Tag Archives: Student Service

Over 2,000 Hours Served!

With our Coastal Clean Up effort this past Saturday GET REAL Involved! has topped 2000 hours of service.   We are thankful to all the students and adults who have been there to help us grow, and particularly HYDE PARK UNITED METHODIST who has been our benefactor and biggest supporter.Group Shot

So on Saturday, October 17, GET REAL Involved! joined a group called Make Mine Blue Green for a Coastal Clean Up on the Clearwater side of Courtney Campbell Causeway.  What a terrific group!  Princess Obriot runs the group and is a passionate environmentalist who really connected with our students and inspired them to be better stewards of the environment.  For a recap of the event, we’ll turn it over to Princess who sent this communication to her email list:

Princess & StudentsWow! What an incredible morning we just had.  Well that is after we ran back in to grab out jackets before heading to the beach… haha.

26 Heroes (most from a group for students called ‘GET REAL Involved!’) came out to the public beach on Courtney Campbell Causeway (Clearwater side) to spiff up a mile and a half stretch of beach over-looking the Tampa Bay.

At first glance these kids were thinking, there’s no trash here, but as I drew their eyes down to the sand, they realized that some times ‘trash’ comes in the smallest forms.  The top invaders of this beach were cigarette butts and bottle caps.  Volunteers spread out in all directions, then falling behind each other like waves, catching the small stuff missed by those ahead. It took two passes to get everything up. Much of the bigger and heavier stuff was found in the sand grasses stretching out beyond the parking allowance towards Bayside Bridge.

We wrapped it up just a little after 11:00am and with October finally feeling like October, it seemed we reached our goal without even breaking sweat.

Our 2009 Final coastal cleanup event tallied up with a whopping 30 bags, 1 lg pipe section, 1 sheet of plywood, 1 rusted steel barrel and 1 spoke wheel with an average total weight scale of  1530lbs. Our cigarette butts came to an estimated count of 3250, bottle caps were 1427, 1230 cigar tips and 500 feet of monofilament line.

A HUGE THANKS to everyone who has come out for our coastal events this year and for all our supporters for helping to make these events a big success. Be sure to look up photos from this clean up on our Myspace or Facebooks page, Siobhan captured some wonderful scenic shots today. If you would like to learn more about Get Real Involved check them out at www.getrealinvolved.org

Also keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks when we announcement our 2010 Make Mine Bluegreen Calendars available for purchase and where to find them. 100% of the proceeds will be to help us reach more places more often in 2010.

We brought 17 students and four adults with us to clean up the beach, and as Princess says, while at first we thought we were not going to find much, our students quickly learned that there were yucky treasures hidden on that beach.  The students were crawling through the mangroves, digging up buried trash in the sand, and attacking that coastline with enthusiasm.  After the clean up was done for the morning, Princess took the time to talk with the students about what they found and the impact society’s carelessness with their trash has on the environment.   So it was a service learning project at the end of the day!

Next up:  feeding the homeless at Open Arms Ministry at HYDE PARK UNITED METHODIST on Sunday November 1st!  Check out details at www.getrealinvolved.org


Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports

A busy summer [and a busy year] comes to a close…

Thumbs up for Bayshore Pointe!

It was a busy summer for the GET REAL Involved! crew.  We visited with residents of Bayshore Pointe Nursing Home in June, cleaned up Gandy Beach after a busy July 4th weekend, and spent the morning helping out at Metropolitan Ministries in August.   We also said a little “Thank You” to Hyde Park United Methodist for all their support by helping to landscape their grounds.   There are great photos on our Facebook Fan Page.  In all we had 42 students and 7 adults who contributed over 200 hours of service this summer!  It was the capper to a great year for GET REAL Involved!

At the beginning of the last school year we had a goal to get even more involved.  To date GET REAL Involved! has served over 1,800 man hours in the community, over half of it in the past year alone.  We launched a dedicated website at www.getrealinvolved.org, formed a Facebook Fan Page, started this blog, and got involved with the Twitter craze!  It was a busy and productive year.

