Your real-time connection to kids in the classroom, around the world, and all things Beyond the Block!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stevenson MS Rules!

Hey Stevenson Students!

Want to win an iPod Nano?  If at least 300 Stevenson students take this survey, we will raffle the Nano off the next time I come to LA!  Every person who takes the survey will be entered in the raffle!  We will also raffle off a few other cool things like gift cards and candy!  :-)

Just click on the link below to take the survey.  If you have any problems or questions email me ANYTIME!  beyondtheblock@gmail.com

Thanks and I hope you win!

Click here to take survey

Monday, June 7, 2010

We Want to Hear From You

Hey everyone!

Just got back from my trip to LA and it was soooo fun!  I met some amazing kids at Wilson High School, Stevenson Middle School, and Jefferson High School.  The students were so motivated!  A lot of them want to fundraise for the kids in the Dominican Republic, film their own videos to send over there, or intern with Beyond the Block.  We are overwhelmed at the support and kindness shown by these awesome students!

If you are one of the kids we met through our presentations, leave us a comment by clicking on “Add a comment” below.  Did you like our video and presentation?  Do you have any ideas for how you’d like to get involved?  We’d love to hear your ideas, or you can just say hi:-)

Over the summer we’ll be working on putting together a new, more interactive blog, but I’ll update this one a few times before then, so check back often!

Take care you guys!  Hope to see you all again sooooon!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Needs Our Support!

I’ve been following the desperate situation in Haiti and the news out of there is just heartbreaking.  The Dominican Republic is right next door to Haiti, and while we have no reason to believe any of our friends there were seriously affected by the quake, we have yet to hear anything because of the poor communication infrastructure there.  We know that many of our friends in the Dominican had family in Haiti...we hope that their loved ones are okay.

Tonight at our bimonthly fundraiser at Poleng, we’ll contribute our 10% of the bar tab to Partners in Health.  Giving emergency funds can get kind of sticky, so I was careful to do my research.  The reason why I chose Partners in Health is because they’ve been in Haiti since 1987 providing direct health services.  They know the needs of the community and since they are well-established there, they have already set up a temporary field hospital.  Here is a message from their website:

"A major earthquake centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince has devastated sections of the city and knocked out telephone communications throughout the country.

In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: 'Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.'

We are still in the midst of collecting information from all our sites in Haiti, and determining how we can best help with the recovery efforts in the areas hardest hit."

If you can’t make it out to Poleng tonight, please consider making a donation to Partners in Health.

Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AHMI Presentation

We had such a great time in Phoenix at the American Humanics Management Institute.  American Humanics is a program that my college (University of San Diego) and many others offer to prepare students for a career in nonprofit management and human services.  My AH education gave me some great experience, so when I when I was offered a chance to speak to students at the AH conference this year, I immediately said yes. 

I saw my old teacher from USD, Teresa Van Horn, which was awesome, and I sat in on some great presentations about Fundraising and Board Development.  I also did some Career Coaching for a few college students.  We looked over their resumes and talked about their future goals.  It was really fun.  Going to AHMI made me feel like the future of our world is in good hands!

Our presentation went pretty well--it was called From Idea to Action: Starting Your Own Nonprofit Corporation.  I had no idea that the students were going to come in with such passionate, well-developed ideas!  I was blown away!  They are way past where I was at their age!  Haha!  We had a lot more participation than we expected, so we didn’t quite get to finish.  Special thanks to volunteer extraordinaire Hendrick White for all his help.  He is like the Wizard of Oz hanging out behind the curtain--I couldn’t have done it without him! 

For all of you who were in the presentation and would like a copy of the PowerPoint, feel free to email me.

I love helping out people who are just starting out in the nonprofit field and I like hearing what other people are doing, so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to email or call me!  Oh, and be sure to leave a comment to let us know what you thought about our presentation!

Happy 2010!  Big things are about to happen with BTB!  I’ll keep you updated!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FUNdraiser at Poleng Lounge

You never know who you’re going to meet and how awesome those people will be.  This past summer I worked at Starbucks.  The girl who trained me, Rosie, was tough, but she taught me how to make a mean latte!  Anyways, Rosie loves music and is a great DJ.  She decided to try to get a regular gig at a club next door to our Starbucks.  Not only did she and our other co-worker Kellyn get the job, but they also thought of me and Beyond the Block!  They came up with the great idea of getting the club to donate 10% of the proceeds for their DJ night to BTB!  How great is that?

