Our Last Trip to Cuba: Chapter 17 - No Way

This story is set in October 2015.  Today, January 30, marks one year since TiaLourdes passed on, and it is also possibly he very last night for other things, but I will tell you  about those things  later, after we get past the Cuba parts of the story.

As I finish this story, I get the feeling that this will be my last trip to Cuba that I can tell my Abuelo about. 

It's OK He had his Cuba before me, and I will have my Cuba after him. That's just the way it worked out.  

I'm too thankful to have him to complain about a thing. No matter how I think about it I keep coming back to the same place, and it is this. There was no way he could have imagined when he left in 1960 he just would never come back. No way.  Just like I can't imagine writing stories and not sharing them with him. No way. 


After breakfast Mom and I have about an hour until checkout so we decide to do something wild and unexpected and take a walk down the street in front of the Hotel Jagua.   We walk down a sidewalk that passes in front of short mid-century huge bayfront houses most of whom were have been turned into state-run hotels.Mom points out which house belonged to her school friends and we tiptoe around and weave in between places we weren't sure we were supposed to go but went away.

Workers were just arriving to their positions at the spas and information desks and those who noticed us just nodded buenos dias and went back to whatever they were doing.

Men on bikes, grown men, follow us on the deserted sidewalk and callout kind things about our appearance.

I throw them a peace sign over my shoulder and we continue to walk, giggling, arms linked, giddy to just be in Cuba together, breathing this salty air here, together, today.

We turn around and walk down the opposite side of the road and I see a house with a small but conspicuous decal signaling it is the home of the president of the local the CDR - the Comite de Defensa de la Revolucion and stop to take a picture.

 Just then my iphone signals it is full, no more pictures.

 Great. I pretend to take a picture of logo, then pretend to take a self of myself with the logo behind me (I'm this easy to entertain ya'll) then look around.

Then men on bikes that had been following us have disappeared, the street seems empty.

We keep walking and go across the hotel parking lot, past pretty cars and lush gardens and posh cars from all over the world and revisit Palacio Valle.

This time there is no one to take our money -- probably we have arrived before it opens and there is no one to stop us. The main marble staircase is blocked so we find a metal spiral staircase to climb.

Two workers are perched precariously on the stairs, painting them a glossy mossy green.

We smile and greet them and they let us by but we pass too close to the wet paint and Tita gets a smudge of paint on her perfect black purse, but that doesn't matter because we are here for the view and clouds and the peace and to just be here together.

Once we get upstairs we find that we are thirsty and hot. There is nothing to drink, and almost no shade, so we quickly find our way back downstairs and head to the hotel to pack.

But this is Cuba and things don't go as we expected. Turns out that relatives had been looking for us, waiting for us at the hotel. No way.  That never happens in America.

We leave them in the lobby and go upstairs to finish packing and figure out what to do.

It's noon. We want to visit TiaLourdes and then be at Cienfuegos  airport for 4pm.  There is no other time or place to address this, so we sit down at the hotel Jagua for a quick lunch (which ends up costing $130 for three sandwiches and 4 drinks, I can't make this up) so Tita and figure out why they are there.

They want a favor, but it isn't one we can do.

Nope, no way.

They had to ask, I can understand that, but nope. No way, and don't even ask me what it was.

After lunch the driver is waiting for us at the hotel and 6 of us pile into a compact Soviet-era white car that has only two working doors.  This was my nightmare on my first trip to Cuba, but here I am, crowded in a non-airconditioned car with people who used to be strangers and now were my family, racing along the stretch of street where my Abuelo and Great Grandfather no doubt raced cars in their youth.

We pass the sign that says "Cienfuegos es la ciudad que was me gusta a mi!"

I lean my head out the out the window and notice a car full of men going exactly our same speed, looking into our car window, staring as though they never saw a person that looked like me before.  Maybe they knew our driver and were being funny, but if that was so, our driver didn't mention a word.  I stared back and we kept going the same speed until our car turned towards the Prado, towards TiaLourdes house.

It stopped in front of the colonial house, blocking a main line of bus-car-truck-motorcycle-horse traffic, just long enough for us all to hop out, take deep breaths and get ready to say our goodbyes.


Service Project Proposals #21-30

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of
others.” (Mahatma Gandhi) Service is a powerful method of finding out who you are as a person. You have the ability to show up and give with compassion, connection and love. In high school I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local nursing home that took care of the elderly.  I volunteered in exchange for for community service hours, but what surprised me was how much I loved caring for and being with our elders. Which is why for my service project I would love to volunteer at a nursing home again.

