A Night to Remember: BIG Hearts for Little Hands

img_1326Last night my husband and I attended the fundraising dinner for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. I have volunteered as a mentor with this great organization for almost three years, but  have never attended their fancy fundraising dinner before last night. I’m so glad I was able to go–it was a really fun date night with a special purpose.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County was the guest speaker and his remarks touched on the power of mentoring programs to keep children out of the juvenile court system. Despite the studies which show powerful results of mentoring programs, funding for BBBS continues to take a hit each year, which makes private funding more important now than ever.

I was nominated this year for Big Sister of the Year. Out of over 500 matches, I was pretty honored to make it into the running for the prize. I did not win, but was asked to prepare a short acceptance speech on what being a big has meant to me. It was a neat reflective exercise, so I have decided to share it below:

I grew up in a home with two parents who cherished me and worked hard to provide me with opportunities to follow my passions, meet new people of all different backgrounds, connect to my community and try new things. Being a Big allows me to take that journey, to a lesser extent, with a bright caring little person who I care deeply about. My little is my friend and being with her brightens my week. I’m pretty certain she has taught me just as much as I have tried to teach her. Her childhood is much different than mine was, but being with her has developed in me a gratefulness for what life has to offer. I also just have a lot of fun getting to try things again through her eyes. We both appreciate the work Big Brothers Big Sisters does. Thank you very much for your support tonight and throughout the year to keep making matches like my little and mine possible.

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Please consider how you might be able to reach out make a difference in your community in a way that utilizes your special gifts–even if it requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. If  you have any questions about Big Brothers Big Sisters, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I am happy to share my experiences.

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Garden of Lights

Last night my husband and I enjoyed an evening at Heathcote Botanical Garden in Ft. Pierce, FL. The Garden of Lights is a an annual event to offer the public the opportunity to view this beautiful garden at night and enjoy a collection of botanical themed lights. The light displays were gorgeous. Being a plant lover, I really enjoyed the floral themes. For only a $5 admission fee, even the rain couldn’t put a damper on this date night activity. We did spend an extra $3 to roast a marshmallow and enjoy a s’more desert together.

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Check out Heathcote Botanical Gardens day or night: https://www.heathcotebotanicalgardens.org/

Christmas in the Caribbean

One of the things I love the most about being a proud card carrying member of the Treasure Coast Parrot Head Club is their motto of “Party With a Purpose”. Giving should be a joyful experience, and one that makes our community stronger and a happier place to live. This past weekend was so much fun because it was our club’s annual fundraiser for the Salvation Army. We held a party at the Stuart Grill & Ale which was open to the public and we had a wonderful time collecting toys and raising money for a great organization which provides toys to children who otherwise wouldn’t have any. The band which played the whole afternoon were The Conch Fritters–and they were amazing! They performed a mix of covers, original music, and plenty of Christmas tunes to put us all in the mood. The entrance fee to the party was a donated toy, food item, or donation to the little red kettle. Most people gave willingly. We collected over 200 toys!

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There were also activities to raise money. There was a cookie contest (I made my favorite Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum! Balls), a gift basket contest, and a raffle. The total of how much was donated has not yet been released, but I am sure it was a number our club can feel proud of. There were also a lot of tropical themed door prizes given away throughout the day, which made for a really good time as well.

I love this club and their commitment to community. I hope we helped a few children smile a little brighter this holiday season.

If you are interested in helping the Salvation Army, please look at their opportunities to see what interests you the most: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/volunteer

If you are interested in becoming a Parrot Head, there are clubs all over the world! Here’s the one I belong to: http://www.treasurecoastparrotheadclub.com/

Skirt 3: Making Match Memories 

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an amazing organization focused on matching kids (many of whom have faced a challenge in life) with adult mentors. I have been matched with my eight year old friend for a little over a year. We do lots of fun stuff together, and from the beginning I really wanted to share this skirt project with her.

I found directions for a simple elastic waistband skirt from Joann on Pinterest. For my skirt I added side seam pockets. When planning my Little’s sewing project I wanted to simplify things as much as possible, so I prepped everything and had a checklist ready for when the kiddo came over. When I picked her up and pointed to my outfit and asked if she was ready to sew, she grinned great big and kept grinning as we got to my house and got to work. We  both had so much fun. With a lot of encouragement she did everything herself — the measuring, cutting, overcasting, ironing, gathering, sewing, and hemming. I was so proud! So was she, by the way. We even had leftover fabric to make headbands. We did a mini fashion show and took lots of pictures. Her family was blown away when I took her home and she was excited to share the details. It was a great day that I will remember every time I wear this skirt in the future.

Photo Scavenger Hunt at the Library

ImageToday’s activity with my Little was to visit the Cummings Library in Palm City, FL. We went on a photo scavenger hunt and played with some of the cool tech tools they have at this library. We searched the online catalog for poetry book ideas, scanned the shelves, recited poetry on the cool kids’ stage, took photos of some of the great artwork in the building, made funny poses in front of the green screen and finished off with making silly faces with the fun backgrounds available on photo booth using one of the iMacs the library has available for patron use. Some of the unexpected fun moments included being told by my Little which of the Magic Tree House books I needed to read immediately and receiving assistance from a very special librarian friend. It was a great day at one of my favorite places.

More information about the Martin County Library System: http://www.library.martin.fl.us/
More information about Big Brothers Big Sisters: http://www.mentorbig.org/ 

Fun at the Florida Oceanographic Society

Fun at the Florida Oceanographic Society

Last weekend I took my Little to the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, Florida. What a great day. We fed the sting rays, learned about sea turtles, attended a shark feeding and took a nature walk. Thanks to Florida Oceanographic for supplying a free ticket for my Little. It was a memorable adventure!

Discover the Florida Oceanographic Society here: http://www.floridaocean.org/
Learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters here: http://www.mentorbig.org/