So if you are over 18 and in San Francisco, come join us at Poleng Lounge tonight at 10pm!  Great music, great company, for a great cause. 

The way this whole thing came about makes me think of how much good people can do when they chase their dream in a compassionate way.  Thanks Rosie and Kellyn for thinking of Beyond the Block!  We love you! 

See you there!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sube Cada Montana

Our hiking crew at the top of the mountain!
And at the bottom:-)

Today we went with the Boys’ Group to climb a mountain in Arenoso, a town just down the road from where we’re staying in Los Pajones.  George, who is a medical student at a university in the US, is studying in nearby Santiago for a few months and working in the hospital there.  He runs the Boys’ Group.  We tagged along today and had so much fun!

We went up the steepest hill--only to find that there are houses at the top!  The people and kids who live there have to climb up and down that hill every day to go to school and work.  I’m not sure if I could do that...could you?
Bingo and Luis Diego love to climb trees.  They're little monos (monkeys:-)).

We stopped for a bit to climb trees and drink sodas.  I liked how all the kids put their money together and bought two sodas, then shared them between the 10 of us.  I usually buy myself a soda and don’t even think of sharing it with one other person!  They are so generous.
We found a little religious altar.  This is Ari in front of the “sanctuario”.

After, we kept going up the hill.  I thought there was going to be a trail, and I guess there was, but this trail was not like any trail I’ve been on before!  There were plants, trees, mud, and cow poop everywhere--the kids were laughing pretty hard seeing us gringos trying to make it up this hill that they knew so well!  But they were so sweet and one always walked behind me and in front of me to make sure I wouldn’t fall.  Or at least make sure that if I did fall I didn’t hurt myself too badly!  Well, let me tell you, those 12 year old boys are strong and they saved my life!  If they weren’t there to help me, I am sure I would have fallen face first down that hill!  They kept telling me to be careful, showed me where to walk that was safe, and held out their hands to help me up across really muddy parts.  Isn’t that the nicest thing ever?
Hen and Franchi

We got to the top and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before!  The kids here really appreciate nature.  Even though they live here, they were taking in the view with as much awe as we were.  They kept telling me, “Un foto aqui! It’s beautiful!”  And it was. 
The view from the top!

So I was wondering...
When was the last time you shared something with others?
Has anyone ever gone out of their way to help you even though they really didn’t have to?
Do you like spending time in the outdoors?  What do you like about nature?

Feel free to post your answer in the comments section!  And check back soon--hopefully we;ll be able to post some video of George surfing down the hill on a palm tree leaf!  It was so crazy! Hasta Pronto, Debbie
On our way down, we stopped to play dominoes!  There’s always time for dominoes!

Maximo: El Nino de la Naturaleza

Maximo at the lagoon.
Hola amigos! Que tal? For all of those who don’t speak Spanish that means “Hi friends! How are things?” Well, where do I start? The Dominican Republic is incredible. We’re having a blast. Everything is like a picture perfect moment.  Just a minute ago, I was outside and saw a goat eating leaves in front of me. Meanwhile, the birds were singing away above me with their wild songs and two green geckos were chasing each other on a tree branch. The nature here is awesome! All the animal and insect sounds make up Mother Nature’s great symphony. It is very fun to listen to.

There’s a boy here named Maximo who is the best nature guide.  He took us down to a beautiful lake that was hidden by giant green hills. As we were trying to see who could skip rocks the farthest, he explained where all the best fishing holes were and how many fish he had caught. 

Maximo knows all about the fruits that grow on these trees!

