Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, Inc is a name change, created in January 2019, after the sale of direct hospice patient care services, with a vision to continue to be a grief resource for people of all ages and stages of life and to preserve the successful grief support and community education programs that Hospice of Citrus County, Inc had provided for 35 years.
Wings Grief Center Homosassa Springs, FL, is a spacious, safe place for any one of any age to receive assistance and education for grief and loneliness and to participate in wellness programs.
In person and virtual grief support groups, workshops, telephone support and mailings are provided to anyone who is grieving and alone. Programs help participants overcome loneliness, share their story with others, strengthen their ability to cope, resocialize in a safe environment and make new friends.
All programs and services are provided at no cost and are dependent on thrift shoppe sales, grants, donations and fundraising.
Educational materials, newsletters and supportive resources, related to grief and loss, are distributed through a variety of resources to program participants, community care providers, schools, churches, and the community to create awareness of the stages of grief and ways to create wellness. Sources include mailings, media, TV and newspaper, electronic and US Postal, social media, Facebook and YouTub
Board of Directors
Mark J Yerman, President
Citrus County Court Judge Mark J. Yerman in the current President of the Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast Board of Directors. He has been a board member since 1998 and served as President multiple times. Mark holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Akron School of Law. He has a Bachelor of General Studies with a Concentration in Economics and Psychology from Ohio University, Athens, OH. He practiced as an attorney for 16 years, concentrating in commercial, real property, custody, divorce, government, juvenile, probate trusts and wills. For the past 29 years, he has served as a Citrus County Court Judge, conducting and deciding all phases of civil, criminal and traffic trials in County Court, including bench and jury trials. In addition, he conducts first appearances for misdemeanors and felonies, and conducts and decides all Circuit Court criminal, civil and probate cases assigned to him. Mark initiated a small Claims Volunteer Mediator Program and has served with several Court related organizations. Mark has volunteered for many local organizations. He served on the Board of Directors for Deaf Services of Citrus County, Inc., was Chairman of the Board for Leadership Citrus, was Past District Chairman for Boy Scouts of America, Gulf Ridge Council, he was Chairman of the Board for Leadership Citrus and is a member and past President of the Rotary Club of Inverness.
William Dixon, M.D., Vice President
Dr. Dixon is a Graduate of Columbia University, New York Medical College and the USF College of Business Administration. He was an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Georgia before entering private practice. He served in the Army as a surgeon and as a Special Forces Officer, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Dixon is involved in senior care and the development of assisted living facilities.
Debbie Rector, Treasurer
Broker/Owner Top Performance Real Estate Consultants
Born and raised in the New England State of Massachusetts, Debbie Rector moved to Citrus County, FL in 1987 to run her family clothing business. In 1994 she joined the Real Estate industry by becoming an assistant to a top producing agent. She worked as an assistant learning the ins and outs of the business from one of the best before she became her Buyer’s Agent in 1996. This Realtor saw the work ethic and potential in Debbie and encouraged her to become a full partner. In 2000 Debbie bought her partner out and opened her own Real Estate Brokerage on April 1, 2012 and was awarded the Broker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019.
Debbie believes in giving back to both her profession and her community. She has served on the Hospice of Citrus County & Nature Coast Board of Directors & Finance Committee since 2005 and now serves on the Friends of Citrus & Nature Coast Board of Directors. She joined the Realtors Association Board of Directors and became the Associations President in 2015. She served as her FL Realtors District Vice President & is currently serving as FL Realtor RPAC Trustee Chair. She donates money and time to many local charities including being a Major Investor (Crystal R) of the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC).
You will most likely see Debbie Rector smiling or laughing with a friend or colleague.
Carol Rowda, RN, B.S.N., Secretary
Carol graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is employed at Citrus Surgery Center in Lecanto. Prior to this position, she was instrumental in starting and administrating an ophthalmology practice in Citrus County. Her home state is Michigan which she enjoys visiting quite often. She attends First Presbyterian Church in Inverness and is involved in Bible Studies. Carol has been a Board member and Secretary for Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, formerly Hospice of Citrus County since 1991.
Jack practices exclusively in the area of marital and family law, and family-law related appeals. He has been Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Marital and Family Law since 2007, and he is the first and currently only Citrus County, Florida, attorney to hold this distinction. He is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Law. He was admitted to practice in Florida in 1985. He began his legal career with the firm of Bradshaw and Mountjoy, P.A., in Inverness, Florida. In 1994, he and Patricia Myers formed Myers and Moring, P.A., Jack and Patricia married in 1996, and they renamed the firm to Moring & Moring, P.A.
Jack is a member of The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association. He is a member and a Past President of the Citrus County Bar Association. He was instrumental in creating the Family Law Section of the Citrus County Bar Association in 2006. He was the recipient of the Citrus County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award in 2004. He was the recipient of The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties) for 2008. He has been recognized in Super Lawyers in Florida for marital and family law every year since 2016.
