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Guest column: 2 locals who have inspired me recently
Guest columnist

Lewis Levine

Senior correspondent

In this business, I get to meet a lot of people, from politicians to generals and even an occasional president or two.

Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to meet two people in our community who have left a lasting impression on me, and this is why.

Let me start with Khloe Villafane. She’s 21 years old and a successful business owner. Now, I don’t know if being the daughter of Kathy Villafane, a well-known local realtor, has anything to do with it. Maybe it does or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt.

I met Khloe a few years back, when she won a Chick-fil-A scholarship. I interviewed her and honestly, since it was a routine story of kids receiving scholarships, never gave her much thought. Just being honest here — no disrespect intended. Well, fast forward a few years later, and this same young woman, at the ripe old age of 21, decided to embark on opening her own business earlier this year — a selfie studio aptly named “It’s All About Me Selfie Studio.” Khloe has taken a plunge into the business world at an age when most 21-year-old women have no idea what they want to do next week — and to be honest, neither does this 65-year-old man. I ran into Khloe during the July Fourth festivities on Fort Stewart, where this 21-yearold woman was invited to set up a selfie booth with an iPad that takes video of you, 350 degrees. Heck, even I took advantage of the video no one will ever see for obvious reasons, like shooting a money gun and wearing little Uncle Sam hats on a headband.

I asked Khloe how business was going and she told me better than expected; in fact, she’s hosting several events in the coming months.

I had no doubt the studio would do well. It’s unique and, if I may use this out-of-date word, even hip.

Khloe has left a lasting impression on me for some reason. I guess it’s because I rarely encounter a woman as young as her or older that is so driven — and mind you, she’s still in school.

If I had an award I could bestow on her, it would have to be an inspirational award, because Khloe Villafane, you are truly an inspiration.

The second person I have to say who has left a lasting impression on me is Ravi Patel. Patel owns the Chevron gas station on East Gen. Screven Way, and on July 4 he lowered the regular fuel price per gallon to $1.99 cash and $2.09 credit card.

Being the skeptical and, mind you, cynical journalist that I am, I figured there had to be a gimmick behind his motives. Well, from all indications, there wasn’t. Patel just wanted to give back to the Hinesville community while taking an estimated $12,000 loss.

The gesture that left many leaving relived they had a full tank of gas and a smile on their faces was well worth the cost to Patel. Sometimes it’s not always about the money but about making people’s lives easier, even if it’s until the next fill-up.

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