U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the selection of Lauren Philip of Saint Johns, Florida, who attends Creekside High School in Saint Johns, as a 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholar.
Philip is one of 161 outstanding American high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, technical expertise, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community. Philip is one of six students selected from Florida.
Lauren Phillip, class of 2020 comes from St. Johns, Florida and graduated from Creekside High School. As an avid learner for all things engineering, she was president of Creekside’s Engineering Club and Science National Honor Society her senior year, in which she displayed organizational and communicative skills for volunteer projects and science fairs. Philip’s membership in Creekside’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has provided her the chance to impart the experience of her internship at Ultratech International, Inc. to other young women. Furthermore, her involvement of the school’s engineering academy and Northeast Florida ACE Mentorship program means she holds certifications in several industry markers (i.e. OSHA, MSSC), and CAD software. In addition to engineering, Philip is deeply rooted in music, which has led to her position as section leader in her marching band. She will attend Florida Gulf Coast University in Fall ’20, pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering.
“Shaun Lourie, CWM Co-Owner, McKenna O’Neill, Donor Development Officer at American Red Cross, and Steve Lourie, CWM Co-Owner, proudly present a $10,000 donation to the Northeast Florida American Red Cross to help support the local community in this time of need.”
Shaun & Steve Lourie, the Co-Owners of Coastal Wine Market and Tasting Room in Nocatee did something amazing. In the midst of the pandemic, as their customers continued to support them, they decided to pay it forward by donating $10,000 to the American Red Cross! The unprecedented move reflects the spirit of community and the best of the people of St. Johns.
“Coastal Wine Market & tasting room, Nocatee, is proud to be able to donate $10,000 to our local chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC) through the support of our guests who purchased gift cards and took part in our no-contact delivery and pickup during these challenging few months." Steve remarks, “This is the best way to celebrate CWM’s 4th-Year Anniversary #payitforward #giveback #supportlocal”.
CWM has re-opened for business following CDC Guidelines and welcomes guests to visit. Please refer to their website at www.coastalwinemarket.com and www.facebook.com/coastalwinemarket for live updates and current happenings.”
by Chris Shee
I’ve always enjoyed giving back to the community and have been involved in community outreach activities since high school. However, it wasn’t until the planning of our first sporting clay tournament, Clays For A Cause, that I started becoming more aware of our local needs and the organizations that help those needs. Once I started getting more intimately involved with some of these organizations, especially the orphanages, I knew that helping the community was to become a life long mission of mine.
Several years ago I wanted to define who MasterCraft Builder Group was in a summarized form. With the help of our marketing company, we developed what are now the pillars of MasterCraft known as the 4-C’s: Craftsmanship, Choice, Customer Service, and Community. Community involves helping and giving back to our LOCAL needs and it’s built into the DNA of this company as well as the other companies I now own—something I’m most proud of.
My charity plans for 2020 had a big wrench thrown in them due to COVID. One of the bigger endeavors I was planning was called Concerts For A Cause. I own a large wedding venue in South St. Augustine that has a capacity of 300. My plan was (and still is) to bring in big name musicians and have a more intimate, almost un-plugged, concert where we serve dinner and drinks, enjoy a large camp fire, etc. and enjoy a night of music and fellowship. Part of the appeal will be attending a concert with a big name headliner and only having 300 people in attendance. The other appealing part is that all profits from these concerts will go to a “cause” which will change with each concert. It’s a fun way to generate $25,000 - 50,000+ per event for a local causes. I am determined to make this happen and can’t wait until it does!
Aside from Concerts For A Cause, we will be hosting the 8th Annual Clays For A Cause this year at Saltwater’s Shooting Club. The tournament will benefit Seamark Ranch and St. Augustine Youth Services again—the two orphanages with whom we are closest. Last year we raised $168,000 during this one day event which is just mind blowing. My commitment to the event remains in that I’ll pay for everything including shooting, food, drinks, golf cart rentals, etc. so that every dollar donated by the participants actually goes to the charities and not towards paying for the event. It’s become a wildly successful fundraising event and I feel so privileged to host it.
I have also started working on a new independent living facility for St. Augusine Youth Services (SAYS) in hopes to break ground later this year or early next. Since SAYS receives public assistance, they’re required to move kids out when they turn 18—regardless of where they are in school, their mental or physical health, ability to live independently, etc. It’s a real problem for which many folks aren’t aware and it’s just wrong. The purpose of the independent living facility is to provide apartment-style living to these new “adults" for 2-3 years while they acclimate into the real world of paying bills, cooking meals, doing laundry, and all of the other tasks they’re now required to do on their own. The apartments will be subsidized in order to make them affordable. I’ve been wanting to do this for many years and am really excited that we’re now working to make this a reality.
Lastly, MasterCraft Builder Group will be building the “Home For The Heart” this year which benefits Builders Care—the charitable arm of The Northeast Florida Builders Association. We are building a home in one of our newest communities, SilverLeaf, and will be donating all profits from this home to Builders Care when it sells. In order to make the contribution even larger, we’ve asked our trade partners and suppliers to discount or donate any labor and/or materials they’re able to and we’ll pass the saving along to the Builders Care donation. Our trades and suppliers have been unbelievably supportive as they always are with our charitable endeavors. We’ll hopefully reach a 6 figure donation with this effort.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life so far is that the more I give, the wealthier I become. Material things aren’t as important to me as they once were and that’s been very relieving. Instead, being known as a good steward to my community and a good person overall is way more important to me. I hope my two boys, Brandon and Tyler, will continue to be influenced by my actions so that they too will be local philanthropists one day. There’s hardly anything else that would make me more proud.
