The 863 Magazine - Fall 2020

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Fall 2020

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Content Fall 2020

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Apropos of Nothing | Jamie Beckett Thirty years of marriage, give or take, depending on the math. And the memories of our ragers crack us up now.

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Crossword Theme: Cocktails & Mocktails. Answer key on page 13.

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Home Remedy | Elizabeth Morrisey Home Remedy in Winter Haven is helping customers in a world where good personal health counts more than ever.

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Cover: Guardian ad Litem | By James Coulter

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Read the testimonials of three longtime volunteers to the GAL program, which advocates for children in the legal system.

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Slowing Down | Jai Maa Take the time to slow down and reflect on what’s next after many months of quarantine — how will you emerge?

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DepositPhotos.com/22023411

123rf.com/111406810

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The 863 Magazine

Editor | Publisher Note

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ell, 2020 sure has been one for the books, hasn’t it? But here we all are, persisting and each hopefully doing our best to roll with all the bizarre and unexpected national and international events. Some have thrived because of the pandemic, some have stayed the status quo, and others haven’t been as lucky. Our hearts go out to the third group and hope for the best for them— especially children who have little to no control over their living situations and may be caught up in frightening circumstances due to COVID-19. Our cover story is one that we touched upon years ago with a Non-profit Spotlight: Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program. In this story we get the experiences of three volunteers who bring a voice to children in the dependency system. Their anecdotes are touching and we admire their giving of time to

a cause they are passionate about. As always, the program is in need of volunteers. Please turn to page 12 for that story. Speaking of “in need,” please see the ad on page 19. If you are able, the Lake Wales Little Theatre needs your help. One helpful lady in our community is Marilyn Lacey Amaral, who started out selling handmade soap. She owns Home Remedy in downtown Winter Haven and has some mad skills related to personalizing skin products and other health-related items. She’s not only helpful in that regard but she helped to promote local businesses online during the quarantine and also made and donated hand sanitizer to many local health facilities. Read about all the ways in which Home Remedy is so much more than just a soap shop— turn to page 8.

Save the date for the 6th Annual Haven Holiday Market on November 21, 2020. At this time, it is a go and will follow the CDC guidelines that are required. Downtown Winter Haven’s beautiful park blocks will be a great place to kick off your holiday shopping. Page 24 is an ad you can print out as a reminder. P.s. The 2nd and 4th Saturday Markets in downtown Winter Haven are also happening. Check out page 5 (opposite this editor letter) for more details. Hang in there, 863’ers!

Sergio & Andrea Cruz Publisher | Editor

Publisher & Ad Sales

Contributors

Sergio Cruz | sergio@polkmedia.com

Andrea Cruz | andrea@polkmedia.com

Jamie Beckett James Coulter Sergio Cruz Jai Maa Elizabeth Morrisey

Art Director

On the Cover

Alejandro F. Cruz | alejandrocruz.com

A child plays with a paper doll family. The number of kids in the dependency system are too numerous for comfort—but then again even one is too many. Thankfully, a program call Guardian ad Litem exists in which volunteers spend their time getting to know these kids and advocating for them in legal settings. Read the experiences of three such volunteers in the Polk County area starting on page 12. Image source: 123rf.com/111406810.

Editor

Cover Designer Deborah Coker

Publisher | Editor Photo Meet Bob, the newest member of the Cruz household. He is a Covid kitty, born in April to a neighborhood stray. Orange tabbies are a favorite and Andrea knew right away she would keep one. Bob is easily distracted, likes making mischief, and playing ninja. He really loves to play outside (yes, he’s fixed) and has been a joy in the midst of a chaotic world. Isn’t it wonderful how animals can bring us back and remind us of what’s truly important?

The 863 Magazine is a product of Polk Media, Inc., a woman- and minority-owned business. For more info visit us online: PolkMedia.com or The863Magazine.com.

Visit us online at The863Magazine.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!



