Giving Back at Home, Volunteer at your HOA

There are a lot of ways to be involved in your  home owners association. One of the most important is to serve on the Board. Serving on the Board will allow you to be involved with the decisions of the community as well as give you the chance to meet your fellow homeowners.   Being on the Board will allow you to hear and understand other people’s perspectives on topics affecting your neighborhood and will “broaden your horizons”, giving you exposure to many new concepts, ideas and challenges.  Another benefit of being on the Board of your HOA is that you have the ability to provide input first hand on how to keep your community beautiful and a great place to live.

Often communities are looking for people to help out, if you have any interest contact your current Board and ask them for more information.

Look for further installments in this series on the benefits of giving back to your community.

Giant Snails Invade Florida!

African Snail Photo Courtesy of

In our animal series; we have brought you coyotes, wild boars, and bears.  Now we bring you SNAILS.

Believe it;  Giant African Land Snails are here in Florida and multiplying rapidly.  These giants are large terrestrial snails that can reach up to 8” in length and 4” in diameter (about the size of an adult fist). They  are illegal in the United States and highly invasive;  causing damage to residential buildings (by eating stucco),  Florida agricultural and humans (by carrying parasites that are a risk to human health).  In the past year, the Florida Agriculture Department has observed increasing agriculture and residential damage in the south Florida area.  Scientists are making an effort to eradicate these snails before they spread into the counties of central Florida.    Residents are urged to call the Department of Agriculture’s toll free number 1-888-397-1571 if they see a snail or know of anyone who is in possession of a one.   For more information visit, or watch the 30 second public service announcement

Stonecrest Kid’s Camp 2013 a Huge Success

By: Michelle Williams, Activities Director, StonecrestImage

T-shirts donated by Armstrong Homes

Stonecrest’s Kid Camp tshirt2013 was a success. Fifty children whom ranged in age from four to seventeen participated in the weeklong event packed with fun-filled activities that took place from July 22nd– July 26th.   This camp was designed to provide fun activities as well as an opportunity for the children to bond with their grandparent(s).   Both goals were met, the children had a blast and created memories that will last a lifetime.

“It was a great opportunity to share with your grandkids the Disneyland we get to play in every day.” stated Dianna Smith, co-organizer of the event. Dianna worked closely with Activity Director, Michelle Williams,  working together to gain the support and excitement of the Stonecrest community.

Sixteen different events were offered over the course of the week including  t-shirt decoration, basketball, golf, tennis, Rumikub, line dancing, theater, pickle ball, bean bag games, painting, capture the flag, cookie contest, a tour of the sewer treatment facility, shuffleboard, tennis and card crafting. Armstrong Homes was a camp sponsor and provided camp participants  Kid Camp 2013 t-shirts.

Over fifty resident volunteers dedicated their time to help make the camp run smoothly and be a success. Each event holder had the freedom to turn each event into their own. Many offered the children with a prize or certificate upon completion of that particular event. For example, the top three winners in the cookie contest  received aprons and pot holders,  and children who participated in line dancing received a CD of the songs they danced to.  The computer club also did an outstanding job,  taking photos of all participants throughout the week and providing each child with a dvd and cd at the end of the week.  Theater was also a big hit with the children. They learned the fundamentals of acting and each had a part in the play, “Mice in the Cabin” that was put on for the grandparents, parents and all volunteers at the end of camp celebration held on Saturday.

The end of camp celebration was a collaboration of teamwork by everyone involved in the week. The softball club grilled hot dogs and provided drinks, all grandparents or guardians were assigned a dish to bring and a spot on the set-up or tear-down event list. Six clowns provided entertainment by working the room and face painting. A DJ provided music as the children proudly showed off their newly learned line dancing skills and other event holders passed out certificates to the children.Stonecrest Kids Camp

Stonecrest’s Kid Camp 2013 was a huge success that would not have been possible without the outpouring of volunteers who gave up their free time to make a child’s week and provide them memories that none is soon to forget. There are already plans in place for Kid Camp 2014 which promises new activities and excitement to come!    Image

Grandkids Summer Program- Great Fun for all Ages

Grandkids Summer Program at Spruce Creek
The Grandkids Summer Events program is fun for the whole family. Clockwise from top left are Barbara Penko and grandsons Max and Charlie DiPillo; Derek Farmer and Evan Harris; Emily Mohan and Wally the magician; and Josie Golden and Ally Johnson.