Students clean up Gandy Beach

Students clean up Gandy Beach

And we look forward to 2009-10 with equal enthusiasm.  We are making even more inroads with Hillsborough County Schools to raise awareness of GET REAL Involved! and the opportunity we present for students throughout the county to earn their service hours and GET REAL Involved! in their community.    We hope to see even more new faces this coming year through the additional exposure within schools.

In 2009-10 we will answer Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to service on his birthday in January by returning to Steppin’ Stone Farm.  We will also once again take part in Global Youth Service Day April 2010.  Other trips on the agenda include another Coastal Clean Up, Open Arms Ministry and of course, Metropolitan Ministries.   The full schedule is located on the website.

Coming up next is our quarterly trip to Steppin’ Stone Farm.  This is one of our more popular trips (perhaps its the lunch they serve us!!!), or more likely getting to hang out with the great gals from the Farm.   Whatever it is, the trip fills up fast, so be sure to reserve your spot!

Here’s to the beginning of a new school year, and engaging even more students in community service.  2009-10 will be the year to GET REAL Involved!

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports

A Day on the Farm

We headed back to Lithia, FL to visit the girls at Steppin’ Stone Farm for the second time this year.  In total there were fourteen of us, nine students and five adults for this trip.   On the bus trip out everyone was excited because Steppin’ Stone Farm is one of our favorite sites.  We try to get out once a quarter and over time have come to know the girls and develop some relationships.  Matt, one of our students from Madison, has a particular fondness for this place and all the girls remember him and greet him with smiles and special cheers.   Of course, they were glad to see all of us, and we were all greeted enthusiastically, mostly because of the job they had in store for us!

The GET REAL Involved! Crew

The GET REAL Involved! Crew

We  have spent most of our trips helping out with the cash crops in their green house.   The girls took their ornamental grasses to the Strawberry Festival to sell for funds to support scholarships.  We all have a sense of ownership over the crops because of all the work we’ve helped with and expected to begin readying the crops for next year’s festival.   But this trip was a little different.  We were met with several HUGE piles of mulch and the assignment to spread the mulch to cover the roads within the complex.  The mulch was dumped courtesy of the power company who was trimming and mulching trees among the rural roads of Lithia.

A HUGE pile of mulch greeted us as we arrived

A HUGE pile of mulch greeted us as we arrived.

It was a hot May day, sun was shining brightly and we set to work immediately.  Because we visit so often, we sort of know the ropes.   The staff at Steppin’ Stone Farm had lined up all of our tools, including a long row of wheelbarrows to haul, haul, haul!!  We separated into two groups right away, and headed to two of the four piles of mulch.

Manned with pitch forks, rakes and shovels we began to tackle our respective piles with gusto!  Several students, and Dave our bus driver and big man extraordinaire began pitch forking mulch into the wheelbarrows, which were wheeled to the appointed spreaders in both groups who raked the mulch onto the row.  It took us about an hour to take the mulch pile down and spread it on the road.  A bunch of girlsl came to help us about 45 minutes into it and the work went even faster.

Progress continued down the road

The second group moved onto the second pile as the first started to dwindle down and had a good head start once the groups joined together.  The work was hard, and the sun was hot, but all hands continued to work through like absolute pros!  Fortunately the staff had brought out water to keep us all hydrated, and we took breaks in shifts so that the work progressed fairly continually.    By the time we had finished with the last pile our white GET REAL Involved! shirts were considerably less white!  Everyone was pretty beat, but we all felt satisfied by the progress we had made.

Katie & Grace pause to pose!

Katie & Grace pause to pose!