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The 863 Magazine

Apropos of Nothing By Jamie Beckett

Thirty years of marriage. It’s nothing to sneeze at. We’ve loved, we’ve raged, we’ve laughed. And we’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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his year is special. In fact, 2020 is a landmark that has been decades in the making. Because this year I am celebrating 30 years of marriage to the same woman. Don’t get all excited and start applauding yet. There’s more to it than just counting up the days, weeks, months, years, and decades. Marriage is much more challenging than that. It’s not as simple as calculus, or brain surgery, or sending humans into space and keeping them alive throughout the journey. It’s marriage. It gets messy now and then. In truth I’ve been married for longer than 30 years. Estimates range anywhere from 32 to 35 years, depending on who you ask, how you do the math, and what the court records say. There have been three different Mrs. Beckett’s staring me down from across the dinner table. They all kept the last name, but the first two ditched the original owner in favor of a life of fanciful freedom and cheerful individuality far, far away from me. I can’t blame them, really. There are days when my current wife truly believes her predecessors made the right choice. And sometimes she’s right about that. Then again, there are brief periods when she’s not as disgusted, disappointed, or despondent about choosing me as she might have been. Let’s get serious about this marriage thing. Somebody has to tell the truth at some point, and frankly, I’m deep enough into the institution that I have no fear of being open and honest anymore. Not even

at the risk of my own personal safety.

other couple that we adopted as our own.

One truth you’ll have to adjust to if you hope to have a long-lasting, successful marriage that other people will describe as, “happy,” is understanding that happiness is not going to be the predominant emotion you’ll experience. Frustration, anger, and an almost total inability to understand why your spouse is thinking, doing, or attempting to justify ideas and actions that are borderline insane will be far more common.

Who knows? Who cares, really. You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you just have to enjoy playing the game until it gets called on account or rain, or irreconcilable differences, or whatever.

Fortunately, like the pain of childbirth, the animosity and recrimination of marriage morphs over time to become the entertainment of our lives. Given enough time and therapy, moments of actual rage become stories of great humor remembered with fondness.

Anyway, it’s been 30 years for me and the current (and hopefully last) Mrs. Beckett. It’s a time of celebration and reflection on a life lived together, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for these past many years. I still remember the Justice of the Peace asking me that powerful, all-important question, to which I replied with confidence, “I do.” Seconds later he asked my fiancé and soon to be wife the same question, to which she replied, “Uh, okay.”

For example, one prior wife once whipped a candy bar at my face as I was putting away the groceries. She was trying to kill me with a confection because she thought I had handed the treat to her in a disrespectful manner. A much younger version of myself responded by pouring the ice-cold half-gallon of milk in my hand over her head. It dripped down her long, carefully styled hair, until she whipped her golden tresses around like a weapon, drenching the living room in a milky splattering of quickly souring liquid that clings to select picture frames to this day.

True story. It’s the little things really.

Oh, how we laugh about it now.

Jamie Beckett appears to be an average, everyday guy who just happens to hail from Arizona, Connecticut, New York City, and Central Florida. He wears many hats — pilot, mechanic, writer, politician, musician, stayat-home dad — often an odd combination of all those things. Frankly, we don’t care. At The 863 Magazine we just keep him around because we think he’s funny. That’s that. Read all of his musings at The863Magazine.com.

Of course, the incident is far enough back in our histories that we both remember it slightly differently. Truthfully, it’s possible that it never really happened at all and we’re just misremembering a dream, or a movie, or a story one of us heard from an-

Henny Youngman turned out to be right when he quipped, “The secret to a happy marriage remains a secret.” But what the hell. We’re here. We’re both too lazy to hire a lawyer. So, we might as well stay together for a while longer. Neither of us drinks milk anymore anyway, so there’s one major risk factor that’s been taken off the table. Onward, I guess.