An Industry Leader, a Compassionate Care Giver
Pets R Family is located at 3035 CR210 West, St Johns, FL
The beautiful furry friends that live in 75% of the population’s homes, are more than just cuddly creatures. These fun-loving pets are an integral part of so many of our families. And so often we love and care for them as our children. Those key individuals who dedicate their lives in the medical care and well being of our pets, are then thrust into the role of “Other Family Doctor”.
Dr. Kathleen Deckard was raised in the Fruit Cove area of Saint Johns County. She then went on to graduate from the University of Florida, School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, where she was President of her graduating class. She immediately moved back to the North Florida area, where she took up residence on CR 210, and has remained since. This was back when CR 210 had no grocery stores, drug stores or restaurants. But she knew this would be home long term, and her future would be built right here.
Dr. Deckard began her career as a Veterinarian in Saint Augustine, at a large multi Doctor practice, with her focus on small animals, reptiles and exotics. However, she had a heartfelt desire to impact her own community where she lived and was now raising her children. Dr. Deckard has always felt a driven purpose to not only provide the very best medical care for pets, but also to make a positive difference in her surrounding area.
As CR 210 began to grow, land was developed and buildings and stores began to open, Dr. Deckard and her husband began the search for a good location to set up their dream. Dr. Deckard and her husband would proclaim that much answered prayer went into the final approval and financing of the building they are in, to allow them to own the building and create what is now Pets R Family Veterinary Hospital.
“ I dedicate my days to improving health, saving lives, and bringing comfort to the beautiful pets with whom I’ve made my life’s work. It’s what excites and fulfills me, it’s what drives me to constant improvement, and it’s what gives me confidence in leading my staff of Doctors and Technicians.”
Pets R Family opened its doors in 2015, and is a full-service animal hospital, focused on internal medicine, dermatology, dentistry, wellness and prevention, and end of life care. It offers full-service boarding, grooming, pet training and Pups N Play social pet care. Dr. Kathleen Deckard and her husband are the full owners of what was a dream since she was 19 years of age. Their practice is designed to provide the very best quality family pet medical care and services with state-of-the-art facility, leading edge equipment and continuing education training with a quality, hand-picked staff. The building that seemed so impossible to achieve, is now the beautiful structure that houses all these great services.
Dr. Deckard is the lead Doctor of this 5 Doctor practice at Pets R Family. And her Team has now amassed to over 50 employees. She and her husband Brad run the daily operations with their two children, Gavin who is 13 and Abigail who is 15, and is following in the career direction of her Mother. Their practice is now involved with over 4,500 patients from their community and surrounding areas. Pets R Family supports many charities, local schools, organizations and churches as part of their larger plan to positively impact the community around them. And it’s the three key tenets of focus in Love, Care and Compassion, that drive all decisions, efforts and focus at PRF. She and her family have built their practice on these key foundational elements, as the root of their Christian faith.
Dr. Kathleen Deckard had a dream to become a leader in the pet care industry. And her continued focus on the care and compassion for the family in that process, is something that truly sets her practice and her results, apart. And in a market area where so many of the Pet Care practices are now corporately owned with cookie cutter service plans, and corporately generated wellness levels, Dr. Deckard and her family owned and managed company can choose to treat the patients needs with customized medical treatments for each client. She has now been practicing animal medicine for over 20 years, and her dream is being lived out daily. However certainly, as her staff knows, she never rests on her current knowledge or position. Dr. Deckard continues to learn, instruct, guide and forge, medical practice and standards that are of the highest level. And her loving, compassionate and caring spirit and demeanor are the qualities that her clients, staff and friends enjoy most.
Dr. Jimmy Glenos and Dr. Craig Hadgis, are pleased to announce their partnership, Smiles by Glenos & Hadgis Orthodontists. Dr. Hadgis earned his DDS degree along with a certificate in advanced residency for general dentistry at the University of Detroit Mercy. He has been practicing as an orthodontist for 10 years, after graduating from Jacksonville University School of Orthodontics. Dr. Hadgis has been on the forefront of digital orthodontic treatment using oral scanning technology when it was first introduced. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Glenos and Dr. Hadgis first met at an annual Florida Association of Orthodontists conference in Tampa Bay, Florida. Dr. Hadgis and his wife Anne are active members of the St Augustine Downtown Rotary club and the St Augustine Junior Service League respectively. Dr. Hadgis has a long family history in Northeast Florida and has wonderful memories visiting family here. His great uncle was the only doctor in Flagler county for many years and helped start Flagler Hospital now AdventHealth in Palm Coast. He remembers vividly beach days at Flagler Beach, Marineland, and the Alligator Farm. During his orthodontic residency program at JU, Dr. Hadgis and Anne loved beach cruising on their bikes from Jacksonville Beach all the way up to Mayport.
All aspects of modern-day orthodontic services are provided by these two Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics together with their highly trained and caring team members. They have two office locations, St Augustine and St Johns. Both offices are state of the art with soundproof game rooms and private rooms for adults. Dr. Glenos and Dr. Hadgis offer the latest technologies and services to enhance precision results and overall patient comfort such as impressionless 3D scanning, Invisalign clear aligners, Damon braces, and Insignia custom braces. They also have a low dose 3D x-ray unit to see teeth and bones in all dimensions.
Dr. Glenos and Dr. Hadgis pride themselves on providing the best orthodontic experience, excellent service, and are respectful of your appointment times. Together they have a combined experience of providing the most efficient, cost effective treatment plans for St Augustine and St Johns families for over 40 years. They accept most insurance plans and pride themselves on providing options to be affordable for all budgets.
