Tag Archives: vbla

Vero Beach Lifeguard Association (VBLA): Life Saving & Public Safety in Need of a New “House of Refuge”

written by Sherry Nist

Humiston Park, VBLA “House of Refuge”

Any Santa out there want to be the hero to Vero Beach residents, visitors & our very hard working public safety organization that protects our beaches 365 days of the year?  The Vero Beach Lifeguard Association (VBLA) is in dire need of a new structure, a “House of Refuge” at Humiston Park and is just a donor away from making it happen.  

VBLA’s current structure at Humiston Park is falling apart and no longer provides the space, safety, shelter nor image of professionalism that the VBLA exhibits everyday.

Who are the VBLA?

According to the VBLA website:  “The Vero Beach Lifeguard Association is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote lifeguarding and water safety in Vero Beach and the surrounding communities. Started in August of 2011 by area lifeguards, community activists, business people and concerned citizens, the VBLA strives to keep our beaches as safe as possible by supplying needed equipment to Vero Beach lifeguards, conducting water safety classes and keeping the public and community leaders informed about local surf conditions, beach attendance, aquatic life, water rescues and more through a monthly VBLA Beach Report.”

As far as I am concerned, that is an understatement.  The VBLA is on our beaches, in the elements, 365 days of the year with a mission (read: fierce passion) to monitor our beaches for your safety.  These gentlemen not only save lives but must make split-second decisions based on the ever-changing weather, tides & wildlife in an ocean environment; decisions that are not always popular with “we, the beach-loving public”. 

Tough job. Tough environment. VBLA loves their jobs. Let’s show VBLA the love we have for Vero’s beaches & their efforts.

VBLA needs a new, state-of-the-art lifeguard station at Humiston that matches the professionalism, dedication & needs of Vero’s lifesavers & beach visitors. Humiston happens to be one of the top 10 parks in Florida.  Fact.

The current Humiston structure has been sitting sentry since 1978.  Lifeguards sitting inside cannot see the beach.  When outside, VBLA’s guards are subject to all the elements the ocean environment provides.  The building is moldy, has holes in the floorboards & walls; the windows are cloudy and the guards frequently find snakes and/or rats inside upon opening in the mornings.

Indian River County Fire & Rescue have state of the art facilities.  It just makes good sense. Public safety sense.

Tourism is the #1 industry in Indian River County.

An estimated 1 million people visit the beaches of Vero Beach every year. VBLA is dedicated to keeping tourists and locals safe while advocating the need for clean beaches, well equipped lifeguards and an informed public.

Through multiple fundraisers every year, VBLA has raised thousands of dollars which goes directly back into our community. Please help VBLA keep our beaches, the economic engine of our community, safe, clean and protected.

Vero is a Giving Community.  Let’s Give VBLA a new “House of Refuge”

VBLA has been trying to get a new structure at Humiston since 2012.  No easy feat due to all the regulations and approvals any proposed oceanfront structure needs to move towards build.  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection nixed the initial proposal since that structure strayed from the current structure’s footprint.

According to VBLA’s Erik Toomsoo, the new House of Refuge “puts lifeguards in a better position to see more of the beach”.  A visual advantage.  A lifeguard’s job is to “see” danger & situations before others.  And, “the public will NOT lose space; there is NO visual intrusion of the ocean from Ocean Drive.  A House of Refuge has historical significance and we have worked hard to create a functional, visually pleasing & iconic landmark

“VBLA needs about $250,000 to complete the project and is looking for a ‘naming rights’ donor. They are looking for private funding to keep things simple.

Florida’s First Lifesaving Station, the Bethel Creek House of Refuge, was in Vero Beach

The first East Coast of Florida Lifeguard Tower, House of Refuge, was at the current location of Jaycee Park. Completed in 1876, it was built by the United States Life Saving Service & its mission was to provide a safe haven for the shipwrecked along the desolate coast of Florida. (Florida’s only surviving  House of Refuge is now a museum in Stuart.)

The Bethel Creek House of Refuge was most certainly put in to service during one of Vero’s most well known shipwrecks:  The Wreck of the Breconshire in 1894.  During World War II, the station was used by the military.  After the war, it was dismantled.  Today, there is a historical marker on the north side of Conn Boardwalk, marking the House of Refuge’s location.

