Features, Local

Helping the homeless find homes, jobs and schooling

Features, Local

Helping veterans transition to everyday life

Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.
Edwin S. Vasco Gonzalez, first Miami service platoon leader for Mission Continues, listens to a speech at an event earlier this year.

For the Miami Herald.

He dreamed of becoming a doctor. He even had a job lined up at Baptist Hospital in Kendall before he completed his service for the Marine Corps in December 2006.

“I thought I was going to be fine,” said Edwin Vasco González, who joined the Marines in December 2002.

Six months later, he quit his job at the hospital and he was far from fine. González was experiencing just how difficult and unnerving the shift to civilian life can be compared to the years of discipline and structure in the military.

“I was going through a lot at the time and I didn’t have a lot of support,” González said. “ I was doing poorly psychologically and emotionally.”

Like many veterans, González, 31, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He tried to find a place and sense of purpose through jobs and education. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, where he studied sport physiology.

“I didn’t really like anything I was doing because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything positive for other people,” he said.

González was lost until he found Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization based in St. Louis that aims to empower veterans through community service.

“It was something that I had been missing,” said the Kendall resident, who completed a six-month fellowship for the organization.

He soon found what he was lacking by being around other veterans and doing community service projects.

Now González is the first Miami service platoon leader for the organization. He hopes to help other South Florida veterans cope with adjusting to civilian life, while giving them the opportunity to continue to serve the public.

The organization, which has about 270 members, meets the first Saturday of each month. They host and assist with many events and service projects.

In June, Miami’s Mission Continues hosted a PTSD/Suicide Awareness Walk.

“In our country, at least 22 veterans commit suicide every single day. That’s almost one an hour,” said Tabitha Aragon, a reactionary therapist at the Miami VA. “A lot of our platoon members focus on trying to keep that suicide rate from increasing and to hopefully bring it down.”

Aragon, who has worked for the VA for 12 years, is not a veteran but volunteers at Mission Continues because she sees the daily struggle that veterans go through.

“Transition is very hard. The way military works is so different,” Aragon said. “They were in a combat zone, under high stress for months, day in and day out.”

She sees many young veterans return feeling lost, lacking support and having survivor’s guilt. To her, having an organization run by veterans, for veterans helps with these issues.

In August, the organization hosted a tree-planting event at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, where they planted 1,000 trees.

For Shane Suzuki, 34, doing great things for the community with people who have a common background is important.

“I think Mission Continues is different because it’s so oriented around service; we’re not just getting together and telling war stories,” said the Marine Corps veteran who was deployed in 2005 to Ramadi, Iraq.

“We’re getting together, telling war stories, while we’re doing something worthwhile in the community.”

People from every branch of service participate in the organization, and they often bring their families and friends.

Stacy Roman, 30, a member of the platoon, was among those who planted trees. The Barry University student was in the Marines for 10 years and has gone through her own challenges when she came to Miami two years ago.

For her, the organization helps to bring awareness to veterans.

“Sometimes there is a bad stigma for veterans,” said Roman, who is a sales representative for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We’re 1 percent of America; 99 percent of America isn’t going to adjust and try to understand us 1 percent. Us 1 percent has to figure out a way to adapt.”

For González, Mission Continues is a platform for veterans to make lasting impact.

“We have to feel like we count for something,” he said. “Which is what we try to build with the platoon. We make veterans feel like they are greater than themselves again. They are pulling for one common goal and doing something positive.”

 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/helping-others/article45041187.html#storylink=cpy

Features, Local

Help for the homeless: Chapman Partnership celebrates 20 years

Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald
Photo by Max Reed for the Miami Herald

For the Miami Herald

Features, Local, TCPalm

Book Review: Local lawyer’s new book recalls tales of Treasure Coast

Rick Crary went on his own personal treasure hunt. Not one of gold or riches but historical tales from an area where he and previous generations have grown up.

After a house that belonged to his grandparents was saved from being demolished and then moved to downtown Stuart, Crary was asked to give a talk about the home’s history.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/the-true-treasures-are-the-historical-tales-in-book-by-local-lawyer_16857837

Art, Features, Local, TCPalm

Local upcyclers promote art and rescue discards from landfills

Nichole Rouse, who runs Treasure Coast Reuse Center in Port St. Lucie, thinks everything has a purpose and tries to educate people on upcycling. (PROVIDED BY TREASURE COAST REUSE CENTER)
Nichole Rouse, who runs Treasure Coast Reuse Center in Port St. Lucie, thinks everything has a purpose and tries to educate people on upcycling. (PROVIDED BY TREASURE COAST REUSE CENTER)

Some may consider those mismatched socks, empty coffee bags and old-fashioned entertainment centers designed for tube televisions, a waste of space.