Growing up, my grandmother lived with us in our home because my parents strongly believed in taking care of your loved ones. All throughout high school, I witnessed the daily routine of what its like to live with and take care of someone who is experiencing a stage in their life that is less active, physically limited and without the freedom that I was just beginning to discover. It’s challenging finding the patience to not get annoyed, but in reality I had to imagine what is was like to be in their shoes and see where they were at in life and feel how hard it must be to be in their body. The more I spent my weekends at the nursing home, I more I noticed how lonely some of the residents were. They didn’t have a family surrounding them and yet many of them raised families.  I often felt how they might have missed the life they used to live.  I watched what an awesome job the nurses and my mom did of showing love and patience and respect. The more I worked at the nursing home, the more I grew as a person. Just being able to hear the stories of the elders helped me remember they were once my age, young and independent. Just the thought of not being able to do the daily things anymore that define you as independent is scary to me. Becoming completely dependent on someone to help you go to the bathroom, tuck you in bed, or even eat is the ultimate gesture of letting go.
What was helpful to me as I volunteered was being able to model the nurse’s example of caretaking and have an experience of giving back to the elderly. For me, it was a great feeling of fulfillment and I would absolutely love to do it again. My volunteer experience had shown me that I can bring joy to other people. Your heart opens up and creates room for compassion and patience. Not every elder gets the kind of choice my grandmother did in having the opportunity to pass away in her family’s home with her son and grandchildren. And yet, knowing that everyone gets old one day and everyone wants the love of friends and family, it is a special honor to be the one who is there for them so they do not give up or feel forgotten. Every time I left the nursing home I came away feeling accomplished and uplifted.  Even though it wasn’t a paid job, I enjoyed serving another and the fact that I made someone’s day special.

Proposal #21 APPROVED

Proposal #22
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated that, “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” I feel that that quote resonates strongly with me. We may wish well on others and hope strongly for good things to take place in the world, but it doesn’t matter much if we don’t actually go out and do things for others ourselves. It is only through taking steps forward that we can get to where we want to go, and make the world how we want it to be. Daydreaming about the final destination isn’t the same as actually going and being there.  
            For my service project, I want to do what I can to help refugees coming into the country. They have many needs as they come here, often with little more than the clothes on their backs. There are so many countries where people are evacuating from, and there’s a heavy flow of people trying to get somewhere—where ever it may be—that’s safer. Tallahassee is set up to bring in several families every month or two. Some women in my church have been working to set up an organized helping process to do their part with whatever the officials helping the refugees need. There are a lot of steps involved with getting families set up here. Government programs provide for cheap homes for the families for a while, and workers keep contact with many businesses to look for jobs that they can get for those old enough to work. It’s fascinating to hear from the women I know volunteering their time to help. There is so much work to do. Some schools try to provide some special time for refugee children to fast track their English learning, because the vast majority come over to our country not knowing any. One of the women I know has taken large families to doctors before to set up appointments and get papers submitted so they can receive care. This can be a very lengthy process, especially with the language barrier.
            I may be able to go help with some of the school volunteering, in helping kids learn English. One of the other women who does this regularly talked with me about how they use flash cards and simple games to begin building a basic vocabulary. They may be more interested in older persons being involved in that way, but I plan on seeing what I can do to help. There’s also a need for various simple household items. Clothing drives are going to get all different sizes for refugees, who come in with so little. This is a way I know I’ll be able to lend a hand. I’ll be looking out for other ways I can lend a hand too.
            I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for all these people to leave their homes and travel so far to somewhere they’ve never been. The older children in their late teens and early twenties are a blessing to their families, as they usually start picking up English more quickly than their parents and can find work more easily. The women I’ve talked to who volunteer are so happy to help, and the families are so grateful to be helped. I’m eager to ask around and find out what I can do to be a part of making all these families who’ve been through so much welcome and stable in our community.

