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Noah’s Ark Encourages Residents to Live, Laugh, Love–and Get Active.

3 Dec

Local nonprofit organization provides a plethora of activities for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Just over four years ago, Jeff Albro began his journey for freedom and independence. His developmental disability would no longer prevent him from fulfilling his dreams. Yet his new life soon came to an abrupt, unexpected halt. After a few months of living autonomously in a Plant City public housing project, Albro was beaten and robbed—an experience that left his body bloody, broken and bruised. However, the severe emotional distress that resulted from the incident affected Albro more than the temporary physical damage.

An Outside look at a Noah’s Ark home. | Photo Credit: Chelsey Lynn

“He became a recluse,” said Agnes Albro, Jeff’s mother. “He closed the shades. He didn’t meet neighbors. He was scared.”

In fact, Jeff Albro was so afraid to leave his apartment it cost him his job.

Desperate to find a better life for her son, Agnes, along with her husband Gordy Albro, contacted several organizations dedicated to assisting individuals with developmental disabilities. After hours of searching for help, one woman presented Agnes with the greatest blessing her family would ever receive: “I’ll give you this number. It’s Jack Kosik.”

Jack Kosik is the executive director of Noah’s Ark of Central Florida, a nonprofit organization committed to empowering people with developmental disabilities. Not only does Noah’s Ark provide affordable and accessible housing for individuals with mild to moderate impairments, but, unlike most institutional and group settings for the disabled, Noah’s Ark hosts a large number of social and recreational activities for residents to enjoy.

“We try and offer an array of activities in an effort to appeal to the interest of as many people as possible,” said Kosik. “We recently had a sock hop party with 50s-themed dancing and karaoke where ‘Elvis’ performed. We served hot dogs and hamburgers. I believe we had 84 people attend.”

The Noah’s Ark neighborhood has also hosted a prom and a Hawaiian luau—complete with a pig roast. In addition, craft nights draw large crowds as attendees learn new artistic skills during each session, from oil painting to jewelry making.

Kosik also encourages residents to enter into the surrounding community, to experience life outside of the intimate Noah’s Ark neighborhood. For example, the organization has coordinated trips to Lakeland Flying Tigers games, Lakeland Center arena football contests, PicassoZ Art Cafe ceramics classes, and local movie theaters. Residents recently visited the Confusion Corn Maze where they zigzagged among giant tangles of corn stalks, enjoyed a hay ride and ate popcorn. Furthermore, they were invited to a Thanksgiving Celebration at the First United Methodist Church on Lake Morton Drive.


Although Noah’s Ark residents enjoy these special community-building events, the athletic activities offered at Orange Bowl Lanes, Kelly Recreation Complex, and First Tee Golf Course are more popular choices for recreational fun.

“We found that bowling, basketball and golf had larger and more consistent participation, so we made them our “almost weekly” activities,” said Kosik.

Along with these physical activities, monthly tennis lessons and aerobics classes encourage Noah’s Ark residents to practice healthy lifestyles. In fact, medical professionals affirm regular recreational activity is extremely important for individuals with developmental disabilities as they are more prone to heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems and other chronic conditions. However, many health care providers fail to acknowledge these facts, believing most developmentally disabled individuals are incapable of handling even mild physical activity.

Find out more about how physical activity benefits individuals with developmental disabilities. Video courtesy of  the Sollar Wellness Center in the New England Village.

“Learned helplessness is truly the greatest crippler anyone can experience,” said Bob Williams, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary. “Many people with disabilities have unfortunately learned to be passive, if not completely disengaged, where questions of their own health and well being are concerned.”

While many people with developmental disabilities are trapped in an institutional setting that offers little physical, emotional, social and intellectual stimulation, Noah’s Ark is committed to creating a safe environment where residents can grow holistically.

“Noah’s [Ark] creates a community,” said Kosik. “A place to belong, a place where you are accepted for who you are, a place where your neighbors care about you and watch out for you, a place to grow.”

