MELVIN’ S MONTHLY MOMENTS
NOT OUT OF SIGHT, NOT OUT OF MIND
The Miracles at the Caring Hands of the Bell Center
In a perfect world, no child struggling with disabilities would feel alone. The Bell Center intends to realize such a world by helping one kid at a time with a specialized treatment plan to better suit their specific needs. That’s why Jill and I were so honored to be involved in the Service Guild’s gala benefiting The Bell Center this year in support of our good friend Anne Martha Corley and her wonderful little girl, Ella Rose. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her grow into a blossoming young girl through the assistance of this wonderful group. The Bell Center jumps at the chance to provide early intervention to children who are at risk for developmental delay with or without any diagnosis, including children with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, prematurity, and a variety of other genetic conditions. The Bell Center’s highly qualified staff members develop and implement physical, occupational, and speech/language therapies as well as special education services, developmental nursing, and nutritional counseling for children. Each year, they provide services to more than 100 children, from infants to 3-year-olds, in the Birmingham and central Alabama area. Some families travel up to two hours one way. From the moment a family enters the program, The Bell Center teamwalks with them hand-in-hand to see them through to their best possible lives, with smiles, laughs, and tender care along the way. It’s truly a cause to be proud of. Anne Martha’s youngest daughter, Ella Rose, was left visually impaired at only 7 months old after she suffered a terrible infection resulting in substantial damage to her occipital lobe. She went from a typical, rambunctious little girl to not even being able to properly roll over on her own. You wouldn’t be able to tell today just how grim things appeared back then. It was a long road to any kind of “normal” life for innocent little Ella Rose. She went through intensive therapy to learn to move, crawl, and eventually walk. At 15 months old and after much debate, her mother slowly realized that social interaction could do her a lot of good. That’s when she found out about The Bell Center, where a staff of professionals were able guide her in a recovery that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. At the suggestion of her mother-in-law, Anne Martha calledThe Bell Center and ex- plained her daughter’s situation to them. They jumped at the chance to offer her an eval- uation. After coming to understand the uniqueness of Ella Rose’s challenges, they dove in headfirst and began the process of acceptance and encouragement that helped Anne Martha’s family through those difficult formative years. When Ella Rose was 18 months old, she began her time at The Bell Center, and her previous fear of the bleak unknown that accompanied her near-blindness was immediately washed away in the reassurance and careful support of her specialized teachers, therapists, and volunteer caretakers.
It was here that she learned to acclimate. It was here that she learned to sing and eat snacks and socialize with her newfound friends. It was here that she began to learn to laugh and interact with her world again. Those aren’t easy skills to teach. She did so well that the next year in her programs, she moved on to a new class, finally graduating from The Bell Center in 2016, having been taken from a place of fear and uncertainty to a place of comfort and confidence. The important thing to keep in mind here is that, although it is astounding, Ella Rose’s story is not wholly unique. The Bell Center treats a variety of disabilities and challenges, all with love and care in their hearts. That’s why they need our help. Since 1984, they have offered programs to help children develop and grow to be their very best, and we’re beyond happy to have been able to take part in their yearly fundraising gala event on March 16. If fundraising isn’t up your alley, don’t fret. You can always dedicate your time or prayers to the organization’s continued success. We know we will do a little bit of all of those things. Jill and I cherish our community and want nothing but the best for its citizens, from young to old. So, next time you need help with any part of the real estate process, you know where to find us. For further information about how you can help out with their special programs or services, feel free to contact The Bell Center anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, 205-879-3417, or TheBellCenter.org.
