Memorial Day, like everything else this year, is different in the Age of the Coronavirus. With others or apart, today we reflect on the sacrifices of our military. From small acts of kindness to major donations, we are also united in the fight to end this pandemic. The outpouring of gratitude to those on these front lines takes many creative and heartfelt forms.
Examples are plentiful. The staffs at nearby healthcare facilities are treated to lunch by local restaurants including Chick Fil A, Jersey Mikes and Firehouse Subs. A local pizza eatery provides pies to Central Florida Regional Hospital as well as donations to local fire and police stations. The YMCA of Central Florida offers no-cost childcare to frontline workers. Even pets are supported! The Pet Alliance distributes free dog and cat food for those in need of a helping paw.
Children are doing their part too, creating baskets of hygiene items for nursing home residents. Leesburg High Senior Kamryn Reynolds holds the title of Miss Leesburg. She hosts several local TV programs with crafts and stories specifically for kids at this difficult time. Neighbors are stepping up to help neighbors. In Harbor Hills, neighbors pick up groceries, medications and essentials for others. Thanks again to our talented mask makers, Roseann Cochran, Nancy Flood, Lynne Young, Linda Fulkrod and Carol Vance.
This Friday and Saturday, Harbor Hills proudly gives back to our local heroes. Join us for a fun 4-person scramble with box lunch and prizes included. The tournament will raise funds to benefit our local first responders including police, firefighters, EMT’s and healthcare workers. This is our opportunity to thank those who risk their lives to keep us safe. Please join us. Call the Pro Shop at 352-753-7711.
An expression of love has always been special. These days, it is more precious than ever. As our country slowly reopens, now is the perfect time to strengthen our personal faith and reinforce bonds with those we love.
For that reason, Christy Rich, Harbor Hills wedding coordinator, promotes early planning for both weddings and vow renewal ceremonies. Even a small gathering provides the opportunity to celebrate connectedness and renew an appreciation for our lives.
“A vow renewal ceremony at Harbor Hills is very special,” Christy explains. It celebrates the value of an enduring relationship. Vow renewal says to the world, ‘I’d do it all over again.’”
Whether it be a wedding to celebrate young love or a vow renewal for seniors, Christy organizes everything for the couple. The view from the Harbor Terrace overlooking Lake Griffin provides an extraordinary backdrop for the special day.
Our youngest daughter can attest to that! She and her husband will celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary this week. They were married at Harbor Hills in an international ceremony in 2008, attended and enjoyed by relatives from Ireland, Scotland and England. For more information, contact Christy at 352-753-7000 or email@example.com.
I am also celebrating an anniversary event. On May 25, 2015, my first article as Harbor Hills community columnist was published in The Villages Daily Sun. It has been a delight to bring you the news and activities of this distinctive community for the last five years. Many thanks to my kind readers, the diligent Daily Sun editorial staff and the developer of Harbor Hills, Michael Rich. Apart from the Great American Novel I have yet to write, this has been a dream come true.
Mother’s Day was filled with happy memories and the promise of a joyful future. Not surprisingly, the pandemic has made us acutely aware of something Moms do best – helping others. From the selfless acts of first responders to the working mothers who are now homeschooling, we are all stepping up to do our part in this unprecedented time. Helping others is a significant part of what makes living in Harbor Hills exceptional as well.
We are incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity. Although several key events were cancelled, the charity raised and distributed just under $25,000 this season. Proceeds benefit local charitable organizations such as Lake Hills School. The school serves 220 special needs students. “We are so grateful to have the support of the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity,” said Dr. Robin Meyers, Lake Hills principal. “ The donations have significantly helped fund the purchase of expensive equipment adapted for our special needs students.” Other recipients this season include the Christian Food Pantry, Fruitland Park Elementary, Community Medical Care Center, The Villages Elementary School, The Haven and Forward Path.
The entire Harbor Hills community is saddened by the loss of member Roger Wendelken. Ladies Charity Past President Sue Rice explains that Roger was an integral part of our many fundraisers. “His help and encouraging smile,” she said, “will be greatly missed.” Roger’s wife Ruth has requested that memorial contributions be donated to the Harbor Hills Ladies Charity so that his work can continue.
Congratulations to the new board members. They are: Ruth Palmer, President; Nancy Flood, VP; Leslie Nisun, Treasurer; Susie Connor, Secretary and Mary Johnson, Philanthropy. Heartfelt thanks to the outgoing board who generously served this season.
