Category Archives: local heroes

Thank you, donors!

We are grateful to the donors who contributed 15 units of blood at Saturday’s blood drive and 97 books to support summer literacy initiatives!

IMG_20170603_1253255071 – BLOOD DRIVE

On Saturday, in partnership with Target (Oviedo) and OneBlood, we joined the Central Florida Freethought Community to host the first Pulse Remembrance blood drive in Central Florida; the 15 donors were the first to earn the STILL STRONG donor shirt.  We enjoyed  a great day making a difference with the CFFC and members and friends who came to support the efforts.  Fifteen units of blood collected will impact 45 lives in our community.

donor3Our blood drives to date have collected more than 182 units of blood, impacting 546 lives.

 

 

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2 – BOOK DRIVE

The event was also the final drop-off for our annual STEM-themed summer literacy book drive.   In support of local literacy initiatives of the Heart of Florida United Way and its partner agencies that focus on bridging the summer reading gap, we collect new science, technology, engineering, and math-related books, and books that highlight women and minorities in successful leadership roles, that will be given to youth as gifts.  The Central Florida Freethought Community joined the effort again this year.  With their help, we reached a total of 97 high-quality new books.

IMG_20170603_102219674This year’s collection included multiple copies of Women in Science, an autographed copy of Astronomy Saves The World from its author Daniel Batcheldor, Chasing Space, and many more fun and visually stunning books that will be sure to ignite the imagination of young readers.

Our next STEM-themed collection will be the holiday toy drive – BE part of it! Follow us at http://STEM4youth.wordpress.com.  We’re proud to be a part of STEM4Youth, a collaborative effort of local secular and Humanist organizations.  Initiatives include the summer book drive, holiday toy drive, and an annual Math, Science, & Pi(e) Fest.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Click here to become a member and RSVP:

  • Make a Difference in Under a Minute (sign online thank-you letter to a local university for their Humanist inclusion efforts)
  • Monthly meal serve in Sanford
  • Solutionary Festival & Peace Walk at Lake Eola
  • Park & Lake Cleanup event
  • Food donation sorting at Second Harvest
  • Living shoreline stabilization project at Canaveral National Seashore
  • Professional Development – free diversity workshop on faith in the workplace
  • Mattress recycling project at the Mustard Seed

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Blood Drive, STEM Toys, &…Wolves??

Blood Drive & STEM Toy Drive Drop-off
Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m – 3 p.m.
Target in Oviedo – 820 Oviedo Mall Boulevard
look for our tents in the parking lot by the Bloodmobile

We’re looking forward to a GREAT day on Saturday!  The weather will be perfect and we will be investing our day to help fill that Big Red Bus and save lives this holiday season as well as collecting STEM-themed toys for at-risk youth in our community.  Come say hello & meet leaders and members from BE. Orlando and the Central Florida Freethought Community.

Blood Donors will receive a Humanist Blood Donor canvas bag, a book donated by In Harmony With Nature, and a Fandango movie ticket from OneBlood!

Picture8We’re excited that one of the charities we have supported over the years will be joining us – In Harmony With Nature wolf and wolfdog refuge!  Come by and learn about this great organization and meet volunteers, leaders, and maybe a wolf ambassador! There will be some great wolfy items there that would make unique holiday gifts.

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International Volunteer Day

A note from a dear stranger, a distant friend*, on the other side of the globe, gave a reminder to acknowledge local heroes on this International Volunteer Day (IVD).

This is a day to celebrate those who make a difference in their communities around the world.  We applaud you – Whether you save lives by donating blood, donate hours in service to causes in your area, work toward local, national, or global change, or simply expand your kindness footprint daily in personal ways to uplift others around you. It matters.

The 2016 IVD theme is #GlobalApplause: Give Volunteers a Hand.  We applaud our members and our partner organizations for their commitment to making a difference, such as the Central Florida Freethought Community for adopting a park and supporting the STEM Toy Drive. & blood drive this coming Saturday. THANK YOU for the impact you have through volunteerism and through the kindness you share. You make the world a better place!

