Ann Varkey Holds Event for Special Needs and more news …

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Dr. Phillips

Dr. Phillips resident Ann Varkey (back, second from right) and her family (back) join residents of The Russell Home for Atypical Children at Ann’s special holiday event.

Ann Varkey of Dr. Phillips held a holiday event at the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA to help special-needs and homeless individuals. Attendees included several residents from The Russell Home for Atypical Children and a special appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Free and healthy holiday meals were provided to attendees. A typical gift box included fruits, vegetables, meat and nonperishable items that would allow families to make complete meals.

Kristen Wilson of Dr. Phillips becomes the first female ringmaster with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Circus Xtreme.

Dr. Phillips resident Kristen Wilson joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Circus Xtreme. She is the first female ringmaster in the brand’s 146-year history. A dynamic performer with tremendous stage presence and exceptional vocal skills, Kristen beat out hundreds of candidates in a nationwide open audition process to earn the prestigious role. She joined the show last week with a premiere performance at Amway Center and will continue with a national tour. Kristen is also a professional singer with a background in theater.


West Orange Chamber of Commerce members recognized MetroWest resident and WOCC President/CEO Stina DUva’s 15th anniversary with the organization at the Member Appreciation Breakfast. Under her leadership, WOCC has grown to be financially stable, with a debt-free permanent home and an expanded parking lot. In 2007, the chamber was certified by the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals, a designation given to chambers for following best practices and being industry leaders. WOCC is a three-time State of Florida Chamber of the Year, having been recognized for its success in 2009, 2012 and 2015. The organization’s membership accredits much of this success to the leadership of Stina and her team.


Ocoee is currently accepting Community Grant applications. The program provides financial grants of up to $500, with $5,000 available for this grant cycle. Eligible groups include Ocoee nonprofit organizations and civic groups, as well as nonprofit organizations and civic groups outside the city limits that benefit residents of Ocoee. Anyone interested can get an application online at or at Ocoee City Hall, 150 N. Lakeshore Drive. Completed applications must be mailed or delivered to city hall by Jan. 31, 2017. The next grant cycle begins July 3. For more information, call 407-905-3100.


Jessica Gavrich Espiritu of Windermere joins the team of attorneys at Winderweedle, Haines, Ward & Woodman PA.

Winderweedle, Haines, Ward & Woodman PA officials announced that attorney Jessica Gavrich Espiritu has accepted a position with the firm, practicing in the areas of business litigation, corporate law, commercial transactions and creditors’ rights. She is admitted to practice law in Florida and New York and is an active member of the Service Committee of the Orange County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section. Jessica earned her Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, in finance; and Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Florida.

Et Al

Congratulations to the following Southwest-area residents on their recent academic achievements:

Jessica Chabot of MetroWest was named to the dean’s list at Berry College for the 2016 fall term.

Dr. Phillips resident Jarius EnglishMcmillan graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in marketing.

Jalindikumari Ghetia of Winter Garden achieved the fall 2016 president’s list at Hudson Valley Community College.

Elizabeth Gill of Winter Garden and Joy Prinsell of MetroWest graduated from the University of Alabama with bachelor’s degrees.

• Winter Garden resident Kellan Hoffman made the provost’s list at Troy University for the 2016 fall semester/Term 2.

Joy Norris of Windermere graduated from Troy University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the Sorrell College of Business.

Gotha resident Nathaniel Obinwa made the honor roll at Graceland University for the 2016 fall term.

Southwest resident Julie Neal celebrated the 10th anniversary edition of her guidebook, The Complete Walt Disney World. In honor of the milestone, Julie was featured in an article in The Boston Globe.

She revealed that in the 2017 edition of her guidebook “almost 200 photos are new, and all photos are bigger. Also, we have 70 more pages with more details on the fun stuff and less on the dry stuff …”

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs (center) of Southwest Orlando helps four local mothers shop for toys during the annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive shopping event.

Southwest resident and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcomed four local mothers to the Ivey Lane Neighborhood Center for Families for her annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive shopping event. Mayor Jacobs, along with NCF staff, assisted parents in selecting gifts for their children in keeping with Orange County’s “neighbors helping neighbors” philosophy. In partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida on Raleigh Street, the center was transformed into a scene from The Polar Express, with several tables and shelves filled with a variety of gifts. Orange County employees and citizens generously donated more than 6,000 items, far exceeding last year’s toy drive collection of 5,100 toys. Families also received a special Christmas dinner box filled with holiday treats and meals.

Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell of Southwest Orlando took her official oath of office for the next four years. The oath reaffirms her commitment to faithfully perform all of the duties as clerk of courts.

“I am honored that the residents of Orange County re-elected me to serve again as their clerk of courts,” Tiffany  said. “I look forward to building on my priorities of access to the courts, customer service and technology to continue to serve this community.”

West Orange Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors welcomed several newly elected members to its ranks during its annual Member Appreciation Breakfast. Among them were Southwest residents Mark Marsh of Gotha, Orlando Health — Health Central Hospital; JT McWalters of Ocoee, Orlando Magic; Dale Fitch of Windermere, Unicorp National Developments; and Frank Gilbert of Winter Garden, city of Winter Garden.

Although we try to ensure that all information presented above is the most current, correct and dependable available, we do rely on others for the source of our news. Therefore, the Southwest Orlando Bulletin and Kearney Publishing Corp. cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information presented here, nor does mentioning it constitute an endorsement. In Your Neighborhood news is welcome and may be mailed to P.O. Box 851, Windermere, FL  34786; or emailed to 💓

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