August, 2015 - A Few Headlines
Ask the Docs – Why Do My Joints Hurt More if it Rains?
Living Green – Putting Cameras into the Hands of Foster Kids
Mommy Moments – Summer Vacation from a Kid’s Perspective
Wellington Amphitheatre – Current Schedule of Events
Free Breakfasts for Kids – All Summer in Palm Beach County
Getting Ready for their 18th Season at That’s Dancing
An Interview with Andrea LaMaina, co-owner of That’s Dancing
By Krista Martinelli
That’s Dancing dance studio is going into their 18th season as fall approaches. I spent some time with Andrea La Maina, who co-owns the dance studio with her sister Michele Walsh. I asked her about what’s new at That’s Dancing, one of the biggest and most successful dance studios in South Florida. With over 850 students, the team of instructors has learned to be extremely well-organized and good at what they do. The owners Andrea and Michele treat everyone on their team like family. At the same time, they run their Lake Worth dance studio like it is perfectly orchestrated, from the first day of classes in the fall to the amazing three-day, 5 performance gala in the spring.
AW (AroundWellington.com): What classes are being offered this fall?
TD (That’s Dancing): Ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary lyrical, acrobatics, hip hop/ funk, Latin. Latin is the most recent addition and it is offered to children and adults. We also have a Young Dancers program for children ages 3 to 6. The younger dancers are exposed to ballet, tap, creative movement and then at age 6, we also include jazz in their combination class. After completing the young dancer program, these dancers are ready to progress to level 1 classes.
AW: When do classes begin this fall? How do people register?
TD: Classes begin August 31st. You may register in person at That’s Dancing, or anytime online at our ThatsDancing.com website. New students are always welcome to come in and have a tour. For the fall, we have registration days, Aug. 17th – 20th (Mon. – Thurs), from 3pm to 7pm and Saturday, August 22nd from 10am to 2pm. During these times, the faculty and staff are available to do young dancer shoe fittings. All dance attire and shoes for the young dancer program are available for purchase. We offer starter packages ranging in price from $116-$136 which includes dance shoes, leotard, tights, dance skirt, That’s Dancing t-shirt and a dance bag.
AW: How many dance teachers work for That’s Dancing? Tell us about them.
In addition to the owners who are active teachers, there are 9 faculty members, our office manager, Ms. Linda and our office assistant, Ms.Barbara.
It’s exciting to us that both Jessica Pearl and Nicole Gonzalez were students of That’s Dancing and members of our Fusion Force Dance Company before completing their college degrees and returning to work for us. Ms. Jessica is the director of our Young Dancers Program. Both “Ms. Jess” and “Ms. Nicole” teach all styles of dance from the young dancers to the most advanced students. Nicole most recently danced with VEE Corporation and Sesame Street Live to playing the lead role of Elmo in the production: Elmo Makes Music.
Loren Foster has been teaching with us since 2002. She also teaches in the Palm Beach County school district as a dance teacher.
Katherine Lameyer Beukers has been teaching with us since 2008. She teaches all disciplines and she is one of our acro specialists.
Lawrence Albright, aka Mr. Larry, is our Hip Hop teacher. He joined us in 2008. He has been featured as an opening act for such artists as Nelly, Common, LilMo, and Fabolous.
Viky Smith joined That’s Dancing in 2011. She is originally from South Africa. She specializes in ballet and also teaches jazz.
Erin Sinsley has been teaching with us since 2008; she also is the dance teacher at Seminal Ridge High School in Loxahatchee.
Our newest additions are Herbert Dingle and Kameron Bink. They both joined us in 2014. Kameron was a Top 10 Finalist on the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance”. Since then, Kameron has had the opportunity to teach all over the world in countries such as Australia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Italy, Singapore and Switzerland. In the coming season, he will be teaching acro, hip hop, contemporary and modern. Herbert Dingle is a Dreyfoos High School graduate and has performed professionally in several ballet companies. He was also halftime performer for the NBA’s Miami Heat/WNBA Miami Sol. In the upcoming season, he will be teaching many levels and disciplines.
