TONIGHT: Dwyer H.S. freshman to be featured on NBC Nightly News

Kayla Abramowitz, 14 of North Palm Beach, will be featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. You can watch with her at the Duffy’s on PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1. Courtesy photo

Kayla Abramowitz, a North Palm Beach teen who has collected items for children’s hospitals in all 50 states, will be featured on national news Monday night.

READ: North Palm Beach teen honored with national award

The William T. Dwyer High School freshman got the idea for her Kayla Cares 4 Kids nonprofit when she was just 11 years old after noticing a limited selection of DVDs during her own hospital stays for Crohn’s disease, colitis and juvenile arthritis. She founded the nonprofit in 2013 to collect entertainment and educational materials for kids like her.

RELATED: It’s more than business for this seventh grader

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will feature a large donation the charity made to Ronald McDonald House in Miami. Kayla Cares 4 Kids donated 31 DVD players – one for each family’s room, 100 DVDs and dozens of books, according to the organization. Support from the community, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures and Philomel Books made the donation possible.

Kayla’s family and supporters are holding a watch party starting 6 p.m. at Duffy’s Sports Grill, 11588 U.S. Highway 1, in the Oakbrook Square Shopping Center in North Palm Beach. The shopping center is at the corner of PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1. The segment runs at the end of Nightly News.

Abramowitz is in the finance program at Dwyer. In 2015, she was named the National Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Boating course teaches basics of staying safe on the water

The Palm Beach Power Squadron is having a safe boating class in Lake Park.

A day or so spent in the classroom could go a long way toward returning home safely from a sunny afternoon at sea.

RELATED: A year after Tequesta teens tragedy, is boating safer?

The Palm Beach Power Squadron’s safe boating course is Saturday and Sunday at the headquarters, 1125 Old Dixie Highway, a half-mile south of Northlake Boulevard. The class from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a break for lunch covers knowing your boat, fueling procedures, navigation rules, anchoring, emergencies and other topics. Registration is 8:15 a.m. Saturday.

A review and 60-question exam starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. Passing the test earns a Florida Boating Safety Education ID card, which is required by the state for everyone born after Jan. 1, 1988 operating a boat of 10 hp or more. The course is $30 per person, but those 12 to 19 years old will be admitted free when accompanied by a parent.

For more information, call Bill Eldridge at 561-254-5609.

Be safe boating: Sign up for free class for teens this weekend

The Palm Beach Power Squadron is having a safe boating class March 4th and 5th in Lake Park.
The Palm Beach Power Squadron is having a safe boating class March 4th and 5th in Lake Park.

Here’s a class for people of all ages that could save lives when you’re enjoying an afternoon on the Intracoastal Waterway or the open ocean.

The Palm Beach Power Squadron’s safe boating course is 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Palm Beach Power Squadron’s Headquarters at 1126 Old Dixie Highway, a half mile south of Northlake Boulevard, in Lake Park. The course will cover knowing your boat, fueling procedures, navigation rules, anchoring, emergencies and other topics, per the power squadron. There is a break for lunch.

RELATED: Broken-hearted parents of missing teens busy pushing for safe boating

A review and 60-question exam will follow at 2 p.m. Sunday,  March 5. Passing the exam earns boaters their Florida Boating Safety Education ID card, which is required by the state for everyone born after Jan. 1, 1988, operating a vessel with a motor of 10 hp or more, according to the squadron. The course is $30 per person, but students who are 12 to 19 years old will be admitted free when accompanied by a parent.

Registration is 8:15 a.m. Saturday. Call Bill Eldridge at 561-254-5609 for more information.

Where to find free CPR training in your community

Students from Boynton Beach High School learn to perform CPR at the Florida Atlantic University Simulation Center, September 30, 2016 in Boca Raton. Students participate in various medical emergency scenarios at the simulation center. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)
Students from Boynton Beach High School learn to perform CPR at the Florida Atlantic University Simulation Center, September 30, 2016 in Boca Raton. Students participate in various medical emergency scenarios at the simulation center. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)

People from all across Palm Beach County will learn to be more than just helpless bystanders if they see a cardiac arrest, thanks to a countywide CPR day Feb. 11.

Students from Palm Beach County School District’s Medical Magnet Program and paramedic students from Palm Beach State College will instruct. Just show up in comfortable clothes.

The classes are 30 minutes and offered between 9 a.m. and noon.