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Learning to read opens up a world of possibilities. When your child walks through the back of the wardrobe into Narnia with Lucy Pevensie or rides with Harry Potter on the train to Hogwarts, they connect to something beyond their own experiences. In the U.S., April 23 is World Book Day, and the date commemorates the deaths of legendary authors Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as the birth of author Vladimir Nabokov. World Book Day is the perfect time to sit down with your family and let yourself be transported to new worlds. So, here are three great stories to help you take young readers on brand-new adventures. WORLDS WITHIN PAGES Books to Engage the Whole Family
Baseball’s opening day has been an American holiday of sorts since the Cincinnati Red Stockings threw out the first major league pitch in 1869. To celebrate the start of the 150th season of professional baseball, here are three of the best opening days in baseball history. PEANUTS AND CRACKER JACKS The Best Opening Days in Baseball History On April 15, 1947, an opening-day game changed the course of Major League Baseball. On this day, Jackie Robinson started for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American player to start for a major league baseball team. Robinson’s historic showing was lackluster, going 0-for-3 at the plate and making a solid showing on the infield at first base, but his mere presence in a Dodgers uniform had already broken history. Despite his nationally-recognized skills —Robinson was named MVP of the MLB farm team league in 1946 — the backlash that followed his rise to the pros, both from fans and teammates, was palpable. Still, as well-known sportscaster Howard Cosell said,“Suddenly, it was a new beginning.” Considered one of the best teams in baseball history, the 1927 New York Yankees started their historic run and 25th season by dismantling the Philadelphia Athletics with a score of 8-3. The slugfest was true to form for the 1927 Yankees, whose players would go on to make up baseball’s famous “Murderers’ Row.”With sluggers like Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Babe Ruth, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri, it’s no wonder this team went on to win its fifth championship that year. For decades, no one could match George Herman Ruth. The Great Bambino’s all-time home run record seemed like an impossible feat of strength — that is, until Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron came along. On opening day, April 4, 1974, Aaron smashed his 714th homer, tying Babe Ruth for the most home runs ever hit and extending the Atlanta Braves’ shutout lead over the Cincinnati Reds. A few weeks later, Aaron surpassed Ruth’s record, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd. LOU, COMBS, AND BABE — OH MY! THE HAMMER TIES BAMBINO A NEW BEGINNING
FOR THE ELEMENTARY READER: ‘SONG OF THE WILD: A FIRST BOOK OF ANIMALS’
“Song of the Wild”makes a great read-aloud book for beginner readers because they can get lost in the beautiful artwork while you read the text. Written in prose and rhyming poems, this book showcases sprawling landscapes — savannahs, jungles, and oceans — and features the wildlife living there. It’s worth a read simply to appreciate the colorful depictions of each animal. This book was written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Petr Horácek.
FOR THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER: ‘THE NIGHT DIARY’
12-year-old Nisha navigates her world after the partition of India creates the new country of Pakistan and her family is forced to leave their home. Her mother may be gone, but Nisha finds solace in writing nightly letters to her in her diary as she discovers what the future holds. Based on
author Veera Hiranandani’s memories of her own family, this moving tale lets readers experience life through someone else’s eyes. FOR TEENS: ‘BRAZEN: REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD’ While some might not think of comics as proper reading, Penelope Bagieu’s graphic novel forces
reconsideration. Her clever, colorful artwork and engaging narrative take the reader through the biographies of 30 women, from Bette Davis and Mae Jemison to lesser-known but equally intriguing ladies like
Giorgina Reid. All in all, this book provides a great way to get kids excited about history in an entertaining form.
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RATED E FOR EVERYONE What Do Ratings Mean, and How Should You Use Them?
Despite guidance from ratings systems, it can be difficult for parents to discern what digital content is appropriate for their children. Learn more about ratings guidelines for common entertainment media and how to decipher that information so you can make educated decisions that work for your family. MOVIES: G-rated movies are considered suitable for all ages, whereas PG, PG-13, and R-rated movies are progressively less appropriate for kids because of violence, nudity, and language. Some ratings come with age limits; children who are under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult at R-rated movies. TV SHOWS: Due to laws that limit inappropriate content on public airwaves, TV rating systems follow unique codes. In the U.S., shows that are rated as TV-14 (content that is suitable for those ages 14 and older) can only air after 5 p.m. Meanwhile, TV-MA (content that is appropriate for mature audiences) can only air between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Most shows airing between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. are rated TV-G or TV-PG. These are similar in content to their movie counterparts. Some television children’s shows will also be rated as TV-Y or TV-Y7, and their only distinction is that TV-Y7 has been deemed appropriate for young children ages 7 and older. TV ratings can also have additional descriptors attached to them to explain what kind of content earned the rating. VIDEO GAMES: There are seven video game ratings: Early Childhood (EC), Everyone (E), Everyone 10+ (E10), Teen (T), Mature (M), Adults Only (AO), or Rating Pending (RP). These ratings provide consumers with more information about content. Again, as the age of the intended user increases, content progresses from
allowing mild violence or suggestive content to adult themes. When choosing family entertainment, experts suggest using both the rating and the description of the media to make your decision since the rating system may not fully explain media content. For example, studies have found that a
PG-13 movie can sometimes have just as much violence as an R-rated movie. Additionally, you may be fine with the content in a T-rated video game for a more developmentally advanced 11-year-old.
