We are a company unlike any other. Our goal is to help impact the industry and leave a lasting impression on our clients and the environment.”

For additional information about ArenaMend and Noviun, e-mail Dan Carr at or Alex Carr at To learn more, visit



The State Of Our Village Is Strong

The State Of Our Village Is Strong The Wellington Community Regularly Demonstrates Resilience, Compassion And Determination

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

As May greets us, summer is just around the corner. We are two-thirds through fiscal year 2023 and already starting to plan for fiscal year 2024 and beyond. We also look back on the last few years in order to better plan for the future. Over the last several years, our community has demonstrated its resilience, compassion and determination to protect each other. It’s through this spirit of “community unity” that we continue to grow stronger than ever.

Focus On Resilience
Resilience is a word we have leaned on and leaned into of late. More than a “theme” or a “slogan,” in Wellington, it is an area of strategic focus for the village and has been long before COVID-19. It means more than being able to take a punch; it is about bouncing back after adversity as strong as before. It is not something that just happens; it is a result of forward-thinking, planning and preparedness.

Smart Government
Despite the global pandemic, economic recession and financial uncertainty, Wellington has been able to maintain a high level of service and infrastructure investment due to our ongoing commitment to our areas of strategic focus: fiscal health; smart, customer-focused government; community engagement; and a safe and resilient community. These focus areas are the result of the Wellington Village Council’s vision and leadership, and they are at the core of everything we do in Wellington.

I’ve learned a lot about this organization, and here is what I can tell you without hesitation: The Village of Wellington is made up of passionate people, who work hard every day to find solutions to some of our greatest challenges while pursuing our most promising opportunities.

How do we answer the call for sustainable growth and economic opportunity without displacement and gentrification? How do we invest in infrastructure and new technology for a sustainable tomorrow without overburdening our neighbors today? Together with our ongoing studies and efforts, we need to lay out priorities and actions that the village will take over the next several years.

With smart, customer-focused government, Wellington aspires to be the most engaged community, and due to that commitment, we have been aggressively pursuing, developing and utilizing technology to improve the lives and experiences of our residents and business community. We work smarter and harder.

With the launch of our GoWellington mobile app, we put Wellington in every resident’s pocket. It’s now easier than ever for residents to submit service requests, report issues and stay informed. Residents turned to the village’s numerous communication platforms in record numbers as we have transformed our web site into a hub of information, send regular electronic updates, and leverage the power and reach of social media platforms to provide a continual stream of information.

We previously participated in the National Community Survey to gauge resident opinions on village programs, services and policies. The survey, administered by the National Research Center, surveyed randomly selected Wellington residents and included questions related to the overall quality of life in the community, including community amenities, governance and infrastructure. We plan on reaching out to our residents once again to gauge our overall quality of life, satisfaction with community amenities, governance and infrastructure by again participating in the National Community Survey this year.

Centering Equity
We have centered equity as an aspect of our operations and processes. The aim is to create an equitable community — a Wellington everyone can call home. That is a place where people can live, thrive and reach their full potential, regardless of their race, age, gender identity, personal history or economic background.

Achieving equity in education is fundamental to our success. Though public education is not a primary function of municipal government, we must embrace our role in this critical responsibility. This effort incorporates aligning our after and out-of-school programming with the needs of working families and at-risk youth, addressing the relationship between our programs and school programs, and providing additional support to assist our Wellington schools.

Let’s not forget that much of a child’s life and education happens outside of the classroom. That’s why we must also prioritize building strong neighborhoods throughout Wellington. Who we are as a community is defined by how we serve our most vulnerable and by the ways we work to create a sense of belonging and preserve our shared history. We believe that belonging is a key ingredient in our future. Being more inclusive also means being more responsive and welcoming to our neighbors from around the globe.

Building The Economy 
To build our local economy, we must recognize that partnership and collaboration will be essential in our efforts to stimulate job creation, workforce retention and expansion. This includes supporting existing local employers and small businesses by creating a business-friendly environment and supporting the need for home and remote-based businesses. How we earn a living is fundamental to our ability to support the people and communities around us. Our sights are set on high-growth sectors that create jobs with living wages, like those in the medical field, agriculture, technology, trade and business support.

We are tackling this monumental challenge in many ways. We continue to establish our partnerships with organizations like Palm Beach State College and the School District of Palm Beach County to drive more economic opportunity. We also work with organizations like Career Source and others to help residents align their skills with job opportunities.