A very important factor in saving orthodontic expense for your family is to schedule your children for a complimentary orthodontic evaluation by age 7. This provides an opportunity to prevent poorly developing jaws, teeth and bites. No referral is needed. To schedule an appointment please call or text 904.79.SMILE (904.797.6453). They also offer virtual consultations, please visit www.smilesbyGHortho.com and click the ‘Online Smile Assessment’ link for more information on steps to get to a healthy and beautiful new smile!
When it comes to covering hurricanes, the Action News Jax team has decades of experience to rely on. But when it comes to covering a global pandemic, they have about three months and counting. COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s lives, including how local TV stations report on this ever changing, dangerous virus. The challenge a news station encounters is how to get us the valuable information we need, without putting their people in harms way. “Our number one priority is the safety of our people. We have a journalistic duty to our viewers to report how the virus is impacting our communities, and that never waivers. But we won’t put our staffs in danger of exposure,” said Bob Longo, Vice President and General Manager of WFOX/WJAX. No one knows yet how long this pandemic will last, or if more global viruses will be on the rise in the future. But for now, Action News Jax is learning as they go in an effort to keep all of us informed and our families safe. Below are some behind-the-scenes personal notes from three Action News Jax anchors.
Sean Flaherty is a swimmer at Creekside High School. He has practice for two hours every morning before school preparing for the upcoming meets. He is beyond excited for the Creekside vs. Bartram meet, mostly because he is ready to “kick their butt this year!” Sean and his teammates at Creekside have been working very hard and are enthusiastic about the upcoming season.
Jacob Kauzlarich is on the Cross Country team at Bartram Trail. This year, the team moved from the 3A to 4A division, along with a few other schools, including their toughest competitors: Nease and Creekside. The team builds off their successes throughout the season until they eventually compete at the state meet in November. Jacob and his teammates are a family, and he is very optimistic about the team’s performance this year.
Alexa Machols is the captain of the Bartram Trail High School Dance Team. Football season has finally begun and she is pumped to be able to perform on the sidelines. She will also take her team to \New York for a competition in the Spring. The dance team practices constantly, before school, after school, and they even go home and practice some more! Alexa loves her role of captain, and claims, “I love being able to work with such a talented and dedicated group of young ladies as we have on BTDT.”
Tyler Leonard is a varsity cheerleader at Ponte Vedra High School. She is looking forward to cheering under the Friday Night Lights, especially homecoming week. She is confident that this year her team can make it to UCA Nationals for the first time in PVHS cheer history! The team practices very often, but fortunately, Tyler explains, “…my teammates are my sisters and I am so thankful that I spend so much time with them in and outside of the gym.”
Tommy Zitiello plays strong safety and wide receiver for Ponte Vedra High School. He is excited for football games to begin against seasoned rivals, such as Nease. At Ponte Vedra, the standard on the football team is “we not me,” which shows how invested the team is in each other as a whole. Tommy says he enjoys being a senior on the team and making a difference as a leader.
It is a very exciting time for school sports, and it is only just the beginning! These student athletes have a lot of work ahead of them, but they are all confident that they are going into a season they will never forget.
Throughout the summer, our administrative teams have been preparing for an incredible school year for your children. We continue to hire highly qualified personnel to provide students with an exceptional educational experience. It is our goal to ensure that all students graduate, prepared with 21st century skills to compete in the constantly changing world of digital and social environments.
This year, we will be piloting an evidence-based program, Sources of Strength (SOS), at our high schools. SOS is a best practice youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying, and substance abuse. As a district, we are committed to making resources available to students and families who need assistance.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve as superintendent of St. Johns County Schools. I want to thank every parent and family in our district for your continued support. Without you, we could not accomplish all that we do throughout the school year. I encourage you to stay engaged and connected in your child’s education. To stay up-to-date on the latest communication from St. Johns County Schools, please go to: https://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/schoolmessenger/, and set up your account preferences. I hope you and your children have an outstanding 2019/2020 school year!
Superintendent of Schools
Art As Healing & Self-Discovery
Ms. Attitude: Ode to Irene is based on Judith’s Mother-in-law. As Judith explains, “FIERCE” is the word that comes to mind when I think of my beloved Mother-in-law, Irene. She loved her family with unparalleled devotion and I was so very lucky that my husband Michael came as a ‘package deal’ with 3 fantastic siblings and “Mama Loo”. She was a FORCE! She entered the room – hair first! When she passed away, I was honored to give her eulogy. I began with, “For as long as I have known Irene… her HAIR HAS NEVER MOVED!” She would have loved that”.
Each colorful and soulful design shows a striking, somewhat abstract image of a woman accompanied by “story” and an inspirational quote. The designs are all about women and empowerment and take the form of cards, or prints, on plain craft paper with interesting embellishments, as well as framed pieces. She has integrated poets like Maya Angelou, Rumi, Gandhi, and many other inspirational writers.
The designs are called Makana Mixed Media, Designs by Jude. It is art derived from a deep place within and is inspired by strong, fascinating women Judith has known throughout her life.
Ms. Attitude: Ode to Irene is based on Judith’s Mother-in-law. As Judith explains, “FIERCE” is the word that comes to mind when I think of my beloved Mother-in-law, Irene. She loved her family with unparalleled devotion and I was so very lucky that my husband Michael came as a ‘package deal’ with 3 fantastic siblings and “Mama Loo”. She was a FORCE! She entered the room – hair first! When she passed away, I was honored to give her eulogy. I began with, “For as long as I have known Irene… her HAIR HAS NEVER MOVED!” She would have loved that”.
Judith is a transplant from the Big Island of Hawai'i, and spent most of her professional and personal life on the beautiful Island where she raised her two children. The art she creates is frequently informed by strong, powerful women she knew in Hawai’i.
