Monday, May 20, 2013

Steaks and Franks

Food and Sports. Two things that will get anyone through a great weekend!

Back in college, one of my favorite restaurants to chow down at was Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are delicious! The butter is to absolutely die for! The steaks and other entrees are mouth watering good! Only problem is that there isn't one within Palm Beach County. This has been terribly disappointing, but have no fear, a solution has been found!

My friend Hala (who used to work at Texas Roadhouse in Utah) tracked one down a little less than 2 hours away from Boynton Beach! This past Saturday, 11 of us piled into three cars and headed north to Palm Bay. The drive was definitely worth it! Between throwing peanut shells on the floor and savoring my palette with warm rolls slathered with cinnamon butter, the meal was an absolute success. Stuffed and brimming with Roadhouse goodness, we made the trek back to Boynton, fulfilled and satisfied.

The next day, I headed down to Miami with Cathy, Brad, and Kelly (coworker of Brad's that Kevin and I helped move back in November). We took in a Marlins - Diamondbacks game. Despite being the worst team in baseball, the Marlins pulled out the 2-1 victory after a tense filled 9th inning! The best part of the game was the fact that the tickets were only $1 and the seats were great! We were able to take in the game from the lower deck on the third base side. Pretty spectacular for $1! After the game, we headed to the Clevelander, a bar/club that is located within the stadium with seats right on the field in left field. We played some corn hole and then headed back to Boynton.

It was a great weekend filled with excellent food, enticing baseball, and entertaining friends!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hidden Treasures

Counselor shot!
One of the best things that I've ever done in my 26 years of life was participating in Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services. The ability to not only travel the world, but also work with some amazing children has definitely effected the way that I live my life today. Any chance that I get to return to that camp setting is always welcomed. This past weekend, I had that very opportunity.

Camp Treasure is an experience that is supported by the American Association for Caregiving Youth (AACY), a non-profit organization that caters towards youth that serve as the main caregiver for an ailing relative (parent, grandparent, cousin, niece, etc.). Camp Treasure gives these kids, normally between the ages of 12 and 14, an opportunity to be kids for a weekend and not worry about the responsibilities that they have at home. I participated in this weekend camp back in November as well and was really looking forward to getting to the camp setting.

Learning the cup game
During the course of the two days, we played lots of carpetball (this awesome game that involves a long wooden box lined with carpet and pool balls), completed some team building exercises, did some yoga, went swimming, made treasure boxes, and just enjoyed each other's company. The dynamic of the group from the onset was a bit different from the first group of campers that came through in November, but by the end of the camp, everyone was getting along great and the beginnings of new friendships were being formed.

I could not imagine taking care of a parent or grandparent when I was 13 full time. These kids are amazing and I definitely admire the jobs that they do and the lives that they lead. It's never easy to see a loved one suffer - it's even harder to have that responsibility of caring for them at such a young age. Through this amazing organization and opportunities like Camp Treasure, these kids can finally be kids!

Oh Hala...
Max playing some carpetball

Group Shot!
Cabin Shot!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

True Believer's

Everyone remembers those students that struggled in school. There were always a handful of students that never seemed able to make it to school on time, were always getting in trouble, or just couldn't keep up with the frantic pace that is America's public school system. Luckily nowadays, students that find themselves struggling with these problems or issues have alternate routes they can take to still attain an education. Many of these options are found in the form of charter schools that structure their day to cater to those students that just don't jive with the public school system. One of these schools is Believer's Academy.

Believer's Academy is one of the multiple sites that partners with AmeriCorps. This year, Believer's participated in Project Impact, an initiative through Volunteer Florida to help connect youth throughout the state of Florida with projects to help them beautify their communities and/or connect with populations that they might not be familiar with. Through the wonderful work of Sara Jacobs, the AmeriCorps volunteer who serves at Believer's, we were able to interact with the students at the school and prepare them for working with children at Renaissance Learning Center, a school for children with autism.

At the beginning of April, we were broken up into small groups, assigned to a class, and helped prepare them for the actual day of service. We participated in team builders, learned about working with children with autism, participated in a mock interview, and had the chance to get to know these students. This is definitely a population that many of our members have not been exposed to, so it was a great experience for everyone. For me, it was great because I was back in a classroom and it gave me a bit of an insight into the population that I hope to be working with next year during my second AmeriCorps year.

Last Friday, we headed back to Believer's to execute the actual day of service. We returned to the same classrooms, participated in some more fun activities, and worked with the staff and students at Renaissance. Seeing the students from Believer's reading, coloring, and interacting with the students at Renaissance was really special. It was so encouraging to see them act as positive role models and maturely. For many of the Believer's students, this was more than likely their first time being in close proximity with children with autism. This day enabled many of the students an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new.