Jack is a member of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, and he serves on several committees of the Section. He also serves on the Family Law Section’s Executive Council. He is a past editor of the Section’s newsletter, FAMSEG. He has served on the Fifth Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee, and he is a past chair of the Committee. He is a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and is a member of the Florida Chapter of the AFCC. He served for seven years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Chapter of the AFCC and was President of FLAFCC in 2014. He is also a past member of the Citrus-Hernando Inn of Court. He is in his third term as a member of the Supreme Court Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court.
Jack has served on the Board of Directors of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc., the Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida, Inc., the Citrus County Family Visitation Center, Inc., and the Children's Advocacy Center of Citrus County, Inc. (Jessie's Place). He currently serves on the board of directors of Friends of Hospice of Citrus County of the Nature Coast. Jack devotes a significant part of his practice to representing children in dependency court, either as guardian ad litem or as attorney ad litem. He also serves as guardian ad litem in family law matters. Jack is also a family mediator.
Jimmie T Smith
Jimmie T Smith is the Coalitions Director for Concerned Veterans for America – Florida. A native of New Jersey, Jimmie moved to Citrus County Florida in 1975. He enlisted in the US Army at the age of 17 and served in such distinguished units as the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division and the 82nd Airborne Division before retiring in 2003.
Jimmie was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and served three terms representing the 34th and 43rd districts. As a Member of the Florida House of Representatives, Smith was Chair of the Veterans and Military Affairs Sub-Committee as well as a member of the Local and Federal Affairs, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Government Operations and Local Government Affairs Sub-committees.
Jimmie has served on the Board of Directors for Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast since 2018. He lives in Citrus County with his wife Victoria and their children Gabriella and Christopher. He has three grandchildren Christopher, Eva and Damon.
W. Ray Kelley, Ed.D.
W. Ray Kelley became the pastor of the First Christian Church Inverness, Florida in September 2012. He is currently the Administrative Pastor. Dr. Kelley received his bachelor’s degree from Kentucky Christian University, Grayson, KY; Master of Arts from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY; and Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Before coming to Inverness, he was the pastor of Live Oak Christian Church, Live Oak, FL for 6 years. He worked with three different minister training colleges for over 30 years and directed a youth camp. He has also held ministries in Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama. Dr. Kelley has had numerous articles published in various Christian publications. He has also conducted workshops and spoken at various state and local conventions as well as preaching in over 500 congregations across the United States. He and his wife Shirley, have two children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Tracy is the Branch Manager of the Crystal River office and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, Tracy and her team practice in all areas of Financial Planning with an emphasis on Retirement and Longevity Planning. Tracy serves as a board member in a number of organizations including The Rotary Club of Crystal River, Crystal River Main Street, Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, Citrus County, The YMCA of the Suncoast, and is an active member of Kiwanis International, where Tracy served as Distinguished Past President of her local club. She is also Vice President, Treasurer of the Women's Leadership Alliance. Tracy has served on the Raymond James Women's Advisory Council, and in October 2016, Raymond James presented Tracy with the Woman of Distinction award.** When out of the office, Tracy enjoys exercise, camping, and being on the water in Crystal River with her husband Bill, their four children, and four grandchildren.
Before moving to Citrus County from Atlanta 28 years ago, Suzanne worked in the International Banking Department of Wachovia Bank & Trust. She then spent over a year working for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) preparing Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games. At ACOG she worked in the Governmental Affairs Division lobbying the State of Georgia’s General Assembly. She moved to Citrus County in 1993 and joined Raymond James & Associates’ Crystal River office and was a Registered Client Service Associate. Suzanne retired 2 years ago and enjoys boating, fishing, traveling with her husband, Rudy, and tending to her banana and pineapple plants. She is on the Advisory Committee for Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast and volunteers with Save Crystal River supporting the Kings Bay Restoration Project.
A prominent Realtor® in Citrus County since 2000, Cindy Lewis has devoted the past 11 years to serving clients at Trotter Realty, and she previously enjoyed a decade-long association with Plantation Realty. Active in all aspects of life in Citrus County, she has served on the Affordable Housing Board (4 years) and the Code Enforcement Board (2 years) has volunteered with Junior Achievement and United Way. More recently, she joined Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast as a volunteer and member of its Advisory Board. Cindy has contributed as the real estate member for the "Panel of Experts" that shares vital how-to-survive-on-your-own information with those facing new challenges following the loss of a spouse or partner. In addition, she has been a get-it-done proponent for fundraising activities, and she brings a wealth of knowledge about our community to program development efforts, also contributing expertise in finance and mortgage matters gained earlier in her career during 230 years as a mortgage loan officer and supervisor at several local banks.