We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, and more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that. - Ellen DeGeneres
            I believe in life we are all going to go through a series of tragic events and most of us face a difficult time getting through these circumstances. In 2016 I lost two important and very close family members. The first was my older cousin to cancer and the second was my 2-year-old little cousin who drowned in a pool. I’ve also had my own loss this past weekend on January 21,2017 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. With me being only 5 months pregnant he didn’t survive, this broke my heart and I am still struggling on how to function through life daily. My goal is to help victims who have lost loved ones or who have been in tragic events similar to mine. Grieving is never easy and I know some people have nowhere to turn and they are looking for help or people who have been through similar things.
 My goal is to reach out and offer help and support to people who have no help. There are organized walks and events I plan to attend this year since I’ve lost my baby. I will be attending the March of dimes in October because they offer help to moms like me and also I was born premature there will be a great relation for me. Another event I will be attending is the Walk to Remember event held at Lake Ella every year for grieving parents who have lost their babies. Events like these are what bring people together if no one was thoughtful enough to organize these things people would feel alone and lost. We are created to help one another and be here for each other sometimes all a person needs is one hug or a smile. If I could help at least one person or show one person that I sincerely care about them and feel their pain that would make my heart melt.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” After I read this quote a few times I began to try and make sense of it, taking the literal meaning of it. When we dream we picture a perfect world, once we wake up we realize life requires work. Within that work you then appreciate the little things in life, that’s what creates happiness. You don’t always want to wake up but you can’t live under the sheets forever.
            I see this quote as guide for how to take meaningful joy out of life from the work we do, whether it’s family related or literal work some kind of happiness can be drawn. For my service proposal I felt that Going to different local parks on Sunday mourning’s and handing out bottled water to runners would be somewhere to start. Being focused on fitness and nutrition made for an easy place to start thinking of ideas. Promoting others to stay hydrated by handing out waters gives me the chance to share simple option to being slightly healthier. I’ve only been to a couple parks while I’ve been at school in Tallahassee but from those trips have shown that water isn’t the easiest thing to find on some of the trails and if someone forgot theirs, their run doesn’t become any easier. By being out there I know ill make at least one person who didn’t expect get a cold drinks mourning.
Aside from distributing water I plan to be collecting trash and recycling plastic found on the ground. No matter the amount of trash collected or water given out I hope that those who drive or run past me realize the impact of reaching out. The idea to collect trash while I hand out water was inspired by a man who was collecting garbage from the side of the road one Saturday morning. I assumed no one asked him to and that’s what made his actions stick with me.
Proposal #24 Approved
Proposal #25
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

            I have always been a person that finds enjoyment out of helping others out and have participated in many different types of community service programs since I was in the fifth grade. It all started when I joined the Future Educators of America club in elementary school and I had began raising money to buy school supplies for classrooms and also spending time after school tutoring first, second, and third graders. From there it went to teaching dance classes for free on the weekends at my dance studio back in Miami for girls and boys who could not avoid to participate in our weekly classes and yearly recitals, and while I was learning how to sail during the summer I had the opportunity to bring a child who could not afford sailing lessons everyday to sail with me every Thursday for free. My biggest endeavor though was having the opportunity to travel to Brazil and teaching individuals from all age groups, English. As you can see helping people in the community is something I love to do.
            For my service project I wanted to do something I have never done before, I decided on cooking for the Veterans Village. I thought of this because normally when I partake in community service I mostly interact with children and this time around I wanted to help adults. Not only did I want a new group of people to help but also my grandfather was a pilot in World War II and though I never got to meet him I thought it would be a great idea to help fellow veterans who sacrificed their lives for our country and us as citizens to keep us safe.
The veterans deserve so much and by cooking them a nice meal will definitely give them something to smile about. Volunteering for the Veterans Village will also remind me that there are still good people out in the world that are willing to give up everything they ever wanted or ever had to protect myself and everyone I love. Cooking will also be fun to do because I never had to cook for myself till I started college and it has been fun discovering new recipes and trying them out. Along with cooking and putting a smile on the Veteran faces I feel like it will help me become closer to my grandfather by meeting and talking to the Veterans I will be serving. It will help me better understand what my grandfather went through but also connect with others.
I’m so happy you are making us help out in the community and that there are so many different options to choose from. I’m looking forward to serving the Veterans some delicious food and being able to connect with them on a personal level.
Proposal #25 Approved

Proposal #26
            “True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”- Helen Keller

