GULFSTREAM GOODWILLS’ MISSION STATEMENT: “Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Inc., assists people with disabilities and other barriers to employment to become self-sufficient, working members of our community.” (http://www.gulfstreamgoodwill.com)
I am certain the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon has a new group of outspoken advocates. And let me tell you, they know their river stuff!
Yesterday, I spoke before sixty Martin and St Lucie County residents with disabilities at Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, in Stuart. The coordinator of “Adult Day Training Services” is Mr Tony Polito; he was fantastic with me and with his group. My visit was a remarkable experience, one I shall always cherish. —-The river brings all people, yes, all people together for a common good.
Before I got there, I was nervous. I taught eighth and ninth grade for many years, but never had more than thirty in a classroom and knew I’d be speaking an hour and a half. I never taught students with disabilities. I wondered if they would like me… If they would pay attention…
I awkwardly entered through the back, schlepping in my giant basket full of all my workbooks, maps, markers, pens, paper, giant photographs, and River Kidz FDOT signs. Many came to help me. The group all sat perfectly ready for me. All eyes were upon me….some were in wheel chairs, some had assistants, one lady was blind, others has nerve issues. There were young and old. They were smiling and happy to see me. I waved and introduced myself, and then it the magic began.
I lectured for a few minutes and then we discussed what they had been learning the past month studying the River Kidz/Rivers Coalition workbooks. I talked. They talked. They told stories about the river and animal life. They raised their hands. They were the patient. They were opinionated. They were excited to share. We spoke of the impacts to seagrasses and the river due to population, pollution, fertilizer, storm-water runoff, trash, oil from cars, as well as the long-term impacts of canals C-23, C-24,C-25, C-44 and the awful discharges from Lake Okeechobee. We spoke about what we can do to help.
A young man by the name of D.J. told me the group has been directly affected by the poor state of the St Lucie River in that Tony, their coordinator, can no longer take the group fishing at the Roosevelt Bridge. They had done this for years. This had been one of their favorite activities. We decided to write Senator Joe Negron letters, and we did. He will receive all sixty in the next few days.
Many told me they had actually waved signs for the river on the Roosevelt Bridge! They were brought before the group and applauded!
Of course, the daycare group at Goodwill Industries are voters, but now they are also advocates.
Together we all memorized the River Kidz mission statement changing one word to fit them: OUR MISSION IS TO SPEAK OUT, GET INVOLVED, AND RAISE AWARENESS, BECAUSE WE BELIEVE ADULTZ SHOULD HAVE A VOICE IN THE FUTURE OF OUR RIVERS!
And they my friends, —they will! 🙂
To download River Kidz workbook II: (http://riverscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/154611_RiverKidz_Workbook.pdf)
*There is signed permission to use all photos.
To contact Tony Polito and Goodwill Industries please call 772-337-0077. They are located at 1101 NW 21st Street , Stuart, Fl 34994.