Category Archives: Community & Activism

Glass Art Student

Hilltop Artists: Supporting Creativity & Expression in Young Adults

A unique and inspiring art program exists in Tacoma, Washington, helping hundreds of young people each year.

Hilltop Artists is a non-profit glass arts program founded in 1994. The program teaches students classes in glass blowing, mosaics, fused glass, and even glass beadwork.

By encouraging positive creative and artistic expression, the Hilltop Artists program has a large impact on the future of its many students.

Artistic Glass Arts Program

Glass Art StudentPeople between the ages of 12 and 20 from Pierce County can be accepted into the Hilltop Artists program. Approximately 500 students are accepted each year, and many of them find the program a good way of connecting with others and expressing themselves in a positive way.

Hilltop Artists operates with the Tacoma public school system. A few of the schools in the division offer classes taught by Hilltop Artists instructors and some even operate an after-school or summer program.

Between 24 and 30 students are accepted each year to be part of the production team. This is a program where students work part-time in the evenings on various glass blowing, jewelry and bead projects, and even commissioned pieces. The products made by the production team are available for sale in the Hilltop Artists glass gallery, with all money raised going back into the program to keep it tuition-free for participants. There are also two annual sales held each December and June.

Hilltop Artists is always accepting tax-deductible donations and volunteer applications from people who are interested in contributing to this unique art program for youth.

The Impact of the Hilltop Artists Program

No student can have his or her application to the program refused because of lack of or level of artistic talent, any physical or mental conditions, or past behavior. As noted on the organization’s website, Hilltop Artists are “using glass art to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.”

There are many benefits of this unique program, including:

  • teaching students skills in a craft that has life-long potential as a hobby or career
  • helping with teaching students how to set goals, follow through on projects, and develop learning patience with themselves and others
  • giving students experience with working independently and as a team member
  • empowering students with the ability to design and create pieces of art
  • helping students with developing interpersonal skills through working with instructors and meeting new friends

Award-Winning Video

In 2012 a video produced featuring Hilltop Artists won a Telly Award. The Telly Awards were created in 1978 as a visual arts award celebrating and supporting creative community. Awards are granted for local, regional, and cable television programs, video and film productions, and online content production.

Watch the Inspiring Hilltop Artist’s Video

The Boo-Boo Zoo: Big Hearts Save the Lives of Injured, Orphaned, and Sick Animals

Two incredible people operate an amazing, life-saving refuge for animals. The East Maui Animal Refuge (EMAR)—also known as the Boo-Boo Zoo—is operated by Sylvan and Suzie Schwab.

At EMAR, domestic and wild animals are cared for with love by these two and their team of passionate volunteers.

Sylvan and Suzie are perfect examples of what is possible when one follows a path of true joy. Without their intervention, hundreds of animals each year would suffer and die.

Please scroll to the bottom, and read the latest News Bulliten.

The “Boo-Boo Zoo”

Boo-Boo Zoo on Maui, HiEMAR is a safe and nurturing place for injured, orphaned, or sick animals to reside. As the only place on the island of Maui to take in orphaned or injured wildlife, the Boo-Boo Zoo is a sanctuary for all animals regardless of what has happened to them. Animals are euthanized only if the volunteer veterinarian determines the animal is in irreversible pain.

The volunteer veterinarian, Dr. Moyer, is only one of several individuals that pitch in to make sure the not-for-profit EMAR is operating efficiently. Volunteers assist by cleaning kennels, feeding the animals—some of which require specialized feeding methods—and with general maintenance around the property.

EMAR is funded entirely through private donations. With a $20,000 to $25,000 monthly operating cost associated with caring for the approximately 500 animals that reside at EMAR, the Boo-Boo Zoo is always grateful for the generous donations by individuals and businesses. These donations cover the costs of vet supplies and medications, food for the animals, lease costs, and utilities.

In the Beginning: A Self-Rehabilitation Program

Suzie was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the 1970s. She decided to live the last of her days somewhere new, and ended up living next door to Sylvan in Maui. Once the two began dating, Sylvan noticed how much joy Suzie radiated when caring for sick or injured animals, despite her own pain and illness. He started presenting her with more and more animals in need of her caring touch, and eventually EMAR started in 1977.

Sylvan studied with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to learn all the different methods and elements of caring for all types of animals. EMAR operates under licenses granted by both state and federal departments of Fish and Wildlife, giving the Boo-Boo Zoo permission to rehabilitate animals.