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57. *Negroni and boulevardier ingredient 61. Time for the big bowl games 65. Unethical loaner’s practice 66. Designed to guarantee equal rights 68. Cooler manufacturer 69. #38 Down, pl. 70. Atlantic catch 71. Musical ensemble 72. Rodeo Drive tree 73. It’s of the beholder 74. Rosetta Stone, e.g.

Theme: Cocktails & Mocktails ACROSS 1. Angelou and Rudolph 6. Mason’s load 9. Bobby Pickett’s “Monster ____” 13. Infection from contaminated water or food 14. Formerly Cassius Clay 15. Slow, musically speaking 16. ____ Ste. Marie, Ontario 17. Bonding words 18. Like draft beer 19. *Cognac, orange liqueur, lemon juice 21. *Tropical cocktail favorite 23. Motion of approval 24. *Home of pisco sour

1. Difficult situation 2. Antioxidant-rich berry 3. Common contraction 4. Kind of wrench 5. TV’s popular portmanteau 6. Let it down to relax? 7. *____ fashioned 8. D in LED 9. Take-out handout 10. Nay sayer 11. Sun, e.g. 12. Indigenous people of northeast Arizona 15. *Nespolino fruit 20. Highly skilled 22. Elbow rest 24. Portable lock 25. Fancy tie 26. Ski run 27. Sheik’s bevy 29. *Whiskey ___ 31. Charged particles 32. Flip side, pl. 33. Binary digits code 34. Things on a list 25. Smoker’s residue 36. “Star Trek” speed 28. Big butte 38. Fodder holder 30. *It has both white and dark rum 42. Eloise’s residence 35. Popular BBQ side 45. Quiets 37. Pea houses 49. Otitis organ 39. *Hold your drink aloft in honor 51. *Popular mixer, pl. 40. “Downton Abbey” countess 54. Brother’s daughter 41. Subject of 17th century Dutch mania 56. Should 43. Cote d’Azur locale 57. Turning point 44. Teatro alla Scala offering 58. World’s largest continent 46. Sushi selection 59. *To warm wine or cider and add spices 47. Kind of jeans fit 60. Junior ball 48. *She famously disliked the eponymous drink 61. Green gemstone 50. Chesterfield or ulster 62. Burn-soothing plant 52. Bro’s sib 63. Agitate 53. Long and lean 64. Yesteryear 55. Petting spot 67. *First name in cola and grenadine

Solution on page 19.

DOWN


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The 863 Magazine

Home Remedy:

More Than a Soap Shop

Story by Elizabeth Morrisey Photos by Sergio Cruz

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aking all natural soaps was just a hobby for Marilyn Lacey Amaral back in 2015. But now she’s turned it into a successful business selling much more than soaps and lotions. Amaral recently moved her shop, Home Remedy, to a larger space in the heart of downtown Winter Haven to accommodate her growing product line of bath and body items, Lavender & Lilac, and added highly sought-after CBD products. Home Remedy, at 220 W. Central Avenue, has something for everybody, says Amaral. And around every corner is a delightful display featuring body care, unique gifts, CBD oils and gummies and even an Apothecary with herbs and teas. “We have lots of repeat business and we foster relationships,” she says, adding that she was able to give back to the community when COVID-19 struck the United States. Fortunately, while most businesses shut down, Amaral’s business was considered essential so they focused on manufacturing one of the items the community needed the most – hand sanitizer. “We scoured the state to find what we needed. From mid-March to May all I did was make hand sanitizer,” she says. “The rest took a back seat.” She donated it to the local post office, nursing homes, clinics and rehabilitation centers. “We used any bottle we could find for hand sanitizer. It brought in a lot of new customers.” Winter Haven resident Sharon Ashby recently attended a healing stone class at Home Remedy and has been a regular customer for two years. “I absolutely adore her new shop. I can’t say enough good about them. They are very knowledgeable about everything they sell,” she says, adding that she’s been pleased with everything she has purchased. After spending thousands of dollars on treatment for her acne, Amaral found an all-natural soap that finally offered her some relief. She decided there was something special about all natural products and decided to research how to make soaps. By 2018, she left her full-time job and was licensed to manufacture cosmetics in early 2019. Continued on page 10

Home Remedy on Central Avenue in downtown Winter Haven offers a plethora of items, including gifts, jewelry, CBD products, and locallymade makeup. The owner, Marilyn Lacey Amaral, started out making handmade soaps and has grown her business by leaps and bounds.