About Andrea and Michele, the owners of That’s Dancing
Andrea LaMaina specializes in tap. I am trying to bring more awareness to the art form. It started last year when we held the first SoFlo Tap Fest, which was a great success. Coming up on Aug. 21st & 22nd, we are hosting the 2nd SoFlo Tap Fest. We have master tap teachers flying in from New York City and Los Angeles, among other locations. This is a great, unique event, which culminates with a fun tap jam / rhythm rumble, with all faculty and students coming together through improvisation. There are four different levels of training in the festival enabling us to accommodate beginners through pre-professional dancers. See our That’s Dancing website, and you can register through the portal. “It’s really exciting because there’s really nothing else like this in South Florida.” We have dancers coming from Melbourne, Tampa and Miami. We even have some students who come in from Georgia for this event. So Danca, a major dance wear company, sponsors the event. “It’s something that I’m really proud of.”
Andrea is the past President of Dance Masters of America, Florida Chapter 2 and holds a BFA from Towson University. She is also the President of ”The Young Dancer Foundation of South Florida, Inc.” a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that accepts charitable, tax deductible donations to benefit talented young dancers.
Michele Walsh holds a BA from the University of Miami and a M.ed. from Temple University in dance education. Previously, Michele was performing arts department chair at the Purnell School in Pottersville, New Jersey and has danced professionally with the Red Bank Ballet Company and the American Repertory Theatre. She has performed as a lead dancer for the band The Beat Club, known for the song “Security”, in live concerts throughout South Florida.
Special Back to School Event on August 8th in Wellington
A special WPTV Back to School event will be held on Saturday, August 8th at the Mall at Wellington Green, and That’s Dancing is the only dance studio who was invited to perform. That’s Dancing will also have an information table there at the event. Our dance performance is scheduled for noon, near the Food Court area. The event runs from 10am to 4pm. For more information, read about this WPTV event.
AW: Are you starting to see more boys signing up for dance? If so, why?
TD: The environment here fosters it, making it acceptable and not intimidating for boys to participate. Having male faculty members as role models is also a key factor. These shows like Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Got Talent help generate interest as well. They are bringing dance back to the mainstream, making it more comfortable and acceptable for boys to dance. We have boys’ hip hop classes which are strictly for boys and offer boys other all the other options as well. Our young male dancers bring a different kind of energy to our studio. I feel good that there’s a place for boys to come here and express themselves artistically – I think it’s awesome!
AW: What’s great about That’s Dancing, in your opinion? What makes it unique?
TD: We have faculty that are dedicated. All of our faculty members are involved in this huge collaborative effort. Everyone takes ownership of their role. They genuinely care about our school – they genuinely care about our students. The people I surround myself with reflect positivity, a great work ethic and a willingness to be part of a team. That is the reason why we’re successful. No one is trying to overshadow anyone else. We are all trying to work toward the same goal. We all support each other. Everyone is on board with the philosophy of the school. Our mission is to give individual attention and teach the proper technique in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The development of the dancers is guided by the teachers – you carry these things you learn through your life. That’s why many of our dancers graduate and come back. We want people to be happy when they come here. The kids make lifelong friends at That’s Dancing. The faculty and staff do too.
AW: What’s the most rewarding thing for a dance teacher to see? To hear?
It’s rewarding when students achieve a goal that they have set for themselves or do something they didn’t think they could do. Any sort of growth – technical or mental – is extremely rewarding to us.
Sometimes you don’t need to “hear” it. Sometimes a seven-year-old will come to you and hand you a homemade card, and it can make your whole week. Or a teenager giving you a personal message on your answering machine about why you have made a difference – that’s a wonderful thing too.
AW: Tell us about the Fusion Force Dance Team. How many dancers are on the team? When are the try outs?
Last year we had 65 on the team. Auditions happen in July. Dancers need to be proficient in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern and possess a strong desire to perform. Ask for more information at the desk at That’s Dancing.
AW: Tell us about the course of the year. It begins with practicing in the fall, followed by choreographing for the show, beginning in January, right?
TD: We are always working on technique throughout the year. We start choreography for our show at the end of January. But we still always remember that we are working on technique. It’s not all about the memorization of steps. It’s about working to become a better artist, a better technician. That’s the fun thing about performing – the artistry of it.
Being able to have students tap into that inner artist and push themselves creatively. Our dance gala is usually at the end of May or beginning of June.
