Haines City - This month, on The Student Leader of the Month, we want to feature a student from Bethune Academy in Haines City. Meet Jayden Norman.
According to Ms. Amanda Bryant, who was the person who nominated Jayden for the student leader of the month, Jayden is in the school's NEHS as well as gifted class. She is an outstanding addition to BA's honor society. Jayden is caring, outgoing, and hardworking. She has been eagerly willing to help out and has actively participated in the school's community service projects this school year. She is at car riders every morning with a big smile on her face, ready to help any Cadet out of his/her cars. From what school officials have observed in the classroom, Jayden is well-behaved and willing to learn new material. She is an all-around Superstar student.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Jayden, and this is what she shared with us:
NEPG: Which grade are you attending right now? Jayden: I am currently in 5th grade.
NEPG: What leadership position are you responsible for?
Jayden: I am a role model for my gifted classroom as well as in our National Honor Society. I am a Kindergarten helper in the afternoons so that they get home safely. This has helped with my leadership skills and responsibility for helping teachers and students.
NEPG: Tell us about how your leadership approach has influenced others around you.
Jayden: My leadership approach has helped give my fellow classmates the courage and confidence to overcome their goals and I even had a close friend that was able to be tested for gifted! I am a role model for the Kindergarten students, they watch how I behave and act so they, in return, do their best to behave as well.
NEPG: What are your plans for the rest of the school year?
Jayden: I really want to work hard so that I am able to get into the Haines City High IB school one day. I also want to be in band. I think they both will give me great challenges.
NEPG: What would be your message for younger kids who are planning on taking a leader's role within their school/community?
Jayden: The message I have for other young leaders is that, if you take on a leadership role, you need to make sure you have the right materials and responsibility. Make sure you show your community and school how responsible you are.
Haines City - The City of Haines City is informing its residents about the 2020 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS for City Commissioner, Seat No. 3 and City Commissioner, Seat No. 4 to be held on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
The polling places for the Municipal Elections are hereby designated as:
* Precincts 302, 402, 407 & 408 | Oakland Neighborhood Center (Auditorium), 915 Ave E, Haines City, FL 33844
* Precincts 306, 405, 409 & 410 | Haines City Community Center, 555 Ledwith Avenue, Haines City, FL 33844
The polls will open at the polling places at 7:00AM and will close at 7:00PM. VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE | Monday, March 9, 2020.
MAIL-IN BALLOTS | To request a mail-in ballot, please contact the Polk County Supervisor of Elections at 863-534-5888 or visit polkelections.com.
For additional information regarding the names of candidates, voting precincts, candidate qualifying, or election records, please contact Linda Bourgeois, City Clerk, located at City Hall, 2nd Floor, 620 E. Main Street, Haines City, Florida 33844 or by phone at 863-421-9921, or by visiting hainescity.com.
Haines City - On January 12, we had the opportunity to attend the showing of The Amorous Ambassador at the Haines City Community Theatre.
In this play, the American Ambassador to Great Britain and his wife both plan to be gone all weekend, as does their daughter Debbie. However, when they all secretly return for romantic engagements, it all hits the fan. Then, there is a surprising twist at the end.
As a person who spent most of her adult life living as a diplomat in different parts of the world, I have to say that this play was hilarious and refreshing. I am not going to get too much into details about the experiences I lived as a diplomat, but I do have to say that most of the scenes we watched during the play were funny as heck, and to an extent, way too relatable.
The cast was composed of Lee Matheny (As Ambassador Harry Douglas), C. Evans Kirk (As Ambassador Douglas' butler), Ian Elliot (As Debbie's boyfriend, Joe), Zach Preiwisch (as Capt. South), Nancy Morgester (As Debbie Douglas, the Ambassador's daughter), Kaylee Bledsoe (as Marian, the frisky neighbor), Nikki Buron (As Faye, the clumsy secretary), and last but not least Donna McOnie (As Lois Douglas, the Ambassador's wife).
The Amorous Ambassador, which premiered on January 11 and concluded on Feb 2, is one of the plays that the Haines City Community Theatre has in schedule for this years' season. The next show, which will have their opening date sometime in March, is “On Golden Pond” by Ernest Thompson. The story for this show focuses on an aging couple who spends each summer at Golden Pond. They are visited by their divorced daughter, her fiance, and her teenage son. The daughter and her fiance leave the boy for the summer with the older couple, who become the grandparents he had never had. I don't know about you guys, but we can't wait for this show to happen. And, by the way, make sure to make your reservations way in advance because these shows tend to be sold-out before they even start showing.
The Haines City Community Theatre is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The people behind it all work as volunteers in this venture and welcome anyone who would like to assist them. Opportunities are available with many aspects of their productions.
