Dialogues Wild Westchester’s 911


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Dialogues Wild Westchester’s 911

  1. 1. fall 04 Volume 2, Issue 1 T h e O f f i c i a l P u b l i c a t i o n o f T h e F l o r i d a A l l i a n c e f o r A s s i s t i v e S e r v i c e s a n d Te c h n o l o g y Great Minds Making It Work with Muscular Dystrophy FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 1
  2. 2. By Lytha Page Belrose Editor Teleworking Synergy: The Basics for Great Minds and Great Design Meet the designer of FAAST Access magazine, Deborah “Debbie” Dewell, 36. Debbie is a native Floridian who excels as a graphic designer and mother of two despite living with muscular dystrophy and an adaptive lifestyle. Born and raised in Miami, she has six siblings: Jimmy, 54; Larry, 53; David, 53; Danny, 50; Diane, 44; and Bobby, 35. They are a close-knit family and frequently vacation together. Her father, Don Best, 80, lives next door. She met her husband David while they were both attending Thomas Junior College in Thomasville, Georgia. They married in 1992 and settled in Tallahassee. David’s family also lives near Tallahassee, just over the state line in the surrounding Georgia communities. Debbie and David are seasoned small business own- ers. They recently sold his landscape company to focus their attention on raising their children (Isabella, 6, and Samuel, 18 months), building a greater client base for Great Minds and volunteering with their church and daughter’s school. In December 2002, the Dewells moved the Great Minds office into their home prior to the birth of Samuel on February 7, 2003. “Everything changed at that point,” Debbie said. “My doctors advised against having kids,” she ex- plained, “and that’s when we stepped out in faith with a lot of prayer. I have muscular dystrophy, which can complicate a pregnancy.” When asked about the onset of muscular dystrophy and how it affected her life, she explained, “Because my older brother Danny also has muscular dystrophy, my parents recognized the early warning signs in me when I was five years old. I tiptoed instead of walking flat footed,” Debbie continued, “It did not impact anything until I was 11. Then I had surgery to have my heel cords lengthened.” “By 11th grade, classes were too far apart for me to walk—I was barely making it from class to class—and my lifestyle was very limited,” she said. “That’s when I got 16 FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 16 FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04
  3. 3. my first scooter, which completely changed concerning toys, paper and pens, deftly my life. I came out of my shell! I could go averting pint-sized meltdowns. During the where my friends went and participate in interview, David was out getting building social activities.” permits for a home-office extension and “That first scooter,” she added, “was buying party supplies. pretty basic without many features but “When David is busy, I cook, clean, I thought it was wonderful. This is my answer the phone, and do whatever is paign development, and management. In fourth scooter and has lots of features that needed to keep everything organized and addition to designing FAAST Access, Debbie make it possible for me to enjoy an active running smoothly,” Johnson said. “Also, I designs other statewide and regional maga- lifestyle.” While in high school, Debbie was do tons of shopping from office supplies zines, specialty publications like research one of “Jerry’s Kids,” volunteering with her to groceries.” books and novellas, brochures and a full girlfriends to answer phones during the “By this time, Mandy is family,” Deb- array of marketing and public relations local broadcast of the “Jerry Lewis Labor bie commented. “The kids expect her to support materials. Recently, she authored Day Telethon.” be here and they love her. Samuel runs to her first children’s book that features her “I am so grateful to MDA,” said Debbie, greet her at the door everyday!” children and little Annabelle. “for providing scooter funds. With their Johnson has worked for Great Minds for As vice president and secretary of the help, I was able to get four scooters over more than two years although not contigu- corporation, David’s duties—since mov- the years.” ously. “For a short time, Mandy left us to ing the office into their home—include Today, Debbie’s scooter is an iridescent work as a leasing agent for an apartment childcare and transportation for daughter purple with a light grey seat that swivels. complex,” explained Debbie. Isabella to first grade and extra-curricular (It’s obvious with one look at the scooter “That was a lot of long hours and not activities like ballet and the Young Ac- and her home office that purple is Debbie’s as much fun,” Johnson