Written by: Mary Chartier

This article first appeared on August 5, 2013 in the Villages Daily Sun


Whether you are a parent, grandchild or grandparent, there is something for everyone at the annual Grandkids Summer Events program.

This year, there were 19 events planned to entertain and educate our visiting grandchildren.

And, like years gone by, each event was packed with eager, smiling children taking part in the many activities planned by membership services director Kim Osburn and many of our clubs.

Events this year included aerobics, bowling, water slides, water volleyball, cupcake decorating, a wonderful Chinese dragon tea, pickleball, a very funny movie, a bean bag toss, a butterfly release, shuffleboard games, silly science experiments, making pizza, creating arts projects, face painting, a bug hunt, and learning casting skills for fishing.

This was a bittersweet time for me as family and other obligations prevented me from attending many of the events.  The good news, however, was having my youngest grandchild, 9-year-old Derek Farmer, come down for his first solo visit and being able to attend several of events with him.

The first event we attended was a fun animated comedy movie called ‘Hotel Transylvania’.  This movie might have been for children, but every adult in the room was laughing out loud, too.

Before the movie started, everyone was invited to a wonderful lunch of mini corn dogs, mini pretzel dogs, popcorn chicken, popcorn, candy bars and drinks.

Many of the children have made lasting friendships and are excited when they see friends from years past and spend time making plans to visit at the pool and share time together while they are visiting.

I spotted friends Josie Golden, Emma Lilley, Ally Johnson and Taylor Graves and asked how it felt to be back together again.

With big smiles they all said, “It’s great”.

The next event was a bean bag toss and lunch held at the horseshoe courts.

It was so much fun watching as the children used various throwing techniques, some overhand, and some underhand, in hopes of dropping their bag into the hole.

I spotted a smiling grandmother as I walked around the watching the children tossing their bean bags and stopped to chat a bit.

“Is this the first time for your grandchild?” I asked.

“This is his first time and first event,” Cheryl Chrisco said of her 9-year-old grandson, Grant Chrisco.

“They are having so much fun, it’s great,” Cheryl said as she cheered Grant on.

As Derek and I headed home, I asked how he and his partner, Evan Harris, had done.

“We had 164 gazillion to one,” he replied smiling.

Thursday was great as everyone enjoyed a wonderful magic show sponsored by the Pickleball Club and Club 36.

Pickleball president Sheldon Guss introduced Wally the Magician, and for the next hour there was non-stop laughter, applause and amazement at Wally’s skills of prestidigitation.

Wally called on parents, grandparents and children alike to participate in many of his magic tricks.

I was so impressed with the show that I decided to say a few words to Wally before he left.

“Have you done this for a long time?” I asked Wally.

Wally made me laugh when he responded “Only when I want to eat”.

On a more serious note he said, “I’ve been doing it professionally for 25-30 years”.

I mentioned how much I loved that he incorporated both adults and children into his acts.

“(When) It’s a family show I do,” Wally said.

Just to watch their faces makes it all worthwhile,” Wally concluded.

I wanted to get some feedback from the audience and talked with Madison Chandler and her grandfather, James Johnson.

“It was awesome.  I liked the flower trick,” Madison said.

Madison’s granddad, James was one of the lucky adults to be chosen to perform a magical trick.

“I thought it was great.  It was a great time for me and my granddaughter to spend some time and watch some great entertainment too.  I enjoyed being called up to be a participant,” James said.

The ever-popular cupcake and cookie decorating event sponsored by the Kitchen Club was the last event of the week and as always was a sweet event for everyone.

As I walked around the room, I watched as more icing and candy went into the mouths of the children than ever made it to the cupcakes, cookies and ice cream they were trying to decorate.

Many adults eagerly helped out, hoping to be rewarded for their efforts with perhaps a gummy worm, marshmallows, M&Ms or other sweet treat.

Everyone had a great time.