Bonnie holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from National Louis University, Chicago, IL and certification in ALF Core Training, Alzheimer’s Care, Extended Congregate Care, Food Service, CPR and First Aid. She moved to Florida 48 years ago and participated in the development and growth of comprehensive mental health services, health and hospice services, community senior services and volunteer development for a variety of local non-profit organizations. She developed new programs, provided oversight and grant writing and created training programs for volunteers, including visiting clowns and therapy dogs. She has served on many advisory Boards, managed a Little League girls softball team that became District Champions and served as a Guardian ad Litem for over 10 years. Bonnie is a member of Kings Bay Crystal River Rotary and served as Club President in 2012. Her son is a retired Master Chief, US Navy Band, and her grandson attends University of North Florida.
Susan holds a master's degree in education from Auburn University and licensure as a professional counselor. She has spent 35 years in the mental health field. Among her areas of contribution have been serving as an Employee Assistance Professional, working in private practice, and as director of a chemical dependency treatment program in Utah. Since 2011, Susan has worked locally as a grief support professional initially for families of hospice patients, and later for anyone in the community who has suffered a loss, including grieving children. Currently, in her role as Program Director for Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, she is responsible for developing, planning, implementing, and supervising the delivery of all grief support and wellness programs. In addition, she engages directly with grieving individuals through support groups and workshops, social networking platforms, telephone contacts and individual meetings.
Edward Green, Environmental Services Manager
Ed joined the Environmental and Distribution Team in January 2019 and serves as the Environmental Services Manager. He coordinates the pick-up of large item Thrift Shoppe donations and delivery of large item purchases. He maintains repair, safety and security at both physical locations and coordinates vehicle maintenance. Ed has a background as a service technician, over the road driver for 12 years and building maintenance. Watch for Ed and his team in the “Big Truck” and follow them to Herry’s Thrift & Gift Shoppe.
Jack joined Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast in 2019 as a Thrift Shoppe Coordinator. After demonstrating a focus on customer care and championing the shoppe’s volunteers, celebrating their achievements and appreciating their contributions, he was named Thrift Shoppe Manager in 2021, responsible for overall operations at Herry’s Thrift & Gift Shoppes in Lecanto and Homosassa Springs. His experience in retail sales and operations, customer support and satisfaction, and team leadership dates back 20 years, encompassing several long-term associations with well-known retailers and training/development providers.
Jonathan Beard, Program Specialist
Jonathan holds two degrees from Johnson University, Knoxville, Tennessee
(B.A. Bible/Preaching 1989; M.A. New Testament Exposition/Preaching 1993) and a M.B.A. Degree from Brenau University, Gainesville, Georgia in Healthcare Management 2009. He is a State of Florida-approved Alzheimer’s/Dementia trainer. Having served as a hospice chaplain, Jonathan worked directly with patients and their families at times of greatest need. His ministry experience includes five years of youth ministry and twelve years of preaching in the Christian Church. Since 2001, Jonathan considers his work of helping people, healing lives through all ages and stages of life as an extension of his ministry. Jonathan is thrilled to share life with his incredibly gorgeous wife, Kim, of 27 years, along with their beautiful daughter, Sarah (26) and their handsome son, Nathan (23).
Jessie is a true Floridian, born in Tallahassee and graduated from Citrus High School, Inverness, FL in 1988. She started with the organization as a temporary employee in January 2019 and became permanent in August 2019. Jessie maintains the organization’s master mailing list. She is responsible for volunteer personnel files and records of donated time. She assists with marketing of Thrift Shoppe merchandise, scheduling large item pick-ups and correspondence to donors. Jessie states that she has learned, and is still learning, about the process of grief. “We all grieve in different manners, there is no time limit, nor does grief have an end.”
Peggy has been a member of the Accounting/Payroll Team for over 14 years. She is responsible for maintaining employee personnel records and outsourcing of bi-weekly payroll information. She maintains records for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable and assists management with reports as required.
She supports the mission of help, hope and healing to people in grief.
“Chair Yoga for Grief”
Ellen Armitage Has been teaching yoga for over 20 years. She is certified as a Chair Yoga Teacher and is certified in Grief Chair Yoga. Having taught in churches, hospitals, community centers and programs for those with mental health issues, Ellen loves to help individuals find their way to their highest self through yoga, Reiki and aromatherapy.
Ann Porter holds a M.Ed. from the University of Florida and is a certified bereavement counselor. She has worked in mental health, addiction services and social services; taught social sciences; served as a mental health debriefer for post-traumatic stress disorder; and contributed as social services coordinator and bereavement program director for a Florida hospice.
“The Grief Toolbox”
Joan Luebbe holds B.A. in Communications from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo and a M.A. in Counseling from the University of South Florida. She has significant experience with group and individual counseling. After a genuinely transformative experience participating in a Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast support group, she wants to help others navigate their grief journey.
Betsy Schwartz received First-Degree Reiki Certification in 2012 and earned Reiki Master Level in 2017, enabling her to teach Reiki to others. She offers Reiki group shares, private sessions and Reiki classes. When not working, you’ll find her drumming, swimming, practicing on the dragon boat team, playing Mah Jongg or relaxing with family.