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The 863 Magazine

Home Remedy, from page 8

her sales, which is mostly word of mouth. Her biggest seller is gummies used for anxiety and pain relief. She also keeps oils in stock and other CBD components that are proven to help with epilepsy, glaucoma and mental health.

She started out selling her Lavender & Lilac product line at Country Primitives Vintage Market in Winter Haven then moved to a small shop on Third Street. Her bath and body line includes anything and everything from facial polish to makeup remover, shampoo bars and hair rinse. Ashby says she stopped buying hand and dish soap at the grocery store and now buys it from Home Remedy. Amaral tries to support local artisans by carrying their products. Poppy Blossom Bleu, in Dundee, makes soy candles; Lucy Minerals is a local company selling their makeup; a Plant City company sells their wine mixes at Home Remedy; and local artists Cathy Hall and Stephanie Lang have artwork for sale on the walls of the shop. “Small businesses give back to their communities,” Amaral says. “Everything starts in your hometown. Help the locals. They are putting money back into the economy.”

“We work with a group in Colorado to make sure we have a quality product,” says Amaral. “Our shop is for those looking for all natural alternatives in health and home care regimens. People come from all over.” Ashby mainly purchases CBD products and has seen great results. “I won’t buy CBD products anywhere else. They actually do work,” she says. “It really does minimize the aches and pains.” Ashby and her son visit the store about once per week. “The number one thing is Marilyn’s customer service.” Amaral didn’t doubt that her business would be successful. “God is directing me and He’s blessed it.”

Amaral enjoys incorporating repurposed, recycled and reusable gift items. Her shop carries Bee’s Wraps – reusable food wraps, Vintage Addiction bags made from recycled military tents, upcycled leather products, and scarves made from clothing scraps. “It’s very important to be downtown,” she says. “I needed a bigger space. Now that I am here I understand supporting local businesses and our downtown.” She also features spa days at the store, healing stone classes and soap making. Customers can pay a fee and make a reservation. Along with classes, bath and body and gift items, adding CBD products to her shop has catapulted her business even further. It accounts for 50 percent of

Both photos on this page: Loose teas and herbs are sold by the ounce at Home Remedy in downtown Winter Haven.


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Although Home Remedy in Winter Haven started out several years ago with handmade soaps under the name Lavender and Lace, its product lines have expanced to include other natural cosmetics and even CBD items. See Home Remedy’s ad on page 16.


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The 863 Magazine

Polk County’s

Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Program Story by James Coulter

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wenty-one hundred — 2,100 — that’s the number of children in the dependency system in Polk, Highland, and Hardee Counties. That’s how many children are in need of safe, permanent homes. Not every child is privileged to live in a safe, loving home. So it is the job of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program to find children safe homes.

Volunteer Child Advocates are always needed. For more info visit: BecomeAGuardian.com.

GAL of Polk County is appointed to three quarters of the children in the system, approximately 1,300. With the aid of dedicated volunteers and staff members, GAL ensures that children either find a new home or are reunited with their families once their guardians have overcome the issues that required them to be separated from their children. This is the story of three such staff members and how they have helped children who need their help the most:

Kathy Ammon Kathy Ammon started her work in 2015 with the Guardian ad Litem program as a volunteer. She fell in love with the program and its staff after working two cases. She later worked as a child advocate manager more than three years before entering into her current position as a recruiter. Having started as a volunteer, Ammon now works to draw in more volunteers to assist the countless children under their care. Her GAL staff consists of 22 child advocate managers in Circuit 10 who work alongside volunteers to contact children monthly and advocate for their best interest. Their volunteers are crucial to the program’s success. “The volunteers are critically important,” she says. “We could not see all of the children without our volunteers’ dedication. They have a heart to help children. They can spend a lot more time forming a relationship, a bond with the child, and then even with the