After the mulch was spread we headed off for our favorite part of our trips to Steppin’ Stone Farm:  LUNCH!  Lunch time is a great time to spend time with the girls.  We all sit at eight-top tables, members of the GET REAL Involved! crew intermingled with the girls from the Farm and we catch up and have great conversations.  We are all so amazed by these girls who are going through a tough time in their life, but who express such hope and determination.  And the food is always so good.  This trip the meal was something called “Cheese Burger Casserole” and all we had to say was YUM-MY!

Several of the girls are “graduating” the Farm this month.  Some will actually graduate High School after completing their studies on the Farm and others have progressed far enough that they are leaving the Farm “recommended” and will go home and integrate back into the “real world.”  This is an exciting and scary times for these girls, but as we listened to one soon-to-be graduate talking about how she is going to pursue her engineering degree we knew that the Farm has prepared the girls who are leaving to enter life with a renewed outlook!  We heard from some of the other girls who are staying how they are planning to make specific progress to insure they are ready to re-enter the world as well.   Their determination and drive is inspiring because its clear that they are relying on skills and confidence they learned on the Farm to make plans for a brighter future.

The bus ride to Steppin Stone Farm

The bus ride to Steppin' Stone Farm

On the bus ride back we talked about our day and how spending time with these inspiring girls and all the hard work made us feel.  The one thing that came through loud and clear was that the mulching assignment was a big hit.  The students felt that the assignment, because it had a beginning, middle and end, made them feel like they really accomplished something.  And that because the girls would have had to spend probably the next few weeks getting the job done in between studies and chores, that we really made a difference in their lives by being there.

Thoughts of  the experience of being on the Farm for the residents was another thing that stood out for the students.  They thought about the fact that these girls were on the Farm because someone cared enough to intervene and send them to a place where they could re-group and get a new start.  But they also talked about the fact that while it’s exciting that these girls have the opportunity to start over they appreciated the fact that these girls were obviously “stepping up” to do the work required to achieve their new goals.   The final thought that the GET REAL Involved! students learned from the girls on the Farm was that when faced with a problem, sometimes it’s best to separate yourself from that problem to give yourself a chance to learn how best to deal with it.   A good lesson for us all!

Getting ready for Lunch!

Getting ready for Lunch!

If you’d like to see more photos from this Steppin’ Stone Farm project, visit our Facebook Fan Page. And feel free to leave a comment below!  Next trip is a Thursday trip now that school is out.  We’re heading to Bayshore Pointe Nursing Home on Gandy Boulevard.  If  you’d like to register for the trip, click here.  This summer we have organized trips on three Thursdays.  Each of them will also provide the opportunity to spend the second half of the day doing something fun with our host Hyde Park United Methodist Youth Ministry.  On the 11th they will be heading to bowling at Pinorama.

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports


Local student service organization’s members to serve on April 25, 2009, at America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay.

In recognition of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), on Saturday, April 25, South Tampa- based student service organization GET REAL Involved! will join over three million youth worldwide by volunteering at America’s Second Harvest where they will assist in sorting surplus food to be distributed among Hillsborough County’s needy.

GET REAL Involved! is a student program that focuses on engaging Hillsborough County middle and high school students in community service.   Formed in 2006,  GET REAL Involved! was started in an effort to overcome the barriers to youth engagement in volunteerism, including “not knowing how to begin” and “lack of transportation.”

In addition to being a major initiative of the Obama Administration, in Hillsborough County as in other Florida counties community service is a key criterion for eligibility for Bright Futures Scholarships as well as for entrance to select honors programs and scholastic organizations.  Through its monthly turnkey community service trips in support of area agencies such as America’s Second Harvest, Metropolitan Ministries and others, GET REAL Involved! assists area teens in meeting their volunteer hour requirements among friends and peers via planned, organized, and chaperoned volunteer events.  Moreover, GET REAL Involved! provides an environment independent of parents where students are free to develop their own value system relative to community service.