AW: How do you pick the songs for the gala? Do the teachers do their own choreography for each dance?
TD: Each faculty member is given a lot of creative freedom. We don’t stifle their creativity. At the end of the day, they are all artists. We are continuing to grow and evolve as artists and as choreographers. Michele and I think it’s important that they have that creative freedom. This also might be why we’re successful – we allow our teachers to have creative freedom. We are all growing, all learning, all evolving. We are constantly learning from each other. Yes, the teachers do the choreography for their own dance classes. They also select the costumes.
“We don’t want to step in and decide what is going on in our teachers’ creative process. We want it to grow organically,” says Andrea LaMaina.
“Come see us and take a tour,” says “Miss Linda,” the Office Manager. “It’s a family-friendly atmosphere here.”
6169 Jog Road, A-15
Lake Worth, FL33467
Stop by and Say Hello!
Check out our video!
Here’s what’s going on at That’s Dancing, where you can strive to be your very best under the direction of top-notch instructors. Watch the video!
Place of Hope, Helping Children and Providing Resources
By Krista Martinelli
These days people wonder about giving to charity organizations and whether their dollars are really reaching the people in need. I was very pleased to find that Place of Hope, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, was given the #1 rating by Charity Navigator and also listed in the “11 Top-Rated Charities that Changed the World in 2014” according to The Huffington Post.
When Place of Hope was in the planning stages of their fundraiser to take place in Wellington at the Art Cellar (July 23rd), I heard from Rachel Gaydosh, an Advancement Associate for Place of Hope. When I started to hear about the ten major programs they have for reaching out and helping children in our community, I realized I wanted to know more. So I took a tour of their Place of Hope Paxson Campus in Palm Beach Gardens and interviewed Rachel Gaydosh and Josh Kolkana, Director of Homes of Hope & Villages of Hope.
In Palm Beach County and beyond, there is a huge need for foster parents. Kids are removed from their homes by DCF when there is evidence of abuse or neglect, and this is happening at a rate that the foster home network in our county cannot keep up with. Place of Hope offers many solutions for these children. It all started in 1993, when Pastor Tom and Donna Mullins (of Christ Fellowship Church) went on a trip to Russia and Romania. They witnessed the deplorable living conditions and dire need for better care for refugee children in those countries. They decided to take action, but to do it in our immediate community, since the need to help children is everywhere – even in our own backyard. The foundation was laid, the programs were developed and in 1998, Place of Hope was launched.
Place of Hope is an amazing network of help with many different components. Yes, there is a lot to it – with a beautiful campus in Palm Beach Gardens of “family cottages” and a network of different facilities in other areas like Lake Park, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. They explain, it is “a unique, faith-based, state-licensed child welfare organization providing family-style foster care (emergency and long-term), family outreach and intervention, comprehensive maternity care, safety for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, transitional housing and support services for emancipated foster and other homeless youth, adoption and foster care recruitment and support, hope, and healing opportunities for children and families who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect throughout our region.”
First of all, when you think of foster homes and when you think of teenagers, you probably do not think “immaculate,” but this is what I found. And yes, I went home later the same day and told my son that his room is not as clean as any of the foster boys’ rooms that I had toured. As a parent, I like to take every opportunity to make improvements, and my son’s room is a definite area for possible improvement. On a more serious note, as a parent, I really appreciate people I meet who are foster parents and parents who have adopted. It’s very challenging being a parent – period. I cannot imagine how challenging it is to be a foster parent of, for example, six to eight children in a house like the family cottages I toured in Palm Beach Gardens. These children have not necessarily come to the foster home willingly. Nevertheless, they have arrived because they were abused or abandoned. And yes, if you are the foster parent, these children might take out some anger on you, no matter how good your intentions are.
“The biggest challenge,” explains Josh Kolkana, “is the unmet expectations of the well-meaning foster parents. They want to rescue this child, and the reality of it is that the child has probably experienced tremendous trauma. And somehow, the children still want to be with Mom and Dad. They are going to take out a lot of this anger on the foster parent. As a foster parent, you are coaching them, teaching them and loving them, no matter what. We train foster parents thoroughly, but you never know what it is really like until you experience it.