Vero is such a Giving Town whose Beaches Draw People from all Over the World.

Let’s honor our beaches, our history & the hard work of the VBLA by coming together and finding the angel to provide a new, state of the art House of Refuge at Humiston.  Tis the season.  It is far better to give than receive AND this is a gift for all of Vero.




Gifts by the Sea: A Few of My Favorite Things

compiled by Sherry Nist

Mele Kalikimaka has always been my favorite Christmas greeting though I did not have the fortune to grow up in Vero Beach or any beach town for that matter.  I think it stems from my early love for the ocean, nurtured by my Father and by watching Lawrence Welk with both my Father and his Mother.  Most of those performers bored my young self to death EXCEPT Don Ho & his Ukelele.  The gift of Tiny Bubbles & Mele Kalikimaka had me hooked. 

Well, the spirit of that gift is alive and well in Vero during the Holiday season (and year round).  And while giving doesn’t have to mean material gifts, it is a gesture of caring about others. With that in mind, I give you, Vero, some of my favorite Vero things.  Whether you chose to give or receive these suggestions, enjoy the spirit of giving.


Gifts that Keep on Giving

Give the Gift of Food:  Shining Light Garden Foundation

Donate 1 or many avocado or mango tree(s) and feed many Indian River County residents for years into the future.



Give the Gift of SafetyVero Beach Lifeguard Association (VBLA)

Donate funds or services to the NEW Humiston Park House of Refuge (Lifeguard Station).  Better yet, fund the whole project and your name shall be associated with this state of the art building for ever more.


Vero Beach Lifeguard Association


If Fishes were WishesLive Like Cole Foundation

Give to the Cole Coppola Memorial Fishing Pier to be built at Riverside Park.  The pier will provide a new safe place for the public to fish in the Indian River Lagoon & create a new marine habitat for fish and other marine life to thrive.  The memorial pier will also serve as a place of remembrance for loved ones.  Why not donate $300 to name an engraved pier tread?





Catch the Big One


Charters, Gear, Live or Artificial Bait & the BEST Fish Stories:  Vero Tackle & Marina

Gift the love of fish from our Indian River Lagoon by booking a charter with the experts at Vero Tackle & Marina.  The guides and staff are arguably the best in local fishing techniques and more importantly, where to find the “big one”.  They are the only tackle shop on the water and the location was once a Fish Camp and has been part of local fishing history since anyone can remember.







Absolutely Everything for Sun & Beach Fun:  Shark Bait Beach Gear Rentals

Shark Bait provides high quality beach chairs, umbrellas, sail shades, kayaks, paddle boards and more directly on the beach.  Their service & knowledge is outstanding!  Scott (owner) prides himself on a concierge level of service & is happy to relay his expert knowledge of all things beach, reef and ocean in Vero.





Sunrise Qi Gong at South Beach:  The Cloudwalker, John Wolcott

Vero’s South Beach offers a daily dose of spectacular sunrises so why not combine that with Qi Gong to start you and your loved one’s days off on the right breath?  Believe me when I tell you that Qi Gong is amazing and life changing.  Qi Gong and many other classes are also offered year-round at Vero’s Intergenerational Rec Center off Oslo Road.






Beauty & Baubles


Festive Gifts for the Women in your World on Ocean Drive:  Sara Campbell

I have window-shopped Sara Campbell for several years now and decided to stop in the other day.  Let me tell you, their selection of women’s clothing and accessories is simply magical.  There are selections ranging from luxurious cashmere & silk ready to wear to unique, yet affordable totes and clutches.  I picked up a hot pink “Bag of Tricks” clutch that cost me less than $30.



Smart, Unique & Fabulous Footwear on Ocean Drive:  Charleston Shoe Co.