explained. “This tors Studio. “David is the glue that holds favorite color.) It has a basket on the han- job is fun! That’s what makes coming to our family and our business together,” dlebars that sports a stylish handbag, a hol- work easier.” Debbie said. ster for a cellular phone with push-to-talk “Yes, work is fun,” Debbie agreed. “But The Dewells employ an office manager, nationwide radio (which she uses to keep there are pros and cons to working at Amanda “Mandy” Johnson, 19, who came in touch with her business partners, clients home. It is easier to be at home with the to work for them while earning high school and family), a horn and a headlight. kids because we don’t have to worry about credits through the (Diversified Career An active lifestyle for Debbie and transportation issues and the overhead is Technology) DCT program at Chiles High David includes volunteering to read to a lot less. It’s interesting that many of my School in Tallahassee. Now a sophomore in their daughter’s class, school event plan- clients arrange meetings when my kids are business finance at Tallahassee Community ning, graphic design to support school at home or awake in order to see them.” College, Johnson’s duties include book and church events, children’s ministries When asked what advice she would keeping, managing the corporate billings and vacation bible school. give others regarding life or telework, Deb- and collections, scanning images and us- Although Debbie keeps a valid driver’s bie said, “First, make sure you know your ing Photoshop to prepare them for graphic license, which she first got at the age of 15, priorities and stick to them. I keep mine on production, watching the children during she said, “I choose not to drive now because a little note in front of my keyboard: God, meetings and running errands. other drivers are so unpredictable and I Family, Great Minds and Friends.” During our interview, Debbie designed don’t trust my reflexes to deal with that.” “Most importantly,” she explained, “is support materials for a client’s upcoming Now she leaves the driving to David. to keep your determination and to know annual conference and trade show, while, However, both children and the family dog who is in charge; that everyone has a the children ran to her, asking for atten- prefer “riding with Mom” and hitch a ride purpose in this life. My ‘purpose’ and my tion or approval to do something. Isabella on the scooter whenever possible. “Our toy priorities are the same. People say that I showed her a newly created picture. With poodle Annie, that’s short for Annabelle, have a positive attitude and I do...with a pouting look, she voiced concern that is neurotic,” explained Debbie, “She loves God’s help.” the creation was not good enough. Even to ride on my chair and climbs into my Great Minds currently has clients from though Debbie replied, “I love that one,” lap on her own. In fact, Annie is so little Miami to Chicago, three contracted part- Isabella ran off to draw it again. that she can squeeze onto the floorboard ners and one part time employee. “I have The atmosphere was charged with child- with both kids.” one client who moved her home office ish excitement as Isabella’s sixth birthday Prior to opening her own marketing closer to facilitate meetings,” she said. “It’s party was being planned. Patiently, Debbie and design firm, Great Minds, Inc., in 1998, almost like we have a cottage industry of replied to the children’s questions and she was a partner for six years with Rapido people who put their families first, but referred their need for attention “while Design where she specialized in graphic there has to be a good synergy to make it Mommy works, go ask Mandy.” design, marketing, public relation cam- all work.” Johnson refereed sibling squabbles FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 17 FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 17
  4. 4. By Lytha Page Belrose Editor Telework Duck Haven Farm sustained damage from Hurricane Frances and, at press time, Bryson was preparing for the possible onslaught of Hurricane Ivan. THAT QUACKS THE BARRIERS Often, a business is born from a creative the area as best as I can right now to keep know one thing about ducks, except that idea or hobby that family and friends may debris from flying in and hurting them. Most I had 17 babies. So I started doing Internet label as “crazy.” Such is the case for David of my ducks are in the wooded areas not in research—about 400 hours altogether. The Bryson, Sr., 59, who began the hobby of cages or pens. There are lots of ditches to get more I learned about Muscovy ducks, the duck farming four years ago, not long after in and they love it when it rains, so they’ll more I liked them.” undergoing cataract