From the United Nations:

On IVD, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but also pay special tribute to people’s participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally. IVD highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grass-roots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to: stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

On 5 December join us in recognizing the commitment of all volunteers, and applaud hundreds of millions of people who volunteer to make change happen.

* That note came from John Iriri, leader of the Blood Donor Community in Kenya, who has been a treasured connection in the network of blood donor advocates around the world and a hero to many.  Thank you, John, for your continued leadership, inspiration, and encouragement!  Follow his donor community’s lifesaving journey on twitter, @DonorCC

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Gratitude Beyond Belief

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  What were the most inspiring moments? What was the most beautiful thing you saw? What will stay with you? For what were you grateful?

Here are some thoughts from BE. Orlando’s founder.  If you’re so inclined, click play on TJ’s video below & listen while you read.  🙂

What did you do for Thanksgiving…

A visit to Cedar Key, a city more beautiful than ever only months after Hurricane Hermine. It was uplifting to feel the strength of their community and connect with old, new, and furry friends.  The first sight when entering town was the wagging of a familiar tale, followed by a slobbery greeting from the pirate pup and a warm welcome from his family – and so began a beautiful weekend.

The town was exactly as expected. Glimpses of the hurricane’s devastation were around to be seen, but the sparked spirit of community and determination to rebuild and thrive were the most evident remnants of Hermine. It is a reflection of the inner strength of humanity. Every face that passes us each day has endured the storms of personal losses and devastation, and has overcome.  The strength of the Cedar Key community is a potential in each person we meet, and in each of us.

What were the most inspiring moments…

1126-90-low-key-evening-9A bonfire concert in a sea-side garden. Everyone singing to the tunes of Houston Keen, young musician from Chiefland, and enjoying the warmth of the fire as the cool front started blowing in.  Houston played a set of favourite covers and some originals.  When asked to play his favorite song to perform, he stunned us with a touching song called “Sleeping in his Dress Blues.”  It was unexpected and touching; a beautiful surprise.  Wondering what personal meaning that song had for him added to the depth of the moment.  There was not a dry eye in the garden.  With the next song he lifted us back up, but he had stopped us all in time for one song that was not only touching in itself, but also a reminder that every face we see has the stories of a life’s journey behind it.

What was the most beautiful thing you saw…

1126-38-flight22-smallOh, the view. Sunsparkles on the water, playful dolphins, soaring birds, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. The most awesome view, though, is from the sky.  The clam farms by Dog Island, the beautiful sands on McCrary Cove at North Key, the peaceful town below. And the dynamic topology of the sandbars around the islands, so different every time – especially after the recent storm. As a kayaker who loves to wander out to sandbars & private beaches, those flights are also kindle dreams of future adventures (and places to nap in the sun).

There were two teenage girls that rode with us – one had never flown before, and neither had ever been in a small plane before. But through the flight, they were in their phones. They’ll never get that moment back – so sad that they missed the experience. One thing i love about that town is the rarity of digital zombies; mostly, people there connect with one another and are present. It is nice to see people talk to each other and look up and around when they walk.

There are beautiful things around us. We can only see them if we are present.

What will stay with you…

1125-20_terry-daily-grindOne of the new stores in town, a coffee shop called the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile, is run by Terry and Martin. The place was amazing – beautifully laid out, unique decor (even a record player playing records!), amazingly artistic and delicious food, and great coffee.  They are very passionate about the coffee!  🙂

The day they were to open was the day Hurricane Hermine hit.  That means they had invested time and resources to make the shop perfect for its opening day – and it was destroyed by the flood.  Grief over the loss was no match for strength of character: within weeks they had picked up the pieces, cleaned the destruction, and re-created their dream. Their example of what inner strength means will stay with me.

They weren’t the only ones –  Bonish Studio (the new adventure of old CDK friends Pat and Cindy Bonish), and other businesses were similarly impacted, and rebuilt with resilience and courage. A trip to this place is always inspiring and a perfect place of peace for re-charging; this time, it was so much more.

