Brevard’s Most Accomplished, Unique and Praiseworthy Moms
This year, when we asked around Brevard County looking for some of the area’s most accomplished, unique and praiseworthy moms to feature in our Mother’s Day issue, we found a group of women who not only fill some pretty big shoes as mothers but are also proud to call their kids, and often their own mothers, their best friends and role models. These women inspire and amaze us as business women, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and community leaders, but ask any of them their favorite job title and they’ll agree — it’s simply “Mom.”
Owner, The Ultimate Rose
Mom of: Alexandra, 23; Thomas, 21; Gabrielle, 15
Charlotte Wienckoski wants to make one thing clear about being featured on the cover of SpaceCoast Living’s Mother’s Day issue. “I have a hundred friends that are amazing moms. My mom’s amazing… my mother-in-law is amazing… I know so many people who are so much more worthy of that than me. I’m just a regular mom.”
Those who know Charlotte would disagree.
For three years, she and her husband, Tom, opened their home to host the “Have a Heart” benefit for Candlelighters of Brevard, enabling the organization to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for children with cancer and their families. The Wienckoskis also lead an annual holiday service project for the Daily Bread, collecting hundreds of essentials for the homeless.
Caring for others is something Charlotte learned from her own mother and passing on that same spirit of service to her children is paramount to her. “I want them to be strong and to be successful, but more than any of that, I want them to be able to feel like they helped another person, that they did something for somebody. To me, that’s what life is all about.”
With two grown children and their youngest now in high school, the Wienckoskis know how important communication is in raising a family. Above all, said the mom of three, “The most important thing for me, without a doubt, is that they know we have unconditional love. My husband and I tell them all the time, no matter what happens in their lives, our love will never change for them.”
While growing up in Brevard County, Colleen Hunter never pictured herself taking over the family business, Browning’s Pharmacy & Health Care. Once a small neighborhood drug store, the independent pharmacy will celebrate its 50th anniversary in June 2012, with Colleen at the helm.
After graduating from Melbourne High School and the University of Florida, she worked in Orlando for a few years, then moved back to Brevard County when she married Melbourne native, James Hunter. She worked for her parents for 16 years before officially purchasing the business from them this January. Colleen believes there’s still a niche for Browning’s. “The community needs us. We still believe in service.”
Supporting her community has always been a priority. Colleen and her mother, Jeannine, prepare meals for children at The Haven every few weeks. In 2003, she joined the Melbourne Beach Volunteer Fire Department in various support roles in order to spend more time with James, who is the Assistant Chief. The whole family, including 14-year-old Morgan, play a huge role in organizing community events through the fire station.
Colleen hopes her daughter will follow in her footsteps not only in terms of giving back but also in one day taking over the family business. She recalls sharing that vision with her daughter recently and hearing a familiar reply, “Who says I want to do that?” But as Colleen herself can attest, “Who knows what the future holds?”
Indian Harbour Beach
Attorney, The Law Office of Pamela J. Pedlow, PA
Mom of: Maggie, 26
Pam Pedlow has wanted to be a lawyer since she was in seventh grade, after she successfully petitioned her school to allow girls to wear pants. Yet marriage and motherhood led her down a different path. She taught for 17 years, including 12 years at Eau Gallie High School. It wasn’t until her daughter, Maggie, applied to college that Pam decided “on a whim” to try and make her lifetime dream come true.
“I come from stock where my grandmother learned to ride a bicycle at 85. She moved herself from New Hampshire down to Florida when she was 90. If she could do that, I could certainly handle law school.”
In 2002, Pam, her husband, Chris, and Maggie moved to Miami, and mother and daughter began college — together. For four years, Pam taught high school full time during the day and went to law school four nights a week.
She graduated from law school in 2006 and worked as a contract attorney for several years. Finally in October 2010, she created her own practice, working mainly in divorces, “parenting plans” or custody, and foreclosure defense.
Pam hopes her story encourages other women to follow their dreams as well. “…Whether they’re still married or not, no matter what their age, they can do whatever it is that they set their mind to do, and maybe they’re going to have to make sacrifices to do that, but the options are absolutely endless. To be able to convey that to our daughters is so important.”
Founder, Ability Plus Therapy and No Limits Academy
Mom of: Cheyne, 20 and Matthew, 13
When Laura and her husband Lane’s oldest son, Cheyne, was born with Spastic Quadriparesis Celebral Palsy, Laura, a chef by trade, traveled the world to find the best way to help him. She found the most common-sense approach in Poland, brought it home with her and Ability Plus Therapy was born.