RELATED: This Palm Beach Gardens class can be the secret to staying alive

Here are the locations of the free, hands-only CPR classes in the north end of the county.

Palm Beach Gardens

Fire Station 1, 4425 Burns Road

North Palm Beach

Fire Station 1, 560 U.S. 1 Highway

Riviera Beach

Fire Station 1, 600 West Blue Heron Blvd.

Jupiter

Fire Station 19, 322 North Central Blvd.

Tequesta

Headquarters, 357 Tequesta Drive

Business owner, once homeless, gets $5,000 to expand company

Cynthia Heathcoe, CEO of Contemporary Living furniture store, outside her store at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, was once homeless and is now giving back. Courtesy photo
Cynthia Heathcoe, CEO of Contemporary Living furniture store, outside her store at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, won $5,000 as the 2016 Palm Beach SCORE Entreprenuer Extraordinaire. Courtesy photo

A once-homeless owner of a Palm Beach Gardens furniture showroom prevailed over two other northern Palm Beach County entrepreneurs in a contest to win $5,000 to make their businesses better.

Palm Beach SCORE named Contemporary Living CEO Cynthia Heathcoe its 2016 Entrepreneur Extraordinaire. The owner of the furniture showroom at Downtown at the Gardens plans to use her cash award to revamp and expand its website to make online sales easier and better display the showroom, according to a news release. She also hopes to hire additional sales staff.

After what Heathcoe calls “a series of bad choices” 17 years ago, she found herself homeless with a baby less than a month old. The Lord’s Place provided her with a transitional apartment, where she and her son lived until she got back on her feet.

Now her business accepts customers’ old furniture for The Lord’s Place’s residences. She and her husband, who helps her run Contemporary, live in the Acreage, according to the news release.

“We are honored to be a part of this as an ongoing campaign that helps us give back,” Heathcoe said.

She credits her guidance from SCORE and a small business administration loan with helping her fulfill her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. SCORE chair Penny Pompei, her mentor, said her success shows what hard work and determination can do.

Dina Lauro of Chunky Dunkies, a Riviera Beach business known for its healthy desserts, and Amy and Scott Angelo of Oceana Coffee in Tequesta each received $1,000 as runners-up in SCORE’s Entrepreneur Extraordinaire awards, according to the release.

 

Here’s why local business owners could be in luck Friday the 13th

What do coffee, couches and gluten-free treats have in common?

The owners of local businesses who sell them could win thousands of dollars for their entrepreneurial efforts at Palm Beach SCORE’s celebration Friday. The three finalists are all, coincidentally, North County business owners, even though the chapter works with people from Tequesta to Boynton Beach.

Amy and Scott Angelo, owners of locally roasted Oceana Coffee, opened a coffee lounge in Tequesta. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)
Amy and Scott Angelo, owners of locally roasted Oceana Coffee, opened a coffee lounge in Tequesta. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

In the running:

-Amy & Scott Angelo, whose Oceana Coffee has two locations in Tequesta

-Cynthia Heathcoe, who was once homeless and now owns Contemporary Living at Downtown at the Gardens

-Dino Lauro, owner of Chunky Dunkies in Riviera Beach

The top entrepreneur will get a $5,000 cash award, and the two runners up will each get $1,000, according to a news release. An independent panel of judges from the local business community chooses the winners and runners up. Candidates submit written descriptions of how the award will help their business grow.

Dina Lauro is the owner of Chunky Dunkies, a Riviera Beach business that sells gluten-free treats. Courtesy photo
Dina Lauro is the owner of Chunky Dunkies, a Riviera Beach business that sells gluten-free treats. Courtesy photo
Cynthia Heathcoe at her furniture show room and art gallery, Contemporary Living, in Palm Beach Gardens on Dec. 10, 2015. (Brianna Soukup / The Palm Beach Post)
Cynthia Heathcoe at her furniture show room and art gallery, Contemporary Living, in Palm Beach Gardens on Dec. 10, 2015. (Brianna Soukup / The Palm Beach Post)

They must have attended a Palm Beach SCORE workshop or received mentoring, been in business with a steady revenue stream in six figures and have at least one employee, according to the release.

The first-place winner will be announced at a celebration and lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Florida Power & Light’s Manatee Lagoon, 6000 North Flagler Drive in Riviera Beach.

Tickets are $50 each, and registration is at palmbeach.score.org.

