How a family plans to serve their community by serving ice cream
A parent’s life today is spent jockeying for the short attention spans of their children, battling constantly against the bright colors and flashing lights of iPads, Xboxes, and countless other combinations of letters followed by boring household objects. While sometimes it can be a welcome reprieve to sit the kids down in front of Netflix for an hour or to hand them Angry Birds rather than yelling, “I swear, I’ll turn this car around!” In this connected world, families can often times end up disconnected. It’s within this increasingly complex culture overflowing with distractions that one Ocala couple is working to bring families back together and move kids from “i” screens to ice creams.
Dennis and Paige McFatten are among the few Ocala residents who can proudly claim to be born and raised here. Collectively, they’ve lived almost a century within the city and grew up along with it. Ocala is their home and they have always been passionate about making their home the wonderful place to raise a family that it is. Dennis has dedicated his life to serving the public. After eight years in the Army and Army Reserves, he joined the Marion County Sheriff's Office where he’d eventually retire at the rank of Captain after 21 years of service. After running for Sheriff on a platform of taking money out of politics and putting it back into the community, Dennis accepted a role as the Safe Schools Coordinator for the Marion County Public Schools system. His passion in his service has always been for youth. He has been involved in several youth programs including working as a DARE officer and volunteering his time with the Marion County Children’s Alliance [Fact Check Needed] and even coaching football for the MCYFL. Paige, like her husband, is no stranger to community volunteering and government work, but she also spent much of her time raising their seven children. Family and community are truly the defining characteristics of this couple.
As their nest emptied, Dennis and Paige always dreamed of setting out as entrepreneurs and starting their own business. The natural offspring of their passion for family and community seemed obvious to them: why not start a daycare? After months of taking certification courses and cutting through miles of red tape, they began to become disheartened with their choice. While they both new completely what it was like to work through government bureaucracy, it was more their thought that a daycare is a place where you leave your kids, not a place where families spend time with their kids that drove them to something different.
This led to their next idea, one seemingly so simple they put it in their name, Simply Ice Cream. “Everybody loves ice cream, especially kids,” Dennis McFatten said. “This is our chance to create a place where kids and families come together, spend time together, and get away from all of the craziness in the world.”
“Ocala needs a family friendly place where people can feel welcome that’s also affordable,” Paige added, “and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Simply Ice Cream is based off of a very simple mission born in the hearts of this couple, to spread smiles across Marion County. With this mission in hand, they are not just looking inward─as most business owners tend to do─but instead are excited to use their business as a way to give back to the community they love so dearly. They already are planning to partner with community events and children’s organizations as well as to help sponsor reading and education initiatives. Their hope is that their brand won’t be recognized by a fancy logo or a mascot, but by the smiling faces of kids across the city. In the end, it’s simple really, give some ice cream, get some smiles; it’s Simply Ice Cream.