By Valentina Padula
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: FM/DEA members sort through their contributed items to later place them into the chemo care baskets. The club’s turnout this year has far surpassed last year’s 30 active members, greatly aiding the project’s productivity and efficiency. Photo courtesy of Victoria Vazquez
The West Broward atmosphere has always been filled with service projects and interactive events done by various clubs. Difference Makers (DM)/Future Educators of America (FEA) Club is a major force in the club organization this year, and it has taken a step further past the campus environment and into the hearts of afflicted children.
The West Broward DM/FEA Club is a student-led organization devoted to school and community service projects while also being involved in conventions and contests for interested future educators. Their influence is broad and extensive, from The American Heart Association (AHA) and Memorial Cancer Institute to high school students across Broward County. This September, the club is proud to announce their chemo care kit distribution project to child cancer patients at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital on Sept. 29 and at Joe Dimaggio Children’s Hospital on Sept. 28.
“It is not just your basic service project, it is unique and that is a big thing I strive for as president,” said senior DM/FEA President Victoria Vazquez. “I try to refrain from doing the more common service projects and I really try to think of inspiring, intuitive things that we can do within our community that not everyone else is doing.”
With over 90 active members this year and an executive board of students ranging from sophomores to seniors, the club was able to put their teamwork to the test to put together over 50 chemo care kits at a single meeting on Sept. 13. Members each brought their own materials to include in the baskets and created handmade posters, cards and drawings. The baskets consisted of lotion, hand sanitizer and board games to help patients and surrounding individuals go through the harsh effects of chemo.
“It was like a factory,” said junior FEA Coordinator Gillian Ulloa. “There were so many people getting together to work on these kits. It was nice to see everyone put in their work and really do their best because they know that this is going to real people who are going to appreciate it”
DM/FEA participates in projects where they strive to create a charitable and kindhearted atmosphere for those they work with. The club’s goal to fulfill the hearts of those at Niklaus and Joe Dimaggio only adds to their long list of compassionate deeds. They are sponsored by Early Childhood Education Teachers Dawn Vazquez and Ashley Lacayo, who hand off the credit of the chemo care kits to the club members.
“We wanted to just make a difference in those children’s lives and to continue to touch other lives in the community,” said Lacayo. “There is definitely power in numbers, and hopefully we can achieve so much more because of all of our club members this year.”
The club has already started work for their first school-wide project with an on-campus positivity rock garden. Members met on Sept. 27 to decorate rocks with positive affirmations and kind quotes where they were then put into an attractive formation for students to view. This project falls into theme with DM/FEA Club’s previous services, where they stressed compassion and generosity within those around them.
“We have given snacks to teachers and decorated bulletin boards around campus,” DM/FEA Vice President Isabel Ulloa said. “We have also done other projects at Joe DiMaggio in the past years where we have fed the whole floor of NICU nurses.”
The club aims to participate in at least one school and community service project per month, which means their plans for the school year are far from finished. West Broward will be hosting an FEA convention on Nov. 3 where over 14 Broward County FEA programs will meet under the theme “FALLing in love with education.” With a continuously growing list of members and project plans, Bobcats should expect to be hearing more from DM/FEA Club this school year.
“As a senior, I want to leave my legacy and do the absolute best we can for the community,” Vazquez said. “I want to grow my board under me and really build off the club so that in years to come, this can continue as a club that inspires people to just be good humans and to give back to the world.”
SMILING STUDENTS: (from left to right) DM/FEA board members Gillian Ulloa and Isabel Ulloa pose for a photo with president Victoria Vazquez outside Joe Dimaggio Children’s Hospital while showcasing one of the many chemo care kits. Photo by Dawn Vazquez.