As an Alum of the University of South Carolina, I will admit I am partial to anything from my adoptive home, but let me tell you, I would love this shoe salon even if I had zero South Carolina ties.  Charleston Shoe Co. offers an affordable, comfortable and versatile shoe for the modern woman. Their cobblestones-to-cocktails styles are geared toward ladies who need to be on their feet and stay fashionable all day long!  Walk and shop Ocean Drive by day then dance the night away in a pair of shoes that won’t let you down. These shoes are custom designed with comfort & style in mind and their sturdy construction will last years. Most of the shoes are MACHINE-WASHABLE, including  “espadrille” styles that won’t unravel &  “cork” styles that won’t flake! 




Entrepreneurial Spirit & Amazing Finds for the Women in your World on 14th Avenue:  Seahorse Lane Boutique

Audrey started Seahorse Lane Boutique in 2012 from a bedroom in her parent’s house on Seahorse Lane.  Flash forward to December 2017 and Seahorse is my absolute favorite store in Vero.  The Vero logo on their hats and shirts are not only their creation but proceeds from each and every sale go to a different local charity each month.  The mix of women’s clothing and accessories is truly unique and appeals to women of all ages.  True to their entrepreneurial spirit you can even shop them on Instagram!




Unique, Personal & Healing Jewelry:  Sara LuNa Jewelry

Sara started making bracelets to be productive during long and stressful IV treatments for her chronic illness.  It was her concern with the base metals & toxic materials used in most wrap bracelets, that led her to find alternatives for her jewelry.  She is motivated by an innate creativity & the desire to inspire joy in herself and others during times of hardship. Her materials are sourced from natural gemstones, sterling silver, gold vermeil & Thai Hill tribe silver.  The healing elements and symbolism behind the gemstones is important to Sara so she includes material details for all her creations.  Each bracelet is a unique original.







Inspire the Artistic Soul


Create a Masterpiece with your Friends while Sipping Good Wine:  Vero Beach Museum of Art

Is there any better way to celebrate friends & the season than with a bit of wine and a bit more creative competition?!  Vero Beach Museum of Art does everything well.




Gift  a “We Owe Us” Certificate to your Loved Ones for a First Saturday:  Vero Beach Museum of Art

Enjoy ALL this world-class museum has to offer without paying admission.  Don’t forget to visit the Museum Shop for some possible post-Holiday bargains!

View Full Exhibit Gallery



Gift Tickets or Gift a Sponsorship:  Vero Beach Food, Wine & Music Festival

This is a big deal, First Annual Food, Wine & Music Festival that has been five years in the making and is bringing big names and fabulous array of events to Vero for 3 days in February 2018.  Get those tickets before they disappear!




Pampering the People


Sit Back, Close your Eyes & Melt your Stress Away:  Salt

Salt is a unique and incredibly relaxing way to detox & melt your stresses away.  Your experience involves kicking back in an ultra-comfy recliner, covered by warm blankets & an eye mask whilst salt ions work their magic.  Unlike a massage, you are fully clothed.  An added bonus:  zero tipping!




No Appointment Hand & Foot Heaven with a Side of Wine:  Foxy’s Nails

Foxy’s is my go to nail salon for so many reasons.  While their location is super convenient, I continue to return for the sweet staff, quick service, amazing attention to detail and okay, a glass of wine.  The massage chairs and included hand & feet massages makes a mani-pedi at Foxy’s feel like a top-notch spa day.




Feed your Loves

Gift the MOST Authentic Mexican Food at Unbelievable Prices:  Tres Hermanos

 Tres Hermanos is a Mexican Grocery & Food store on 14th Avenue directly across from Vero Beach High School’s Football Stadium.  They are open 7 days a week and their tacos are not only wildly inexpensive but out-of-this world!  If you are lucky enough to be there on a day the ladies prepare Chicken Mole, you will eat the BEST Mole outside of Mexico.  Fact.




Tutto-Bene & Buon Natale in Vero’s South Beach:  Trattoria Dario

I admit I have an undying love for Dario, just a shell’s throw from South Beach.  There are so many reasons but ultimately it is the FOOD.  Best Italian in Vero Beach as far as I am concerned.  Warmest & friendliest atmosphere as well.  I cannot recount how many times I have had fascinating conversations with both locals and people from around the world while eating or sipping in the lounge at Dario.  I don’t even mind dining alone as Dario and the staff make you feel right at home.  The great selection is endless but might I suggest:  Lasagna Bolognese, Dover Sole, Masami Ranch Wagyu NY Strip Steak, Margherita Pizza, Sauteed Spinach, Gingerbread & Watermelon Martinis & any of the Fine Italian Wines.