Mourning military moms to get Mother’s Day retreat

The Reback family in North Palm Beach Friday, July 31, 2015. Back row: Daly Kay (20), Ryli (18), Kemper (14), Bliss (17), David, and Verity (19 months). Second row: Glory Grace (13), Trinity (10), and Lyette. Front row: Sojourner "Soji" (6), Liberty (9), Shepherd (8), Victory a.k.a. "Crickie" (4), Judson (8), Ransom (6), Courson (10), and Stone (2). (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
The Reback family in North Palm Beach Friday, July 31, 2015. Back row: Daly Kay (20), Ryli (18), Kemper (14), Bliss (17), David, and Verity (19 months). Second row: Glory Grace (13), Trinity (10), and Lyette. Front row: Sojourner “Soji” (6), Liberty (9), Shepherd (8), Victory a.k.a. “Crickie” (4), Judson (8), Ransom (6), Courson (10), and Stone (2). (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

A North Palm Beach mom of 16 children wants fellow moms who lost children in military service to know how much she appreciates their sacrifice.

Lyette Reback, through her nonprofit organization “Believe with Me,” gathered donations from around the country so that 23 women could have a getaway at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa from April 29 to May 1.

The weekend begins with a Thanksgiving dinner with the military moms 6:15 p.m. Friday to show they’re a “family united in gratitude.” The public can sign up to attend to convey their thanks as well, according to a news release. A $25 donation is suggested.

Lyette Reback and her husband David welcomed their sixteenth child, a baby boy, in November. They named him Vaughn McCrae Reback after Aaron Vaughn, a Navy Seal killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Vaughn was the son of friends of the Rebacks.

Most of the money to give the Gold Star mothers a retreat has come from donations in increments of $50 to $100.

“Let’s take the initiative to show love and gratitude to America’s Gold Star Moms this Mother’s Day,” Lyette Reback said in a news release. “We are offering you the opportunity to help provide America’s Gold Star Mothers a three-day, all-inclusive stay at an oceanfront resort in South Florida full of camaraderie, healing, inspiration and encouragement.”

An RSVP form for the dinner is available at http://therebacks.com/gold-star-mom-civilian-dinner.

Wounded Warriors of South Florida head served in ‘Triangle of Death’

Mike Durkee succeeds Howard Golin as executive director of Wounded Warriors of South Florida.
Mike Durkee succeeds Howard Golin as executive director of Wounded Warriors of South Florida. The Lake Park-based organization is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project.

The new leader of a local organization that helps post-9/11 veterans fighting to get back on their feet back home is no stranger to battle.

Mike Durkee, a Palm Beach County native and Army veteran, is the new executive director of Wounded Warriors of South Florida, according to an email update the nonprofit sent this morning. Wounded Warriors of South Florida has no affiliation with the national Wounded Warrior Project.

Wounded Warrior Project, which neither gives money to or gets money from Wounded Warriors of South Florida, has come under scrutiny after national news organizations published detailed reports of lavish spending on its employees. Wounded Warrior Project’s directors fired two top executives earlier this month, CBS News reported.

Wounded Warriors of South Florida, the unaffiliated local group, provides temporary emergency financial assistance to veterans from Orlando to Melbourne, south to the Keys, west to Naples and north to the Tampa Bay area.

Durkee served in the Army for 11 years, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his bio. Here’s what he shared in his introduction.

“I remember a particular incident like it was yesterday.  I was on a MSR (Main Supply Route) in an area called the Triangle of Death, Baghdad.  It got its name from the number of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) that were used against our convoys.  It was evening when our convoy left the safety of our compound to bring supplies to our neighboring FOB (forward operating base). Ten minutes into our route we heard and saw an explosion. The HMVV in front of us got hit by an IED. The convoy stopped immediately and moved to a defensive posture, ready for an ambush.  Unfortunately, we took on casualties that night.”

Durkee supported NATO forces in Afghanistan during a nine-month deployment in 2012-2013, according to his bio. He was a Chinook helicopter pilot, flying more than 68 missions.

He met people from Wounded Warriors of South Florida at an event at PGA National in November 2014 and drove to the office in Lake Park the next day to tell his predecessor, Howard Golin, he wanted to organize a 5K run. The event in October 2015 raised almost $19,000.

Dwyer High School teacher battling cancer gets the all-clear

 

Jennifer Brown, an English teacher at Dwyer High School, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Aug. 19. She was worried about how her 10th grade students will pass the FSA with a teacher who misses a lot of class because of her health. