South Miami Rotarians help 6th grade students see the world

Gulliver Schools Parent Connection Committee brought inspirational speaker Chris Skinner to speak with students about the importance of celebrating responsibly.

Hats off to South Miami Rotarians who recently continued their Atlas Giveaway to the 6th grade classes at South Miami K- 8.

On hand for the distribution of the Atlases donated to all the 6th grade students were Rotarian Jennifer Dewsnap and South Miami Rotary Past President Ellen Book. This project is just one of many ways South Miami Rotary reaches out to serve the community.

Speaking of great organizations, Thrivent Financial’s Miami-Dade Chapter held a home dedication on May 17 as part of its Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami. A newly constructed home in Jordan Commons in Homestead was presented to The Mario Ten and Helen Tolentino Family. The happy and very appreciative family of three include father Mario, from Cuba; mother Helen, from Peru; and daughter, Michelle, born in Kansas.

Among the many enjoying food that was donated by Miami Subs Grill and Barbie Roqueta, of Sweetcakes (, were Thrivent Builds Specialists Harold Berman and Joan Reitsma; Pastor Allen Siek, of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church; Pastor Herman Glienke, of Faith Lutheran Church; Annie Manning, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity; Keith Berman and Steve Esala, of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; McKenzie Moor, Habitat’s Church Relations Manager.

In 2008, Thrivent will fund 10 homes and its Miami-Dade Chapter was selected to sponsor a home for each of the first 3 years of the 4-year program. Locally, the Chapter needs to raise 10 percent of the cost of the house and to provide at least 50 percent of all volunteers.

South Miami students awarded at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens 2008 Challenge Awards Ceremony.

Thrivent Financial is committed to helping its members show their care and concern for others. Besides the unprecedented level of financial and volunteer support this new program will bring to Habitat for Humanity, what makes Thrivent Builds Homes different than these past efforts is the new era of collaboration between the two organizations. With Thrivent Builds more homes can be built in less time than was possible with past programs.

In addition, all Thrivent Habitat affiliates tithe (that is, take 10 percent of funds raised) to support building Habitat homes in other countries. Tithing from Thrivent Builds Homes contributions will allow up to 500 additional homes to be constructed around the world.

In other news, Gulliver Sophomore Michael Strauss was honored as the Computer Generated Poster Winner of the 2008 Law Week Contest during a luncheon in Tallahassee, on May 3. Sponsored by the Florida Law Related Education Association and local state attorneys, the event recognized talented students who received awards from Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court R. Fred Lewis. Strauss was awarded with a bronze statue of lady liberty that will be displayed in the Gulliver Preparatory Schools’ administrative offices. Strauss’ teacher, Dr. Peggy Bartlett, presented Michael with his winning poster.

In an effort to raise awareness on the dangers of drinking and driving, Gulliver invited Chris Skinner to speak to a gathering of its Gulliver Prep and Pinecrest students and teachers. An inspirational speaker, Skinner, a paraplegic as the result of an automobile accident where both he and the driver were drunk, shared his story. Gulliver Parents’ Associations Parent Connection Committee invited Skinner to visit with the students and encourage them celebrate responsibly during the end of school festivities.

Speaking of Gulliver, Gulliver Prep was selected as one of the 16 top-scoring schools in the 2008 Fairchild Challenge program and as the runner-up award winner, earning a $250 prize to support and enhance each school’s environmental initiative.

On Tuesday, May 13, during the Fairchild Challenge Pilot Program for Elementary Schools Awards Ceremony, Gulliver South Miami Campus students also were honored. The students, Claudia Hurtado, Jack Skweres, Erika Grossbard, Walker Gautier, Mia Murrieta Vatterodt, Guilia Medina, Kat Viyella, Alex Bertell, Kenneth Cisnero, Madeline Epstein, Olivia Burke, and Alex Hill-Gagner received awards for their Nature’s Design artwork and “If I Were a Seed” essays. The South Miami Campus also earned honorable mention awards for its environmental action and garden projects. As the second place elementary challenge top-scoring school, the South Miami Campus received a plaque and $500 to enhance their environmental education curriculum.

More than 40,000 students and 1,800 teachers in greater Miami participated in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Challenge Program whose most rewarding prize is the promise of environmental awareness, scholarship, and stewardship. Until next week, keep making each day count.

Keeping up with what’s happening in our community is quite a challenge and I am certain there are many activities I miss. If you would like to submit information for this column, please send your news via e-mail to .

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About the Author

Gloria Burns
A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2015-16 President's Best Member Award from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman's Club, 2012-13 CGWC Leadership Award, 2012-2013 Rotarian of the Year Award as RCCG Public Relations Chair and Fund raising Co-Chair, 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and honored by the City of Doral as one of their first recipients for the Doralian Women's Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where sings sings in the choir. She can be reached at

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