Just over 1 month to go …

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Thinking about … the holidays!
Where has November gone?

 

Wasn’t it 80 degrees outside one day last week???

 

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK (and I need to get my shopping done; at least I have a great helper in Jake … he LOVES the grocery store!).

 

 

Well, ready or not, the Christmas and Holiday rush is really going to start in earnest now.

 

So, if you haven’t already, would you please consider helping Jake to make the season a little brighter for kids who are not able to spend the holidays at home?  Jake is working hard to collect fleece to make blankets during the Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) upcoming

 

Jake and other DFKDC participants will transform into volunteers during this event, participating in activities (such as assembling blankets) that will benefit others in our community!

 

To date, Jake has collected about 5 1/2 yards of solid colored fleece and about 22 3/4 yards of printed fleece. 

 

He has enough print fleece to make a single side of 15 blankets (in sizes from toddler to young adult) and enough solid fleece to complete 3 blankets; would need 12 “matching” sizes of solid colors to make 15 total blankets.

 

Sizes of Printed Fleece
– 8 x 1 1/2 yards (need 7 solid pieces to complete)
– 2 x 1 2/3 yards (need 2 solid pieces to complete)
– 2 x 2 yards (COMPLETE)
– 2 x 1 yards (need 2 solid pieces to complete)
– 1 x 1 1/3 yards (need 1 solid piece to complete)
Jake will continue to collect fleece (or donations to purchase fleece) through December 16.

 

Please DM me or contact Glenda Fu if you are interested in donating to this project!

The Giving Season

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, and I will need to go back and document a few events from the summer months, but right now, I’m going to write about Jake’s continued commitment to #GivingBack.

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As soon as school ended in June, we began talking about what sort of things Jake could do as a community service / community giving project. He told me that he wanted to do it again this year.

Because of his purses and toiletry items last year, he’s gained a reputation as the “travel toiletry kid”; most of my colleagues at PEATC travel extensively throughout Virginia during the summer months conducting special education related training, and they saved their items for Jake. Our family traveled in the summer and Jake’s aide traveled as well, so we added more to Jake’s collection efforts. To top it off, Jake’s pal Nick Sundberg of the Washington Redskins had an extended stay at the Omni in Richmond during Training Camp and saved a shopping bag full of toiletry items for Jake! Jake is thankful for all these items, and these toiletries will be a part of the giving as a result of the Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) Holiday Celebration.

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Thank you, Nick Sundberg!

But, in talking with DFKDC‘s Executive Director, we came upon another idea of a project that would involve kids “giving back” to other kids!

This year, Jake is collecting fleece to make blankets for the children who are patients at Inova Children’s Hospital.

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When we talked about it, Jake liked the idea of making kids feel better. He could relate to the idea that when you are at the hospital you might be missing your home and all the things you are used to having around. So, making something that feels comfortable and cozy seemed like a great idea, and one that DFKDC participants and volunteers can help to make during the DFKDC Holiday Celebration.

The 2016 DFKDC Holiday Celebration isn’t just a party, it’s an opportunity!

During the DFKDC Holiday Celebration, DFKDC participants and their families will be transformed into community givers and volunteers! With the assistance of other DFKDC volunteers, the DFKDC participants will take part in activities such as making holiday cards, assembling gift bags, and wrapping presents. They will also enjoy lunch, entertainment, and I’d be willing to bet, a little dancing!!!

Just as he did last year, Jake wants to demonstrate that DFKDC participants are able and interested in community service and community giving, and, most importantly, that their disAbilities aren’t a barrier to the giving spirit!

Jake excited about helping DFKDC make sure that other kids will have a happy holiday as a result of the event, but he could use your help!

Between now and December 15, 2016, Jake will be collecting fleece (or the means to purchase fleece) to make blankets for pediatric patients at Inova Children’s Hospital.

The fleece blankets can be made for teens, kids, or toddlers; each blanket consists of 2 pieces of fleece, typically a print and a coordinating solid color:

Teen blanket: 2 X 2 yards of fabric
Kids blanket: 2 X 1.5 yards of fabric
Toddler blanket: 2 X 1 yard of fabric

Jake has already received a few contributions to his project, but he could use your assistance to provide the kids at Inova children’s Hospital with something cuddly and cozy to hold.

For more information about Dreams For Kids DC, the 2016 DFKDC Holiday Celebration, and how to get involved, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/o/dreams-for-kids-dc-4251397915 or http://dreamsforkidsdc.org/. You can also email/message me for more details on contributing fleece.

A magical night spent “Under The Sea”

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2016 DFKDC Prom: “Under the Sea”. What a fun night! It was great to see all the Dreams for Kids DC participants, friends, families, and volunteers enjoy themselves in what may typically be a tricky social situation.

Both Jake and Sofia enjoyed being on the dance floor thanks to Pelonkey‘s DJ Neekola and her great beats! I enjoyed seeing the smiles, especially on the faces of the ‪#‎DFKDC‬ participants.

I am appreciative beyond words can adequately express how thankful I am for the Dreams for Kids organization serving the DMV under the leadership of the amazing Glenda Fu and her “All Hands On Deck” board members. They allow me to witness things that I would have never imagined possible when Jake was diagnosed with Autism. 

I am equally grateful that DFKDC routinely includes siblings in their activities … I think this participation is a great way to grow the next generation of disability/special needs advocates … and just all around good people!

Thank you to all the sponsors: On The Edge CF, Michael & Son Services, Pelonkey, Washington DCJCC, and Rob & Paige Robertory! Thank you to Tom Prather / The Blue Wave Media + Strategy, Heather Mahoney /Haute Haus Agency, and Snapshot Moments Photobooth, LLC for photography/video! And thanks again to Niara Iman and Nick Sundberg for being great sports and the best prom dates my kids could ever imagine!!!!!!