One design called Kamali’i Kehau: “You Dance Inside My Heart” is based on a Hawaiian, Samoan, Chinese & Hau’oli (Caucasian) woman and teacher of dance. Kamali’i story: She is a Master Hula Dancer and teaches young children from the age of 2 years old. Her life is Hawaiian music, dance and the mo’olelo stories and traditions of Hawaiian. She hopes to bring her Hula Halau (dance troupe) to perform at the Smithsonian.
Judith said this was her first Hawaiian design. “I agonized over this because I wanted to get her features right and pay homage to what has been my adopted culture for most of my life.”
“You Dance Inside My Heart” is based on a Hawaiian, Samoan, Chinese & Hau’oli (Caucasian) woman and teacher of dance. Kamali’i story: She is a Master Hula Dancer and teaches young children from the age of 2 years old. Her life is Hawaiian music, dance and the mo’olelo stories and traditions of Hawaiian. She hopes to bring her Hula Halau (dance troupe) to perform at the Smithsonian.
This art reflects Judith’s journey as a human. Of the triumphs and challenges that we all face as women. She says, “creating, giving them a voice, is powerfully healing”.
The art is now on display at CC Gallery/Framing Shop on San Jose near Barnes and Noble. All of this is so unexpected for Judith, she is still making sense of it all. “It took my breath away to see it displayed. When CC Framing and Gallery owner, Chris, told me that my first piece sold, well, I think my spirits literally lifted off the ground I believe I can now really call myself an artist!”
Providing Complete Pet Care
For veterinarians Dawn Stewart and Lisa Hill, pets are all in the family. Dr. Stewart and her husband, who is also a veterinarian, have a house full of eight adorable dogs (2 on the cover of SJM) and one “very patient” cat. Dr. Hill and her family have two dogs, three cats (one of whom is a sphynx) and a hamster that needed a home.
They both view their patients as family pets, too. “We’re passionate about treating our patients as if they’re our own pets,” says Dr. Stewart.
“We give personalized attention to each and every animal,” adds Dr. Hill, “and we strive to provide the utmost compassion and highest quality, most advanced medical care. Communication with pet parents is the most important aspect of my job. I always try to make sure they understand the diagnosis and treatment of their pets in partnership with myself and our team.”
“MLS laser therapy helps treat and control acute and chronic pain in animals,” explains Dr. Stewart. “It quickly relieves pain and reduces inflammation, and it can be beneficial for post-surgical healing, chronic arthritis, and inflamed or infected ears. Laser therapy is a fast, pain-free and non-invasive treatment to help pets return to their favorite activities.”
Because they care so much about providing the best care for their patients, the veterinarians also use a laser instead of a scalpel to minimize bleeding and pain for all surgical procedures.
Dr. Hill has long been a proponent of this type of approach. From a very early age, she looked out for animals and had their best interests at heart. “We used to go fishing as a family growing up,” she recalls. “I was always the one to remove the fish from the hook to release it. I wanted to make sure the fish were not harmed. I would also search for turtles along the lakes and remove any hooks that were stuck in their mouths. It’s surprising how many turtles would have hooks stuck in them, but I felt I could make a difference in the lives of the turtles I found.”
Both doctors truly have a heart for animals and the families they’re part of, which is why they also offer boarding services. “We like giving our pet parents peace of mind while they’re away,” says Dr. Stewart. “We already have a personal relationship with the pets and know all their medical history and individual needs. Hopefully not, but if any medical problems arise during their stay, we’ll be the ones who take care of them.”
Regardless of the scenario, Dr. Stewart loves educating pet parents on the best care for their pets. Originally from West Virginia, she graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Animal Medical Clinic at St. Johns in 2002 and has been practicing in the area for 17 years.
Dr. Hill received her education from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and has been living and serving pet parents in St. Johns County for 14 years. “I love the St. Johns area and feel it’s a wonderful place to raise our two children. I really enjoy bumping into clients at the supermarket and am very tied to this community.”
For more information about please call 904-201-1437 or visit www.animalmedicalclinicstjohns.com
Steve and Shaun Lourie; Co-Owners of Nocatee's best night out!
641 Crosswater Parkway Suite B,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081
The couple moved to Nocatee from New Jersey in 2013 to be closer to family. They loved the community and saw an opportunity to create a gathering place for residents in northern St. Johns. Thus, the concept of a wine market was envisioned and came to fruition. From function to form, the well-traveled pair borrowed business and design elements from favorite places they had visited and enjoyed. Whether a guest stops in for a quick beer, glass of wine or a bite of tapas the experience is always warm and comfortable. That feeling was translated to the interior design and detailed in handmade wooden tables, flight boards and a barn door all designed by local artisans, as well as 120-year-old reclaimed bricks procured from New York City.
Steve, who is originally from Boston, is a Sommelier and has an extensive background in hospitality. “He has a way with people,” says Shaun. He is the “face” of CWM while she is the wizard behind the scenes, taking care of operations. Together they make the perfect hosts.
At 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon the place is hopping with activity as neighbors drop by for a glass of wine, a light meal and conversation. Steve says it is not uncommon for guests to strike up a friendship as they sit near each other enjoying fine wine and food. The next time he sees them, they come in together.
The wine selection, which covers an entire wall, ranges from high end selections to table wines, with each wine displaying a rustic tag with detailed tasting notes. If guests are not sure what to order they just ask Steve for advice or try a flight board to test out a variety and determine their palate. For craft beer lovers, CWM offers the chance to try unique craft beer from local and national breweries. Their esteemed Wine Club is a hit with patrons and offers free membership and three participation levels.