On the flip side, there are major rewards that people find in being a foster parent. After the training they receive from Place of Hope, they go into it, knowing it’s not going to be easy. “Seeing the children’s grades go up or seeing them make a new friend is incredibly rewarding,” says Kolkana. “Fostering creates an Others-Centered mentality. It opens up your perspective. It’s such a valuable experience for loving outside of oneself.” He explains that they just need love. And any small improvement you can see can be a major milestone for these kids.
The Vision of Place of Hope is simple. “With regard to children entrusted to our care and their families, we strive to foster hope rather than despair, potential rather than limitations, healing rather than hurting, belonging rather than isolation, and what the future can be, rather than what the past has been.” Their results are terrific with true success stories, children going through their program and then eventually graduating from high school or even college. Kolkana explains that on average only 2% of foster care kids even enter college. So whenever there is a graduation, they have a big party to celebrate – it is truly a remarkable achievement!
See Josh Kolkana talking about one of their success stories at Place of Hope, see the video. https://youtu.be/2RDe0hWq8sw
The Paxson Campus Family Cottages in Palm Beach Gardens
In Palm Beach Gardens, Place of Hope has a campus of family cottages, where a married couple is responsible for six to eight foster children in each home. Before a child gets to this stage, DCF does everything in their power to preserve the family unit. Also, if they can find a family member or friend to care for the child, they will aim for this first. Sometimes, however, there is a level of abuse or neglect going on that requires the child to be removed from the situation. They are placed in the family cottages by a network in Palm Beach County called ChildNet.
The campus in Palm Beach Gardens is a little village of immaculately-kept homes, housing a capacity of 44 foster children. The children come to the program when they are between 5 – 18 years of age. There is also an emergency, short-term shelter on the same campus called the Seven Stars Cottage. This is designed for children who need a temporary, emergency place to stay for 30 days or fewer, as they wait to find out where they will be placed.
Current Needs and Getting Involved
“We are always looking for more foster homes,” says Rachel Gaydosh. This could be single people or couples, ranging from their 20s to 60s in terms of age. “We have over 100 kids who have to wait outside of Palm Beach County,” explains Kolkana. Because there is no place to go for these children in Palm Beach County, they are placed outside of the county. Their school, network of friends and activities are all disrupted by this. So truly, the biggest need right now is for more people willing to provide foster care within Palm Beach County.
Another way to help out is by providing dinners for the families, on our campuses. When you provide dinner for eight to 10 people for the Family Cottages, it’s a huge relief for the foster parents, explains Gaydosh. Place of Hope also needs volunteers who can be mentors or tutors. They always post their immediate needs on their Place of Hope Facebook page as well.
Gently-used clothing, books and toys are always helpful too – for boys and girls, ages 5 to 17. There is also a group called the “Angel Mom and Dads” who provide things like laptops for Place of Hope teens who graduate, for example. “People like Place of Hope because you can drive down the street and see how your money is being used, ” explains Gaydosh.
Another option is throwing a Party with a Purpose. If you would like to throw a Party with a Purpose this summer, here are some things you can tell your invited guests, according to Rachel Gaydosh who coordinates fundraising for Place of Hope. For more information about throwing a Party with a Purpose, contact Rachel Gaydosh at Place of Hope, (561) 775-7195.
The Need, Summer Hope
We are estimating that ALL of these needed “Summer Hope” improvements can be completed for approximately $200,000. Please, if you can be a part of meeting this need (at any level) or know someone (have access to family foundations, etc.) within your network who might be interested in making an impact and having their gifts matched – please help us meet this goal.
Paint for Hope on July 23rd at the Art Cellar in Wellington
If you are local to the Wellington, Florida area and would like to participate in a fun night of artwork while supporting Place of Hope, you can sign up for the “Paint for Hope” event. The event is from 6pm to 9pm on Thursday, July 23rd and will be catered by the White Elephant. Participants will create a step-by-step painting with the help of an art teacher and also hear more about the programs at Place of Hope. Visit the Art Cellar website to sign up for this special event, benefiting Place of Hope: http://www.artcellarwellington.com/event/place-of-hope-fundraiser/
Aiming for Success, Beyond 18
When a child is placed in a foster home, he or she could be adopted, could go back home or could “age out” of the system at 18 years old. In 2006, they opened Villages of Hope to help those young people between 18 – 25 years old, who needed extra support. “You see a staggering difference. And those who go through our whole program are very successful,” says Kolkana. For example, a young girl came into the Place of Hope foster program as a child. She went on to work at Joann’s Cottage, their home for pregnant teenagers in LakePark. At age 26, she was selected to receive a house from Habitat for Humanity. “No one in her family has ever owned their own home,” says Kolkana. It’s exciting to break the chain of abuse and see a success story unfold.