surgery. probably swim around in the ditches or “I called the man back, bought 200 Recently, Bryson applied to the Florida hunker down in the brush.” ducks and they produced 800 ducks,” he Alliance for Assistive Services and Technol- Bryson was kind enough to take some said. “I sold everything they produced. ogy (FAAST) Access to Telework, a loan time out of his preparations for Hurricane That was 18 months ago. Since then, I have program for individuals with disabilities Frances to shed some light on this imagina- about 2,000 ducks. I figure by next sum- who are seeking an alternative to tradi- tive business endeavor. mer, I will have 10,000 to 15,000 ducks that tional employment. He hopes to break the “I got this idea when I sent my daughter will be my breeder ducks and the ducks I barriers of blindness and entrepreneurship to the store one day to buy what I needed,” sell,” he concluded. by turning his hobby into a business: Duck he explained. “An hour later, she showed Bryson’s brood includes Muscovy, Mal- Haven Farm. up with seven baby ducks but not what was lard, Rouen, Indian Runner, Pekin and Since his home-based farm is located on my list. So I sent her back out again to Crested ducks. He enjoys operating as just outside of Ocala in the rural com- get what I needed. She came back with 10 natural a farm as possible, including recy- munity of Citra, Bryson knew to batten more ducks and I never did get the items cling items used on the farm to help the down the hatches after the path of Hur- on my shopping list that day.” environment. Most of his customers are ricane Charley. “We started raising ducks,” Bryson individuals who are looking for a naturally “We’re preparing for Hurricane Frances continued, “when a guy out of Tampa, a produced poultry product, pets or a natural the best we can,” he said. “I have 450 babies poultry processor, called and asked me to means to control mosquito populations on in the brooders right now; I have barricaded raise Muscovy ducks for him. I did not their properties. 20 FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04
  5. 5. According to Bryson, Duck Haven Farm pounds and at 40 weeks old a Muscovy may will be able to produce ducks in a natural weigh between nine and 15 pounds. environment with no hormones, chemi- “A full-grown Muscovy duck will feed a cals, additives or other unnatural factors. family of four,” explained Bryson. “I have The combined ease in raising ducks and approximately 400 recipes for cooking the desire for naturally produced products, duck that, hopefully, will soon be available pets and mosquito control create an ideal on my Web site (www.duckhavenfarm.biz). situation for a small farm. A Muscovy is leaner than chicken and tur- Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata), also called the musk Sadly, Duck Haven Farm lost more than key, with only 12 to 18 percent total body duck, is a large, neotropical 1000 ducks—more than 50 percent of its fat. Other ducks available for consumption domestic duck with dark plumage, inventory—to Hurricane Frances. Bryson’s [including the ones that can be hunted] are blue eyes and white wing patches. home office also sustained damage from a 30 percent body fat,” he said. Males and some females have red fallen tree. The operation lost power and “I chose to raise Muscovy ducks be- facial knobs. It is a greenish-black, gooselike duck found wild from telephone service for more than a week. cause of all these factors. Plus, they are Mexico to northern Argentina but At press time, he was making damage re- very disease resistant and they do not widely domesticated around the pairs and shoring up again to face off with carry the diseases that other poultry may world for its succulent flesh. Hurricane Ivan. Setbacks like these would have,” said Bryson. “Baby ducks cannot cause some to throw in the towel and give tolerate medicated feeds. The only feed I up on a great idea. give is a game-starter feed for the babies, “Life defeats you really quick if you which is 20 percent protein. They are not don’t have a good attitude,” he said. “My 100 percent organic but I do not use any nature is not to sit around and think pesticides!” about what I could have done or should “What’s even more interesting,” Bryson have done.” exclaimed, “Is that they are a form of natu- Bryson had cataract surgery in 1999. In ral pest control themselves!” 