How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
I have lived in Hernando County on and off since 1994 in the Croom Forest area, just outside of Istachatta. From 1979 to 1994, I lived in Tampa.
Who are the members of your family?
That's a huge question for me. My last name represents two combined families, so I have 10 brothers and sisters that live all over the United States. And of course that means lots of nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, etc. I have been very blessed with a large family.
Locally, my mother and I reside together, but the population in the house can go from two to busting at the seams at any time. I am also blessed to still have both of my grandmothers, many aunts and uncles, and my father, who lives in North Carolina.
Tell us about your career.
I waited a long time to become a nurse, and for me it's a dream come true. I have a career that helps others, is always challenging and never boring. Oak Hill Hospital has a great staff with which to work.
What kinds of activities are you involved in?
Currently, my free time is devoted to continuing my education in the topic of critical care. I enjoy being involved in efforts that help the community — collecting items for food basket drives and participating in the Angels program at the hospital, and giving to causes that help local residents, like the Disabled American Veterans, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.
I also spend a great deal of time caring for dozens of unwanted, stray or medically needy animals, working closely with veterinarians and the PetLuv Spay and Neuter Clinic in Brooksville to ensure that they get the care they need. I'm told that these are some of the reasons I was selected to receive Oak Hill Hospital's Frist Associate Award recently. It was an honor to be recognized, and I hope it encourages others to find ways they too can help.
Everyone has the ability to make a difference. It's not about money; it's about extending a helping hand.
With what time I have left, I spend it with family (both human and four-legged) and friends, and sleep, but not necessarily in that order.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I make a great sheet tent, can burn the outside of the marshmallow "just right" and lead a mean gnome hunt. Other than that, I am a very good cook.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
Canoeing, hiking in the forest, having family and friends to spend time with. We are lucky to have such beautiful natural parks and trails in Hernando.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
With my work in the health care system, caring for displaced animals, and witnessing what my brother (who is a Vietnam veteran) has to go through for medical care and assistance, I would love it if there was a way to make the programs that are available more accessible to those in need. There are programs out there to help and people willing to help, but there just aren't enough, and oftentimes it is too difficult for most to find.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
There isn't much that people who know me don't already know. I am an open person, and basically what you see is what you get. But if I had to list one thing, I guess it would be that some would not know that underneath the "funny girl" beats the heart of a romantic.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1438.