By investing in infrastructure today, we will prepare our community for an accessible, safe and sustainable tomorrow. The increasing costs of climate change and statewide population growth means that responsible management of our resources and infrastructure will be critical to ensuring that Wellington is prepared to adapt and prosper.

Throughout the last 25 years, in the face of steady population growth, the village has reduced its carbon footprint steadily by investing in more efficient infrastructure and green technology. There is still more work to do. We continue to be a model in our treatment and protection of surface waters through our comprehensive best management practices and regulations. Wellington’s residential water use per person is almost 20 percent lower than the state average. Through its investment of nearly $11 million per year in renewing and replacing water and wastewater infrastructure, our Utilities Department consistently provides reliable service to our customers while meeting its commitment to protecting our environment.

A Healthy, Safe Community
Healthy lives start with healthy options, whether it’s access to clean drinking water, healthcare and/or our great parks. Village staff works diligently to improve factors that directly impact our residents’ quality of life. Our commitment to maintaining our excellent parks and recreation levels of service has made possible the completion of improvement projects at our parks and facilities, including the addition of needed multipurpose fields, basketball courts and tennis courts at Greenview Shores Park, as well as continuous improvement of our neighborhood parks.

We continue to coordinate funding and services of our Community Services and Parks & Recreation departments with the goal of increased opportunities and better coordination of sports, recreation and educational opportunities for our young people. An added benefit of youth involvement in positive activities like sports, arts and mindfulness is that it significantly decreases crime and other related harmful activities.

Above all else, Wellington remains a safe and resilient community, which is always our top priority. In partnership with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, we know we will continue to be a great place to live, work and play. It is who we are as a local democracy, as strategic planners, as fiscal stewards, as service providers and as a community. We look forward to emerging stronger, healthier and more vibrant than ever in the coming year.

The State Of Our Village
I do not make grandiose claims that the village is above reproach, but please hear me when I say: The state of our village is strong!

Our annual visioning sessions and strategic planning initiatives are the tools needed to forge a place of shared understanding, expectations and opportunity. This organization does impactful and important work, and we are making significant progress. Can we improve? Yes, we can, and yes, we will.

Let’s also take time to celebrate our successes and set our sights on the future we desire while we celebrate the many things that make Wellington both unique and full of hope. Arts and culture. Lively music. World-class parks. Bike paths and walking trails. Excellent schools. Safety. Diverse neighborhoods and neighbors. Community groups that are active and invested.

I am so proud of Wellington and grateful to call this community home. Together, we will stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, we will build on their progress, and fully unlock Wellington’s potential as a world-class community. By elevating policies that expand access to services, quality education, great jobs, a healthy environment and thriving neighborhoods, we will continue to become the nation’s standard-bearer as a fully equitable and inclusive community.



GPL’s Impact Continues To Grow

GPL’s Impact Continues To Grow The Gay Polo League Advances The Goal For Investment In LGBTQ+ Sports

By Jennifer Martinez

Chip McKenney, founder and president of the Gay Polo League (GPL), knew he had created something special when he received a simple, but powerful compliment from the event’s parking lot supervisor at the end of the 2014 International Gay Polo Tournament.

“People arrive happy and leave happier, which is rare,” the supervisor said. “We noticed because we are the first and last group to interact with your attendees.”

McKenney felt the significance. “He was moved to share that,” McKenney recalled. “It showed that the tournament resonated with him in a deeper way.”

This year’s Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, will be held April 6-8 at the National Polo Center-Wellington.

McKenney, a branding expert and president of McKenney Media, knows the tournament’s experience is critical to growth.

Founded in 2006 as the only LGBTQ+ polo organization in the world, GPL is dedicated to producing high-end LGBTQ+ polo events and experiences. McKenney endeavors to unite and celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, including polo celebrities, aficionados, sports enthusiasts and the general public. “I wanted GPL to be as inclusive and as far-reaching as it could be,” McKenney said.

His vision has been a formula for success. Since McKenney brought the tournament to Wellington in 2010, attendance has grown to more than 2,500. Sixty-five percent are in-state, and 35 percent come from outside Florida and the United States. An astonishing 80 percent have never attended a polo tournament.

