If you think your activities professional is the best in the world, prove it by nominating him or her to take an all-expenses-paid trip with us to Nicaragua to work with the elders in the hogares de ancionas, or “home of the ancients,” we've written about in Shorts for the past several years. On January 15 through 20, 2012, Carron Suddreth of Wilkes Senior Village (who was just named to the national Board of Directors of the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation which coordinates our work in Nicaragua) and I will travel to Nicaragua to train local volunteers and hogares staff how to provide activities programs for the Nicaraguan elders. Currently there is nothing even approaching an activities program in the five centers where we work, and our goal is to change all that. This first trip will lay the foundation for activities programs in the centers we support and is just the first step in an ongoing effort to meet the psychosocial needs of these wonderful, abandoned and impoverished elders.

We are looking for one excellent activities professional who can spare a week for a life-changing adventure, and we are asking you to help us find the best of the best. The winning nominee will have a sense of adventure; a huge heart with a desire to change the world; experience in organizing, conducting and teaching activities programs; and a free week in January to go with us. No visas, special shots or other health care prep is required, only a valid U.S. passport. If you speak Spanish, even better, but if not, we'll have interpreters. And the best part is that we're providing a scholarship to the winner to cover the roughly $1,500 cost of the trip, which includes airfare, ground transportation and lodging (only a small amount of money for daily food is required and we can help with that, if needed). The winner will be joined by Carron, me, the director and staff of the JFR Foundation, and two to three other North Carolina activity professionals. This trip will change the winner's life! And the winner will be featured in the February 2012 issue of Shorts.

Please send nominations to me via email at kburgess@poynerspruill.com or by mail to me at Poyner Spruill, P.O. Box 1801, Raleigh, N.C. 27602-1801. Nominations must be received no later than November 30, 2011. A simple description of the nominee's qualifications and why you think the person should be chosen will do.

Also, if you'd like to participate in this terrific program, we are looking for activity supplies (beads, string, paper, paints and so forth), and, of course, donations to the JFR Foundation would be amazing and are totally tax-deductible. Maybe your facility would like to nominate someone and/or donate supplies, have a fundraiser to help with this project, or just make a small donation. Let the contest begin!?

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