For more information, visit their website at https://www.hainescitytheatre.com/
Polk County - Most teenagers do not experience physical aggression when they date. However, for some teens, abuse is a very real part of dating relationships. (Teen Dating Violence: A Closer Look at Adolescent Romantic Relationships, National Institute of Justice, 2008).
The Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) presents the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)'s definition of dating violence to be: "violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
* The length of the relationship
* The type of relationship
* The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Since 2004, Congress has designated the first full week in February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. However, this year, the Justice Department worked with the Senate to designate the entire month of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. As noted by Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, "The department will continue to raise awareness regarding teen dating violence, and will use federal resources to assist schools and communities in stopping such violence." (Associate Attorney General Perrelli, Senators Announce Passage of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Resolution, U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, January 28, 2010).
The designation of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month provides parity to the threeothercrimesincludedinVAWA, which was signed into law by President Clinton 15 years ago.
Each of the other crimes (sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking) has an existing designated month for public education and awareness activities. This is another installment in the department's year-long effort to raise public awareness; build stronger coalitions among federal, state, local, and tribal communities; and redouble efforts to end domestic and teen dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking for men, women, and children across the country.
The unanimously approved Senate Resolution (PDF, 4 pages) establishing National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month calls on communities to "empower teens to develop healthier relationships" and promote programs and activities to draw attention to the issue that puts teen victims at risk for "substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide, and adult revictimization." It calls for awareness among parents and children of community events on the issue and notes that abuse can keep victims from attending school and result in psychological problems later in life. (New Focus on Teen Dating Violence, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo Press Release, January 28, 2010).
To help bring greater awareness to the dangers and consequences of teen dating violence, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) has prepared an online compilation of publications and other related resources on this topic.
For more information, visit http://www.ncjrs.gov/teendatingviolence/.
Davenport - In the 1960’s, Philadelphia police officer Bill Sample was assigned to a local children’s hospital. He encountered critically ill, and often terminally ill, children and saw first-hand how these children’s families were burdened not only by mounting medical bills, but also by the frustration of not being able to provide their children’s special dream. In 1976, Bill took out a personal loan and, with the help of others, started the Sunshine Foundation and began making dreams come true for these truly deserving children.
“Not all children are able to run and play and enjoy life. Many are innocent victims of birth defects, accidents, and deadly diseases. Shouldn’t each child know that somebody cares enough to see his or her dream come true?” - Bill Sample
Bill Sample founded Sunshine Foundation in 1976. Sunshine Foundation was an idea born during his many years as a Philadelphia police officer. In 1962, following three years of service in the United States Army, Sample joined the Philadelphia police force. Stationed on protective duty at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Bill often met chronically ill or terminally ill children and their families. Through talking with the families, he learned the emotional and financial strain that comes with having a seriously ill child. Mounting medical bills and time off from work made providing their child with what could be their last dream seem out of reach.
Bill Sample decided he was going to make a difference in these children’s lives. After taking out a personal loan and gathering a small group of dedicated volunteers, Bill founded Sunshine Foundation, the Original Wish Granting Organization, with the mission of answering the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children ages three to eighteen, whose families cannot fulfill their requests due to the financial strain that the child’s illness may cause. Sunshine Foundation answered the first dream in January of 1977 for four-year-old Bobby, who dreamed of playing in the snow in the Poconos. Bobby’s dream came true just four short months before he lost his brave battle with Leukemia.
Bill worked hard at answering dreams while still maintaining his position with the police force until he retired in 1983 to dedicate his efforts full time to Sunshine Foundation. With Bills direction, Sunshine Foundation has grown to include the Dream Village, a 22 square acre property, 15 miles of the Orlando theme parks, where children and their families stay in one of 9 fairytale-themed cottages and enjoy a handicapped-accessible playground, a wheelchair-accessible pool and a miniature golf course during their stay.
As a way of extending the most popular dream of visiting the Florida attractions to children, whose conditions do not allow them to be away from home for longer than 24 hours, Bill and Sunshine began Dreamlifts. Sunshine has answered over 5000 dreams in this unique program, which charters a plane and takes close to 100 children to an Orlando theme park for a one-day trip! After learning about the rare condition, Progeria, Bill and Sunshine developed the Progeria Reunions, which brings together children from all around the world with Progeria for a week.
Sunshine Foundation has answered over 40,000 dreams and has been able to maintain that 79.6% of all donations go directly to children’s programs. Bill Sample remains the President Emeritus of Sunshine Foundation, which has become one of the most respected children foundations in the nation. Bill was awarded the 3rd Annual Father Baker Service to Youth Award, President Ronald Reagans Volunteer Action Award, The Philadelphia Award, An Honorary Doctorate from Villanova University, Please Touch Museums Great Friends to Kids Award, Thomas Jefferson Award, AMORC Humanitarian Award, The FREEDOMS Foundation Honor Award, Olney High School Alumni Achievement Award, and The Association of Fundraising Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award, among many.