In 1848, the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr coined the phrase, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although Life will certainly look different once the virus has passed, many things, especially for us Seniors, remain constant. One of those is our ability to have fun!
Tennis Professional John Natolly created a plan to keep us active with a community-wide Walking Challenge. Register at the Harbor Hills Racquet Center. Track and report the number of miles walked weekly. John will motivate progress with prizes! What better way to enjoy the sunshine and boost our immune systems.
On our championship golf course, the season concluded with Member/Member Match Play. First place winners in each of the five men’s flights are: Dave DeCoster and Mike Reyome; Bob Neese and Ted Sartin; overall winners Ed Galuska and Larry Skoch; Bill Fagliano and Keith Schwartz, and Ray Edmiston and Shad Shadoin.
Harbor Hills Ladies Golf Association President Deb Markey explained that the Member/Member Tournament is one of the ladies’ favorites. The five flight winners are: Lisa Ragan and Elissa Rothchild; Judy Warren and Lin McLeod; Lynda Collier and Barb Tarinelli; Janice Johnson and Linda Reyome and Carolyn Bowers and Billie Neese. Congrats to all for a great season.
The Harbor Hills Garden Club had a spectacular year! Thank you to outgoing board members: Judy Monin, President; Shirle Mabie, VP; Pam Griffiths, Secretary; Linda Roark,Treasurer and Frankie Smith, Communications Director. These women worked hard to bring us a season of fun and unique events. Welcome the new board, Shirle Mabie, President; Carol DiDomenico, VP; Linda Roark continues as Treasurer; Judy Monin, Secretary and Frankie Smith as returning Communications Director.
The family life of a small business owner is one I know well. My Dad was a small business owner in New York. Our family vacations were scheduled around his work and busy seasons. That experience has given me an appreciation for small businesses suffering from the impact of the pandemic. Supporting our local businesses and clubs is critical for a robust economic life after COVID-19.
Have you been shopping on-line? If your local shop has a website, you can shop at home and have items delivered. Think about a local shop before placing that Amazon order.
The term “Grab and Go” is now a familiar part of our lexicon. Consider extra items that can be frozen to enjoy at a later time. Check out http://ubereats.com for local options. Purchasing gift cards provides an influx of cash to your favorite restaurant, shop or club. Gift cards for designated amounts from the Harbor Hills Pro Shop can be redeemed for golf, instruction or merchandise.
Harbor Hills is offering some delicious ways to support our club. “Take Home Dinners” are available every Wednesday and Friday and they are yummy! On Saturdays, grab a burger and two beers for $12. Make Sundays fundays by ordering and picking up “Family Dinners.” And the Grille Room offers a limited lunch menu to go every day.
The Harbor Hills Server Relief Fund, started by member Tom Warren, helps offset gratuities that our servers are losing. The Mask Project, created by Roseann Cochran and Nancy Flood, resulted in 191 mask requests. Monetary donations support the server relief fund. The efforts and giving hearts of this unique community are worthy of special recognition. #hhlifeaftercorona
When delicious heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs like basil are abundant, we especially enjoy Caprese Salads.
“Salad of Capri” is wonderful yet simply made by layering seasonal tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (sold bulk in brine often at deli counter or with specialty other cheeses in vacuum sealed packages), and basil leaves.
In Italy, Caprese salad is traditionally flavored with fine olive oil lightly salted preserving the pure flavors of its fresh ingredients. My recipe includes a lite balsamic vinaigrette option. Be ready to be amazed by the magic the finished drizzle of balsamic glaze brings to this salad.
The second, Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Shaved Parmigiana, is my favorite. It’s also my go-to salad for dinner guests especially when serving “Italian”.
This incredible salad is bursting with flavor and so easy to prepare. Arugula’s peppery taste is complemented with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and the bold and distinct taste of shaved parmigiana and prosciutto. The slightly sweet drizzle of balsamic glaze adds perfect balance.
This recipe will serve 6…Ingredients:
4 or 5 flavorful season tomatoes
1-pound fresh mozzarella, pre-sliced or solid
About 30 fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinaigrette or fine olive oil with a small sprinkle of salt
Balsamic Glaze store bought or homemade (see below)
Optional, garnish with diced red onion and Kalamata olives as shown.
Combine 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil with 1/4 cup of quality balsamic vinegar. Add 1/8 teaspoon prepared mustard, 1 teaspoon finely chopped basil, salt and pepper. Whisk.
