Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Designing Spaces Makes Changes at a Boys & Girls Club in Pompano Beach

The Boys & Girls Club of Pompano Beach was the first club in South Florida.
I xoxo a deserving heartfelt makeover, and so I was excited to take time out to check out the newest Designing Spaces   "Spaces of Hope" project at the Thomas D. Stephanis Boys & Girls Club in Pompano Beach. Here, the Designing Spaces Dream Team, composed of O2 Media staffers, civic leaders, and corporations such as Texas Instruments and Grip On Tools, tricked out the math lab, wood shop, and lounge with new technology, cool tools, and of course, a fresh coat of paint. As Lysa Liemer, Designing Spaces Executive V.P. of Programming, says, "When the Dream Team gathers it's partners for projects the goals is to impact lives while making over spaces."

Each child received a new Ridemakerz car.

Indeed! The collaboration was a huge success. After months of steadfast planning, The Dream Team arrived on location, and in a matter of days, completed the installation. As volunteers and partners step in and out of the picture to discuss their involvement, a camera crew is filming the transformation. Each project concludes with a party. In this instance, the reveal party included a couple of speeches, tours of the newly designed spaces, and pizza, soft drinks, and Ridemakerz cars for about 260 kids.

Tom Reardon, math teacher on board with TI, acclimates some of the kids to the new technology.
Kids catch on pretty fast.

Texas Instruments was integral to this Spaces of Hope project. The company took charge in the math lab, donating a generous amount of TI-Nspire CX graphing calculators, computer software, a few iPads, apps, and science exploration tools.  Melendy Lovett, TI Senior VP  and President, Education Technology, eager to impact an alternative learning environment says, "We quickly could envision an appealing high tech learning lab where students would like to spend time."  The TI-Nspire technology enables students to see how math and science are related to their hobbies and extracurricular interests. This summer TI will return to the Pompano Beach facility to host STEM camp.

The family that builds together...

Pegboard is excellent for out-in-the-open organization.

Kidz Tools are sized for smaller hands.
Another partner,  Grip On Tools, commandeered the wood shop. Company rep Kevin Vanderwoude and his wife Lindsay and sons Kyan, 7, and Koby, 10, hung up the color-coded tools on a pegboard backdrop. Especially sized for kids, these real working tools are designed to enhance woodworking skills in youth. Kidz Tools is a new brand for the Michigan-based 30-year old family-owned company Grip On Tools, and its motto is: "Build a better tomorrow kid, and one tool at a time!"

Woodworking is one of the kids favorites. Projects have included treasure boxes and bird houses.

Mark Clifford (above left),  a state certified general contractor and teacher of the special vocational course, Building Trades and Construction Design Technology, through the Broward public school system, gets to test drive the new tools first. He runs the woodworking studio at the Club. A volunteer for nearly 3 years, Clifford must create projects suitable for 7-18 year olds. It is a challenge at times, and is one that Clifford relishes. He says, " It makes me rethink things. Makes me better at what I do."

The lounge now has two interactive game stations.

Health and Fitness Coordinator Christopher Cleveland
Health, fitness, and recreation are also on the Boys & Girls Club daily roster. In the lounge, the kids can now enjoy interactive game stations compliments of BrandsMart . In the gym, as usual, they will get to work out with Coach Chris.  Coach Chris has a long history at the Pompano Boys & Girls Club. He started going here when he was 6, and has been working for the Club for 13 years. Coach Chris says, "I love working with the kids and being like a big brother. I dream to be the director one day."

Greg Jones (center) is the much-loved Director of the Stephanis Club. To his left (black shirt) is Lysa Liemer from Designing Spaces. 

For now, Greg Jones presides over the Pompano Beach Club.  He first came to the Club in 1976 when he was 9 years old. In 1985 he joined the staff. Jones the target of much respect and admiration, is a big guy with sizable shoes to fill. If dedication pays off, Coach Chris seems to be on track for following in his footsteps.

I'm glad I was there. I made all these new friends!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

BLOG ENVY: The Happy Hausfrau

Image from The Happy Hausfrau

Today I am not envying a blog about worn leather, beautiful lace, or unmade beds in soft focus. Moving from the visual to the emotional, intellectual and funny, I envy  The Happy Hausfrau  where a divorced 40-something mom spills her guts with humor and ease. Jennifer Ball, blogging for three years now, manages to verbalize her present state of womanhood in a delightful and genuine way. She says she started the blog because, " I wanted other women going through a very particular kind of hell, the shitstorm of having your husband leave you, to know they weren't alone."

I discovered The Happy Hausfrau in The Huffington Post last week in an article titled The Divorced Mommy's Guide to Friends. As a not-yet-divorced woman still living with my eventual ex along with our two kids who totally get that we are not together, I often feel the urge to write about the present state of my non-traditional life. I have ideas swirling in my head but lack the discipline to get them out with any regularity. This is why I envy The Happy Hausfrau.

Here are a few excerpts from her blog:

On What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You
"If I had known right from the start that he had found a secretary who did way more than order donuts for meetings and answer phones, I could have saved myself a whole lot of humiliation. And I could have started filling out my eHarmony questionnaire earlier."

On finally finding the right bra:
I have found the perfect bra. It makes me want to wear deep v-necks and shake my moneymakers. Ok, so they haven't made me a dime but stranger things have happened. 

Then there is the story of the hand-me-down pasta bowl. I read it twice and cannot excerpt it. You just must read the whole thing. And have a tissue handy.

Great writing here and the comment threads make for excellent reading too. 
This blog is rated: NJFD (Not just for the divorced or eventual-divorced.)