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Above: An image from GuardianAdLitem.org.

caregivers or the family.” Every individual case proves unique and often involves people dealing with various issues in their lives. Substance abuse and addiction are some of the more prevalent issues that parents in the system often struggle with. As services in the county are overburdened, these parents often find themselves overwhelmed. GAL volunteers and staff usually go above and beyond to help them as well. GAL volunteers and staff often go beyond the call of duty to ensure that their children receive the care they need. One example involved a child who needed emergency surgery. The volunteer and staff worked quickly to ensure the child received urgent medical treatment.

circumstances, [have what] they are expected to have [with] any and all opportunities to succeed,” he says. “I feel like if I had not been in that role in this organization, I may not have taken [this philosophy] to heart as I do now.” Nixon entered the program in 2005. For the past 10 years, he has served as the program director and assistant circuit director. His service allowed him to win the Team Leadership Award in 2012, as presented by the statewide GAL Award Program. While most other people would be proud of such accomplishments, Nixon considers his endeavors humble. He did not have any prior experience in child dependency when he started 15 years ago, but since then, he has become proficient in his occupation — to the point where he believes that, if he can do it, anyone can do it.

“The caregiver could not contact the case manager,” she explains. “So my volunteer called me, we gathered information and our attorney at 5 o’clock wrote the emergency order for the child to have surgery the next day. The judge signed the order first thing the following morning and the child was able to be admitted to the hospital. We can do some very important things and everyone from our office works together help a child in need.”

“Being with this program has certainly taught me a lot about responsibility and caring for your fellow man, especially when it comes to your own community,” Nixon says. “Over time, we are looking for everybody and anybody to help out be a voice for our child in the community, so I have been very fortunate to remain with the organization and grow in the organization.”

Mark Nixon

Pam Schumacher

Mark Nixon doesn’t have any children at home; but at work, he and the Circuit 10 GAL team are responsible for more than 2,000 children —1,200 who are assisted through GAL at this time.

Pam Schumacher moved to Florida in 2012 shortly after her husband passed away. She left behind her old home, her friends, and her church. She left her old life and found herself in need of starting anew.

“It is a matter of making sure that every child, no matter their Continued on page 16


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The 863 Magazine

Breakthrough Your Threshold By Jai Maa

Slowing down isn’t easy to do. Sometimes the universe puts something in your path, literally, that forces you to take a serious timeout.

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lood began gushing down the stream the moment I stuck my foot into the creek. I slid down a muddy hill barefoot when a stick sliced into my heel like an arrow, ripping open my skin down to the meaty flesh. I had just offered my prayer to the woods, that the nature walk I had embarked on would open me up to deeper self-realization. My prayer

opened me up, all right! My foot was split in a perfect triangle.

osporin and bandaids, and then propped me up in bed so my foot could rest.

I watched my friends walk ahead of me as I staggered back to the cabin with my fiancĂŠ in pain. My sister close behind, I wondered whether I should be taken to the hospital to be stitched up. We cleaned out my wound, smothered my heel with Ne-

For the remainder of the weekend, I could hear my friends outside creating music together, and laughing and playing in the creek while I sat in bed unable to do anything but hobble around. I felt left out and had a lot of time to reflect on the self-

A woman looks out over a body of water. DepositPhotos.com/22023411


Fall 2020

realizations of my jarring experience. I got—loud and clear—that I needed to slow down. Even when the world went topsy-turvy and we were asked to quarantine, I knew that slowing down was a gift being offered amongst the chaos. I had been subtly complaining for years that I needed a break, and would give anything if I could just stop my fast-paced life and do nothing. Now that I had been given that opportunity, I was busying myself in activities such as binge playing Scrabble GO on my phone for nine hours at a time or feng shui-ing every room in the house until there was nothing left to organize. I felt like a ceiling fan whose switch had gotten turned off, but the blades kept spinning. Now that I couldn’t walk, I had no choice but to slow down. I felt like I was missing out by not being able to play with my

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friends. I then began to ponder how much life I was missing out on by being distracted by activity. How many messages that can only be heard from the stillness of silence and meditation did I overlook while I was busy being busy?

quiet inner voice that beckons me to be even more of my greatest self?

