FL: Mid-Florida Winnies

Mid-Florida Winnies

Local Chapter – Central Florida Area - Our 46th Year

This was a fun and very informative campout for the chapter. We had 21 coaches in attendance which was a great turnout. We did miss some of our regulars but also welcomed some guests and new members.

We had 14 coaches arrive on Sunday and that made for a great informal Happy Hour at Bob and Glenda’s coach. All but one coach arrived by Happy Hour on Monday and we had a large oblong group of chairs which connected the Christian’s coach with the Parks’ coach which was parked behind them. Most everyone went to Miller’s Ale House Monday evening. We had 35 attend. What a great meal and gathering it was. The Parks and Smalley’s were able to sit with Peggy and Chandler Yarnall who were first time visitors. They were great company and joined the club before the end of the rally! Another first time visiting couple, Jack and Andrea Wilson, also joined during the rally.

Our Hosts, Roudebush, Trent and O’Neil did an excellent job providing us with great meals and a great environment for our 3rd annual Chili Cook-Off. They had limited availability to the kitchen and facilities for activities which was not supposed to be the case but everything turned out wonderfully with the great negotiation skills of Jeff and Sara.

Tuesday was our visit to the Island Grove Winery for a tasting and to visit the production facility. We left the campground about 12:30 and as luck would have it that was when our last coach had just pulled in so John Trent was able to join the Parks’ for the winery visit. The tasting was in a separate location to their production and in the production center we saw the small vats that produce 5,000 bottles of wine and the large vats that produce 25,000 bottles of wine in each. We also saw the press where they squeeze the blueberry skins and get an amazing 1000 bottles of wine from that process. We also saw the bottling machine that bottles 700 bottles an hour. They also have some of their wine canned by a third party and we saw a large quantity of them in the facility.

Tuesday night was our Chili Cook-Off and we had 7 entrants who all did a fabulous job of cooking delicious chili for us to taste and vote on. The Host’s had thought it all out well with numbers on our little plates and 4 oz. plastic cups for us to use for tasting. Of course some of us forgot to make sure they left the cups on the numbers so they had a difficult time voting. Everyone was free to get a bowl of their favorite chili once all the ballets were collected. All that were not in the contest supplied side dishes of cornbread, rolls, salad or delicious desserts. All contest participants received a small prize and the top three vote getters got special prizes. Of course our top winner took home the Chili Cook-Off trophy. We had a tie for 2nd place so both Gerry LaFlamme and Chuck Owens took that prize. Elaine Schilp won first place and Gerry was so relieved. You will understand that after you see the picture of our great trophy that Gerry made for about $7.00.

Wednesday morning the Host’s treated us to several different breakfast casseroles which some of our members had agreed to prepare in their coaches since we had no access to the oven in the facility. We also had juice, coffee and tea. We had to share the hall with a group of travelers from the campground that regularly gather in the mornings. It all worked out great for us.

We held our chapter meeting immediately following breakfast during which time our new/old slate of officers were inducted into service. After the meeting 16 of us went to visit the Prader Willi House we have supported as our charity for many years. Unfortunately Dick and Dell Warner were unable to attend; their Granddaughter is a resident of the house.

The house is associated with the Arc of Alachua Co. founded in 1966 which is also affiliated with the state and federal Arc association. The parents of the clients have been the driving force behind the work and great support for this syndrome. We had a talk on the facility and the great work they are doing to help clients with this syndrome. We learned that there are only about 200 persons with this syndrome in the entire state of Florida. Fortunately the leading authority on this syndrome is at the University of Florida in Gainesville. We were given an overview of the work done at the facility by John Adams the Director of programs. The facility has 18 group homes in Alachua Co. and just broke ground on the 19th called Magnolia Place Home. Mark Swain the CEO gave us a talk on the staff and type of work and the focus of the work done at the facility. They have facilities for a wide range of clients from those who live almost independently to those who need live-in support. The group homes range from 4 bed to 12 bed facilities. They have some support staff that only work evenings and their compensation is the room. If they have to respond to an emergency they are paid hourly for their services. We learned that Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS) falls into the Intensive behavior (IB) spectrum. We learned that Arc is a Home and Community based effort begun in the 1970’s. Florida is 49th in funding for mental health. PWS is a non-inherited genetic syndrome that causes such symptoms as lower temperature, unable to stop eating, lack of pain sensation and some tendency toward OCD. Treatment really didn’t start until the 1990s and now they can identify 3 types of PWS. There is a push to look at other PWS facilities and share information on treatments and behaviors that help. The group home environment is helpful but it is not good for the clients to share rooms. We heard from Kim Johnson who works at the facility and that she has a nephew who has PWS. She manages the Arc to work program which helps the clients to find work in the area. We also heard from Allison Barrett who is the curriculum specialist. She was a special education teacher for 19 years before coming to the facility. Allison creates the curriculums for the day programs that some participate in from home. Some of the clients work at the facility which prepares packages for the Sheriff’s office and bags for new Credit Union members. All clients who work are paid minimum wage for their hours. The facility has a shredder facility which local companies pay to use. After all the briefings, we were treated to a personal visit by Director Johnny Adams to the group home where Dick and Dell’s Granddaughter lives. It was a wonderful experience getting to meet the girls at the home. They showed us their rooms which were roomy with lots of space for their possessions. I can safely say that all who attended were so much better off for that visit and we now all have a better understanding of what we are giving our money for.

The visit to Arc took us until after the start of Happy Hour. This night was the regular pizza/trivia night for the campground so we just joined in with them. At our shortened Happy Hour, we had our 50/50 drawing with the Maddox and Belleville’s winning. Some stayed for the trivia but some returned to their coaches to relax for the evening and to get ready to leave the following morning.

On Thursday morning we had left over breakfast casseroles and some muffins and Apple pie bread with juice and coffee. We said our goodbyes and were happy to welcome our newest members the Yarnall’s to our ranks. The New Year has started off very well indeed for our club.

Our next official campout is in March at Torrey Oaks RV Park in Bowling Green. You need to contact Bill Schilp via email by 21 February if you want to attend in March. There is a Reunion campout in February at Lazy Days that a lot of our club will attend. We hope everyone has safe travels until we meet again.


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