News Releases

Friday, September 15, 2017

Post Hurricane Irma in Seminole, FL

On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma hit Florida. I was interviewed by a television news station in the Philippines ABS-CBN about how it impacted the area I live in Seminole, FL. I was so grateful our area didn't have as much damage as we were suppose to have. Here's are the links to the interview:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A new school year can bring anxiety for kids

As a new school year begins, the anxiety for kids sometimes can be overwhelming. As a parent of two young girls 11 and 12 years old, I know this all too well.

This year, my youngest daughter will start middle school. It's a big change for an 11-year-old who has been at the same school for the past six years since kindergarten. Last year she had only one class and this year she will have seven classes and seven different teachers.

She will change classes on a bell schedule and have only four minutes in between each class. She also has a locker this year. She's tell you she's excited and nervous at the same time. She got her lock a few weeks ago, memorized the combination and has been practicing opening it.

Besides all the new classes and teachers, there's a new school and a lot more students. It's understandable to have some anxiety.  Doctors say parents can expect to see anxiety in kids when they first start school in preschool or kindergarten. The second peak of anxiety is when children are aged 10-12.

If your child is having anxiety it's important for you to talk to your child and help them understand a lot of kids have anxiety at the beginning of school. A little anxiety is good, but if your child continues to have anxiety and it becomes excessive you may need to seek help from a counselor or doctor.

I have a friend who does counseling and gave me some great tips a few years ago, when my older daughter had anxiety about school. It's an exercise anyone can do who has anxiety or fear about something.

One of the exercises we did was to name the anxiety she was having the “Fear Monster.” We had her draw this “Fear Monster” on a piece of paper really big and on the bottom of the paper draw a picture of herself small. We had her write all the things the “Fear Monster” would say to her. After she did that picture, we had her draw on another piece of paper herself big and the fear monster small.

We looked at those fears and my daughter realized that they were just that lies.
The things she was worried about like failing a test was a lie because she never failed a test. She was worried about people saying mean things to her, but no one ever said mean things to her. She was worried about her teacher not being there and having a mean substitute, but she had never had a mean substitute. She figured out that she was worrying about things that she didn’t need to worry about.

We did other techniques that included visualizing what she was afraid of and overcoming it by being brave and conquering her fear.

I heard a statistic that 90 percent of the things we worry about don’t ever end up happening anyway, so why worry. Most of the time worrying about something can’t change the outcome.

I know we all go through this at some point in our life. Anxiety usually happens when we begin something new. Hopefully once the newness wears off so will the anxiety. Here's to a great new school year, stress and anxiety free!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It takes a village! Operation: Military Matters

Operation: Military Matters volunteers packing care 
packages to send to the military

Recently my daughter Graci (11) and her friend Ava (11) had a packing party for their nonprofit Operation: Military Matters. This is a project the girls started when they were 9 years old. They send care packages to the military overseas. This is the second packing party they have had since they started the project. During the year, they usually send a few packages out a month, but at a packing party they save up donations invite  family and friends and pack a large number of boxes.

39 care packages ready to ship all over the world.
This time they had enough donations for 39 care packages. Since starting they have shipped close to 200 packages all around the world. It's amazing to me to see how two young kids are making a difference in the lives of so many.

Thank you cards!
What is wonderful is they are inspiring other young kids to get involved with helping them by making thank you cards and by helping pack boxes when they have packing parties. The girls had kids from a school all the way down in Miami make cards to put in the care packages.

Friends, family and the community have all helped make this project successful. Because this project has grown from a school project into a nonprofit,  it takes more people and time to make it work. The girls have to collect donations, buy supplies to pack the donations, raise funds for shipping, pack the boxes and ship the boxes.

Clay hearts made for our military.
Donations have come in continuously to fill the boxes and funding to pay to ship the packages has also come in. Each box costs $17.35 to ship, so shipping the 39 boxes was almost $700. It can get costly. We were fortunate to have a grant from Royal Neighbors of America and their Difference Makers Fund along with money from the VFW Post #9272 and money friends and family.

Graci with a certificate and flag flown
in Southwest Asia
in honor of the efforts of Operation:
Military Mattes. 
The girls know how much these boxes are appreciated by our military. Recently the girls received a letter from an Amy Captain serving in Southwest Asia. He wrote how thankful he and his troops were for the support and care packages. He said, "Keep up the great work and know that during deployments, any day that a Soldier gets mail is a great day!" He also sent the girls each a United States flag flown over their patriot missile battery site in honor of the girls support for the soldiers. The girls were so touched by this when they received the letter and flags. It had an impact not only on the girls, but those we have shared the letter with. The letter is to everyone who has helped along the way with this project. 

What can you do? You can write thank you cards to put in the boxes, donate supplies like  toiletry items, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, snacks, hard candy, wipes, games, instant coffee, creamer, romen noodles, beef jerky, tuna or salmon packs, tea gallon zip lock bags, hand lotion, trail mix, socks etc. There is always a need for money to help ship the boxes.
If your service organization would like to contribute, Graci and Ava would be happy to come and speak to your club or if you have a friend or family member you would like a care package sent to, email Graci and Ava at Operation: Military Matters is a 501 (c)3. To find out more about what they do go to their Facebook page at A special thank you to everyone who has helped with this project or plans on helping. It takes a village!

Ava Spano and Graci Tubbs both 11 are the founders of
Operation: Military Maters