For me, the perfect triangular split gash in my foot symbolized a fork in the road. Would I continue to stay on the same track and create the same results, or was I willing to shift something within myself in order to embrace a new trajectory?

Enlightenment Challenge: Begin each day sitting still with no distractions for 10 minutes. If you would like to give your mind something to focus on, close your eyes and quietly say what you are thankful for.

Until now, life has been rich and deeply satisfying, almost to the point of complacency. It would be easy to continue life as it is, and yet, my heart is drawing me to the next life-purpose adventures, which absolutely terrify me. I am confronted with a choice and nowhere to run—literally. Who do I want to emerge as when the world opens back up again? Will I receive the gift of slowing down, and listen to that

Who will you be? Will you remain the same, or emerge with your light shining brighter than ever before?

A native of Polk County, Jai Maa travels the US with her fiancé and cat while connecting communities who care about restoring our planet and living in harmony. Jai Maa is the author and facilitator of Break Through Your Threshold: A Manual for Faith-Based Manifestation and Co-Creating with God, and shares this service with those who want to thrive in their own version of Heaven on Earth. You can visit her at BreakThroughYourThreshold.com.


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The 863 Magazine

She learned from an old friend about the GAL program, and how her friend was able to help so many people by being involved with it. With plenty of time on her hands, and wanting to seek new purpose in her life, Schumacher decided to join Polk County GAL. She’s been with it for the past seven years, and they have been “the most amazing development” in her life. “I did not feel I had a purpose,” she says. “So it was a good opportunity to know my place in this new community. It showed me a side of the foster care system that I did not know existed, it was so very valuable.” Her previous experience as a mother proved valuable in her service through the program. Having previously taken care of the needs of her children, she was able to better detect and help meet the needs of the children in the cases she in which she became involved. “They showed that my experience as a mom and just as a human being can be very valuable to a child who has been removed from their home. A child that just needs someone to listen, someone to do fun things with, someone who helps them go to school with what they need, someone who praises them for their good

Guardian ad Litem, from page 13

work in school, and is able to understand what that child needs,” Schumacher says. She finds it extremely rewarding to see a frightened, traumatized child find ways to cope, find their voice and receive comfort during the stress of adapting to living in a safe place — a foster home. The biggest challenge with her cases involve determining why the children and their parents are in their situations to begin with and whether it be substance abuse or addiction, poverty, homelessness, cultural or language barriers, or any other systemic or personal issues. After all, the first step in solving a problem is determining the root cause of it, with the remaining steps being providing the resources to alleviate the root cause of the problem. The GAL is part of a larger team that works to connect children and their parents with the resources and services they require to assist and support them to overcome their problems. Though challenging, each step forward helps move the family toward a safe reunification. “Guardian ad Litem gets to see how a parent grows and changes around the needs of their child,” she says. To get that child


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what they need in the community or find what the parent didn’t have access to, helps break the cycle of ongoing need that might be passed from generation to generation. Her past seven years of experience allowed her to receive the honor of winning the GAL 2020 Volunteer of the Year Award. Such an honorable accolade proves that anyone with the ability to make a difference in the community can do so if they so choose. “I would encourage anybody with only a few hours to give, to consider taking part in this life-changing, community-changing, volunteer position,” she says. “You will never have more support to be a volunteer than in this program.” For information about volunteering with GAL, please contact Kathy Ammon at 863-534-2531 or visit BecomeAGuardian.com.