Shaun and Steve have built relationships with winemakers all over the world and host scheduled CWM’s Meet the Winemaker Series where Vintners present their wines and engage guests in casual discussion, complimentary tasting and special discounts. In April they will host Linda Trotta from Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in Napa Valley, California.
Originally offering cheese boards and meats, the menu has expanded to include light fare. Shaun says they listened to guest requests for more dining options, and Chef Jody delivered with inventive dishes, such as a divine, from scratch pizza with Braised Duck, Prosciutto di Parma, Fig and Local Honey with Spanish Goat Cheese. The tapas menu also features paninis, spinach dip and a signature cheesesteak sandwich as well as other popular favorites all of which pair seamlessly with a craft beer or fine wine.
When Steve and Shaun talk about Coastal Wine Market & tasting room, its all about love, and they are so gracious and thankful to the community for their support. It was a risk to start a business in a new community but they have been blessed to grow CWM with Nocatee. They will mark their 3 year anniversary with a complimentary tasting on Saturday, June 15th from 6pm to 9pm when they celebrate with patrons and enjoy the opportunity to give-back to the community.
The next time you need a little respite from life, stop by the place where sooner or later everybody will know your name, Coastal Wine Market & tasting room.
The remarkable story of a young man,
and a family's brush with the unthinkable
Chris was on his way to work Sunday, July 23, 2017, at 9AM. He coached 3-5 year-olds, teaching them the basics of sports. Chris loved his job and loved working with kids. This particular morning it was not raining, but for some reason, water had pooled in the road in this one large spot. According to the driver behind Chris, he was driving the speed limit when he hydroplaned and slammed headfirst into an iron fence, then slid sideways where he quickly hit a fire hydrant causing the Jeep Liberty to begin to flip and as the car was in mid-air it hit a tree right at the top middle of the frame of the driver side door. Right where Chris’ head was. The structure of the vehicle did not hold up to the mid-air collision with the tree, his head took the majority of the impact before the car bounced back on the ground. He was wearing his seat belt. He was not speeding. He was not texting & driving. He was not on his cell phone. He was doing everything right.
As I pulled into the Emergency Room bay, I swung open the car door before the car actually came to a stop. I ran to the officer waiting to shuffle me into the room that was obviously only used for the most traumatic of patients. The grim, dark look on all the faces of those wearing scrubs told me exactly what I prayed I wouldn’t hear. This is not good. My boy, my sweet 16-year-old boy, was laying there, motionless, wires connected to his head and to his chest, IV’s in his arms, and tubes in his mouth. The machine to the right is rhythmically pumping air into his lungs, breathing for him. The doctor tells me he has a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), his brain swelling is significant and increasing, his temperature is rising, and the prognosis is not good. His brain injury was so severe that this hospital could not handle his case. They would stabilize him then we needed to quickly move him to a hospital with a Pediatric Trauma Center, UF Health’s Trauma One was suggested.
That was the beginning of our nightmare. A nightmare that continued for many weeks with every moment unsure if he will live or die, be a vegetable for life or somewhat recover, the outcome was uncertain. The only thing we knew for sure was that our life, as we knew it, would never be the same. Our perfect life we worked so hard for, we sacrificed for, we saved for, we fought for….was no longer. These were the darkest and most broken days of my entire life, and I've had my fair share of both dark and broken. But at this moment, a machine was breathing for my handsome, smart, active, thoughtful, caring, motionless, unconscious, brain injured son. The future of our family is unknown, but will definitely involve a very long road and a very strong will to survive.
We were definitely grateful for the closeness of our family which would only grow closer. The four of us leaned on each other, cried with each other, supported each other, and talked about what was happening, how to manage our emotions, and how to handle the way other people are handling the situation. This was a hard one. As we are going through this tragedy, we are also having to navigate the fields of how other people handle our tragedy. Some not as good as others. Some we learned to hold closer to our hearts and others we learned to remove from our lives forever. You learn about priorities and you have lots of regrets. Why didn’t I just keep him home and tell him he could not go to work today? Why didn’t I just have him take the truck? What if I didn’t make him give me another hug before he left the house, maybe those extra 5 seconds would have made a difference? Yes, they made a difference… because I got one more hug that I may never get again. I may never have those tan, soft, teenage arms and hands pat me on my head while saying “you’re cute when you’re short Mom”, or hold my hand in church, or wrap them around me in a bear hug while saying “squeeze!” Yes, those 5 seconds made a difference. All the difference in my world.
During the next 21 days of Pediatric ICU at UF Health, we learned far more about the brain than I ever thought I would. From brain swelling, possible surgeries, brain bleeding, tracheotomy, feeding tube, therapists…. So, so, so much MY brain hurt! The doctors did not want to give us false hope by telling us Chris would recover, instead, they explained that he likely would never walk or talk again, would need constant supervision and should always need medications. We all cried knowing our family will never, ever be the same.
With much support from our village and a few family members, Chris’ siblings were adjusting surprisingly well. Nolan would sit by Chris and play his ukulele while Sarah would hold his hand and tell him things going on at school or with friends. Chris was still sedated and could not respond, but it felt good for the kids to try to communicate.
After this, we began getting messages from our village flashing one of Chris’ signature poses “a thumbs up” and a message that Chris was on their mind. This gave us an idea….and the Facebook page “#ThumbsUp4Chris” was born. We had our village members posting positive notes, pictures of them with their thumbs up, celebrities with thumbs up, high school clubs, local youth teams, as well as college teams all sporting their thumbs up. It was a great way for people who just wanted to “do something”, to be able to “do something”. It also was a great way for me to be able to post updates on Chris for all the world to see. The kids also mass ordered custom #ThumbsUp4Chris and #Pray4Chris bracelets…soon the whole county was rockin’ these red accessories!