Once you get past all the combinations of numbers and letters, you as a parent might find that ratings for video games, movies, and TV shows provide helpful information. Couple the ratings with your own research and your own values, and put an end to worrying about what surprises may lurk in your children’s media.
OPENING DAY HAMBURGERS
TAKE A BREAK
Inspired by Saveur Magazine
• • • • •
1 pound ground chuck, 80 percent lean 4 soft, white hamburger buns, split
• • • •
4 1/4-inch thick yellow onion slices
1 teaspoon vegetable oil Salt and pepper, to taste Condiments of your choice
4 1/4-inch thick tomato slices
12–16 pickle rounds
4 small leaves iceberg lettuce
1. Lightly grease a small nonstick skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high. 2. While heating, gently shape meat into four patties 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Be careful to handle the meat as little as possible to prevent tough burgers. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 3. Sear patties on each side, about 1 minute per side. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until desired doneness, about 1 more minute per side for medium-rare, 2 more per side for medium-well. 4. Let meat rest for a minimum of 3 minutes. 5. To assemble, place patty on bottom bun and top with tomato, pickles, lettuce, and onion (in that order). Spread condiments on top half of bun and place on top of onion. Serve.
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The Inspiring Story of a Little Girl, Her Caring Mother, and the Bell Center
3 Great Opening Days in Baseball
Books to Engage the Whole Family
Understanding Media Ratings
Opening Day Hamburgers
2 Tactics Criminals Use to Steal From Older Adults
THE 2 MOST COMMON WAYS CRIMINALS STEAL FROM SENIORS
And How to Spot Them
Scamming older adults has become big business. According to the
If you ever receive a contract from an unknown entity out of nowhere, you should start seeing red flags. Unless you remember entering a contest, there is no chance you’ve won something. And it’s vital to understand that it is never safe to give out financial information over the phone or via email.
American Journal for Public Health, an estimated 5 percent of seniors are hoodwinked by criminals every year, and that statistic is thought to be a steep underestimate since so many scams go unreported. To stem the tide of seniors unknowingly giving $36 billion to scammers annually, it’s important for retirees and their loved ones to get savvy on the subject.
COMPUTER SOFTWARE SERVICE FRAUD
This type of scam is slightly more sophisticated. First, a hacker will call a victim and claim to be a member of a tech support team or an employee from a trusted company like Microsoft or Apple. Then, they’ll tell the victim there is a problemwith their phone or computer and that if they cooperate with the“tech support”representative, they can sort it out. They may also ask you to install a piece of software on your device or provide credit card information to“validate your software.” The fact is that well-known tech companies will never send unsolicited emails to ask for your personal or financial information, and they definitely won’t ask you to install some shady software on your computer. If you ever receive a call out of the blue from“Microsoft,” hang up the phone immediately. The first step to stopping these criminals in their tracks is to be aware of their tactics. With these tips in your arsenal, you’ll be able to defend yourself and your bank account effectively.
Here are the two of the most common scams older folks fall prey to — and how to avoid them.
ADVANCED FEE FRAUD
The most common con in 2017 and 2018 was the classic “You’ve won a sweepstakes!” scam. Victims are told they’ve won some exorbitant amount of money, but they must pay a fee to receive the prize. After the “fee” is paid, victims receive a fake check in the mail, but by the time it bounces, the scammers are gone and they’ve taken the money.
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