Above: A partial screenshot of BecomeaGuardian.com.


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Fall 2020

Crossword on page 7.

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The 863 Magazine

Tips for an At-Home Tailgate

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ootball season is here (sort of), and for many, tailgating is a main event. While there will be nothing traditional about tailgating this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t grill delicious food and enjoy a few beers before game time in the comfort of your own backyard or driveway. Tackle your tailgate with these tips:

Play it Safe Being outdoors is the safest way to socialize these days, making a tailgate party a good way to see a few friends. Take into account the size of your space, and don’t have more folks over than you can manage while practicing social distancing. Encourage more space between attendees by spreading out chairs. While tailgating parties oftentimes entail finger foods eaten communally, consider serving snacks in individual bowls. Don’t forget to provide hand sanitizer!

Score a Flavor Touchdown Smoking food can be a game changer, adding big flavor to meats and veggies.

The good news is you don’t need a special grill or artificial additives to create easy, wood-fired smoke flavor. Consider adding Smoke ‘Ems from Bear Mountain BBQ to your tailgating playbook. Adding up to 45 minutes of all-natural hardwood smoke, Smoke ‘Ems are an easy way to add real wood smoke flavor to your food, whether you’re grilling in your backyard, at the park, in a parking lot or on a camping trip. Made from 100 percent premium all-natural hardwoods, they come in four different blends: Gourmet, Bold, Savory and Sweet BBQ. Each blend provides a unique flavor profile that will inspire delicious meals. So, what should you serve at your tailgate? Using any type of grill, try creating Bear Mountain’s World Famous Brats and Sauerkraut: Ingredients: • 8 - 12 uncooked brats • 8 - 12 potato style brat or hot dog rolls • 1 medium yellow onion – sliced • 4 tablespoons butter

Below: Easily create irresistible, rich smoke flavor at your tailgate using any grill. Source: StatePoint.net.

• 24 ounces lager or pilsner beer • 1 teaspoon ground pepper • A medium-sized foil pan (use a smaller pan with fewer brats) • One 27-ounce can of sauerkraut Preparation using Gourmet Blend Smoke ‘Ems: 1. On one side of the grill, turn on the burner to medium-high or fire up charcoal, and place the Bear Mountain BBQ Smoke ‘Ems packet directly over the heat until it starts smoking. 2. When smoke starts, place brats on the other side of the grill, or an upper rack over low heat, and cook to an internal temperature of 150 degrees or until the Smoke ‘Ems has stopped smoking. 3. Remove from the grill, and turn temperature to medium/high. 4. Place the brats, onions, butter, beer and onions in the foil pan and return to the grill. 5. Cook for 30 or more minutes, allowing the brats to soak in the flavors. 6. When the brats are plump and juicy, remove the brats and onions, and discard liquid. Add the sauerkraut to the pan and mix in the brats and onions to combine. Cover the pan with foil and place back on the grill until the sauerkraut is warm. For more crowd-pleasing recipes and ideas for adding wood-fired flavor to your tailgate, visit www.bearmountainbbq. com. While you will likely be changing a few aspects of your tailgates this year, you don’t need to compromise on big flavor or fun. Source: Statepoint.net.


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Eight Quick Tips for Saving Money

S

aving money is a top priority for many Americans, but it becomes even more important during times of economic turmoil. Luckily, there are many simple steps you can take to eliminate wasteful spending in your daily life. Here are eight easy strategies to start saving more money now: 1. Track your personal expenses in a notebook or spreadsheet for 30 days. Doing this is as easy as writing down what, where, when and how much you spend on every transaction. It is only after you know what you are spending your money on that you can wisely choose where to reduce or cut. 2. Ask for discounts and use coupons