2002, he was declared legally blind. “I fell According to his account, Muscovy into that one-percent of the people whose ducks control mosquitoes and were surgery does not work,” he explained. “It’s brought to Florida from South America hard to go blind. It’s harder to get your in the 1970s by the Florida Game & Fish Shown here is a brooder, which protects sight back and then go blind again.” Commission for mosquito control. They baby Muscovy ducks, with several dozen chicks nestled together. “I am gradually losing what sight I do are “dabbler ducks” which means that have,” Bryson continued. “The eye special- they eat mosquito larvae off the top of pens in the morning and putting them ists cannot guarantee recovery of my sight, standing water, keeping the mosquito back in the evening. I am in the start up even with a $25,000 laser surgery. You from maturing. of the business. It will take another eight can’t allow things to get in the way. Life Bryson explained, “They snatch them to 10 months to get it going. I am not able has to go on. I was active in the Jaycees for out of the air, too. Even a three-day old to support my family on this yet but I hope a long time and they taught me that when chick will snatch a mosquito out of the to do that soon,” Bryson explained during you get knocked down in life, you get back air.” our interview before the damage done by up, dust yourself off and go on.” “We can walk outside right now,” he Hurricane Frances. In fact, Bryson twice served as president said, “at almost any time of the day, in By estimation, it may be more than of the local Jaycees, formally known as the the area where the ducks are and there a year now before Duck Haven Farm is a Junior Chamber International, a worldwide are no mosquitoes. We are in a part of productive business endeavor. According federation of young leaders and entrepre- the county that is the worst for West Nile to Bryson, one female duck will produce neurs. He served on eight state boards Virus. If we go out into the swamp, then a minimum of 60 babies a year that will and was president of the JCI Senate in the mosquitoes are a problem. I think the survive. They are not monogamous and Nebraska. “Only one out of every 10,000 reason we are having so many problems they do not require water to mate like most Jaycees is honored to become a JCI Sena- with West Nile Virus in parts of the US is other ducks. A Muscovy duck will live an tor,” he explained, “and I happened to be that they no longer have nature’s way of average of 18 to 20 years. The first and last that one in 10,000.” taking care of the excess mosquitoes and year of its life, the female has no babies. “The Jaycees also taught me that every- bugs. Our homes [have encroached on] An adult duck is 20 weeks old and ready thing is an opportunity, not a problem,” he the animal habitat that is needed for a to process; at 40 weeks, they are mature said. “This is the kind of business anyone natural balance.” enough to start breeding. A 20-week- with a disability can do. I spend an hour or continued on page 31 old duck weighs between five and seven two with my ducks taking them out of their FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 21
  6. 6. Duck Farm continued from page 21 There is a substantial decrease in the natural duck population in Florida, driven out by suburban developments. Duck Ha- ven Farm offers a viable alternative for ho- meowners who live in an area that allows wild animals: own one female Muscovy duck. “One duck would control the mos- quitoes in a small backyard,” Bryson said. “These ducks are very quiet and do not quack. If they are in a backyard, clip the wings by trimming off the outer feathers of the wings [to keep her from flying away],” he explained. “Muscovy ducks are ex- tremely friendly; they are like puppy dogs and they like treats such as cracked corn. You can train a duck by using treats. When you ignore them, they will eventually turn around and go about their business. They don’t tear the grass up like chickens. They will eat roaches, ants—they love fire ants and think that’s a perfect meal. They also eat field mice and frogs. They are scaven- gers and are omnivorous.” “There are about 10,000 pounds of bugs per acre of land in Florida so the ducks never run out of something to eat,” he explained. “Problem is that [nobody real- ized back in the 1970s] how prolific these ducks would be.” Owning one female Muscovy duck would mean having 20 eggs to harvest every few weeks. The eggs are very desir- able, Bryson reported. “They make the best pound cake in the world.” Actually, there is quite a demand for the Muscovy duck eggs. A dozen fresh eggs retail for $3 and 17-day old eggs are a culinary delicacy, with a dozen retailing at $10. “Many Asian cultures enjoy this delicacy. I have Chinese clients who want us to incubate the eggs for 17 days. They boil and eat them,” he said. However, Bryson cautioned that having water for the lone duck is imperative for its survival. If a mating pair of ducks is desired, Bryson said, “We will buy back any excess ducks. We do not want to create an environmental problem. They are a great tasting duck!” FAAST ACCESS • FALL 04 31