The players have also grown — in diversity and skill. In GPL’s early years, most players were novices. Those players have honed their game, and the league has attracted more experienced players — gay and non-gay — from all over the world. Now, games are “fast and open,” McKenney said.

While the league has evolved, McKenney has stayed true to GPL’s inclusiveness by putting forward only one expectation.

“Anyone who comes on any given day makes it better because they are there,” he said. “You can be a complete novice, and never get out of the walk, and we will welcome you as much as a high-end polo fast champion.”

Fueling GPL’s growth are the high-end sponsors drawn to the tournament’s success and its mission.

Luxury automotive brand Lexus has been the tournament’s title sponsor since 2021. Presenting sponsor Douglas Elliman Real Estate, a company passionate about delivering exceptional experiences, has also been on board since 2021. Both were a perfect match for GPL, believing in the value of inclusiveness by partnering with the league, and appealing to the tournament’s luxury-oriented demographic. The prestige of the brands “speaks volumes about our event and the quality,” McKenney said.

Sponsor of the tournament’s VIP tent every year is Cherry Knoll Farm. Owners and allies Bob and Margaret Duprey, whom McKenney describes as a “fan favorite,” are an example of how all sponsors at every level share a common denominator with the league. “We want to be special, we want to be valued and we want to do good,” McKenney said.

GPL’s growth has also come from the support of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and the United States Polo Association.

In 2022, GPL was inducted into the Palm Beach Sports Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Palm Beach County Sports Commission “Champion of Equity & Diversity in Sports” award, recognizing its work to create an atmosphere that affirms and supports the understanding and acceptance of all individuals. McKenney received the award during the commission’s 45th hall of fame induction ceremony.

“What made it so meaningful was that we were voted in by non-LGBTQ+ people,” McKenney said. “It reinforced my belief that what we do has value way beyond the people who play on our fields.”

McKenney’s invitation to join the USPA’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee last year was another milestone. He played a significant role in developing the association’s diversity policy, which acknowledges the value of the entire diversity spectrum to sports.

“Sporting organizations are recognizing that diversity enhances the sport, the experience and the events,” McKenney said.

GPL’s partnership with the Village of Wellington, a new tournament sponsor, is another milestone.

Wellington Village Manager Jim Barnes sees how the GPL aligns with advancing the community’s goals, particularly as a Palm Beach County Sports Commission partner.

“The Wellington Village Council has identified sports tourism as a component of what we do here in Wellington,” said Barnes, citing the linkage to the village’s investment in parks and recreation as a key part of building community. “It’s in our DNA.”

Equally important, Barnes noted, is greater support for the LGBTQ+ community. “Sponsoring GPL is another step to being an inclusive community and acknowledging and supporting the members of our community who are here,” he said.

Wellington’s LGBTQ+ inclusiveness is recognized at state and national levels. The village was chosen as the partner and host community for the inaugural Florida state LGBTQ+ Liaison Summit hosted by Florida’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services in October 2022. Nationally, the village was awarded the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Municipal Equality Index “All Star” designation. Wellington voluntarily submitted for the nation’s only assessment of LGBTQ+ equality regarding municipal policies, laws and services, scoring 100 out of 100 points in 2021 and 2022.

“We want to be the gold standard,” said Kimberly Gibbons, the village’s HR director and LGBTQ+ liaison. “It’s so important for everyone to chart this path and be open and inclusive, welcome everyone, and make sure everyone feels valued and safe.”

The relationship between the village and GPL began when McKenney was introduced to Barnes and Gibbons through Rand Hoch, founder and president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

Gibbons sees the connection between supporting the GPL’s development and the village’s. “There is a growing body of research that shows an openness to diversity and inclusion is a key element that leads to economic growth,” she said.

Barnes noted the dollars that flow from the tournament into the area’s hotels, restaurants and retail stores, as well as the supporting equestrian businesses and services utilized by the GPL.

“There is a direct economic benefit to the local community. We have a local case study right here in our backyard,” Barnes said. “It’s 12 years of success and growing.”

McKenney has his sights set on continued growth by making the tournament a destination for LGBTQ+ tourism. “We are well on our way, and we’re going to keep going,” he said.

True to his inclusivity mission, McKenney recognizes all who helped GPL get this far.

“A lot of people over the years have touched and improved this event,” he said. “I really owe the success to everyone.”

Learn more about the Gay Polo League at