Monday, May 21, 2012

Let's send a kid to camp....

After a successful weekend at the Detroit Green Festival held this past weekend at the headquarters of the Horatio Williams Foundation we now turn the page as we prepare for the Salvation Army Camp in North Oakland County.... also known as Echo Grove.   These two events may seem far apart on the surface... yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me start by saying that meeting Horatio Williams just a few weeks back was a great experience AND an eye opening one at that.  Many of us today take for granted the things we enjoy in part of our daily life such as family, support structure, mentors, and access to recreational opportunities.   In fact Horatio's first words to me were "We're just trying to do things for the kids.... ".
It seems that with the state of the financial situation in many of our urban centers... especially in Detroit... it has effected every aspect of services that used to be provided through traditional sources AND that includes parks and recreation opportunities for youth.  As a result we continue to hear and read about youth who have gone to other places for the sense of family and that place is often times not always the best choice.  Gang activity and violence is at unspeakable levels and when one examines the root cause... it seems to come back around to no support structure or a weak one that is not able to keep kids on a promising path.  Enter groups like The Horatio Williams Foundation.

  In 1992, Horatio Williams formed On Time Transportation Inc., a non-emergency medical transportation firm that provides 24/7 service for clients suffering various injuries. Horatio notes, “The obstacles of my accident led me to this business and it’s been a blessing.”
With 17 vehicles, he has serviced over 3000 clients and employed 32 people. He went from signing autographs as a college basketball star to signing checks…helping people provide for their families. “While I still miss playing basketball,” says Horatio. “Working with my clients and providing jobs has been an honor and I thank God for the opportunity.”
He established the Horatio Williams Foundation which has provided additional charitable contributions to the community. In April he sponsors the “Second Chance Basketball Game” so that high school seniors who did not receive college scholarships have an opportunity to play in front of scouts & coaches from across the country.
In June, he sponsors a free 2 week basketball camp for over 100 youth. In August, he sponsors a free trip to Cedar Point for over 400 youth. In September, he sponsors a back to school uniform clothing drive to provide school clothing for underprivileged youth
Williams is determined to expand his youth outreach, provide more programs and reach more kids. He is currently working on providing academic (tutorial) assistance to those students needing additional in all subjects and ACT/SAT testing preparation. As he says, “Life is about learning and I believe that kids can achieve their greatness if they are given an opportunity…I feel it’s my responsibility to provide them with a chance”

 The Horatio Williams Foundation is currently seeking support to win a grant through Art Van Furniture here in Detroit and you can help in their effort simply just by casting a vote for them on line.  That would be a great start to help support a group who is getting it done!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Shift into Green..." at the Lake St Clair Water Festival

This week we were pleased and honored to be invited to present our "Shift into Green..." presentation at the Lake St Clair Water Festival held at Macomb Community College (MC3) North Campus.  It was kind of a homecoming of sorts in more than one way.  Personally.... for me it was going back to where I came from in the sense that I was raised in the suburban community of Sterling Heights, Michigan from early childhood until leaving the nest as a college bound teen.   Returning after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education... with an emphasis on science... I accepted my first full time teaching position as a middle school science teacher in Roseville Community Schools... also located in Macomb County.

 So it is with that brief history that today after a 23 year absence from the classroom that I returned to where I started.... at MC3.... into the classroom.... loaded with science tools and materials.... back to where I came from.  But there is more to this story.  Being my first time presenting at this event I really did not know what to expect in the way of the format.  My hopes and expectations were fully met in that the MC3 classrooms were fully equipped with the technology I hoped would be there to connect my lap top to the internet and display my presentation links to the various sites relevant to the day.  Keep in mind that none of these tools even existed for classroom use when I left my educational career to start my own business in 1990.

Now let me get to the real irony of this day.  My first group arrived just slightly ahead of schedule.  As I looked through the agenda of the 4 morning groups scheduled to come through my "Shift into Green..." presentation I noticed an unfamiliar name of an elementary school.... but since the group arrived early I had little time to research their background.... so I began my presentation with kind of an opening probing approach to find out a little background information on my first group.  "Tell me a little bit about you before I start to tell you more about me and our topic of discussion...."  As the hands popped up... I learned some names,  favorite colors, favorite sports, and then leading them into the points I needed to know.... I discovered they were from Roseville Community Schools.  "Really?  I said... this is interesting to me".  Back to where I came from... picking up where I left off 23 years ago.... teaching a science lesson to students from.... Roseville Community Schools?    Planned?  Ironic?  Fate?

As the day went on and group two arrived.... it became clear to me that my morning schedule in fact was booked with kids from Macomb County... of course.... but specifically from Roseville Community Schools.  What an irony?  As the third group came and went... I began feeling like it was a divine intervention experience and each group revealed more new information to me about their new school... 2 years old.... Michigan Green School.... kids even knew my old teaching Buddy Dan Crow who is still in the district as an Assistant Principle or Principle last we talked.  

The bottom line for me was that this was a very meaningful day in many ways that literally took me back home for the better part of the day.  In fact... my Mom and Dad are still in the area not far from the campus.  You may have seen a post I put up with a photo of my Dad working with me at the Michigan Green Schools event in Macomb County a few weeks back.   On this day I took the time to make a call... "Mom... It's Don... are you home?  OK... I'm on my way over to see you.... OK?"  "Sure"... she said and off I went.  Now I tell you this as I begin to wind down the story of "coming home" to Macomb County.   I am lucky in so many ways and in this case... that I had taken the time to do what many of us take for granted.  I admit... I have taken for granted the assumption that they are going to be here for ever... I can always make time to stop in... and... then you realize that isn't true.  So... the moral of the story today?  Take the time... your busy... you have more to do than you can possibly deal with... how can you take the time or make the time?  Do it.  While you can... while there here... put all else aside for just this one day.... and go back home while you still can!  ;)