Many people, including Charlene Schultz, are beginning to see the growth occurring in Noah’s Ark residents. An instructor at Southeastern University, Schultz teaches several residents in her classes.

“Students who live at Noah’s Ark and are in my class are more likely to make their own decisions and to do so with more confidence,” said Schultz. “Their daily experiences, requiring decisions and acting on those decisions, reinforce that sometimes they may make a wrong decision, but that they can keep going and learn from those mistakes.”

No one, however, recognizes more growth than Agnes Albro. Four years ago, after his tragic encounter, Jeff Albro entered the Noah’s Ark program, head down and heart broken. Yet because of the countless activities and loving atmosphere provided by Jack Kosik and the Noah’s Ark program, Jeff finally gained freedom and independence.

“He has friends and activities,” said Agnes Albro. “His horizons have been broadened tremendously. It’s been an opening up for Jeff…He has been more social now than he has been in 30 years…He’s really blossoming because of Noah’s Ark and doing things now that he never did in many, many years.”

“He participates in almost all of the Noah’s Ark activities,” said Kosik. “He recently organized a guitar jam and cookout at his home.”

The event planner also happens to be a champion golfer. Jeff placed second in the Florida State Special Olympics golf tournament and took home the gold medal in last week’s invitational at First Tee. Through discovering his talents and forming loving relationships, Jeff has evolved into a new person.

“He smiles now,” said Agnes Albro. “Actually, he smiles a lot.”

For more information on Noah’s Ark of Central Florida check out the FAQ Presentation or the official website.

(Photo Courtesy of Chelsey Lynn)

Mary, Did you know…

16 Dec

Ok, so you’re name might not be “Mary,” but did you know that Mark Lowry is coming to Lakeland, Florida?

Wait! What!?! You don’t know who Mark Lowry is? Well here’s his (short) story:
+ Christian Recording Artist
+ Christian Comedian
+ Was part of the Gaither Vocal Band for 13 years
+ Songwriting status grew with the popular Christmas song, “Mary, Did You Know?”

So, Mark Lowry is coming to Lakeland. Why?
+ Lowry has offered to do a show in Lakeland as a fundraiser for the Southeastern University Department of Communication! In fact, all proceeds go toward the university!

When? Where? How Much?
+ Wednesday, January 19 from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
+ Polk Theatre
+ Tickets cost $25 for orchestra and loge seating; $15 for mezzanine and balcony seating.

Still not sure if the show is for you? Check out this clip:

For more information about this special event check out the official Facebook page

RE: Creepers are Everywhere

18 Nov

After my last post “Creepers are Everywhere,” I got a pretty awesome response – Robert French, the founder of PROpenMic contacted me, apologizing for the inconvenience. He stated that PROpenMic is doing everything it can to keep the spammers away.

I really appreciate the time French took to read my blog post and e-mail me back, especially because I’m just a student. It was a great way to show users that PROpenMic cares. I just wanted to express my appreciation back!

Creepers are Everywhere!

17 Nov

Creeper Alert! That’s right. A creeper. Where? On PROpenMic!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on how I really liked PROpenMic and the features they offer for students studying public relations. However, my view on the site has changed since I got one creepy e-mail.

It was just a normal day. I was innocently checking my school e-mail account when I noticed I got a message from someone I didn’t know from PROpenMic. Curious, I opened it and instantly, it got awkward. Some guy happened to check out my PROpenMic profile and now wants to establish a “long-lasting relationship” with me. In addition, he sent the address to his private e-mail account. Ehhh.

Of course I just ignored it, but it got me to thinking if PROpenMic is just as dangerous as Facebook or MySpace. I know that there will always be creepers out there on the Internet, but on PROpenMic? A network created for PR people? Not what I expected. I was hoping to be contacted by a PR professional interested in networking professionally through PROpenMic, not some random person wanting to find companionship.