For my service project, I would like to rewrite, or in other words, mix several songs for my father. My father is a hardworking man and wants to do what is right. My father is currently getting medical treatments in Washing D.C. In the middle of his deployment he had to stop and get treatments for unknown conditions. My father has been in the military for a long time and his service time is coming to a close. I hope that whatever I create can lift his spirit and comfort him emotionally, mentally and spiritually. They still are unaware of what exactly is causing the medical issues he has. They have some ideas, but they are trying to help him with pain and the other symptoms as they continue to try and diagnose him. I know he will miss the work he loves so much, so I want to create a compellation of his journey and emotions through music. The song remix will not only apply and help him but also to any serviceman or person who is moving onto a different part of their life. I cannot say whether it will be happy or sad, but I can say it will display the emotion of the time and experience. My father is a man who never wanted to show his emotions, but I think this project will help him soften his heart to enable him to more fully face his own emotions and share them with his family and those he cares about. Music means a lot to me. It is my outlet. I want to use this love of music to help show him what he means to me, and how I respect and honor what he has done for our family and country. Some of the songs I may use are “My hero is you” by Hayden Panettiere, “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera, and “Everybody Hurts” by David Archuleta. I am sure I will look for others and maybe create several different versions and see which I like best for how things go. I believe that in the family is where we do the greatest service. Even if the song only benefits my father and our family, it will help us help others more, enabling a chain reaction of love and hope. Words are one thing, music is another. Music takes people places words cannot sometimes. I hope to show the deep emotional, spiritual and mental comfort I want to give, but simply cannot because I am with them as he is receiving the treatments. Hopefully the music can help us all forget about the miles between us.
Proposal #26: Approved
Proposal #27
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.         -Mahatma Gandhi
   I pondered for hours researching all the many opportunities there are for volunteering in Tallahassee. My mind was jumping from thinking “I have so much clothes I don’t wear, why not donate to a homeless shelter?” to “well my job lets us take home all the food at night, how about I feed the homeless?” Then I put more thought into it and I knew these options would be the first to come into people’s minds for this proposal, so I’ve decided to focus on something a little different, animals. Yes feeding and sheltering people is more of a priority than feeding and homing animals but I feel as though the help needed is overlooked, that’s why I’ve decided to volunteer at The Leon County Humane Society. I have a passion for animals and I’ve been in a veterinary assisting course for 4 years so I figured why not put my knowledge to use?
     Majority of shelter animals are dogs and cats, I feel as though these poor animals are so dependent on people. They need to be fed, given shots, bathed and have proper care, all things they aren’t necessarily capable of doing on their own. These helpless creatures are so innocent and don’t choose to be abandoned or abused but get brushed off and pushed aside as not important because they aren’t human. Animals still have a beating heart and emotions so the fact that if they have stayed too long in a shelter and are forced to be euthanized is very bothersome to me. Who are we to choose if an animal lives or dies just because it can’t speak? All these animals want is love and attention so I’m going to be the one to give it to them.
    My time at the shelter will vary from tasks of feeding, bathing, walking, and just overall care for the animals. I’m even thinking about going as far as being a foster parent, there is limited room in the shelter so my part of being a foster parent and having an animal live with me could potentially save its life. Even though it’s just an animal, it’s still a great impact to save a life whether it’s just a meaningless squirrel or a human. I know having multiple pets coming in and out of my home will be a great deal of work but I know the satisfaction of seeing them get adopted and go to a great home will be worth it all. I expect to gain a lot from this project with hopes that it leads me to being a better and more caring person while helping others.
Proposal #27: Approved!

Proposal #28
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet. For my service project I have decided that I want to help others in a way that would mean almost life or death to someone. My service project is helping homeless and lower income people have food to eat. At my church they call it “the Food Pantry.” In the food pantry I would be collecting food for people and once a month we will give out the food to families than need food the most. Anyone with low income or homeless is welcome to receive the food. Anyone who wants to help, we could always use the help in anyway. This task is great for the community. It spreads the work of the Lord in many ways. People who come for the pantry are very thankful for the food we provide. Before the food pantry people wouldn’t have any idea where their next meal is going to come from. Now with this food pantry they don’t have to look anywhere else for their next meal and better yet they can feed their family for a month. This service project is a nice way to give back to the community and also it is a great way to spread Christian spirit. It’s the work of the Lord.

Proposal #28 Approved

Proposal #29

True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” - Helen Keller

We live in a world today where girls are constantly getting made fun of or being belittled if we can’t fit into a size 0 jean--Or we don’t have a flat stomach--Or skinny legs--Or a clear face--Or cute clothes--The expectations women and girls are supposed to live up to now-a-days to be considered part of the “norm” is so out of reach and nearly impossible. Studies show that 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships. Women are required to meet or exceed all of these standards in order to be perceived as “pretty” in today’s society.
Being the social butterfly I am and wanting to get along with everyone—I am surrounded by the idea that ‘I have to be skinny and I can’t have any acne for society to accept me’. With this being said, I have struggled with being comfortable in my own body for years. It takes me at least half an hour to pick out my outfit for school, not to mention this doesn’t even include doing my hair or my makeup. I have to make sure the shirt I wear doesn’t make my arms look fat but makes my boobs look big, and the jeans I wear doesn’t make my butt look saggy or my thighs too big.
It was recently brought to my attention that at TCC there is a service learning course that focuses on violence against women. This topic focuses on women that have been physically, emotionally, or mentally abused. But, it goes into so much more depth than that; it talks about body image, eating disorders, rape, etc... It is important to me to spread the word and help women that are struggling to be comfortable in their own skin speak out and realize that the way we look doesn’t define who we are. Not only that, but I want to help women who are being abused and don’t know their true worth to speak out and seek help, because we are worth so much more than the number on the scale, or the bruises on our arms. I will take part in what’s called the Clothesline project, where I will help raise awareness to educate people about how significantly it impacts those being abused. The project offers men, women, children, and supporters an opportunity to have a voice surrounding issues of sexual abuse and assault. This allows victims to speak out and create a healing process to keep moving forward. I can’t wait to be a part of helping women learn to love themselves and not be afraid to speak out when they find themselves in a troublesome situation.
Proposal #29 Approved