Shelter from Human Trafficking
There are approximately 20 to 30 million human slaves in the world today. In the U.S., Florida is #3 when it comes to human trafficking. The average age of a victim is between 12 – 15 years old. Usually there is sexual trauma in the child’s background already and a lot of times it happens to runaway children. Human trafficking is the third largest crime industry in the world and makes a profit of 32 billion dollars per year. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men. (Read more at DoSomething.org).
At Place of Hope, Hope House is constantly getting referrals. They have the capacity to care for five girls at a time at this shelter. Human trafficking is a huge problem that many parents, unfortunately, are not aware of. There is also a great need in Florida for more shelters like this. Here are some good guidelines for talking to your kids about the subject of human trafficking (ShesWorthItCampaign.com).
Place of Hope’s Mission
Their stated mission is simple. “Place of Hope is dedicated to providing a stable and loving family environment for hurting children and their families. We are committed to meeting desperate needs in our community by sharing God’s love and placing hope in their lives – one child and family at a time.”
Their Many Place of Hope Programs
While their campus is headquartered in Palm BeachGardens at the Paxson Campus Family Cottages and administrative offices, the Place of Hope network has a far reach with many different components.
The Place of Hope reach is tremendous, and as I toured their family cottages set up for foster care in Palm Beach Gardens, I realized that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Because they have multiple channels for helping people, there are some nice synergies that happen. For example, as Gaydosh explains, some young adults from their foster care programs actually work at the Treasures for Hope Charity Stores and get real work experience while doing so.
Clearing up Stereotypes about Foster Kids
I asked Josh Kolkana about what stereotypes people might have when it comes to foster kids.
He says, “Sometimes people assume foster kids are ‘bad’ or ‘troubled children.’ People do not realize that foster children enter the system by no fault of their own… it is 100% due to their caregiver’s actions. As with anyone, when these children go through a traumatic situation, you can often see the hurt come out in their behaviors. It’s our job and privilege, as foster parents, to root out the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ Why are they not doing well in school or behaving poorly? There is always a deeper reason and the outward signs simply act as signals. When a parent takes the time to explore that, not only do they help the child heal, they also form a great bond with the child.”
What it Takes – Becoming a Foster Care Parent
We talked about what it takes to become a good foster care parent. “Being a foster parent is truly a self-sacrificing commitment,” says Kolkana. “
“Just like being a parent to biological children is not about your own needs, but the child’s, being a foster parent means often putting your priorities to the side to enable a hurting child the chance to heal. Parents who are looking to fill a void in their own lives or who have a need to be needed are not good candidates for foster care. This type of situation will create an unhealthy environment for everyone. The best foster parents are the ones willing to put a child’s needs before their own and are confident enough in themselves to not look to the child for affirmation. A good support system is a great asset as well!”
Making a Difference
Why is Place of Hope being rated as the number one charity in our area? One of the main reasons, Gaydosh says, is that their administrative expenses are vastly lower than their operating expenses. From my perspective as an outside person taking a tour, I would add that they keep their homes extremely clean and well-organized. Also, they have built a terrific network with many components, and this network seems to be constantly growing in different ways to help even more. When the Place of Hope staff realized that some of their foster care kids were “aging out” of the program at 18 years old with no place to go, for example, they founded Villages of Hope. Now with more support between the ages of 18 – 25, these young adults have more chances of succeeding. For example, they are getting jobs or graduating from college or both. If you talk to the staff at Place of Hope, there are many wonderful success stories of young people who have turned their lives around. It’s truly inspiring!
Find out more about becoming a “Foster Parent” on the Place of Hope website.
Place of Hope
9078 Isaiah Lane
(561) 775-7195 (Office)
(877) 694-HOPE (toll free)
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