Orlando-Winter Park, FL Club News

Make A Difference Day 2013

For the past 15 years Altrusa of Orlando Winter Park has chosen Great Oaks Village as their MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY project. Great Oaks is a residential group home in south Orange County for high school age children who, through no fault of their own cannot live with their families.  The students attend local schools, participate in sports and other activities, but GOV is their home.

For Make a Difference Day 2013 on October 26th, the Literacy Committee was determined to have Marc Mero, founder of Champion of Choices, provide the program and bring his powerful message to the Great Oaks students.  Thanks to generous donations from the club, corporate donors, and private donations from Altrusa members and others, it became a reality.  Fifty Great Oaks residents and five from another group home, plus staff from both, were able to hear and experience the Champion of Choices message. 

Great Oak Village

Marc Mero was a champion high school football and hockey player with big dreams and goals.  He became a New York State Golden Gloves champion and a WWE Wrestling champion, but he lost fame and fortune twice because of choices he made regarding alcohol, drugs, and choosing to associate with the wrong people.

For the past ten years Marc, a resident of Winter Park., has dedicated his life to helping young people world wide understand that choices they make can greatly impact their lives and get in the way of following their dreams and fulfilling their goals.  He tells thousands of young people, “Your friends are like elevators, they can take you up, or they can take you down; choose carefully who your friends are.”

He spoke at length about bullying and the damage it can do to innocent lives.  Images of beautiful teens who had taken their own lives because of bullying flashed on the screen, along with tearful families left behind who had no idea what their children were going through.  He told the students not to be afraid to tell a counselor, teacher, or pastor if they are being bullied.  There IS help. Marc strongly emphasized that your circumstances do NOT define you.  YOU are in control of who you are and who you become.  Very important information for this particular audience!

The high energy presentation was filled with laughter, tears, and stories from Marc’s own life experiences.  He challenged the young people to achieve their dreams.  He told them to write down their dreams and goals and put the piece of paper in a spot they will see every day.  He said it may take a while, but never stop believing you can achieve your dreams and goals.

Following the presentation the young people were able to speak personally with Marc and ask questions.  He’s not able to do that when he speaks to an auditorium or arena filled with thousands of students.

As part of the Make a Difference Day tradition, Altrusa members served brownies, cookies, chips, candy, and lemonade to the students.  They each received a goodie bag filled to overflowing with puzzle books, granola bars, chips, candy, pens, and note pads.

Dennis Richardson and the staff at GOV were thrilled with the Champion of Choices Program and assured Altrusa that we definitely did Make a Difference for the residents of Great Oaks Village.

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