For more information about this great organization, you can visit their website at https://www.sunshinefoundation.org/
Lakeland - For this month's "In the Spotlight: Non-Profit Edition," we want to introduce to you an organization dedicated to helping other non-profit organizations. Meet 100 Teens Who Care Lakeland.
100 Teens Who Care Lakeland is a non-profit organization comprised of 6th-12th grade students interested in learning about the needs of local charities and having the power to directly impact those charities with a monetary donation.
In December 2017, a member of the Adult Advisory Board read about an organization called 100 Women Who Care and thought the idea was interesting. After researching the 100 Who Care Alliance, she realized the idea would be groundbreaking for teens in the Lakeland area and presented the idea to Anna Terlep, Anna Esterline, and Gracie Estupinan. From there, these three teens worked together to establish parameters for their newly formed organization, created the logo, and then invited three more teens (Caroline Mason, Katie Achinger, and Erin Volpe) to create a Teen Executive Board in January 2018. The Teen Executive Board consists of students from various local high schools.
100 Teens Who Care Lakeland's vision is to inspire the next generation of philanthropists by encouraging 100+ local teens (6th to 12th graders) to make a collective $1,000 impact on a local charity in the Lakeland area four times a year. In addition, teens can donate their time and talent while developing their leadership skills in a fun, and engaging format.
Teen members build a philanthropic mindset and learn leadership skills in a fun environment. Members take an active role in the needs of the Lakeland community by researching non-profit charities and presenting the needs of those charities to the group. The presenting teen acts as a "champion" for the charity. Members learn how their donation impacted the specific charity when the winning charity is invited to the next meeting.
These teens gather four times a year in the months of February, April, September, and November. Each meeting should run approximately 45-60 minutes.
"Whether you are helping through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you," they mentioned in their website.
For more information about this organization, visit their website at https://100whocarelakeland.org/
Tampa - Hi, my name is Andrew and I'm Theo's dad. Today I want to share Theo's story. Theo, a 9-week-old SharPei puppy, recently joined me in my home in Tampa where I live while attending college at the University of Tampa. Theo's journey began near St. Augustine, FL, where he was born and spent time with his many siblings. I visited the home where Theo was born and was immediately attracted by his energetic, playful, and adventurous personality. At this point, I knew that Theo would be the perfect companion for my roommate and me.
Theo has spent the past couple of weeks exploring his new home and learning the ins and outs of a puppy’s everyday life. He started off very shy, but Theo has grown accustomed to his new home and loves to explore every little corner of his community. You can often find him on walks trying to eat any leaves, dirt, or wood chips in his way. His days usually consist of many naps, playtime with his best pals Kona and Sway, and his stuffed hippo, long walks with me, and even more naps where he snores the day away.
Theo can sometimes get himself into some mischief because of the fact that he is very curious. Although many things intimidated him at first, he has now lost most of his fears. Theo still has a lot left to learn, and we are excited to see how his personality evolves, and what other adventures he will get into with time.
By: Melody Morales. Member of the Editorial Board.
Have you ever found yourself going through a difficult time, desperately needing a sign that there’s light at the end of the tunnel... and that sign hit you at the most unexpected time? Well, little did I know that a routine visit to my family doctor would lead to the realization that I needed to change my situation.
I remember leaning back on the exam table, looking up at the ceiling and noticing that a quote had been engraved on one of the ceiling tiles. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” by Eleanor Roosevelt... and there was the sign I needed.
Domestic abuse, dating violence, or intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline as a “pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” The effects of such violence can result in long-term trauma; it affects the victim’s self-esteem and how they view themselves, as well as may cause distress in their future relationships.
Although recognizing dating violence has become a lot easier in today’s society, it can still be hard for individuals to accept that they are, in fact, in an abusive relationship. Because of this, it is important to spread awareness on what exactly dating violence is, and the behaviors that define it.
Identifiable behaviors are those that “physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want.”
It is important to remember that this kind of violence does not discriminate... anyone can be affected, and equally so, anyone can be a perpetrator. A good thing to keep in mind, as stated by the ‘I Know Mine’ organization, is that"... no matter who the abuse comes from, it is never okay, and you never deserve it.” But, what everyone is deserving of is a violence-free life, peace, and the opportunity to heal.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911. For more help or resources, please visit: www.thehotline.org
Have you ever asked yourself this question... What can I do when tragedy shakes up my world and threatens my faith? I am not sure about you, but I woke up today asking myself this exact thing.