Sylvan and Suzie always maintain that because of the opportunities to care for and save the lives of these animals, Suzie’s own life was saved; today she is cancer-free.

Not-For-Profit Animal Sanctuary

Two acres of land near Haiku, Maui, is dedicated to the nurturing and caring for a variety of injured and orphaned animals. From cows to ducks, cats to deer, horses to dogs, and owls to pigs, EMAR takes in approximately 500 animals per year, half of which are wildlife. Each of the critters has his or her own incredible animal story that as led them to the Boo-Boo Zoo, just like this one:

An Owl Story of SurvialMy name is Kuuipo, which means Sweetheart in Hawaiian. I am a pueo,  an endangered Hawaiian owl. I was hit by a truck, so my legs don’t work. I love people to hold me, talk to me, and I am very loving back. I am especially thankful to Lynn, a wonderful volunteer here, for her undying love and care for me.

EMAR operates to complement other rescue organizations rather than duplicate services. For example, EMAR is different from the Humane Society as it accepts and cares for injured wild animals. Without the existence of the Boo-Boo Zoo, these animals would die. On rare occasions EMAR has adopted out animals, but encourages people to adopt from the Human Society as an act to “save a life.”

All donations made to the EMAR are tax deductible. The not-for-profit organization has in place several different East Maui Animal Refuge donation options, including an animal sponsorship program. EMAR also gratefully encourages people to volunteer and care for the animals (as with volunteer Lynn, who was nursed Kuuipo back to health).

For more information on the Boo-Boo Zoo, watch the video below, and visit the East Maui Animal Refuge (aka The Boo-Boo Zoo) website.

Watch the Boo-Boo Zoo Video

NEWS BULLETIN 2011 – Animal Confiscation

The wildlife permits for the East Maui Animal Refuge have been suddenly suspended due to The Refuge’s No-Kill policy, which is and for nearly 30 years has openly been in conflict with Wildlife Rehabilitation laws.

Dept. of The Interior US Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated 5 Hawaiian Pueo, 4 Barn owls, Two Cattle Egret, a baby cardinal, 3 sparrows and 2 house finches.
Most of these birds, certainly all of the owls, have been euthanized.

Fearing a similar fate to our small herd of Axis deer, EMAR immediately negotiated a “stay of execution” for our remaining animals.
Thanks to the outcry of the public Sylvan has attained a “grandfather” clause for our existing herd.

The Dept. of Land & Natural resources (DLNR) has inspected the property and assured us that as long as we are actively working to come into compliance no further actions will be taken against us.
We now begin the process of creating a deer enclosure within DLNR’s specifications. The initial estimate for the fence alone is approximately $20,000.00, material and labor.

To regain our original as well as important additional licenses and permits and to be able to continue the important services of EMAR to Maui Community and it’s animals, very expensive, labor intensive changes must be made to the existing enclosures and habitats of our Refuge as well as building a facility that can house all wildlife separate from the domestic animals and establish a program that complies with the law in order to regain wildlife rehabilitation permits.

Please, Help us Help the Helpless.

EMAR is desperately trying to find a way within these laws to continue as a No-Kill Sanctuary but if we are to be able to take in any injured wild life in the future we must come into compliance with State and Federal law.

To do this EMAR needs financial support, skilled labor as well as expert wild life re-habbers and legal advisors.

25 Maluaina Pl, Haiku, HI 96708

Clay Dyer’s Mission: If I Can, You Can

Clay Dyer is a champion of life with a pure, honest, and open personality. His passion is evident when he speaks of his love of life and his love for fishing.

And not a hint of self pity or defeat exists in his words. Why is this remarkable? Dyer was born without legs, no left arm, and only a partial right arm. Yet he has achieved both outward success and inner acceptance, something even the most able-bodied people struggle with on a daily basis.

Dyer is a remarkable man with superior leadership skills and an unparalleled zest for life, as is documented in the inspirational book The View From Down Here is Just Fine: Clay Dyer on Life, No Limbs, and Fishing by Scot Loney.

“If I Can, You Can”

Clay Dyer PictureClay Dyer began his inspirational life journey in Hamilton, Alabama in the late seventies. His love for fishing began at the age of five, and by 15 he was entering and winning competitive fishing tournaments. Not allowing any physical difference stop him from succeeding, Dyer ensured then as he does today that everything he achieves as a fisherman is done without special equipment. His casting, reeling, and knot-tying rivals that of any other champion fisher. Dyer currently fishes with the extremely competitive FLW tour, where he gives all his competitors a hard-fought competition.

