Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Gables Community Foundation gives tech tools to Crystal Academy

Among the magical worlds of ‘Frozen,’ Minions, superheroes and monsters, Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Foundation, enjoys the Halloween celebration at Crystal Academy in Coral Gables. The foundation’s grant allowed the school to purchase advanced tools for students with learning challenges.
Among the magical worlds of ‘Frozen,’ Minions, superheroes and monsters, Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Foundation, enjoys the Halloween celebration at Crystal Academy in Coral Gables. The foundation’s grant allowed the school to purchase advanced tools for students with learning challenges.

The treats were more than candy this Halloween as students at Crystal Academy were presented with two Promethean ActivBoards purchased through a grant by the Coral Gables Community Foundation.

“We are blessed, thankful and excited every time our students get an opportunity to advance in their development through the use of new technology. Tools that are available to us thanks to donations, like this from the Coral Gables Community Foundation” said David Pike, Crystal Academy founder and president.

The ActivBoard Touch combines multi-touch functionality, a dry-erase surface and award-winning software. It allows up to six students to work together using multi-touch gestures, including swipe, pinch and zoom.

Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation, visited Crystal Academy at the school’s Halloween celebration for the unveiling. The foundation’s Community Giving Committee and board of directors voted to award Crystal Academy with the grant for the ActivBoards.

“It is our pleasure to support Crystal Academy in Coral Gables and the excellent work they do here in our community,” Snow said in a release.

Crystal Academy opened in June 2009 and specializes in developing the behavioral and life skills of children with autism and related disorders. It is located at 107 Antilla Ave. in Coral Gables. To make a donation toward new equipment for the students, contact Katherine (Kat) Cao at 305-567-5881. And check out


Aye matey! The next production by the local Miami Acting Company will be The Pirates of Penzance dropping anchor at the Pinecrest Gardens’ Banyan Bowl, 11000 Red Rd., Pinecrest.

Performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic operetta will be Nov. 19-21 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets go to or call 1-877-496-8499. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $20 for students.

The cast, musicians and crew of MAC include local artists who are volunteering to present live theater to residents in our South Florida communities.

As part of its mission, MAC will provide free admission to several groups who might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy a live theatrical performance. Organizations invited to attend include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, Legal Aid, East Ridge Retirement Community, Casa Valentina, Take Stock in Children, and Unrepresented Peoples Positive Action Council (UP-PAC).

Ken Kurtz will direct the show with musical direction by Leo Walz. Jon Weiss is the costume designer and Maritza Prados is the stage manager. For information about volunteering opportunities, contact MAC at


The 10th annual Quest for Peace Student Art Competition and Exhibition will hold its opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at Kendall Gallery M123, Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus, 11011 SW 104th St.

The event will include the second annual panel discussion with the topic “Has There Been Moral Progress?” from 5 to 6 p.m. in room K413. The moderator is philosophy Professor Kris Arca and the panelists include Mark Neunder, Stuart Williams and Clifford Young.

The yearly art competition is held in honor of Rotarian Robert Horwitz, who died in Miami on July 2, 2005. He also was a philosopher and an artist. The goal of the competition is “to increase awareness for peace promotion and to financially assist students who are studying art.” The Rotary Club of Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest is the sponsor of this program.


The much-anticipated Holiday House Tour hosted every year by The Villagers is set for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dec. 5 in Coral Gables.

House Tour co-chairs Renee Betancourt, Monica Fidel and Laura Mullaney have selected five historic homes to represent the theme “Timeless Relevance” in honor of The Villagers’ 50th anniversary.

Just two of the tour highlights include learning how the rock quarried from Venetian Pool was put to use in home construction; and a visit to a home in the Chinese Village, created in the early days of Coral Gables.

Members of The Villagers will give guided tours through the homes. There also will be a gift boutique, quilt raffle and holiday treats.

According to organizers, house tour visitors can walk and drive in their own vehicles between the properties, but the venues cannot accommodate wheelchairs or strollers. Also, the owners request no high heels or photography.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. This is a fundraising event for the group. Tickets are $35 and are available online at or by sending a check and self-addressed, stamped envelope to: The Villagers Inc., P.O. Box 141843, Coral Gables, FL 33114.

Proceeds support the all-volunteer organization. The group’s members are celebrating “50 Years of Saving Places.”


Students in elementary school and their families are invited to the first Kidz Astro Night Nov. 20 at the Bill Sadowski Park & Nature Center, 17555 SW 79th Ave., Palmetto Bay.

The Southern Cross Astros and park staff will host an evening of fun starting with a bring-your-own picnic by the campfire at 5 p.m. and followed by a basic astronomy program in the classroom at 6 p.m. A Star Party is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on the observation deck, if weather permits.

SCAS members will be at the Star Party with hi-tech equipment focused on the Andromeda Galaxy, star clusters, and colorful double stars.

Space is limited. RSVP to the SCAS Hotline at 305-661-1375 with your name, phone number and the number of students by Nov.17.

There will be no SCAS public programs at FIU in November or December.

Remember, no lasers, car lights, litter, alcohol or pets are allowed in the park. Flashlights and lanterns will be off after the picnic around the campfire. Bring your food, chairs, binoculars, telescopes, and bug repellent. Go to for more.


More than 100 college students attended the first annual Disability Awareness Fair hosted by the Diverse Student Organization. The event allowed students with various disabilities to find out about job opportunities and volunteer options. There were also prizes, giveaways and snacks.

“Our purpose is to prove that even though our members are disabled, we are more than capable of accomplishing any goal we set forth,” Nicole Perard said. “We mostly dedicate our time by reaching out to local schools to speak to their disabled student population, as well as volunteer our time to feed families at homeless shelters such as Chapman Partnership.”

Perard said her group is always looking for local nonprofit organizations to assist in any way they can.

The following agencies were present at the fair: Diverse Student Organization, Easter Seals, Veteran Affairs, UM-NSU Card Autism Program, South Florida Deaf Recreational Association, The Wow Center, and ACCESS Disability Services Department.

To learn more send email to, or through social media at Twitter/Instagram @DSOMdcKendall. Another fair is being planned.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at