For many years, I have been dealing with three major mental health issues— chronic anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In my pursuit of recovery, I decided to not only seek help from a mental health counselor, but I also decided that I needed to allow God back into my life... and believe me when I said that these approaches saved my life.
You see, 13 years ago, my life almost ended at the hands of a selfish person, and after hitting rock bottom, I became a man of faith and, since then, I have been trying, as much as I can, to live my life in a faithful way. The truth is that I believe in God and I also believe in giving him my problems and allowing him the opportunity to not only guide me but to also fight for me. That does the trick... well, most of the time it does, I may add.
Philippians 4:6-7 says... "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
These words are so refreshing and, for the longest time, they became the reason why I am still standing and moving forward with my life. But, again, what can I do when tragedy shakes up my world and threatens my faith?
The thing is that, not too long ago, I woke up to the news that a large group of the people killed during the bombing attacks in Sri Lanka were mostly children. Children who were at the right place, and at the right time when they were killed. Children who were following their faith and trying to be better citizens.
My question now is... how, a man of faith like me, can start to comprehend why, the God that I serve and the one that I allow to run my life, would allow children to be the victims of such horrendous events. I am going to be honest with you... I am having a little of a hard time understanding this.
What should we do when thoughts and prayers and having faith is not enough to fix all the problems in the world? I mean, the fourteen children who died in that church in Sri Lanka were doing just that and they still faced the evil in our world.
What do we do then? Should we continue praying and having faith? Do we join forces to fight the evil among us? Or, should we just say... “I am glad I wasn’t there. I am just going to send them my thoughts and prayers and move on with my life,” which is basically the way some people have been dealing with the main issues that are affecting the lives of so many innocent people who are victims of horrendous crimes.
I leave those questions as food for thoughts. I truly don’t have the answer to those questions. Hopefully, someone can answer them for me.
About the Author: The author prefers to stay anonymous. He is a resident of Winter Haven, FL.
Haines City - For this month's community leader of the month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lana Stripling, and this is what she shared with us:
NEPG: Tell us a short story about yourself and how that experience inspired you to become who you are today.
Lana: As a little girl, I have always loved helping others and fundraising. I remember having a little game day/carnival in my backyard when I was in Elementary school in Alabama to raise money for Jerry's kids to help fight Muscular Dystrophy.
I had lemonade stands, bake sales, and anything I could do to help raise money for a cause. When I was 12, we moved to Haines City Florida and all through my junior high and high school years, I was involved with many service organizations and my church to help within the community. I love making people smile and trying to make a difference in my community. I am involved with Rotary and Kiwanis and serve as a Pre-K teacher at Heartland Church in Winter Haven. I have always felt it was important to be a part of your community, to give back, and help others.
NEPG: What are your main responsibilities as the Executive Director of the Chamber? Lana: I manage a staff of 3 part-time employees. Edee, who is the glue that holds it all together. She knows everyone and is such a beautiful person and does the work of a full-time employee during the 3 days she is in the office. Mary Jane, our membership coordinator, is also an amazing addition to our chamber. We have seen such growth in our membership since bringing her on. She, as well, knows everyone and is such a pleasure to work with and know. Then Olivia, who is a full-time student, does our social media advertising. She is young, enthusiastic, sweet and keeps us current with the trends of this social media age we live in. I am responsible for all office management, new memberships, event planning, accounting, ribbon cuttings, grand openings, making sure our members are happy and working with our cities and communities to provide quality events that are family-friendly and bring people together.
NEPG: How do you manage the different personalities among the people you work with to be able to make an impact not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?
Lana: Growing up I was taught to treat people the way you want to be treated. Respect their opinion even though you might not share it. Love them when they might not be loveable because I am not always lovable, but Jesus commissions us to love one another.
NEPG: Tell me a little bit about your family and how you manage your professional and personal lives without allowing one to affect the other.
Lana: My husband Mike and I will celebrate 29 years in March. I have three great kids, Laura, Adam, and Savanah. A beautiful daughter-in-law, Bonnie and three wonderful Grands, Harrison, Easton, and Harper. Mike and I share our home with two dogs and four cats. Family means everything to me. I am a mama bear with my kids, my grands, and my fur babies. Chamber life is extremely busy with events and meetings, which can take me away from my family a lot, but I make family first. We make sure to plan quality time with one another and never let a job come before family.
NEPG: What message would you like to pass to other leaders, who like you, are trying to make an impact in our community?
Lana: To be passionate about what you are doing. Love what you do. If you don't, then find what you are passionate about and go for it. Find the good in everyone and everything. Today only happens once, Make it amazing.
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