In these challenging and frightening times, it takes a lot of encouragement and affirmative 'sunshine' to get us through--with perhaps a little music and dance thrown 'in the mix.'
Peter Lobato is known throughout Hernando as both PJ the DJ and Mr. Encourager. And this popular disc jockey received some encouragement of his own from The Arc Nature Coast, a 501-C-3, non-profit, charitable organization providing services and supports for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in Hernando and Pasco counties.
Profiled by the Hernando Sun three years ago in Sue Quigley's article Earning Their Independence for his association with the program, Lobato found gainful employment at Alumni-Guard. Then he started his own business--playing the music that he loves to play for the entertainment--and encouragement--of others.
'For families and friends' is the corporate slogan of PJ the DJ Services, a music and entertainment business with a special emphasis on church, family, and philanthropic events. Aside from DJ services, he likes to make videos and provide karaoke services.
"Playing music is what I love to do," said Lobato. "My motto is, 'You say it, I'll play it.'"
A self-taught DJ who learned his craft by watching YouTube videos, Lobato launched his career at Arc dances.
"He’s a great guy and very much loved by the staff and the individuals served at The Arc Nature Coast," said Nancy Stubbs, Development Director at The Arc Nature Coast. "He’s been the DJ for our own dances for a number of years and he does a terrific job. We normally have 5 dances per year at our Education Center in Spring Hill that are open to the public- Sweetheart’s Dance in February, Spring Fling dance in May, Summer Sizzler in August, Halloween costumer dance in October and Christmas dance in December."
Mark Barry, executive director of The Arc Nature Coast, agrees.
"All I can say is that PJ is one of the most humble unassuming local celebrities you’ll ever meet!" he said. "Not only does he regularly DJ events for The Arc Nature Coast here in Pasco and Hernando counties, but he has also DJ’d for The Arc of Florida statewide convention, as well as the national convention for The Arc of the United States!"
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PJ's music has sadly gone silent.
"Since COVID 19, we have so far had to cancel the Spring Fling and Summer Sizzler dances. It’s a shame because the dances are a great social outlet for those individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our community and I know they miss them very much; just as we all miss getting together with our friends!" said Stubbs.
Yet even as he takes a temporary break from the job he loves, PJ stays busy at the Christian Church in the Wildwood, broadcasting as Mr. Encourager as he seeks to encourage folks to come to church through music.
"PJ around here is known and Mr. Encourager of CCW. He is always out front every Sunday and Wednesday with a smile greeting people and a handshake and smile," said Kathy Helmuth, staff member at Christian Church in the Wildwood. "He is part of our Upward Bound Ministry (for teens and young adults with special needs) and is the communicator for that group through a Facebook page he manages."
Regardless of his venue or audience, PJ always has one goal in mind.
"I want to be here for the community," he said. "I want to help them have fun."
In the eyes of Mark Berry, he succeeds.
"To know PJ," he said, "is to love PJ."
For more information, visit https://pjthedjservicesfor.wixsite.com/familiesandfriends or
https://www.facebook.com/pjthedjservices For more about The Arc Nature Coast, visit http://www.thearc-naturecoast.org/home0.aspx. To spread your own Sunshine through positive good news items, contact community reporter Megan Hussey at [email protected]