After 21 days at UF Health, we were taken by ambulance to Brooks Rehab Hospital. At this time, Chris still had the “glassy-eyes”, couldn’t walk, couldn’t sit up, couldn’t hold his head up, only nourishment came from the feeding tube, he was still on antibiotics form his second bout with pneumonia, and he had only said one or two words. We got settled in his new room, which would be his home (and my home) for the next 6 weeks. Then all at once, Brooks amazing therapists were all in the room evaluating him at the same time talking in what seemed to be code to me at that time. Little did I know it would only be a matter of days before I understood that “code”. While having so many bodies evaluating my son at the same time was scary, the look of optimism, and positive vibes from these miracle workers was felt in a way that just made me cry. An ugly, wet, hard cry.
That was a Friday. Saturday & Sunday was spent getting to know the facility, staff, layout, and how things work with only a few therapy sessions. Monday the therapy really began, 6-7 hours a day. By Friday they had him strapped to a machine and 4 therapists helping him walk! Two sitting on the bottom of this contraption, each holding a leg & foot and moving it like he was walking, this was to retrain/remind the brain what it is supposed to do. On this day as I was filming him, he looks up at me flashes a smile and a thumbs up as he says “hi mom”. It was at this point I felt my heart and mind shift from “sit back, observe, learn, take it all in” to “he can do this, he will do this, we will do this”.
Over the course of the next 5 weeks, his therapy was intense. He learned to hold his head up, then his torso, then catch a ball and throw the ball. His mind was exercised as well with speech therapy helping with memory recovery as well as math problems. It was weird to see he couldn’t quite grasp the easy 2+2 math but could remember how to calculate the diameter of a circle and the angles of triangles. The brain is a very unpredictable organ.
His therapy began every morning at 7 AM and ended between 3-4PM. He would take a nap as the therapy was exhausting, eat dinner, then Chris and I would extend his therapy on our own. We would talk about how we’re here to get better, so let’s make every second count. Instead of watching TV or sitting around bored, we worked on math games, practiced holding a pencil, writing his name, drawing a picture, listening to music and singing songs, played board games …all of this activated the mind. Soon we worked on learning how to scoot in his wheelchair, with his own feet, without hitting the walls! When the therapists were told how hard we were working in the evenings and realized how intense I watched everything he did in therapy, they began helping me learn and advising what to practice in the evenings. Chris and I would get in an extra 2-4 hours of therapy most nights and lots of extra laughs. My boy was working hard to come back to us and to just be Chris again.
On September 15, Chris walked out of Brooks Rehab Hospital. Unassisted. Walked! Unassisted! His only medication was allergy related. His next 4 months were 8 hour days spent at Brooks Outpatient Program which helped improve his cognitive healing while sleeping at home in his own bed. The evenings were for studying with teachers from his high school who came to the house to assist with his studies, he was hoping to stay on track so he wouldn’t be held back. Luckily, my smart boy was ahead of the academic game already and he only “needed” to take 2 classes. He completed these classes before Christmas break.
On January 6, Chris walked into Bartram Trail High School right where he left off. He was greeted with hugs and high-fives! Administration offered to allow him the use of the elevator, but he refused and chose to take the stairs because he could. He completed his Junior year along with his peers and is now ready to graduate high school in May 2019 with a 3.1 GPA. In the fall he will move into the dorms and begin his next chapter of life at University of North Florida, in hopes of pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. (If you know of anyone offering scholarships, please let us know!)
Chris is currently back to hanging with friends, playing his guitar, schooling many around the pool table, he’s completed two 5K’s, he works out in the gym, he’s even been able to introduce a small amount of surfing and is driving again. He’s started his own business “Barefoot Boys Pressure Washing”, plans to be a BBQ taste tester with his favorite PICU nurse, and hopes to one day drive a Ford F150.
Life is good again. Life is perfect again. But life is still unpredictable. Please take a moment to put down your cell phones, turn off Facebook, close up your laptop, turn off the TV, read to your kids, throw a ball with your kids, take a walk with your spouse, talk to an old friend, smell the roses while you can with your family. And always, always, always take the extra 5 seconds for the second “squeeze”.
Dr. Jonas Ashbaugh & Dr. Kathleen Stevens: A Family Affair!
Jacksonville, FL 32258. For more information please visit www.blueskydentalgroup.com
When you visit Blue Sky Dental Group, you will receive personal care and attention. The Dentists listen to what patients have to say about their dental health and help them achieve their best smile. Comprehensive dental exams along with a full complement of general, cosmetic and restorative dental treatments will assure that you achieve the best smile possible along with optimal oral health.
Part of this philosophy is staying educated about improvements in the dental field with new technology, techniques, instruments, methods and materials allowing them to provide their patients with the best in oral care. As a result the patient’s experience is of the highest quality.
According to Dr. Jonas, “Working together was very natural for us. We compliment each other in every way. Dr. Stevens specializes in aesthetic beauty enhancements such as Botox or Juviderm and comprehensive orthodontics. Dr. Ashbaugh specializes in surgical procedures such as sedation, wisdom teeth, implant placement and various grafting procedures. Also, some patients prefer a male dentist or a female dentist so we are happy to accommodate.”
Dr. Jonas and Dr. Stevens met as undergraduates, over 14 years ago and they have been together ever since. They opened their practice in Jacksonville in July 2017. The couple live in Durbin Crossing with their two young sons. Family is very important to them, and they love living and working in northeast Florida and especially enjoy time with their family at the beach.
Throughout her career Dr. Stevens has always strived to further her skills. She has completed several post graduate education courses and has received extensive training in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry and facial esthetics. Her commitment in continued education has allowed her to provide a wide array of services to her patients while delivering the highest quality of dental care.