Proposal #30
Ellen DeGeneres once said “We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” What brings more kindness and laughter than kids?
When I was growing up, I attended Roberts elementary here in town. After school, while we were waiting for our parents to pick us up, a few college kids would come to campus and play sports with all of us. It was always a fun, memorable time. I want to give that experience to kids today. Less privileged kids are my aim because they may not have access to the necessary equipment and they may be subjected to negative influences. I have grown up a skateboarder and it has been a wonderful experience. Instead of doing things that could get us into trouble, we would skate. There is a free, 24-hour skate park here in town for kids who end up picking it up.
I want to bring a skateboard out to Boys Town and teach the kids the joy that comes along with it. It is such a thrill when you get it for the first time and I know they will be hooked. One of the best parts about skateboarding is the connections you make through the process. I have made lifelong friends through skateboarding. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to travel with my board. I have traveled all over the country, even other countries, where I got to meet new people and see how the activity differs from city to city. It really kept me interested. The fact that skateboarding is an individual sport means you don’t have to rely on getting friends together in order to play. You can just go out to your driveway and practice. Another reason I believe skating would be a good exercise to teach kids is because nobody will ever master it. It is an ever evolving sport where imagination is key. It keeps you wanting more!
With the amount of technology today, staying indoors is tempting, however, it is important to get kids outdoors and exercising. When kids exercise at a young age, it helps their body’s grow healthy, their minds evolve and keeps their hearts heathy. Team sports to a young kid may seem intimidating. That is why I believe skateboarding is a good alternative because there aren’t any rules, any tryouts, it is fun and a great workout.
I may end up bringing more than just a skateboard when I go to visit these kids however. I grew up playing a variety of sports and I think it is crucial to a good, healthy lifestyle in the future. I am a huge advocate to going out and doing things rather than staying indoors. I truly believe skateboarding may be the thing to get kids to do just that.
I plan on bringing a board out and showing kids what it takes and the true joy that comes along with it. All I want in life is to contribute joy to people’s lives by giving them a taste of my own. I believe this is the best way for me to do this at this point in my life.
Proposal #30 Approved!

Service Project Proposals #11-20

Proposal #11
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” - Ellen DeGeneres

Once a week me and my former high school Young Life leader would go out to the labor union down by Railroad Square and bring breakfast to them before they would go out and work.  This a good thing that I try to do every week but it’s hard to do when I have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning but it is a small price to pay when I get to bring these people their food to get through the morning. These people that I bring food to are people who do hard work that no one really wants to do and bringing them food and make them smile before they go to work makes it all worth it.
Proposal #11 Approved!

Proposal #12
            I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou
For my service project I will be teaming up with another class mate and helping out at the veteran’s dinner, the student and I worked at the same restaurant so could have the dinner catered. I want to be able to give back to the people that have done things for me without question or just for the betterment of this great country. In the time I am able to give I would love to be able to give back to them at least by helping give a meal and spend time with the. I think that this will only be a small stepping stone to doing greater service time but is still a huge thing to the veterans to have more interaction and a new variety of food. If I am able to help contribute to that them I am grateful to be given the opportunity for it. I have done service projects in the past where it wasn’t as much of a service but with helping to feed I feel is a service that is a necessity. Also with being able to team up with another student and bring along a catered meal to the veterans I think could be a unique experience and a fun time for all. I know everyone that tries the food will love it and it will be delicious and hopefully there will be some cool stories that will be shared at the dinner. I am looking forward to this project and being able to work together in providing this meal and cannot wait for the dinner to come, it’s a necessary service that im glad to be a part of.
Proposal #12 Approved
Proposal #13
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. -Mahatma Gandhi
Service was never a word I really fully understood for most of my life. I thought it was some type of hassle like many high school students. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that my view on what service was really changed. All of high school I volunteered countless hours and did many so called “service projects”. But half way through the year my mother, a full time stay at home mom for the past eighteen years so my life, decided she was going to go to work. She then started to work for a company called Mission BBQ as their catering director.    
That’s where it all started, Mission BBQ. The company’s motto is to “serve those who serve and protect”. The company provides food for all first responders whenever they ask, and give all active military and veterans discounts and free food. Not to mention giving back every month to veteran foundations from restaurant sales. I soon started getting involved with many events that they did solely because my mom said I had too.  But this year while I’ve been away at college I made it a point to do something to give back every time I come home. Thanksgiving day my family and one other took food to four firehouses in our community because they have to protect the community while everyone else is spending the holiday with their families. During Christmas, I unloaded over seven hundred wreaths and loaded them in a truck to be placed on all of the fallen soldier’s graves. And on Christmas day my family went to two different police stations to provide them with food while they spend their Christmas at work. This really has opened my eyes to how amazing our first responders and military are and has made me not go do these things because I was told to, but because now I want too.
So for my Service Project I want to do just that. I plan on going to Mission BBQ and purchasing enough food for two local fire stations. And I would really like to do this at least twice during this semester. The smiles on their faces is my favorite part when they realize they don’t have to cook for a night or two. Not only is this something that I have grown to love to do, but thanks to Mission BBQ I have such an enormous amount of respect and understand for all our military and first responders. Which makes me realize how fortunate I am to do this for them when spend their lives fighting and protecting for me.

