06/10/14 Human Interest
Vincent D'Agostino had his eye on the White House Internship Program long before he landed it last fall. The Homosassa native learned of the program several years ago, but the timing wasn't right. He had more important things to focus on, such as giving back to the world. "There was a bigger part of me that just wanted to help others, listen to their problems and help navigate them toward solutions." Two years after earning his bachelor's degree in psychology from Flagler College, D'Agostino joined the Peace Corps and headed to Swaziland, Africa, devoting two years to creating HIV/AIDS support groups and teaching English. Upon returning to the United States, he secured a job with Suncoast Hospice, and later began attending Stetson University College of Law part time. He graduated in 2012. Determined to apply to the internship program one last time, D'Agostino thought his experiences in law school, coupled with his passion for people with HIV/AIDS, might give him the edge he needed. He was right and was invited to the program in September. D'Agostino, who lives in Seminole Heights with his partner and their pet cockapoo, recently spoke with Times staff writer Aimée Alexander about his journey to becoming a White House intern and what's on the horizon....
05/08/14 Human Interest
Cinde Cortelyou had her doubts about entering Hallmark Cards' Girls Gotta Laugh greeting card contest in 2010. On a whim, the Tampa resident created a card for the contest and just 48 hours later received word that her entry was a winner. Using a black-and-white photo of her stern-faced great-grandparents stiffly posing with twin infants — her mother and aunt —she penned a cheeky question: "Do these babies make me look fat?" On the inside, the card read: "Nah, you always look hot." Cortelyou works for the state of Florida, helping determine eligibility for Medicaid. "It's my left brain's activity," she said. "When I am not working, creating award-winning greeting cards for Hallmark balances out my right brain." Cortelyou recently sat down, with dog Zoe by her side, and spoke with Times staff writer Aimée Alexander about her success with winning three greeting card contests and what's in store for the future....
03/31/14 Human Interest
Sheryle Baker has built her life around finding healing by helping others.
The executive director of the Life Center of the Suncoast grew up in the shadow of her older brother Ira's illness. Baker was only 16 when her brother died, and she emerged with questions.
Her perspective shifted after meeting psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an expert in the field of death and dying and creator of the Five Stages of Grief. Ross served as a mentor for Baker, helping her find a way to transform her grief into a meaningful career....
01/24/14 Human Interest
For Barbara Hobbs, raising awareness about adults with special needs is a deeply personal issue.
Hobbs serves as the voice of the Feb. 1 Super Tailgate for Charity fundraiser for Sunrise Community, a nonprofit organization that provides support for adults with disabilities. She says her involvement has helped define her true purpose in life.
Hobbs came to know Sunrise two years ago. While going through a divorce, the full-time mother of four made a things-to-do list and "Taking care of her family" topped the list....
12/20/13 Human Interest
Earl Joseph Mayo had a knack for timing. Married for 56 years, his wife, Fran, said the hands of a clock could fall off and Earl would still rise each morning at 6:30 on the dot. • The morning of Nov. 16 began in the usual way, with Earl and his wife sharing a quiet breakfast in their scenic senior mobile home community tucked away in Zephyrhills. She had strong coffee; he had his usual cereal mixture of half Honey Nut Cheerios and half Special K with sliced fruit on top....