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The Way to Inspire and Give… 

The Way to Inspire and Give… 

WORDS: Amy Treis
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

“You don’t have to be a foster parent to do foster care. Use your voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves.” Tori Hope Petersen, FFY (Former Foster Youth), spoke these words in the hope of raising awareness for the beauty of becoming a foster parent.  

It is a vital role that will aid in the success of children who are in the

Mistakes Are Part of Learning…

Mistakes Are Part of Learning…

WORDS: Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart, PBS KIDS for Parents

It’s so hard to watch our children struggle, fall, and even fail. However, for learning to take place, struggling and failing are part of the process. As parents, we want to protect our children from hardships, so we may think hovering and plowing through dangers up ahead will somehow help them.  

However, removing every potential obstacle takes away opportunities for our children

Aiming for the Big Top!

Aiming for the Big Top!

WORDS: Sheri Roca
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Come one, come all and see The Amazing Emilie Bergbom flying high! Emilie is a nine-year-old Aerial Acrobat with her sights set on the Circus. And, where else but the home of the Ringling legacy, the land of big tops and big cats, would you see elementary school children dangling from great heights?  

For over three years, Emilie has been training at South Florida

Hero on the Streets… 

Hero on the Streets… 

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock
PICTURES: Whitney Patton 

It’s just after sunrise, and Pastor Jerry Parrish curves down a familiar road in east Bradenton, easing his black Impala into the driveway of a dilapidated house that seems to sigh into the Earth with walls harboring heartache. Thirteen siblings inhabit the home where a mom roams in and out of a jail cell and a dad – illiterate and a gang member

The Lovelee Worthington… A Hidden Gem

The Lovelee Worthington… A Hidden Gem

WORDS: Sheri Roca

Just west of the Ellenton outlet mall and interstate 75 lies a hidden gem on the banks of Lovelee Lake, called Worthington. Originally Lee’s Crab Trap II, Worthington has recently been transformed into a historical and charming wedding and event venue. 

You may remember Lee’s Crab Trap II, a restaurant known for its Old Florida décor and historical dishes and flavors. The restaurant was conceived and built

Strong Hopes for the Future…

Strong Hopes for the Future…

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Like intriguing characters woven into a page-turner adventure novel with each chapter more astounding than the next, a collection of diverse life journeys leap into focus from a dazzling, mile-long resume and demand attention.  

There’s the 16-year-old who hired his football buddies to hammer nails after school until 2 a.m. each night for his startup construction company and the high school track star

The Dream Team…

The Dream Team…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Nick Leduc and a dozen boys met for the first time in May 2018 at tryouts for the 11 and under team that Leduc would be coaching for the Braden River Soccer Club. They couldn’t know then that in two-and-a-half years, they would rank number one in Florida.

Still, from the beginning, Leduc had a feeling this team would be special.

“I knew we …

What Would Barbara Say?

What Would Barbara Say?

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock

When a dusting of stars illuminated the night sky, and most of Manatee County slipped into a peaceful slumber, a predictable rumble hummed from Robby’s driveway. Turning the ignition of his mother’s borrowed car, Robby rolled out each evening to work overnights at a fast-food restaurant and prove a commitment to carving out a successful life.

Stoic work ethic and drive powered Robby, despite vast adversities …

Looking For Guardian Angels…

Looking For Guardian Angels…

WORDS:  Svetlana Ivashchenko

You may be familiar with the term Guardian ad Litem (GAL). But do you know how crucial the role is that GALs play in our local community? And can you help meet the need for more of these special people who do so much for children who find themselves in such desperate situations?

Sadly, over 100 Manatee County foster children do not have a GAL volunteer to …

A Slick New Addition…

A Slick New Addition…

WORDS: Kara Chalmers
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Bob Slicker realized his dream of owning a restaurant when he opened Slicker’s Eatery in February in Cortez. Slicker’s vision for his place, which he and his daughter Molly Slicker formulated together, was specific: to focus on kindness, goodness, and intentionality.

For running a restaurant, that vision translates to taking care of people. He offers employees health insurance and does fundraisers for local charities. …

Following in the Footsteps of Greatness…

Following in the Footsteps of Greatness…

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock

Like a flipbook of vintage Florida postcards – popping with vivid color and rolling seascapes – Mary Glass’ childhood stretched out before her with idyllic, adventure-seeking charm filled with sandy horse trails, bare feet, swimsuits, and spontaneous football scrimmages on quiet streets.

A dreamy, tropical snow globe to explore, the 1950s and 60s Sarasota unfolded during a time when famous authors gathered at restaurants over strong …

Festival is off the Hook!

Festival is off the Hook!

WORDS: Amy Treis
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

It is often said that fire and water are the Yin and Yang of the existing world. They create the requisite nature of rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, and remaining stoic and wilting. If you ask East Manatee Firefighter Erik Nicholson, he will say that fire and water are essential elements that have contributed to his success and passions in life.

Since becoming …

Less Screen, More Green: Outdoor Safety Tips for Kids

Less Screen, More Green: Outdoor Safety Tips for Kids

WORDS: safety.com

Outdoor time for kids is an essential part of their development. Unfortunately, most children’s average amount of unstructured outdoor playtime has been four to seven minutes per day, pre-pandemic. Coronavirus lockdowns have made matters worse, forcing even the most active kids to stay indoors.

As a parent, guardian, or childcare provider, you may have noticed that the abrupt change to children’s daily habits has made it challenging to …

Party Time! Planning and Decorating for a Memorable Summer Soiree

Party Time! Planning and Decorating for a Memorable Summer Soiree

WORDS: Kristin Louis

Summer is a great time to throw a party. You can have it inside or outside and draw from a wide range of menu possibilities and potential activities, from swimming to outdoor games. And there’s no need to worry about the size of your budget — you can have a great summer get-together without breaking the bank. Fire up the grill, lay out some delicious summer food, …

The Man with a Golden Heart…

The Man with a Golden Heart…

WORDS: Bre Jones Mulock
PICTURES: Whitney Patton

Like an inevitable Tsunami swirling dark, angry waves in the ocean, perilous influences, and risky behavior nearly drowned Russell Serreia in the mid-1990s. Plagued with alcohol addiction and a fractured home, 15-year-old Serreia navigated the cold shadows of Bradenton neighborhoods, rolling in and out of street fights and jail cells.

Hardened, lost, and flirting with danger, Serreia happened to land in a recovery …