17 Nov

Last week in chapel, Southeastern University finally unveiled what students have been wondering about all semester –

Watch out SEU. The Critics are Coming!

what is “it?” For months, a handful of university staff, faculty, and students worked on the details of “it.” However, even though they mentioned “it” was extremely important to the school, they refused to describe what “it” was. My advanced grammar professor  even joked around with students in class, saying that he had been working on “it” all night, and that “it” made him really tired. But he had to keep working on “it” for hours through the night because “it” was very, very important. Students were not only mind-boggled by what “it” meant, but they also because frustrated, wondering why “it” was kept such a secret.

But now, “it” has been revealed. It’s the Q.E.P. or Quality Enhancement Plan. Ok, so it might not sound that interesting, but it truly is vital to the success of Southeastern University. The Q.E.P. will prove that Southeastern is taking the necessary steps to improve the campus, ensuring accreditation for the next ten years.

I believe the public unveiling of the Q.E.P. was a great idea by the campus. Because it was discussed at chapel, the school reached a large number of students. In addition, it encouraged students to engage in discussion about the new plan with students who may have missed the announcement. Even though it’s been hard for students to remember the taglines (Think it, Link it, Live it), at least students recognize that SEU is actually taking steps toward improvement, something that the accreditation board likes to see. In my opinion, good job Southeastern!

P.S. The tagline “Think It, Link It, Live It” should not be confused with “Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It.” We’re not at Coldstone Creamery. Seriously, I heard a student say that was the tagline.

Lebron Strikes Back

26 Oct

When Lebron James made his “decision” this summer the world exploded. NBA fans and former players criticized one of the greatest basketball players of all time after he made announced his new team – the Miami Heat.The whole process was a circus show. Lebron had everyone on their toes, wondering what he was going to do. Each day Lebron had a new team in mind. He was going to stay in Cleveland, then try out life in NYC for the Knicks, then back to Cleveland, then Miami, then New Jersey, then Cleveland. Sports analysts were convinced Lebron wouldnt’ turn away from his hometown. However, it turned out that he stuck a dagger right through the heart of Cleveland Cavalier fans on national television, not to mention other teams who thought they had a shot at landing “The King.”

In an attempt to clear up his tarnished image, Lebron shot this Nike commercial. Throughout the clip, Lebron asks “What should I do?” During the summer, people were always in his ear, telling him which direction to go. It appears that his friends made some bad decisions. I believe this commercial doesn’t help Lebron’s image at all. He proves that he is blaming all of those “friends” rather than taking responsibility for his own mistakes. Lebron still  has a lot of growing up to do. What do you think? Check it out for yourself.

Future Food!

19 Oct

This summer, in order to better myself, I decided to take advantage of all television had to offer. No, I didn’t watch soap operas or afternoon talk shows, and, no, I’m not being sarcastic. This summer, I became very interested in educational documentaries. The Science Channel, The History Channel, History International, and the Discovery Channel became my new outlets for entertainment. However, nothing grabbed my attention more than Planet Green’s show Future Food.

Future Food is a show about Chicago’s high-class Moto Restaurant. But this isn’t your ordinary diner. Moto’s menu (which is edible by the way), is like a page out of a chemistry book. Moto dishes fuse together science, art, and food into an interactive “multi-sensory” experience.” Guests can choose from the 10-course meal or the 20-course meal.

In order to promote his restaurant, Homario Cantu created a show on Planet Green called Future Food. On the show viewers get to see Cantu’s food experiments first-hand. Each episode has a theme that takes food to the next level. For example, the chefs create a banana split that looks exactly like a cheeseburger. Furthermore, using granola and a healthy diet drink, the chefs created items such as french fries with ketchup, cake, and onion rings that tasted like the real thing yet with healthier ingredients.

Future Food is not only entertaining, but it shows that Moto is more than a just a glamorous restaurant. It wants to change the way the world eats by cutting the fat, cutting the waste,  boosting the creativity, and boosting environmental awareness. I think the show is a great way to promote all the good things going on at Moto!

Check out this clip about Moto from the popular Food Network show, Unwrapped!