Proposal #13 Approved

Proposal #14
"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others". - Audrey Hepburn  

As my service project I would love to feed the homeless and veterans at Veterans Village in the local Tallahassee community. For my microeconomics class last semester my teacher offered extra credit where I cooked corn casserole and brought it to Veterans Village. Preparing and delivering a meal for the veterans was such a simple yet rewarding task given that the happiness it brought them made every second spent on this task worth it. After my experience, I came to the realization that I would love to be able to go beyond just delivery of the meals and minimal interaction with these veterans. Being able to spend time with and serve these individuals the food I cook is something I would thoroughly enjoy. I pride myself on having strong people skills and therefore think that conversing with the veterans and hearing their experiences would make it that much more impactful. This act would also leave me feeling grateful for all that I have. I think it's awesome that right in our community there is a place where Veterans and others can go and give them a sense of community and shows that we're all there to support them and thank them for all that they sacrificed for our country. All in all I think going and interacting with people that I’m not usually exposed to will leave me with a positive outlook on live. I think everyone should go somewhere in order to remind yourself that not everyone is as fortunate as others, and that you need to wake up very day being thankful for what you have.
Proposal #14 Approved
Proposal #15
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi.
My service project is to begin a book club on TCC’s campus where anyone that wants to be a part of it, even if they don’t have a copy of the book that is being discussed. The club would provide the books to all of its members and we would meet once a week in the library for one hour.
The reason I want to start this club is because of my love for books and the fact that my generation never picks up a book and gets lost in its beauty. When I was little I never really liked to read, never had an interest in it. But that all changed when I moved to Tennessee in seventh grade. I was the new kid in school so I didn’t have any friends. I had the Twilight series at home so I picked the first one up and just got lost in the pages, I felt like I had become friends with the characters. Books made me not feel so alone at school until I made some friends. Since then I have loved reading and have craved to get lost in the story.
What I want people to get out of this club is for them to know that this is a safe place and we will not judge them for being a “book nerd”, we all are in our own way. I’m hoping this will help people that are having trouble making friends at TCC to make friends in the club and we will become a family together. I know the feeling of be alone even though you are in a crowd of people and how hard that is. For the people that feel the same way I do, I want them to come to the book club and feel wanted and not alone.
We would meet in the library once a week for an hour and discuss a chapter or two.  Like I said we would provide a copy of the book we are reading that semester to each member, if they don’t already have a copy. Some books that we could read are the first book of Unwind, the first book of Matched, the book Atlantia, the first book of The Hunger Games, or any book that is suggested.
All of this started when I let Dr. Soldani borrow a book of mine and how happy she was to get to read the book. Thank you, Dr., Soldani for this idea, I love it. This idea really hits home and I’m glad I have this opportunity now.
Lately, I’ve seen way too many homeless people on the side of the road with no one helping them. Mainly, on Tennessee Street right next to Walmart. I instantly start feeling bad for them every time I see them because nobody seems to acknowledge them anymore or even care that they are struggling. Giving back to the community would be a great way to spread positivity in somebody life because being on the side of the road with no help could be your close family, or even you one day. The idea I came up with was getting 10 dollar Walmart gift cards with inspirational cards to help them get something to eat or a new shirt or even essentials they truly need. I want to do it just so they can know it is some good people out there in the world that is willing to help others in need. I do not expect them to thank me for doing it, just them receiving such a small gift will mean a lot to me because I know that I did what I could do for them. This service project will help all of us in class to give back and make somebody life better even in the smallest way. I feel honored to take apart of this service project in college because I use to do it all the time in high school. Being able to take a part of multiple service projects like feeding the homeless at the shelter, going to America’s Second Harvest to organized perishable products for people in need and being able to visit Going Places where homeless youth come when they do not have anywhere else to go was many incredible experiences that I will cherish forever.  I feel like this service project needs to be done because people never know what others are going through or how bad their life is right now. The little things people do for people will not go unnoticed even if we think it will. The things anybody do in this service protect could be a part of history.  “There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” - Michelle Obama This quote is not only inspiring but it is very true also. It is so many different things to do in life, so many problems in the world that Americans can help solve even if it something so simple. So much history can be made in the world if a lot of people start realizing how important it is to give back to the world and other Americans around them. Personally, I will be very happy to give back to somebody less fortunate than I am instead of me not doing anything at all in the community to help them.
Proposal #16: Approved - We will be collecting items like Walmart shirts and giftcards for homeless Veterans in April, I’d love for you to be a leader in that if you’d like to!

