Happy New Year Friends and Neighbors!
I am so thankful to be able to express my best wishes for a happy new year to you. That’s because the old year really did go out with a bang. In the last week of 2015, there was so much violence, it was enough to make your head spin. I am truly happy to be alive!
Now, with the start of a new year, we have a chance to move on from the violence and hatred that seems to be so ever-present among us. We move on by not helping the criminals get away with drive-by shootings and breaking into our neighbors’ homes in plain sight. We move on by caring what happens to our neighbors and fellow citizens.
The new year makes for a new beginning. A fresh start. Another chance. It CAN happen. But first, we must let go of all the negative thoughts, deeds and feelings that plagued us throughout 2015. Whenever something negative enters your mind, just simply refuse to let it linger there. Fill up that space with positive thoughts and good deeds.
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I have learned that a smile to a stranger often is enough to make that person feel like someone cares. We don’t ever know what another person is facing in life. When someone shows a glimmer of kindness, it is sometimes enough to let that person know that there is hope.
Remember to treat others the way you want to be treated. It is a good motto — one that has served me well. But there is always room for improvement. While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore, I do make vows to the Lord and to myself. And this year, I vow to do more random acts of kindness.
A few days ago, I was getting out of my car in the parking lot of a major food store, when I heard some of the worst cursing I have ever heard. I got out of my car, looked around the front and saw that the cursing was coming from the mouth of a young man. His victim was a baby in a stroller. The baby’s feet were hanging to the ground in the dirt. And everybody knows that babies love to play in dirt. This little fellow was kicking the dirt onto the young man, who was watching him.
I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. I said to the young man, “Sweetheart, don’t do that. Why are you cursing at your baby? You are supposed to love him.”
“He’s bad,” the young man said to me.
I replied: “He can’t be bad ... he’s just a baby. But if you keep on cursing him like that he will grow up to be bad. Love your baby. He’s going to learn from you and if you love him he will learn love.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said. I walked into the store thinking that he could have turned his cursing on me. But he didn’t. As I shopped, I prayed silently that something I’d said to the young man would inspire him to do better.
I also tried to make it a point to make eye contact with strangers inside the store, and smile or say hello or even compliment them. The smile that lights up his or her face when I do that makes me smile the more. So, not only does being kind help someone else, it helps me, too. The more kindness you show to others, the better you will feel.
Life doesn’t always deal us a pleasant hand. But then, I suppose, that’s why it’s called life. Even so, I have learned that with faith I can handle whatever comes my way.
Today, the first Sunday of the new year, is a good time to start working on your list of random acts of kindness. It will help make a better you and someone else, too. I promise.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CENTENNIAL
Congratulations to the National Park Service, marking its 100th anniversary in 2016. To kick off the celebration, Everglades National Park’s Superintendent Pedro Ramos is inviting everyone to an event at 4 p.m. Jan. 9 at Shark Valley. The event will feature an art exhibit by Robert Chaplin and will showcase plans for Shark Valley’s new visitor center exhibits. Shark Valley’s entrance fees will be waived, starting at 3:30 p.m.
After the opening celebration, the South Florida National Parks Trust will have a special Everglades After Dark tram tour and dinner. The trams depart from the visitor center at 5 p.m. If you go, reservations are required. For information, call 305-665-4769 or visit evergladesafterdark.eventbrite.com.
Other activities during the centennial year include:
▪ Centennial Challenge at Shark Valley, where Shark Valley Tram tours will track and recognize bikers who ride 100 miles (to celebrate 100 years) or hike 10 miles (to celebrate 10 decades) at Shark Valley during the centennial year. Prizes will be given to those completing the challenge.
▪ National Park Centennial Triathlon Challenge, which encourages people to complete at least 33 miles of hiking, 33 miles of paddling, and 33 miles of biking, in at least two of the four National Parks in South Florida during 2016. If this interests you, for details you may pick up a special National Parks Centennial Triathlon Challenge Passport book at any park visitor center in Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park or Dry Tortugas National Park. For more information, visit www.sharkvalleytramtours.com/centennialchallenge.html.
▪ The Homestead National Parks Trolley will celebrate by offering free rides every Saturday and Sunday through May 1. You can board the trolley at Losner Park in historic downtown Homestead, 104 N. Krome Ave., and ride it to Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and Homestead Bayfront Park. The trolley also connects to bus routes from Miami-Dade County Transit. For more information, call 305-224-4457 or visit www.cityofhomestead.com/gateway.
ISRAELI SELF-DEFENSE CLASSES
Weekly classes in Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces, begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Beth Sholom, 4144 Chase Ave., Miami Beach.
Taught by Krav Maga expert Phillip Glikman, the classes consist of a combination of techniques from aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling, along with realistic fight training. The first class for new students is free.
Interested persons should contact Mark Baranek at 305-538-7231, or email email@example.com.
‘THE JOURNEY’ AT ARTS AT ST. JOHNS
Arts at St. Johns will present The Journey, a musical that focuses on the choices people make, at 7 p.m. Jan 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 at 4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach.
“The Journey is about dreamers, lovers, hopefuls, achievers, even losers. We all have a story. We all have a truth. How’s it written? That’s up to you,” said director Kristen Long, who created the show with C. Stefan Morrisette.
The musical is a collaboration of Arts at St. Johns, Outre’ Theatre Company and LLF Productions and stars Carbonell Award-winning performers Reggie Whitehead and Ann Marie Olsen. The rock/reggae/jazz/funk musicals transports the audience to New Orleans, where they will meet an “unlikely” griot (storyteller), who weaves tales about five individuals whose lives and desires irrevocably collide on the cobblestone streets.
The Journey is a part of a season-long theme called “Places We Call Home.” Besides several musical performances, the series includes 12 free breakfast talks to be given through May at The Betsy Hotel.
Other performers include Sharyn Peoples, Von Henry, Taliesin Powell, Elvin Negron, Daniel Bourgoin, Jon Yepez, Courtney Poston and Meagan Nagy. Sabrina Lynn Gore is co-director.
General admission to The Journey is $28, $20 for seniors and students and $38 for VIP tickets. All tickets can be purchased online at artsatstjohns.org or by calling 786-505-7422. For more information, call 305-613-2325.
WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR HONORS WWII VETS
In honor of World War II veterans, the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour will bring rare bomber and fighter aircraft for a local living history display to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Jan. 21-24.
The Wings of Freedom Tour will include the vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American P-51 Mustang and is a part of a 110-city, nationwide tour.
Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out for $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12. WWII veterans can tour for free. There will discounted rates for school groups.
Visitors can also take a once-in-a-lifetime, 30-minute flight in one of the aircraft for $450 per person, or get some “stick time” in the P-51 for $2,200 per person for a half hour and $3,200 for an hour. Call 800-568-8924 for reservations.
The Wings of Freedom Tour will be on display at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in the Banyan Pilot Shop, 5320 NW 20th Ter.
For more information, email Hunter Chaney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 800-568-8924.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email email@example.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.