How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
I moved to Brooksville in December 1980. I was born and raised on Long Island, N.Y. I graduated from Connetquot High School in Bohemia, N.Y., in 1975. After finishing community college in 1977, I married and moved to Biloxi, Miss. This is where I learned to appreciate the Southern way of living.
Who are the members of your family?
I have three children — Craig Havelis, 29; Chandler Beasley, 25, and Callie Beasley, 23.
Craig is married to Elisa, and they gave me one grandson, Jason, 3. For the past 10 years, Craig has been in the Air Force, and they will be soon leaving for Okinawa, Japan, where he'll be stationed for three years.
Chandler is a firefighter for Hernando County and works out of the Ridge Manor station. And my daughter Callie is in the Coast Guard, presently stationed in New Orleans.
I am proud of my children and how their lives are dedicated to serving others.
Tell us about your career.
I obtained my legal studies degree at Suffolk Community College. I began my legal research career with a law firm in Gulfport, Miss. It was a prestigious law firm with a main office in Jackson, Miss. They handled insurance defense and some celebrities, one being Jerry Garcia.
When I was hired, I was not allowed to answer the telephone so the clients would not know that they hired a "Yankee." I enjoyed my time there and learned many things.
I returned briefly to New York with my husband and child, but after a divorce I came to Brooksville to live with my father. I was soon hired by Linda Treiman. For several years, I worked for various attorneys, until October 1990, when I began working as a judicial assistant for Circuit Judge Jack Springstead. I have enjoyed working in the court system. Our docket mainly deals with criminal, guardianship, juvenile and mental health.
What kinds of activities are you involved in now?
In 1985, I joined the Brooksville Junior Service League, and I am currently a sustaining member of the club.
I also joined the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville, and was recently recognized as a distinguished member by the Kiwanis Foundation. A distinguished member is one who during the course of a year completes certain requirements, including community service, training, attending meetings, etc.
Another group I am involved in is the Council on International Educational Exchange. CIEE is a nonprofit, nongovernmental international education organization (foreign exchange program).
Tell me more about those activities.
The Junior Service League is a women's organization that helps the local community, women and children. We ran a thrift shop and were instrumental in organizing the construction of the playground at Tom Varn Park.
After retiring from that organization for several years, I missed community service. I was asked to join the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville 2001. In 2006, I was installed as the first female president of the club in its 83 years of existence. I am very active in many community events sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, and I have earned many recognitions through the organization, but nothing gives me more joy than seeing the happy faces of the children we serve in the community.
Through CIEE I have been placing high school exchange students with families since 2001. I have hosted more than 14 students myself from various countries of the world, and through that experience I have brought foreign customs and education to our local high school students and their families.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I love to camp at Fort De Soto beach. My other love is to travel. I have been lucky to travel to many countries to visit exchange students that I have hosted in the past.
The benefit of working with the exchange students is attending meetings yearly in different places. I have visited Madrid, Prague, Munich, Dublin, Rome, Florence and Rio.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
I love participating in our community events. With Kiwanis we hosted Kid's Day, the annual Christmas parade, annual Easter egg hunts and numerous projects. I love being involved and getting to know the many citizens of Hernando County.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
I would love to see more activities for the youth of our county. We have a growing problem of juvenile arrests. If there were places for them to go, it might deter some of the criminal acts. We have a lot of parks for sports that many of the youth take advantage of, but it is the nighttime activities that need to be developed.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
Most people think that I graduated from Hernando High School. At times, I feel like a Hernando High graduate because of my ties through my children graduating there and the many years of helping the school through volunteer work.
I have been very fortunate to find a community that has so much to offer and become a part of it. Many people go searching for the big-city life, but living in Hernando County gives one a comfortable life and the ability to spend time at the beach and be a short distance from any of the state's many attractions.
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.