As a motivational speaker, Dyer shares encouraging words to businesses, organizations, and individuals across the country. He also serves as the national spokesperson for CAST For Kids, a national charity with a mission to provide for disabled and disadvantaged kids outdoor experiences they might not otherwise have. Dyer also works with the United States Sportsman Alliance as a fishing guide for disabled and terminally ill children.

TeamDyer is an organization that was started consisting of all of Dyer’s supporters and sponsors. This organization works to help Dyer spread his infectious message and personality with the hopes of achieving in others what he has easily embraced as his own life’s mission: “If I can, you can.”

The following is a transcription of Dyer talking about himself and his involvement with C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation.

Living His Childhood Dream

Hello! My name is Clay Dyer. While I would like to be with you in person, unfortunately my schedule has not permitted it. I’m currently on the road for a better part of the year.

For those of you who may not know me, I’m one of the very blessed few who gets to actually live their childhood dream. I’m a professional fisherman on the FLW tour and series. And I get to compete against the world’s best bass fishermen. What’s more is that I hold my own in the competition. On my way up the fishing ranks, I’ve been very blessed to win more than 25 tournaments.

When I’m not fishing you can generally find me traveling the country providing motivational and inspirational speeches to corporations, civic organizations, and churches.

I even have my own fan club! My fan club now extends from coast to coast in the United States, and has members in Canada and Australia. I’m humbled by the number of people who are cheering for me and the reach of my message.

I’ve appeared on ESPN, FSN, CNN, and many regional broadcasts. Articles about me have appeared in USA Today, Bass Master Magazine, FLW Outdoors, and countless local papers. I even have my own biography!

Achieving the Possible from the Impossible

Clay Dyer with Fishing RodI’m not telling you this in an attempt to impress you. That’s not what I’m about. I’m telling you this to help you see in others and yourself what is possible.

For you see, I was born in a very small town in rural Alabama. I was born to a family of modest means, and I was born without limbs. I have no legs, and I have no left arm. I have only half of a right arm with no hand.

What I do have is a heart, a mind, and a soul, the true essentials for a successful life.

You see, I am where I am today because I refuse to be defined by my circumstances, and because of the people in my life who dared to imagine what could be possible for me.

Dare to Imagine

I’ve made it my mission in life to encourage others to apply these two principles in their lives. I don’t know what circumstances you may be facing in your life, and I’m not going to pretend that my circumstances are more trying than yours. What I do know is that there are very few things a professional fisherman had rather not give up than hands. Hands are essential for tying on baits, feeling when a fish bites, casting, reeling, and driving a boat.

It would have been very easy for me to let my circumstances of not having any hands preclude me from following my dream of becoming a professional fisherman. It also would have been very easy for those around me to completely disregard the possibility.

Fortunately for me, however, my family, my friends, and my community were willing to dare to imagine what could be possible for me. I’m also fortunate that I learned at an early age to focus on the resources that I did have rather than the ones that I didn’t have. This focus is what enabled me to find a way to tie on fishing baits, cast a rod, reel in a fish, and drive a boat.

Do Not Let Circumstance Define Who You Are

As you go through life you will be confronted with circumstances beyond your control. That’s just the nature of life. Those circumstances can seem insurmountable. I encourage you though to remember in those sort of occasions that you are not defined by your circumstances, but rather how you address them.

Also, as you go through life you will encounter people who seem to be handicapped or disadvantaged. They, like you, will be defined not by their circumstances but how they address them.

I can tell you that the best thing you can do for them is to dare to imagine what may be possible and to help them achieve it.

Remember, if I can, you can.

CAST for Kids

C.A.S.T. for Kids OrganizationIn conclusion, I want to take just a few moments to thank each of you who are here for your contributions for C.A.S.T. for Kids. It’s been one of my life’s greatest honors to be named your national spokesperson. This organization perfectly exemplifies the two principles I’ve just discussed.

I now you’re all busy. And I know at times you probably wonder if what you’re doing for these kids is really making a difference. I’m living proof that it does. Your concern, your effort, your times means more than you could ever know.

I’m excited about the year to come, and I look forward to helping you further the mission of C.A.S.T. Keep up the good work!

Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to go catch some more fish.

Click > CAST for Kids Foundation