Dr. Stevens and her family enjoy participating in the activities this great city of Jacksonville has to offer. Whether it be a day on the beach or an afternoon football game (go Jaguars!) you can always find her out enjoying time with friends and family.
Dr. Ashbaugh takes numerous postgraduate education courses each year and has received extensive training in sedation, occlusion (your bite) and esthetic dentistry, allowing him to incorporate these treatments into his practice so he has a multitude of methods for solving complex dental problems. Most recently, Dr. Ashbaugh has completed a nine month comprehensive dental implant program through the Las Vegas Implant Maxicourse.
In addition to private practice, Dr. Ashbaugh is an instructor for Smart CE online instructional series for Dental Assistants, Dental Hygienists, and Dentist nationwide. He is also a co-host for a popular dental podcast, Shared Practices, in which he shares his expertise in best practices for running a successful dental office.
Dr. Ashbaugh is an active participant in the community. He and his wife, Dr. Stevens, live in the area with their two children, Benjamin and Jonathan. In his spare time, he enjoys in-shore and off-shore fishing, wakeboarding, golfing and catching a football game
Meet the Wonderful
Owner and Veterinarian
at Nease Animal Hospital in St. Johns
St. Johns Magazine learns more about how Dr. Esra became interested in becoming a vet and why she chose to settle in St. Johns.
Where did you grow up? & Where did you go to school? I grew up in Turkey and then went to college in New York state and went to veterinary school at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Is there a story or memory from your youth that helped you decide on your career?
We rescued a street cat who went into labor on a Sunday. She was having a hard time delivering so we had to call for a veterinarian from the phone book and found a veterinarian who agreed to open his practice. She needed a C-section. I was 10 and got to watch the surgery and helped care for the new born kitten. I was very lucky my mother let me keep mom and the kitten at our house. We found home for the kitten and kept mom. She was an amazing cat.
Where did you first practice veterinary medicine? I have been practicing since 1997. I practiced in a multi-doctor and corporate practice in Maryland and then opened my own practice in Bel Air, MD. I loved owning my practice and had amazing clients and patients.
What brought you to St. Johns? My husband had been wanting to move to Florida for the last 10 years due to climate. We had travelled to different places in Florida but I fell in love with Saint Augustine and Jacksonville. I loved the beaches and diversity of Jacksonville.
What are some of the ways your practice makes pets and pet owners feel special? We focus on individual care and whole patient care. Prevention is the key. Our focus is to give our patients a positive experience. We take our time to make sure that our patients are comfortable and pampered. We are generous on treats so that our patients are happy to visit us again.
Do you have an office mascot? Coco is our hospital cat. She is very sassy.
What is your favorite aspect of your work? I love the fact that we can offer many different services that help keep our patients happy and healthy. Preventing disease and helping patients to stay healthy with supplements and alternative medicine. I love it when after acupuncture, herbs and physical therapy, our patients walk again.
What is the most difficult aspect of your work? So many animals need good homes. There are more animals than homes.
Tell us a little about your family.
I am very lucky to have a very supportive and loving husband Gene and my 13 year old son Zackary. I am very excited that my son is going to be testing for third degree black belt.
Do you own any pets yourself? I do have three spoiled cats
(Fearless, Eagle, and Raven) and two dogs Chloe and Humphrey.
How do you relieve stress? Walking on the beach with my family
What is your favorite thing to do in St. Johns? Many things: I love the fact that I can spend outdoors activities with my family : checking out different trails and different beaches with my family and Chloe and Humphrey.
Pet Physical Therapy at
For more information about Smiles by Glenos & Hadgis Orthodontics
please call 904-79- SMILE (797-6453).
or visit Smilesbghortho.com
Offices at 111 Doctors Village Dr, St. Johns
22 St. Johns Medical Park Dr, St. Augustine
These board certified orthodontists focus on creating beautiful, healthy smiles using the most state-of-the-art cost efficient approaches. Their mission is simple: “Our primary goal is to provide the best possible orthodontic care and experience for all ages.”
Dr. Jimmy Glenos: I was born and raised in Orlando, attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with Honors, and then attended the University of Florida School of Dentistry, receiving a Doctor of Dental Medicine. I fell in love with St. Augustine when I moved here from Gainesville to practice family dentistry for a year while I awaited the start of my orthodontic residency specialty training at The University of Louisville.
Dr. Craig Hadgis: I started off as a Michigander, born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. In the 1970s, my grandparents moved to Flagler Beach. Northeast Florida became a frequent vacation destination during my childhood. I was excited to move to northern Florida, when I was accepted into Jacksonville University School of Orthodontics. My wife Anne and I are St. Augustine residents and have enjoyed making this area our home.
When did you begin practicing orthodontics?
Dr. Glenos: I began providing specialized orthodontic treatment in St. Augustine area in 1984. After about ten years in St. Johns Medical Park, along US1, we built our "dream office" in the same medical park. About two years ago, we opened a second state-of-the-art location in Doctors Village, along Race Track Road.
Dr. Hadgis: After graduating from Jacksonville University School of Orthodontics in 2010, I have been fortunate to have a variety of clinical experiences and have focused on keeping up to date with the latest technologies in the orthodontic field. Dr. Glenos and I have been colleagues for several years. Now that we are in practice together, our goal is to provide exceptional care to patients throughout St. Johns County and many surrounding areas.
Why did you choose this profession? (How did you get your start)?
Dr. Glenos: Sometimes, I believe it may have been preordained. When I was fifteen years old, I fell in love with a girl who's first job was as an orthodontic technician. Understandably, at such a young age, it was a relatively brief but passionate relationship.