When she opened her pediatric therapy clinic for children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities in 2004, it was only the third in the United States. It was also the first clinic in the world to develop a bungee suit therapy program for autistic children.
Intensive suit therapy strengthens the children’s muscles and helps form neurological loop connections to the brain. “We started when Cheyne was about 7 and he was a quad… Now he’s 20 and he’s walking on hand canes,” brags his mom. “He’s on his way to Stetson University in the fall.”
Along the way, another little boy with the same diagnosis came into their lives. The couple adopted Matthew when he was 3½ years old. The desire to help more children led the Joslins to open No Limits Academy, a school for physically disabled children, in 2008.
While the growing businesses and raising two boys with special needs occasionally can be stressful, she credits God and her husband ability to stay balanced. “My husband and I are just such a team. People say that behind every strong man there’s a woman, but behind me there’s a strong man.”
Co-owner, Cocoa Hyundai, Coastal Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Hyundai and St. Augustine Hyundai
Mom of: Matthew, 22; Jason, 22; Allie, 20
When Tracey Latshaw calls hers a family-owned business, it’s not only because she works with her brother, her sister and her son in the business left to them by her father, the late Bruce Nelson, Sr., it’s also because their business was built on family values that now extend to their employees.
As co-owner of four area Hyundai and Mitsubishi dealerships, Latshaw can’t imagine not working with family. “We’ve been doing it for so long, we have a perfect fit. Even if we argue, we argue, it’s over and we’re back to doing business.”
Working with her son, Jason, bring a new element to the family work dynamic. “The funny thing is now I can see it through my father’s eyes. My father had a rule when we worked for him — you started at the bottom and you worked your way up,” Tracey says. “I’ve done the same thing with my son in many ways. Sometimes I’m harder on him because he is my son. I remember saying the same thing about my father, but now I’m grateful for that.”
Despite being her son’s boss, Latshaw enjoys a very close relationship with him and her other two children.
“I had my kids when I was young and I decided from then that I wanted a very open relationship with them and wanted them to be able to come to me no matter what. And it’s worked, they’re my best friends.”
Co-Owner, Brevard Team Sports
Mom of: Brittany, 27
Determined. Passionate. Resilient. Any of these words could describe Jayne McClanahan, co-owner of Brevard Team Sports. Jayne, now 52, and her daughter Brittany Garrett, 27, purchased the business together in 2009.
While the mother-daughter team had always planned to go into business together, they thought it would be party planning, not sporting goods. “The economy turned sour and nobody was (going to) throw parties so we decided to go a different direction,” recalls McClanahan. Now they’re proud to operate a ‘100 percent female-owned’ sporting goods store.”
Working together isn’t that unusual though, since Jayne and Brittany also went to college together in 2006 when Jayne was 48. “We needed to push each other,” Jayne says. “There were times when you don’t feel like going and the other person will say, ‘Come on, let’s just go and get it over with.’”
The pair says they’re fortunate to get a great deal of support from other family members, including Jayne’s mom and dad, Fred and Pat Scott, and Brittany’s husband, Josh.
Jayne credits her mom with some good advice along the way. “My Mom always told me to be honest with people. Do the best job you can…” and perhaps most importantly, “You can do whatever you chose to do in life.”
It turns out that was good advice. “I always wanted to run my own business and here I am doing just that.”
Director of Business Development, Coastline Imaging
Mom of: Taylor, 11
Kristy Yannelli is unabashedly, undeniably devoted to her daughter, Taylor. ” I can’t wait to get her from school, to hear about her day, to sit down and have a snack with her…” admits Kristy. “She’s my family. She’s my person.”
Although she was initially scared to find out she would be a single mom at age 22, Kristy said she felt at peace about motherhood as soon as her daughter was born. “I looked in her eyes and I knew automatically this child was a gift from God. She was given to me for a reason.”
Being a young mom also makes her a fun mom. Now 34, she and 11-year-old Taylor have plenty of adventures— going to concerts, visiting Disney World and Universal Orlando, cheering for the Orlando Magic and Washington Nationals, and taking car trips every summer.
The pair also goes on regular shopping sprees to provide supplies for the Humane Society of South Brevard, where they found their shepherd mix, Roxie. After the earthquake in Haiti last year, Taylor spearheaded a program that raised $1,200 and collected 300 bags of clothing and toiletries.
With a great career, her parents, sister and close friends for support, Kristy seems to have created a successful formula for single parenthood. “You just have to let them do their thing and be there for them whenever they need you.”
While she would like to have more children some day, Kristy is certain that her life right now is just as it should be.