Proposal #17
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou.  This quote is so very relevant to my line of work, and it touches my heart on a deep level.   I am a makeup artist for a cosmetics company named Bobbi Brown, and my job is not simply to sell makeup, but rather to empower women and to make them feel beautiful in their own skin.  I am also a Studio Art major and the artistry aspect of my profession is right up my alley.  This is my passion.   I draw graphite portraits on my downtime.   It is one of the most rewarding feelings when a patron commissions a piece and they are satisfied with my work.  When I make someone feel good about themselves – that's the real reward.   I want more people in my community and in my world to feel that way, and to be filled with happiness and joy more often.  For my service project, I'd like to give people the experience of feeling good about themselves, or even just feeling joy in general.  I plan to set my drawing materials up, in an area that will allow it, and provide people with free portraits.  I'll give anyone a person to talk to, laugh with or even to cry with.  I want to learn about others and hear about what makes them happy.  What makes their eyes sparkle.  A large portion of my job is just listening to people.  Whether people realize it or not, oftentimes their hair stylist or makeup artist can act as a therapist as well.  I listen to some of the most incredible stories every day.  I think this should be done because having a person to which one can talk can make a real impact on someone's bad day, or even on their rough life.  The portrait in the end will simply be a way for people to remember the day when someone gave them a chance to have a voice with which they could rant, laugh, or even cry.  I plan to incorporate people's passions into their portraits.  The things that make them the happiest.  That end reveal will be so worth it.  Seeing the model's face light up and to see the joy rapidly spread across their expression.  That is what I hope to accomplish from this project.  It may be a really small way of impacting the world, but each individual person matters and if I can impact even just one individual person positively in doing this, then I will, indeed, have impacted the world and that alone is enough to me.

Proposal #17: APPROVED!
Proposal #18
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”- Ellen DeGeneres.