Ahi Lollipops, Stone Crab, Lion Fish & Those Views:  Crab E Bills

Take a field trip to Sebastian for a Holiday lunch, brunch or to bring some of the freshest seafood home for the Holidays.  Crab E Bills is an institution and a visual delight on the Lagoon in Sebastian.  Take time to soak in the photos of fishing past as well as the artifacts & exhibits telling the tales of Sebastian’s fish house history.  Make sure to look for the trophy fish photos of Papa Hemingway back in the day when reeling one in might have taken days.



Eat Local, Eat Healthy, Be Friendly:  LaTabla Local Food & Juicery

La Tabla happens to be both my & my daughter’s favorite places to be in Vero.  The food is simple yet filling, healthy & delicious.  Their breakfast, lunches, coffees, juices & kombucha are the absolute best I have had anywhere in the U.S. (and that includes NYC)!  And while I often hang out where I can “WiFi”, I love going to LaTabla so I cannot lose myself online.  


Pick-up Orders





Monthly Beach Report – August 2016

Vero Beach Lifeguard Association

August Beach Report

Jaycee Park / Humiston Park / South Beach Park



Total Park Attendance: 45,287
Preventative Actions: 1,069
Minor Medicals: 39
Major Medicals: 2
Rescues: 0
Average Water Temperature: 82
Beach Erosion: Minimal
Stinging Marine Life: Moderate

General Conditions

With local schools back in session, attendance at our beaches has been down. Hot and humid conditions has made the beach a pleasant escape from the weather, however, thunderstorms and rain have chased people off the beach by mid-afternoon on many occasions. Bait fish, tarpon and manatees have been a frequent sight just off shore. Surfcasting fisherman have taken up position on the beach on most days. Sea turtle hatchlings have been numerous.

Large surf has created a substantial drop off (the sudden increase in water depth) at most beaches. There were no rip current rescues in August keeping the number of rip current rescues in 2016 to 20. Most minor medical calls have been for jellyfish stings and abrasions. Most major medical calls have been for heat related injuries. All swimmers are advised to pay close attention to beach condition flags, swim near lifeguard towers and avoid swimming during non-guarded beach hours.

Areas of Concern

Sea turtle hatchlings have been spotted on numerous occasions during daylight hours. If you encounter a struggling hatchling during daylight hours please wrap it in a moist towel and bring it to a lifeguard tower. Lifeguards will contact Sea Turtle Research. When hatchlings emerge from the sand they may mistake light from dwellings as the moon and travel inland rather than to the ocean. If you live on the beach, please comply with light pollution ordinances. A severe drop off of up to 5 feet has been created at most beaches. The elderly and parents with young children should pay close attention to where the drop off begins.

VBLA recommendations for safer beaches: 1. Provide an ATV at each guarded beach to allow for faster response times by lifeguards during emergencies. 2. The City should extend guarded beach hours to 7pm from the current time of 5pm to keep up with the rising popularity of Vero's beaches.

Many individuals and families are on the beach far from a guarded area and/or in the water after lifeguards leave at 5pm. Providing additional equipment and extended hours will help address the safety issues that have resulted in two preventable deaths at our beaches in 2015.


Park Attendance: includes areas immediately north and south of each park Preventative Actions: stopping potential incidents before they occur Minor Medicals: a medical incident which is treated on-site by lifeguard/EMT personnel Major Medicals: a medical incident that required Emergency Medical Services

About VBLA

This report is furnished by the Vero Beach Lifeguard Association, a non-profit, 501C3 organization. Its mission is to promote water safety and lifeguarding in Vero Beach and the surrounding communities. Contact us at VeroBeachLA@Yahoo.com or (908)797-8725. Visit us at www.VBLA.org. Donations are appreciated. Monies raised are used to purchase equipment, supplies, staffing and training for the lifeguards from the city of Vero Beach. Please send donations to: VBLA, 1351 White Heron Lane, Vero Beach, FL 32963.