To Treasure Coast upcyclers, these untouched items collecting dust in corners of houses, are anything but junk. They turn that perceived trash into cash.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/local-upcyclers-promote-art-and-rescue-discards-from-landfills_16048199

Features, Local, TCPalm

Treasure Coast metal detectorists looking for more than just treasures

Mitch King, a member of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, says he visits the beach several evenings a week to metal detect on the beach. "We try to go down at low tide because it gives you more access to the lower parts of the beach where people were swimming earlier," said King, adding that he tries to return jewelry, such as rings, to their original owners whenever possible. (SAM WOLFE/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)
  Mitch King, a member of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, says he visits the beach several evenings a week to metal detect on the beach. “We try to go down at low tide because it gives you more access to the lower parts of the beach where people were swimming earlier,” said King, adding that he tries to return jewelry, such as rings, to their original owners whenever possible. (SAM WOLFE/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

While some facets of the 1715 treasure fleet disaster remain a mystery, one thing is certain: coins and artifacts continue to wash up on Treasure Coast shores.

People who scrounge the beaches with metal detectors hope to recover some of those precious fleet treasures and anything of monetary value.

Members of the Treasure Coast Archeological Society, founded in 1988 by a group of metal detectorists, are driven by a variety of reasons.

Mitch King, the organization’s vice president, has found two silvers rings from the 1715 fleet, but he considers some of his best finds, the rings he’s been able to reunite with people who have lost them.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/treasure-coast-metal-detectorists-looking-for-more-than-just-treasures_62822210

Events, Features, TCPalm

Local Deadheads to attend Grateful Dead’s last shows

Photo Caption: Al Zilinsky (left) and John Zias (right) from Unlimited Devotion, a Grateful Dead tribute band performing at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville earlier this year. (PROVIDED)

First and foremost, Al Zilinsky considers himself a businessman.

But when he was younger, his life revolved around the Grateful Dead. His main focus was on how to get tickets to their concerts.

“I didn’t even worry about food,” Zilinsky said. “Now I’m more balanced.”

Today the 52-year-old’s life centers around his family and his career, but he remains a deadhead for life. In his spare time, he is the rhythm guitarist for Unlimited Devotion, a Grateful Dead tribute band that performs all around Florida. They played June 20 at Terra Fermata.

Zilinsky has been to approximately 250 Grateful Dead concerts, his first was 1977 in Tampa.

The guitarist will be one of the many Florida “Deadheads” attending Grateful Dead reunion shows June 27 and 28 in Santa Clara, California, and July 4 through 6 in Chicago.

“These will be some of the most popular concerts in history,” Zilinsky said of the shows that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the band and feature four of its surviving and original members.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/local-deadheads-to-attend-grateful-deads-last-shows_22577725

Events, Features, TCPalm

Where’s Waldo? In Vero Beach … somewhere

He’s been spotted in Hollywood, outer space and jungle safaris. Now you can search for him in Vero Beach.

The Vero Beach Book Center wants everyone to find Waldo, not in the familiar children’s books, but around town.

The character, known for his red and white strip shirt and black-rimmed specs, will be hidden in 25 local businesses such as the book center, Majestic 11 movie theater, ACT Computers and Chive restaurant during July.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/wheres-waldo-in-vero-beach_95612692

Events, Features, Local, TCPalm

Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson returns to Treasure Coast for charity fashion show

PHOTO CAPTION: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) runs against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of their NFL football game in Kansas City, Missouri, on Dec. 14, 2014. Wilson, a Port St. Lucie High School graduate, will be in Vero Beach June 27 for a charity event. (REED HOFFMANN/AP FILE PHOTO)

It was never a question of whether or not Albert Wilson was going to be successful, it was more about how he would one day give back to the community that has helped him become who he is today.

“He was very driven and strong willed,” said Hilary Poole, his high school football coach, “one of the most focused people I have ever come across. Once he set his mind to something, that was it.”