when shopping for essentials. When possible, select non-branded products, which are often found at a lower price than name brand goods. But be savvy and check for a trial price or return/refund guarantee. 3. Make major purchases using credit cards that offer product assurance guarantees and make filing disputes easy. If a product is defective or damaged, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced for free. 4. Check your bank and credit card statements or online account information for any automatic charges you are paying for services that you no longer use. A $5 charge per month for a service that you don’t need is equivalent to throwing away $60 every year. 5. Contact service providers to confirm there are no other contract options that offer lower monthly service charges. Many companies offer varying service levels and contracts at different prices, but they won’t tell you about them unless you ask. For instance, you could avoid a $190 cable bill by paying only for the channels you most frequently watch. 6. Learn to say “no,” at least sometimes, to your kids and grandkids.

Spending money, mobile phone plans, car insurance, gas money and car payments are a few things you may be supplementing for a child or grandchild that you might consider cutting out or at least reducing. 7. Set up different checking accounts for your non-discretionary and discretionary spending. Arrange for monthly bills to be paid from the first account by a billpay service or electronic fund transfer. Conversely, use a debit card for personal spending. With two separate accounts, you can better manage and monitor your discretionary spending. 8. Consider creating a separate savings account at a different financial institution from where you have your checking account(s) so it is harder to transfer money. You can set up a direct deposit or auto-draft from your paycheck to do this each month without any effort on your end. A Certified Financial Planner professional can also help you audit and discover expenses that can be reduced or eliminated. To find a CFP professional near you, visit letsmakeaplan.org. These simple steps may seem small, but they can add up to big savings for you and your family. Source: Statepoint.net.

Below: A woman holds a piggy bank. Source: StatePoint.net - David-Prado / iStock via Getty Images Plus.



Fall 2020

23

Distance-Learning:

What You Need to Succeed at Home

I

s your family distance-learning? Having the resources you need at home can be the key to success. Here are a few tools to consider as you navigate an unusual school year:

• A Library Card: If students lack access to the school’s physical library, your public library can be an invaluable fount of information to turn to this school year. While it’s true that some library systems have limited their print materials available for checkout, keep in mind that many offer a rich collection of electronic resources, which can be checked out instantaneously from the safety of home. • Math Tools: Math class can be an especially challenging subject for students to tackle in the remote learning context. Luckily, online tools exist which can help. Check out ClassPad.net, a free web-based platform featuring tools for calculation, graphing, geometry, statistics and more. Its interactive menu enables students and educators to draw geometry figures freehand and input calculations as they would on scratch paper. Users can also plot data points, as well as add text labels, expressions and pictures to graphs or geometry diagrams. However, for those who prefer a physical graphing calculator, look for a tool that can handle coursework now and in the future. For example, the fx-9750GIII from Casio contains all the features needed to make remote coursework easy to follow. Finally, students of all grade levels, from kindergarten through college, can learn new mathematical techniques and supplement their studies using free downloadable activities created by teachers. To access these resources, visit casioeducation.com. • A Dedicated Workspace: While desks used for

Right: A child learns via distance-learning on her computer. Source: Ridofranz / iStock via Getty Images Plus.

remote learning may double function as a place for free time journaling and personal projects, drawing a clear mental separation between the school day and personal life is important. Students can make a few visual swaps to signal when class is in session and it is time to focus on schoolwork. These swaps may include using a particular setting on the desk lamp, clearing away personal objects or tacking up school-related paperwork to a corkboard during the day. • A Hotspot: If you have multiple people learning and working from home, it doesn’t hurt to have a mobile hotspot on hand in case of Internet outages or other connection snafus. This can help ensure students don’t miss a remote class session or lose their connection when it’s most needed. • Smart Planners: Free apps can help students organize their coursework so they never forget an assignment or quiz, as well as offer the tools needed for better time management. Unlike traditional paper planners or calendars, a smart digital planner actually learns the habits of the student in order to tailor push notifications and alerts. As your family once again falls into the groove of distance-learning, a few tools and considerations can help expand everyone’s ability to work from home. Source: StatePoint.net.



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