Sponsored by the Youth Ministry of Hyde Park United Methodist Church, since its inception GET REAL Involved! has logged a total of 1,200 local service hours.  All trips are fully chaperoned by background checked adults, and all sites are screened to insure accommodation of student groups.

For GET REAL Involved!’s Saturday, April 25th Global Youth Service Day event, students will meet at 7:30 a.m. at Hyde Park United Methodist’s Magnolia Building.  From there, they will be transported as a group to America’s Second Harvest for a four hour shift.  Following the shift, students will be transported back to HPUMC’s Magnolia Building for pick up by parents.  Participation in the event is open to all area middle and high school students upon completion of the required parental permission forms, obtainable upon arrival for the event.

1 Comment

Filed under News

Steppin’ Stone Farm

January took us back to Steppin’ Stone Farm to check on our crops! Back in September we’d helped the girls at Steppin’ Stone weed their cash crop of ornamental grasses. These crops help to raise money for the Farm as well as for scholarships for girls who leave the Farm with a recommendation. The growth we saw between this trip and the one last fall was amazing — and I’m not talking about the crops! (Although they really grew too!)

One of the neat things about our GET REAL Involved! trips is that as we continue to visit the same places we get to really see how our work makes a difference. And at Steppin’ Stone, we see the difference as the girls grow and gain confidence and clarity in their own futures.

We worked hard all morning side by side with the “plant girls” and had a lot of fun. We made some great progress. The plants will be going to the Strawberry Festival at the end of February, so it was important to get them in good shape. Everyone had something to do and kept busy. It was a great day. A little chilly, but that didn’t stop us.

We had a good age mix from Middle and High School. The Middle School guys put their energy to work clearing an overgrown area and moving pots and things. They were really helpful…after they got focused!!! 🙂 Then we took the tour, which is always a fun part of the trip. Steppin’ Stone is a real working farm, from the smelly chicken coups to the full grown steer which will be shown at the Strawberry Festival! We saw the noisy geese, and the rambunctious goats, and the beloved pigs, which are pets and will not be breakfast meats ever! It’s always fun to get a peek at how animals are doing.

Well, next month we’re off to Metropolitan Ministries! Hope to see you there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Center

Well, despite the fact that we had one of our major schools in a State Football Championship, we still managed to bring over 20 students and adult volunteers to help out at the Holiday Center at Metropolitan Ministries. This place is an amazing example of what can be done when enough people care to give of their time. Metropolitan Ministries serves almost 15,000 families during the Holiday season. Providing food, toys and a whole lot of dignity and respect.

GET REAL Involved! volunteers assisted with distribution of food this year in the food shopping area. Taking turns, we greeted guests, identified their needs and assisted them in choosing food from the well-stocked aisles! Christmas songs in the air and smiles, smiles, smiles! It was fabulous!

We began by unloading the 90 BOXES OF HOPE we had collected in December – 3,000 pounds of food! And the 37 toys we had collected as well. Those items were on their way to making someone’s Holiday that much more special! We then headed into “the tent” to begin our shifts as holiday helpers!

The feeling that happens when you get the chance to meet new people, spend time with friends and really bring some joy is an amazing one! An experience recommended for one and all.

Next stop: Steppin’ Stone Farm on January 17th. See the website http://www.getrealinvolved.org for details!

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports

Open Arms Ministry

All told, there were about 35 students and several dedicated adult volunteers who brought food to a group of almost 100 homeless men and women at Hyde Park United Methodist’s Open Arms Ministry. Open Arms is a ministry that provides a nourishing meal, emergency assistance and an invitation to the homeless to worship with the congregation. Open Arms began in 2004 as an effort to serve the disenfranchised and marginalized men and women in the Hyde Park area.

We had a lot of fun while making a difference and showing dignity and respect to the homeless community in Hyde Park. Students cut bread, served food and shared a smiling face, all the while spending time with friends. It was a great morning. The smiles on the faces of the Open Arms guests said it all!

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Reports