Remove tomatoes’ rough stems. Cut them vertically into 1/4 inches’ thick slices.
Cut fresh mozzarella into 18 equal slices.
Place the largest slice of tomatoes on each plate followed by a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf (see picture). Repeat, by adding another slice of tomatoes, a basil leaf and another slice of cheese, basil and tomatoes. Use the smaller slices of cheese, tomato and basil leaf on one side.
Stir vinaigrette and drizzle by spoon over the salad.
Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Note: Fresh mozzarella is not the same as “Buffalo Mozzarella”. True Italian Buffalo Mozzarella is traditionally made from buffalo milk. It is sold as “Mozzarella di Bufala Campana”, is certified and protected. It also is welcomed in this salad.
Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Shaved Parmigiana
10 oz. package of Arugula will easily serve 6 as a side salad. About 4 oz. of parmigiana and the equivalent of one slice of thin prosciutto per plate are ample.
Select freshest arugula. Overgrown leaves tend to be bitter. Leaves past their prime turn yellowish.
10 oz. arugula
¼ pound shaved parmigiana cheese from a larger wedge
6 slices (less than ¼ pound) thinly sliced prosciutto
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoon quality balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Rinse and blot arugula dry.
Using a potato peeler, shave off about ¼ pound of parmigiana.
Cut each slice of prosciutto in half lengthwise and perpendicular in ¾ inch lengths. Spread pieces on wax paper.
Wisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. When ready to serve, toss arugula with dressing. Continue tossing while lightly salting (prosciutto and parmigiana are already salty).
Alternatively add arugula, pinches of prosciutto, and pieces of parmigiana onto serving plate. Reserve some for show on top.
Lightly drizzle balsamic glaze over and finish with fresh ground black pepper.
By Harbor Hills Member Pete Steriti
Visit Peter’s website: www.luciatramonte.com for more great recipes
My friend and neighbor, John E. Bircher, III, COL, USA (Ret.), has generously shared his thoughts with me over many years. John’s extensive military experience provides a unique perspective. Today, I share a small portion of his comments on the heroes emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to pause today to say thanks to a segment of our population who is going forward into the unknown on behalf of me and countless other Americans. A special thanks to the National Guard and Reserve military men and women who have been called to active duty in these dangerous times. Thanks for the selfless dedication of our EMT’s, the hospital workforces, and the doctors and nurses who are caring for those most affected by the coronavirus.
I am thankful for our medical professionals, like Doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who bring their years of dedication to understand, cure, and prevent diseases. As was the case after 9/11, I will thank them every time I pass someone in scrubs or visit a clinic. I also want to thank the countless volunteers from those who work in medical facilities, to those who stay at home, yet sew face masks for their local medical personnel, to those who are cooking or delivering meals to shut-ins or those who are assisting at testing sites. There are many more and for each of them I will forever be grateful.”
Our local heroes include Roseann Cochran and Nancy Flood who tirelessly sewed more than 190 masks. Donations were made to the Harbor Hills Server Relief Fund. John Bircher said it best. “Yes, I am a proud American and I give thanks for the millions of other proud and patriotic Americans who today are serving me.”
Recent weeks have been been difficult for us active seniors, disrupting our routines, confining us to four walls and curtailing our social interactions. Learning to be grateful within these difficult moments is both an art and a survival technique.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of the agency is to lead the government’s humanitarian efforts. Dr. Felicia Wilson Young is the USAID Deputy Director. She recently spoke about gratitude. Can gratitude help us manage this experience? Dr. Young recommends being grateful for simply the moment. “Grateful for nature that is around me, grateful for the ability to breathe, grateful for being in my right mind, grateful for my family and the people who love me.” She explains that if you are in a place of gratitude, you value other people and recognize the ways in which they enhance our lives.
Yes, we are being changed by recent events. But this experience can be transformational in a productive, purpose-driven way. We can focus on the gifts we have, both externally and internally. Let’s embrace life, be it through technology, writing, music, prayer or creating art in our unique way. Gratitude can propel us to move forward, to inspire and encourage others in this and any circumstance.
When this pandemic ends and finally becomes a memory, what will be left? A greater understanding, a greater consciousness, greater positivity and the importance of gratitude in everyday life. Trey Gowdy said it best. “These three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. We’ll make it. No us/them. Let’s put others ahead of ourselves. Courage. Compassion. Caution in equal parts. Take care of one another with cautious courage until the sun re-emerges.” And it will.