A field in Arenoso, Dominican Republic
At around 4:00 p.m each day it rains, so we had to head back. On the way, he pointed out all the pretty flowers and cool birds to us. He also showed us where their nests were and the different sounds they made--even the baby birds.  When we got back to our “casa”, Maximo pointed to a bird and told us that that bird had been at the lake with us and was actually showing us the way home.  Isn’t that cool?  Once we get back we’ll post some pics of Maximo so you can meet him, too!  Keep checking back to see all of our new adventures! Hasta luego, Hendrick aka “Enrique”.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Para Ser Feliz

We’re in Los Pajones, DR, about 45 minutes outside of Santiago.  It is so beautiful here!  There are mountains, rivers, trees--everything is green as far as you can see!  The weather changes really quickly here!  One minute it’s raining, the next it’s sunny and super hot.  Because of the way the weather is, there are lots of mosquitoes here, which is not cool, but there’s also lots of delicious fruit that we’ve never tasted before, which is awesome!
Wow!  What a trip this has been!  It’s taken awhile to post because we weren’t able to connect to the internet through our computer.  It was tough not being able to communicate with you guys, but you know what?  It’s great to have a break from technology!  I can hardly believe it, but I haven’t watched TV in 10 days!  And I don’t even miss it!  And believe me, that’s really strange for me to say because, I’ll admit it, I watch a lot of TV.  Some houses have TVs around here, but no one watches much for two reasons: one, the electricity doesn’t always work, and two, people here really like talking to each other, so they don’t have much time for TV.  Crazy, right?  Even the kids!  They are always playing, talking, walking, and then playing some more!

We’ve had some great experiences so far.  I walked to a place called the Coffee Mansion!  They grow coffee beans there and teach people about the history of coffee in the Dominican Republic.  Sounds funny, right?  A whole place dedicated to coffee?  But the people here drink coffee like people in the US drink soda or water--all the time!  You have coffee after you eat and when you go to visit friends.  And when I say coffee I don’t mean a Starbucks Frappucino!  I mean straight espresso, with sugar if you like it that way. :-)  If you love coffee like I do, it’s pretty great!  Anyways, I walked to the Coffee Mansion, but once I got there I realized it was closed.  So I snuck in!  I know, that’s bad!  Before you know it, some man is chasing me with a shotgun!  But I explained to him that I just wanted to look around and we became friends.  He ended up showing me around the whole place.  I’ve noticed here that no matter what people are doing they will always take time out of their day to talk to you and make you feel at home, just like this man did.  It was really fun!

This is what a good coffee bean looks like.  Bueno!

This is what a bad coffee bean looks like.  Malo!

The man from the Coffee Mansion, his wife, and his gun.  He was a great tour guide!

Finally, at the end of our tour, he put his gun down on a bed of coffee beans.  :-)  I guess I deserved it for sneaking in!
We’ve met a lot of cool kids at the local schools--Benito Martinez and Liceo Pedro Garcia.  The kids are sooooo sweet and funny and very happy!  I can’t wait for all of you to see the video we make of this trip so you can learn more about them.  You might be surprised to see how similar they are to teenagers in the US!  To have fun they play baseball, play basketball, play music, and dance.  A bunch of them are also part of a running group.  They’ve competed around the region and lots of the kids here have tons of medals!  They don’t have new Nikes--some don’t even have sneakers.  And some of them run in jean shorts because they don’t have money to buy new clothes just for exercising.  But it doesn’t matter because all of them are really fast!

There are some differences between kids here and kids in the US, too, though.  The kids here can’t drink the water that comes out of the faucet because it will make them sick.  And I already told you about the electricity thing--just today we went and had coffee (of course) at a house that didn’t have electricity.  They were preparing dinner with a candle.  Does it make you feel sad to know that these families go without drinking water and electricity?  I felt sad at first.  But the people here aren’t sad, they are very happy!  They don’t mind if they have to boil all their water before they drink it, or if the electricity doesn’t work--they’re used to it.  What makes them happy is being able to spend time with their family, friends, and community.  Pretty cool, right? 

A classroom at la Escuela Benito Martinez.

The girls’ bathroom at Escuela Benito Martinez.

We’re learning a lot from all of our new friends...but we want to learn from you, too!  Here are some questions we have for you--feel free to answer in the comments section!

What is the one thing you think you couldn’t live without and why?  (For example, electricity, TV, Playstation, your family, your friends, etc.)
What do you like to do for fun?
What makes you happy?
Do you have any questions for kids here in the Dominican Republic?  We’ll try to ask them before we leave on Tuesday!