Photos & news media:

 

Prom-posal-palooza – UPDATE!!!!

BREAKING NEWS!!!! UPDATE!!!! Sofia & her Dreams for Kids DC #prom date, Nick Sundberg of the Washington Redskins will be onFox 5 DC around 9:40 am (EST) TOMORROW, Thursday, March 24. They will be talking about#DFKDC and the upcoming 2016 DFKDC Prom: Under the Sea / DFKDC Pre-Prom Pep Rally. Tune in to find out more about this fantastic organization and all the great things they do for kids with #SpecialNeeds in the #DMV!

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Ah … Spring is in the air, and it’s time for Prom season!

And the Prom we are most excited about is the Dreams for Kids DC Prom: Under The Sea!

Following their recognition as “Participants of the Year at the DFKDC Holiday Celebration, both Jake and Sofia have had an increased dedication to raising awareness about Dreams for Kids DC programs!

Last month, DFKDC’s Executive Director, Glenda Fu, approached me with the idea for Jake and Sofie to “ask” local celebrity volunteers to the prom.

In Sofia’s case, she’s had a long-standing connection with Washington Redskins‘ Long Snapper, Nick Sundberg, so she shot a video invite him to the prom.

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Sofia & Nick Sundberg

In her video, Sofia asked the hard hitting questions: “Do you like dancing? Do you like food? Do you like water?”

Nick said “yes“!!

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And Sofia gives a big “Thank You” to Nick … and reminds him they will just be going as friends!

Jake is also going to prom with a long-time DFKDC volunteer and 2015 Miss DC Teen USA, Niara Iman.

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He also made his “ask” via video and she also said yes!

Get out your boogie shoes, Nick & Niara!!!!

See you on April 16 at the DFKDC Prom!!

Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now

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Jake thinks Dreams For Kids DC is “so great” to help Dress For Success!

I often wonder what is going on inside Jake’s head … he often requires prompting to respond when others speak to him.  And when he does speak, he has a reputation of not being the most “reliable witness”, as I like to say …. he has Echolalia (fairly typical for individuals with Autism) and tends to repeat the last thing he hears.

But, when Jake initiates a “conversation”, it’s very intentional … so it’s important to listen carefully.

On Monday morning, following our visit to the Dress For Success boutique, he was talking about all the different things he saw there, referring to it as “the thrift store”. He mentioned all the purses and bags we dropped off, but he was equally interested in listing the other items, such as belts, shoes, pants, skirts, and makeup.

I asked some clarifying questions, and, with Jake’s input, determined that:

  1. Jake wants to continue to help Dress For Success in conjunction with Dreams For Kids DC
  2. We should ask some clarifying questions of our own ….

Jake will let you know what he finds out!

It’s a wrap (Part Two)

Following the incredible time we had at the DFKDC Holiday Celebration on Saturday, December 19, 2015, it was time to share all the gifts created, donated, collected, wrapped, decorated, and stuffed. Volunteers like Jake helped to distribute the gifts, cards, ornaments, and other items to area recipients.  Jake helped to deliver 300+ purses and bags stuffed with toiletries to the Dress For Success boutique in Washington, DC.

We met with Kelli Jones to deliver the purses and bags and to get a look at how Dress For Success helps women in the Washington DC area.

Jake likened the Dress For Success boutique to a “thrift store” … he enjoys “thrifting” (thrift store shopping) quite a bit. He views all the items as NEW, since they are new to him. He’s my favorite shopping companion … he seems to enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” almost as much as I do!

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Well, all that to say that Jake seems keenly interested in continuing to help Dress For Success via Dreams for Kids DC … STAY TUNED!!!!!!

 

It’s a wrap! (Part One)

I had a bit of trouble sleeping on Friday night.

I wasn’t worried or stressed, but excited and looking forward to the 2015 Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) Holiday Celebration. This year’s celebration was designed to be different from the previous “legacy” DFKDC Holiday For Hope event; this year’s celebration was focused on the abilities of children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities to give back to the less fortunate in their community.

On Saturday, the usual DFKDC participants were transformed into volunteers … they participated in such activities as:

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Participants and volunteers

– Wrapping over 300 presents for children served by the DC Metro Adoptive and Foster Parent Association

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– Decorating 200+ cupcakes for DC Central Kitchen
– Creating 200+ ornaments and cards for the residents of the Armed Services Retirement Home
– Stuffing 250+ purses with toiletries to benefit Dress For Success DC.

Each volunteer activity was an experience meant to show DFKDC participants that their disability cannot hold them back from performing their own philanthropy!

Another “break with tradition” in this year’s celebration was the recognition of DFKDC’s “2015 Participants of the Year”:
– Jake & Sofia Arbeen
– Adrian Freeman
– Michael Rivera
– Jackson Roth
– Caleb Timmons

The Washington Nationals‘ starting pitcher Gio González was on hand to present the participants with their awards.

The 2015 DFKDC Holiday Celebration was made possible by individuals and organizations in the DC Metro area who are passionate about giving back and being involved in their communities:
Michael and Son Services, Inc.
DARCARS Toyota Scion Silver Spring
McKinley Technology High School
Guest House Events
Ferrari & Associates, P.C.
Delta Produce
Kitchen Cray
Coca Cola
Dynamic Advertising Solutions
Print OTC
Gap of Tyson’s Corner Center
Snapshot Moments
RePurpose Jewelry
– DJ Art
Connect the Dots Dance Company
– Tiffany Nickerson and PWMPC
DJ Philipz and PHILIPZIE