            Everyone goes through depression and rough times, from children to adults. With the help and compassion from another individual can bring up the spirit of the person who is depressed. Refugees go through a lot of depression due to violence within the country and execution. Corrupt government can’t do anything to protect the safety of families and stop the life threating events. Counties like Syria, have more than 4 million refugees. Over 50 Syrians families per days are fleeing to Greece and to the United States where compassionate individuals welcome them ("Why Get Involved"). I want to be one of those individuals. I want to uplift refugees by creating their homes in America.
            Tallahassee is a city where individuals can help refugees feel like home. The International Rescue Committee is good way to start. The IRC is an organization that helps refugees with the help of the U.S government. Local Volunteers are more than welcome to help. One-way is to help rebuild their lives by building their new home. I would donate my time to help the IRC contribute to the making of a new home. I would use my skills as a landscaper to make the yard look like the season of spring. I could use my hard working labor skills to help set up furniture and move out unwanted items. Since I am not employed, I have more time to dedicate my service to the IRC.
            My motives to wanting to help the Refugees are similar to past experience. On December 2016, I went to Mexico to visit family members that I haven’t seen in over 8 years. During my visit, I saw rough things that I, an American teenager, take for granted of what I have. I saw young kids at ages around 7 selling gum, fireworks, and clothing to make enough money to eat throughout the day. I saw families on the streets sleeping without roofs over their heads. I know not all can be done to save these people who are in great depression but at least of care can lighting their spirit. I took action and bought one kid his lunch. He asked me that I was the first person to ever do something nice to him. He offered me free fireworks but I gave him triple the amount he was selling them for. Seeing his face smile lifted my heart to do more. Me helping refugees would be like helping the youngster in Mexico.
            In conclusion my service project would be me helping to fix the new homes of the new refugees. I want to bring joy, happiness, and kindness to their new home. Not only could help by fixing the house, but I can also go pick up the new refugees and take them to their new home. I could create uplifting conversations with laughter and happiness to make them forget the hardships these humans have suffered.
Proposal #18 Approved
Proposal #19
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others – Mahatma Gandhi
In the second harvest service learning project, I did last semester leadership was very important. Putting food in different sections is civic engagement. It feels good helping people who have problems getting or can’t get food at all. I must coordinate with my group with a to complete plethora of tasks. Leadership is important in this situation because a leader must keep order or we wouldn’t get anything and everything would be in shambles. Working together as a group makes the job easier for everyone. Civic engagement relates to my service project because food donations help the community and people’s way life. Having enough food is essential to everyone and being a leader by doing what I can to assist those who food insecurities is important to me. Last semester I volunteered at the big second harvest, it is important to service learning because the group needs specific goals that they can set to accomplish. If the organization doesn’t have any goals, then there wouldn’t be a purpose to do anything. Your leader needs to first and foremost set the goals your group hopes to accomplish. This relates to service learning because in my group we had goals in the second harvest by helping the warehouse. I did things like dry sorting food from different grocery stores like Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Piggy wiggly. My main goal was to help the second harvest and help families with food insecurities because no one deserves to go hungry. I think taking time and helping others is a great example of leadership and having goals asset people who may be less fortunate or might not be able to the amount of food that makes them comfortable. Being a good leader in a service learning project is essential to the group because the things you must do within the second harvest. If you don’t have a good foundation of leadership in the service learning, you won’t get anything done and there would be chaos within the group causing you to not get anything done which isn’t going be good for you or the organization. Sorting vegetables and bread is some of the other activities we did in the warehouse. We had to work together as group to sort the food in the right places. The good thing about the work that it wasn’t difficult or time consuming so there weren’t mistakes made when doing it. The job does require civic engagement and civic reasonability to do everything correctly. They usually tell us to throw away the bad food since they can’t give that to anyone but I think some of it can be salvaged like the canned goods. I hoped my work with food donations at the second harvest really helped someone that needs it.
Proposal #19 – Unclear on what you are proposing to do this semester.
Proposal #20
Audrey Hepburn once stated, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” As humans, this quote should make us all feel something inside us. I feel one of our main reasons for being here is to help others and make any kind of positive difference in a life that you can. I have been raised to always do for others and in return you will be blessed. When we were asked to do this service project I wanted to really pick a place that meant something to me. That is why the focus of my project revolves around The Hospice House on Riggins road.
    My idea is that I will bake a large number of treats (I’m currently leaning towards cookies) and prepare a thank you card for them to deliver. I know that the entire staff there is constantly having to deal with death and distraught families. I know it has to be a hard job for them to do at times but their passion keeps them going. My hope is that by delivering this gift that they can all have, it will add a little brightness to the gloomy day they may be having. While you do not have as much time to get attached to patients at Hospice House, anybody with a heart would feel sadness every time a family’s life falls apart.
    The passion I have behind this service project is I have had many experiences with Hospice House my entire life. It started as a toddler with my mom. To this day, I can still vaguely remember one of the nurses who used to take me around the outside patio when I was visiting my mom, but they needed me to step out for medicine, vitals, etc. After this I remember my grandfather having in home hospice care after his accident, and closer to the time of his death. I never met one in-home caretaker that was not pleasant to be around. Their job could make their outlook on life so bad, yet they continue to be strong and smile.
     A couple that was our family friends, but also like a set of grandparents to me needed Hospice. Mr. Tom was the first one who needed their assistance and he was put into Hospice House. I remember going to say our goodbyes and walking into the room with a music therapist in there. He was already unresponsive, yet this amazing woman took time out of her day to come play for him. All his daughters at one point joined in singing, and he, for one of the last times got to hear the beauty of music. About a year later his wife needed in-home hospice care and they were, once again, absolutely phenomenal with their care.
     Overall, Hospice House is somewhere that has had a major impact on me and my family. The people I mentioned before are not even everybody. I want to be a light in the world and shine as bright as I can. Hopefully, through this small deed I will be able to lighten up somebody’s life, even if it is only for a little while. These people are constantly thinking of others and of ways to comfort them, and I am ecstatic to be able to show my gratitude to them. John F. Kennedy said it well when he stated, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I hope that I can show my appreciation with my small gift to them, but I also hope from seeing these people’s dedication that I will show my appreciation for all the people around me by the actions I partake in.

Proposal #20 Approved