For what were you grateful…

Cedar Key, for its community and for the beauty of the nature around it, and my great fortune to be able to visit there. The warmth and welcome from Cedar Key friends.  Catching a surprise TJ Brown concert, and for the garden concert by Houston Keen. The ability to appreciate the beauty around us, and the reminder of how important a lifestyle of gratitude and connectivity really is.  Beyond Cedar Key – just too much to list; life is a beautiful challenge. And it passes so quickly; how we invest every moment matters.  I’m grateful for that awareness, for the journey of life, and for connections to others.

live-gratitudeRemember that the best expression of gratitude is action.  I hope for all of us that we have come away from our Thanksgiving reflections with a renewed sense of purpose.

How will you incorporate gratitude into your daily actions?

If you are in Central Florida seeking a positive Humanist community  committed to make a difference together, visit our free member site.

 

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Holiday STEM Toy Drive!

December 10th collection event

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Join us on December 10th at Target in Oviedo, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., for a blood drive! Save lives this holiday season, and drop off items for the Holiday STEM Toy Drive!

Skip the line to donate blood – make an appointment!


Make a difference with us this Holiday Season!

In a growing partnership, we join other Humanist and secular organizations in our community to bring STEM-themed toys and books to at-risk children in our community.

Central Florida – we need your help!  Host collections in your workplaces, families, neighborhoods, teams, and other communities. View drop-off & pickup options on the STEM Toy Drive website – STEM4Youth.wordpress.com.  Our big drop-off event is on December 10th, but we will be collecting through Decmber 16th.

On the website you’ll find information about the drive
and an amazing STEM toy shopping and resource list!

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Caped Volunteers & a Spooky Super Supper

We can’t believe it is the holiday season already, but we are READY.  In October, November, and December we make holiday-themed meals at our second wednesday chef adventure.

Last night the season began with superhero volunteers preparing a creative “spooky super supper” buffet for the residents at SafeHouse of Seminole. Spider dogs, mummy dogs, mashed potato graveyard, string cheese witches’ brooms, and spooky fruits & veggies complimented a pasta dinner with field greens salad. The most important part (dessert) included witch hat cookies, dirt & worm cups, and Halloween cupcakes.

fd74866f-4fad-4feb-82fa-3b8ff8aca046_1-b59b0ce7273dce3a2c6f126dc0184534Special thanks to the kids at SafeHouse who not only put up with our caped volunteers’ silly spooky shenanigans, but even joined in dancing and singing with the animated musical “who let the dogs out” halloweiner pup.

As the season of giving begins, think about creative ways that you can impact the lives of others in your community.   You’re not just preparing a dinner or hosting a needs drive, you are investing your time to make a positive difference in the world.  Volunteers lighten burdens, uplift hearts, and create light and joy.

Thank you to our BE. Orlando volunteers for BEing involved, and to everyone who invests the time to make a difference.

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Day of Service event at SafeHouse

Volunteer braved the strange and squally weather yesterday and came together at SafeHouse to make a difference – and make a fantabulous meal.  Check out this made-with-love buffet of choices  (careful, reading this will make you hungry):

img_20160914_192549444Honey baked ham, lasagne, fall spiced vegetable saute, steamed carrots, cheese tray, olive tray, bread, field greens & veggie salad, fresh fruit platter, rice and vegetables, pigs-in-a-blanket, baked brie with maple almond cranberry chutney, peas, mac & cheese, potato salad, green bean casserole, and more.  And to “topping” it off…our fabulous dessert chef prepared an ice cream bar with homemade red velvet brownies, homemade cookies, vanilla ice cream and an amazing assortment of tantalizing toppings!

We are grateful for our creative, talented members –
thank you to each volunteer for investing your evening to uplift others.

1The next three months are going to ROCK even more.  We can’t wait for October, the Halloween themed dinner with mummy-dogs, cute spider cakes, strawberry whipped cream ghosts, and all kinds of other creative fun halloweeny foods!

The September meal serve event was our 9/11 Day of Service – a few days late.  In our last post, we shared that we host an annual observance not only to honor the victims, survivors, and responders, but also the spirit of Meetup.com.  Meetup was founded after 9/11 to provide an online platform for bringing people together offline to build and strengthen community. Our volunteers received a volunteer pin from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

img_20160914_173308389We also dropped off a donation of 170 children and young adult STEM-themed books provided by the Central Florida Freethought Community.  Thank you CFFC!