100% of the proceeds will benefit the Bountiful Backpack Program, sponsored by South County Rotary. Hunger in Anne Arundel County is unfortunately a grim reality for many area children. Nutritious meals are available at school; however weekends are not covered. In an effort to sustain these children, South County Rotary launched the Bountiful Backpack Program as part of its hunger initiative. The backpacks are filled with a weekend supply of nourishing food for children to take home each Friday. The packs are returned on Monday and re-filled by club members and volunteers for the next weekend. Continue reading
Operation: BuddyPack was a huge success! Thank you to every student and family who contributed for the backpacks to be filled with toiletries, school supplies, and games or toys to pass the time! Thousands of children in the New Jersey and New York area are without homes and all of the comforts that a home usually brings. Thanks to you, 10 additional children have been given a backpack full of practical supplies, and comfort. Mr. Joe and I cannot express the gratitude we have for all of you – the families at BLS – that helped put a smile on those children’s faces. We owe a very special ‘Thank you’ to Caroline S. and her family for bringing Operation: BuddyPack to the studio. And another special ‘Thank you’ to Max and Joey P.’s family for providing two completely filled packs to our collection!
It has been very heartwarming to see how quickly our students and parents were ready to sign-up to go out of their way to purchase and bring in brand-new supplies! I got so many replies, “Is that all?” from families that were so willing to donate more. Hurricane Sandy left behind a path of destruction, but in that wake, our Mid-Atlantic region has been able to witness the power of community connection!
Sunny and breezy, with beautiful mid-70 degree weather… this past Saturday was a terrific day to spend outside. Instead of hanging at the beach or lounging in a downtown coffee shop, I arrived bright and early at a build site in Baltimore City to partake in a house demolition and reconstruction job!
Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity has been a dream of mine, but taking off for a week to build a house abroad just never seemed feasible with work and school. Who knew that Habitat for Humanity has local chapters that allow you to volunteer for day jobs (about 7 hours) during the week and/or weekends? I didn’t!
That is, I didn’t know until I came across Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake during a routine internet exploration. Registration is a breeze, and the site offers information about lots of different volunteer opportunities. If you’re not interested in labor-intensive work, maybe volunteering in the office will suit you better! You can request to do gardening and landscaping, or offer up your muscles for power tool duties. Either way, as long as you’re 16 or older, there is a job available for you!
The local chapter, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, has about 6 different sites in Baltimore city that they are focusing on over the next few months. In addition to novice volunteers (like myself) at the sites on build days, there are Red Hats who are veteran volunteers that have gone through additional safety courses and commit to two build days each month, Americorps members who are on job assignments with Habitat for 11-month contracts, and site supervisors who are employed by Habitat for Humanity and provide volunteers with wisdom, friendliness, and tasks!
I had a WONDERFUL experience getting to know other volunteers and spending the day ripping out old windows and frames, and reconstructing the exterior walls! The experience was so wonderful that I have already gone online and signed up for four more jobs over the next two months! If you, or anyone you know, have an interest in volunteering in your community, I highly recommend Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Connor S. is a student at Balanced Life Skills. This Saturday on June the 9th he will be taking part in a fundraiser for Bello Machre, ” Every Step Counts” with his team – Dust Off Your Dreams. Why is this so special? Here is a letter from his mom and a video of Connor speaking to nearly 200 Middle Schools Students at Severn School about autism.
For the last 40 years, Bello Machre, a locally based non-profit organization, has dedicated their energy to helping children and adults with developmental disabilities. The “Every Step Counts” fundraiser is their biggest of the year, and it accounts for a large portion of the money used to fund their services. Bello Machre provides much needed support to families and group homes to hundreds of people of all ages with disabilities of all types. For the last 9 years, Bello Machre has supported our efforts in bringing Connor out of his autistic shell by providing us with a yearly grant that we use to help defray the costs of his treatments. Half of every dollar we raise in “Every Step Counts” is added to Connor’s grant account to be used specifically for his treatments.
We have been blessed that all of the medicines, doctors appointments, therapy appointments, specialized medical tests, friends, family, aides and teachers have come together to bring Connor to a very high functioning level. It is a wonderful thing to be able to dream of a future for Connor not totally dominated by the world of autism. Unfortunately, for every one like Connor, there are 10 others who haven’t been so lucky. We would love to have your support once again as we attempt to raise money for a very worthy organization. Any donation, big or small, is greatly appreciated. If you wish to donate, you can send a check to us made out to “Bello Machre/Every Step Counts” to our home address listed below. If you would prefer to donate online, go towww.bellomachre.org/events/every_step_counts.php. Our team name is “Dust Off Your Dreams,” and that name would need to be included on the online donation form in order for us to receive credit.
We thank you in advance for your support, and the hundreds of other individuals served by Bello Machre thank you as well.
Bob, Lori and Connor Skalitzky
2513 Windy Oak Court
Crofton, MD 21114
P.S. If you would like to see Connor’s amazing speech given on World Autism Awareness Day (which also happens to be his birthday), check out this video:
Ask a question, Save a life
All of our 5/6 Lil’ Dragons learn to jump rope as a part of our coordination drills. This is a great story as told by Evan’s mom about jumping rope and service to our community.
Evan participated in Jump Rope for Heart this year at school. Last year he went and was very frustrated that he could not jump rope well. This year, he was incredibly excited about the event, ready to show off his advanced jump roping skills (thanks you balanced life!). It was a wonderful experience for him and increased his self esteem. Because he was so excited for the event, he wanted to participate in the fundraising aspect of it, raising money for the American Heart Association. (Btw, I told him that I did not want to request donations from anyone at BLS because it was the same time as his cereal box drive and I explained how important it was to not ask for too much.) We went online and talked to friends and family about what he was doing. Evan raised $445, more than anyone else at his school. His sister even contributed $5 of her money to support the fundraising efforts! Overall, it was an incredible opportunity for him to shine in many aspects. I believe that most of what he gained from this experience grew as an extension of what you teach at BLS and I wanted to thank you for that.
Evan W. jumps rope Here’s a video of some of the more complicated jump roping he was doing that day.
Thursday morning I attended the weekly South Anne Arundel County Rotary Club meeting. Each week there is a speaker and this week the speaker was from the AA County School System, Lynne Weise. She is with Student Support Services and works with and for those students who are homeless. Did you you know that in Anne Arundel County we have as of yesterday, 948 students who are homeless?
Here are some facts on children and youth who are homeless from the University of Maryland:
- one in 50 children in the United States experience homelessness each year
- less that 16% of elegible pre-school children are enrolled in school.
- 42% of homeless children transfer schools at least once a year and 51% of these students will transfer twice or more.
- Every time any student transfers schools their GPA will drop 10%.
- Less than 25% of homeless children will graduate from high school
In AA County about 98% of the funds Student Support Services has is spent on busing and trying to keep students in a single school. There are many groups that work on being sure that they have food with breakfast programs and weekend food programs like Bountiful Backpacks. Still there are so many other events and possibilities that are not available for children and students who are without homes.
As an individual or a group anyone can sponsor a student for a particular need. There are some students in South County that would like to take drivers ed – but cannot – due to funds. There are many needs and opportunities. Want to learn more or learn how you can help? Call 410-222-5326 and speak to Lynne Weise, who is the Homeless Education Liaison – Student Support Services. You can email her also at firstname.lastname@example.org