NEW PORT RICHEY — Next week, Wheelchair/Stretcher Limo, a non-emergency transportation service, will celebrate its 30th anniversary, a milestone that makes its founder, JoLynn Spivey, proud.
In 1985, Spivey, now 57, worked as an emergency medical technician for an ambulance company in Pinellas County. There, she started a non-emergency unit to transport patients whose conditions weren't critical....
DADE CITY — Five months after Robert Schultz retired, a fire destroyed the uninsured double-wide mobile home he called home.
In the fire's stressful wake, a friend of Schultz, 67, made an observation: He needed to relax.
His friend suggested yoga. So Schultz took a yoga class at a studio attached to a frame shop, called the Custom Frame Store, which his yoga instructor owned.
"I walked in (to the frame store) and told her this brought me full circle," he said. "I had learned framing in college to work my way through school."...
Spotlight | Florida Professional Motorcycle Training
PORT RICHEY — Dave Cruz's first crash on a motorcycle, in 1981, shook him. The recovery after his second crash, in 1997, took a year. But it wasn't until 2004 that Cruz took his first class on how to properly and safely operate a motorcycle.
What he learned prompted a question, said Cruz, 59, who now owns Florida Professional Motorcycle Training: "How the heck did I stay alive on a bike for 35 years?"...
NEW PORT RICHEY — When the owners of a Main Street produce market decided in 2008 to turn it into a cafe and creamery called Market Off Main, they picked an unlikely place to put it: in a run-down house.
"It had been unoccupied for several years," said Jerry Kuss, 72, who found the building and now co-owns the business with Rose Mohr, 67.
"It didn't look very inviting from the front," Mohr said. "It was a location that was not appreciated (by the public)."...
04/16/15 Human Interest
Sister Miriam Cosgrove peeled back the black plastic tarp that covered a 250-gallon fish tank. The tilapia inside swam to the surface. "A feeding frenzy," Cosgrove, 73, said as the fish fought for each pellet of food that the Catholic sister dropped into the water.
The tank is one of 10 in the greenhouse next to Holy Name Monastery, installed in December so Cosgrove, who will have been a Benedictine nun for 55 years this summer, could minister to the world in a new way: with aquaponics — "a sustainable, self-sufficient fish farm."...
NEW PORT RICHEY — On the stage at Merlin's Theater, David Evangelista entertains each audience with what he has practiced for decades: magic.
A year and a half ago, the 53-year-old illusionist and magic shop owner opened the 65-seat venue — a place where he and other magicians can perform the tricks Evangelista first picked up as a kid.
When Evangelista was 9 years old, his grandmother bought him a deck of magic cards. Then he got a magic set....
WESLEY CHAPEL — In a 24-foot-long truck called Americanwiener, Ben Laffey lives his dream: making hot dogs.
Laffey, 39, co-owns the food truck with his wife, Amy, and has earned the distinguished title of "wiener creation genius."
His penchant for using toppings to turn grilled dogs into gourmet meals was preceded by a decade in a corporate job. The journey started while he studied at the California School of Culinary Arts....
As a colleague and I crossed the parking lot at the Port Richey bureau of the Tampa Bay Times, he pointed at the bumper sticker on my car's rear windshield.
He read it aloud: "Chastity is for lovers."
He furrowed his brow and tilted his head, perplexed by what he had read.
"How can chastity be for lovers if it means you can't have sex?" he asked.
What I said surprised him:...
NEW PORT RICHEY — On Anclote Key in 2002, Wendy Longman and her husband met a retired aerospace engineer from San Diego. He had a goal: to charter sailboats as a business.
"You know how to sail; we know how to market," Longman, 46, said she told him.
Her husband, Bruce Longman, worked in marketing, so the couple helped him start Windsong Sailing and Fishing Charters.
But "the 2004 hurricanes weren't nice to him," Longman said, and he also was going through a divorce....
DADE CITY — Last month, Thomas Giella Jr. launched Techsoft Academy, a business he hopes will meet a need for business owners and bloggers whose work requires the use of lots of software — confidence.
"Anyone can set up a blog," said Giella, 30. "Kids can do it; adults can do it."
But, he said, the technology a person has to navigate after that can be overwhelming.
"People don't know unless they're told," he said....
02/19/15 Human Interest
Christine Collins smiled as she held Sierra Illes' infant in the kitchen at the Pay It Forward Farm, a nonprofit organization assisting struggling single moms in Pasco and Hernando counties.
Collins, 55, founded the group. Last year, it served 16 single moms and 46 children. Currently, the organization serves six single moms and 11 kids. This week, it celebrates its five-year anniversary....
LUTZ — Roy Naccour was 25 when he bought J. Joseph Salon. The stylist, now 33, opened the salon's second location last year — a mark of success that might have taken some naysayers by surprise.
"Nobody knew whether I was going to make it, especially being so young," Naccour said.
But, he said, he worked hard.
Naccour was born in Lebanon and raised in Sweden, where he decided after attending a hair show that he would become a stylist. He studied there to become a stylist and started doing hair professionally at age 16. At 18, he moved to Land O'Lakes, where his dad lived and he liked the weather....
NEW PORT RICHEY — The owners of Veterans Alternative Therapy Center stood on a wooden stage in front of a panel of judges.
As contestants in the inaugural SMARTstart Challenge, a Shark Tank-style pitch competition that began in November, Brian Anderson and Janel Norton had 10 minutes to prove that Veterans Alternative Therapy, which provides alternative therapy for veterans, is a viable business worthy of financial support....
LAND O'LAKES — While Lori Ellis worked as a registered nurse in the 1990s, a lot of her colleagues studied skin care so they could assist doctors who conducted skin-related cosmetic procedures.
At first, she had no interest. But she decided to study it anyway. What she learned resulted in the business she started in 1999: Healing Touch Skin Care and Wellness Center.
"Our skin is our largest organ; it takes a lot of abuse," said Ellis, 54, who maintains her nursing license but is now a medical aesthetician....
Quinton Aaron, the actor who starred as Michael Oher — a.k.a. "Big Mike" — in The Blind Side alongside Sandra Bullock, will give a talk about bullying at Saint Leo University in Pasco County. Aaron was bullied as a kid and is the founder of the Quinton Aaron Foundation, which focuses on bullying and childhood obesity. He will share his story at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardrooms at the university's Student Community Center, 33701 State Road 52, St. Leo. Free. For information, call (352) 588-8268 or email email@example.com. — Arleen Spenceley, Times staff writer...