My junior year in college, I decided to pursue a career in dentistry. Lo and behold, Karen and I reconnected and started dating again. We were married my senior year of dental school.
I enjoyed practicing family dentistry, but orthodontics was especially appealing because of the important impact one’s smile has on their everyday life. I truly believe that by straightening crowded and rotated teeth and improving the bite and smile, we are, in many cases, changing people's lives. It has to be one of the best jobs in the world!
The only downside is that since Karen has been active in orthodontics longer than I, she sometimes thinks she is "the boss." But that's ok and probably true for most marriages..right?
Dr. Hadgis: My family comes from a dental background. My grandfather was a dental lab technician and my father is a practicing dentist in Michigan. My father is passionate about practicing dentistry and raised my brothers and I to find our own passion in life, so our careers would not feel like “just a job.”
Solving puzzles and mathematics came easily to me growing up, which is the reason I initially chose to become an engineer. While earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Michigan, I learned about the connections between medicine, biomedical engineering, biomechanics, and orthopedics. Inspired by these connections and building on my engineering degrees, I chose to specialize in orthodontics in order to help people by making a positive impact in their lives in a visible way. I find that having a master’s degree in biomedical engineering provides me with a unique perspective in evaluating, planning, and carrying out treatment plans in both simple and complex cases.
What is the most common misunderstanding about orthodontics?
Dr. Glenos: A common misconception has been to consider orthodontic treatment as an expensive luxury. Today, orthodontic treatment is a relatively modest investment compared to other things - including dental expenses for crowns, implants or cosmetic dentistry and the benefits of orthodontic corrections are outstanding. Not only in one's appearance but in the health of the dentition as one ages.
Most recently, a new misconception is being promoted by companies offering DIY "do it yourself" orthodontic treatment. Unsupervised tooth movement is dangerous with a high potential risk of damage to the teeth, the bone support (tooth loss), jaw joint issues and failure of any improvement due to relapse. Reports are surfacing that this is happening often and, unfortunately, the patient or parents, end up paying for treatment twice. If they have orthodontic insurance and the benefits were used during the DIY treatment, the patient is stuck with depleted benefits.
Dr. Hadgis: Many people are not aware that to become an orthodontic specialist requires acceptance into an accredited full-time residency program which involves 2-3 additional years of dedicated orthodontic training after dental school. Further, each case requires a thorough analysis by the orthodontic specialist to achieve the best outcome for the patient in terms of a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile.
What are some of the greatest successes you have had for patients?
Dr. Glenos: We see amazing new smiles completed every day. Personally, the most rewarding ones are when the patient first looks in the mirror and the tears of joy begin to flow. Clinically, I am most proud of the cases that have been planned since age 6-7 where we have timed simple procedures that result in the teeth growing in so nice that very little time in appliances is required to make them perfect.
Dr. Hadgis: I’m very pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to help improve so many patients’ health and self-esteem. Further, many patients, both children and adults alike, have reported improved sleep as a result of orthodontic treatment.
What sets your offices apart from other orthodontic offices?
Dr. Glenos: Besides offering the latest orthodontic equipment like digital scanning and ultra-low dose 3D radiography, and the finest office environments, I believe the most valuable attributes are our outstanding team who treat everyone like family, and the fact that every proposed treatment is carefully planned and executed by Board Certified orthodontic specialists.
Dr. Hadgis: Both Dr. Glenos and I are diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics. Only 1 in 3 orthodontists take the extra time and effort necessary to achieve this distinction. We are one of the few orthodontic practices in the country offering Insignia which is individualized custom brackets and wires made specifically for each patient from digital 3D oral scans which replace goopy impressions, and from 3D digital x-rays replacing higher radiation film x-rays. We also pride ourselves on offering exceptional customer service from our entire team.
What technology is used to determine treatment plans for your patients?
Dr. Glenos: Complete orthodontic records consist of properly taken digital photos, a 3D digital scan, a digital cephalometric film (enabling us to measure the relationship of the upper and lower jaws to one another and the angulations of the teeth to the jaws) and a digital panoramic x-ray. In some cases where custom designed appliances may be desired, the final occlusion can be planned digitally and viewed on the computer.
Dr. Hadgis: We stay at the leading edge as technology in the orthodontic field advances rapidly. We offer digital treatment planning with technologies such as Invisalign (custom 3D planned clear aligners) and Insignia (custom braces and wires) to properly align teeth.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Dr. Glenos: I'm an outdoorsman. I enjoy sportfishing, diving, kiteboarding, water skiing, hunting, and many other outdoor activities. I also enjoy traveling and shopping with "the boss."
Dr. Hadgis: I most enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy exercising, biking, golfing, snow skiing, and following professional and college sports.
St. Johns Magazine
100 Years: One Day At A Time
Bartram Trail High School
Best Buddies St. Johns
Blue Sky Dental Group 2019
Dr. Christopher Henry Of Henry Advanced Orthodontics
Dr. Kathleen Deckard
Furniture & Fine Art
Jim Kane: Artist
Life On The River Is Good
Linda Schrenk Body Artist
Local Businesses St. Johns
Michael Cervone: Artist
Mindy Kerr Of Nature's Child Photography 2018
Motherhood: A Balancing Act
Nease Animal Hospital
Networking St. Johns
Pet's R Family - Pets Really Are Part Of The Family!
Rivertown Fine Wine & Spirits Visits Washington DC
Smiles By Glenos
Special Needs St. Johns
Starlight Gymnastics Helps Build A Star Gymnast!
St. Augustine Art
St. Johns Education
St. Johns Real Estate Team Menton & Ballou
The Cookie Swap
Thumbs Up For Chris
Yofrodipity's New Menu!