As a student at Port St. Lucie High School, Wilson, the current wide receiver of the Kansas City Chiefs, wondered how he could make a difference. He asked one of his mentors, Marylin Richardson-Pryor for her advice.

“Make good choices and give back to your community,” said Richardson-Pryor, who was a school-based social worker at the time. “Seek the right path and choose a productive life.”

Taking her wisdom to heart, Wilson will return to Indian River County July 27 for a charity fashion show hosted by Moral Value Love Sincerity Trust, Inc., run by four women, including Richardson-Pryor.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/chiefs-wide-receiver-albert-wilson-returns-to-treasure-coast-for-charity-fashion-show_68271741

Art, Events, Features, TCPalm

Developer wants to make downtown Fort Pierce an arts destination

PHOTO CAPTION: The building on Orange Avenue in downtown Fort Pierce, which houses Art Mundo and Anytime Fitness recently was acquired by Steve Tarr and his company, OneEleven LLC. (CRYSTAL CHEW/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

The changes have already begun.

The building on Orange Avenue in downtown Fort Pierce, which houses Art Mundo and Anytime Fitness, was bought in May by developer Steve Tarr.

His goal is to include the building in a plan to make Fort Pierce Florida’s next big arts destination.

The building is approximately 35,000 square feet; about 5 percent is used for gym space and the remainder is for art. Art Mundo has a downstairs loft and third-floor gallery space with studios for rent.

“We’re going to create a brand for the building,” Tarr said of the acquisition he calls the OneEleven building.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/oneelevenbuilding_78312926

Features, Health, Local, TCPalm

More vegan options sprouting up in Martin County

PHOTO CAPTION: Pesto breadsticks from Fruits & Roots are toasted flatbreads spread with pesto and topped with house Parmesan cheese. (PHOTO BY RENEE ATHAUSER/FRUITS & ROOTS)

Amber Eichling, like many vegans in the area, thought she had limited food options when dining out.

She could order salad without meat or cheese, but after a while that was boring.

She also was concerned about cross-contamination. If chefs were not careful or unaware the dish was for a vegan diner, they might use the same kitchenware used to cook a burger.

So Eichling, a former Terra Fermata bartender and mother of a 6-year-old daughter, opened her own vegan café, Fruits & Roots Juice Bar + Vegan Cafe, in March.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/more-vegan-options-sprouting-up-in-martin-county_81864923

Education, Events, Features, TCPalm

Children’s book author, photographer David FitzSimmons to visit Vero Beach Book Center

Photo Caption: David FitzSimmons,  freelance photographer and writer, has a childbook’s series, Curious Critters. The third book,  Curious Critters Marine is shown in photograph.

When David FitzSimmons was in elementary school, his mom, a high school English teacher at the time, would take him to a children’s literature conference at Ohio State University. It was there the landscape and wildlife photographer’s love for books grew.

FitzSimmons’s dad was an outdoor educator and would often bring home such animals as snakes, turtles and lizards. His love of nature grew.Now, the 45-year-old author hopes to spread that love through his series of “Curious Critters” children’s books, which he will present at the

Now, the 45-year-old author hopes to spread that love through his series of “Curious Critters” children’s books, which he will present at the Vero Beach Book Center June 9.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/family-fun/childrens-book-author-photographer-david-fitzsimmons-to-visit-vero-beach-book-center_69091644

Events, Features, Profile, TCPalm

National touring bands perform at Terra Fermata

Photo caption: Two-time Grammy nominated song writer and country blues musician Lee Roy Parnell performed May 16 at Terra Fermata in Stuart. (HOBIE HILER/ SPECIAL TO TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)

Regulars at Terra Fermata, the live outdoor music venue in Stuart, might have noticed some changes since its opening in early 2013.

The establishment on Sixth Street, just off Colorado Avenue, plays live music every night and the featured artists have been slowly transitioning from local bands to more national acts like The Original Wailers or festival favorites, Donna the Buffalo. Lee Roy Parnell, a two-time Grammy and three-time Country Music Award nominated artist performed last weekend.

“We are keeping up with our aggressive agenda of attracting national touring bands,” said Ronald Hart, owner of Terra Fermata, who recently booked Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell to perform July 23.

To Hart, booking Russell is a huge deal, especially since booking national music acts was his original goal all along.

Full story on TCPalm.com at: http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/tcpalm-social/national-touring-bands-perform-at-terra-fermata_27739124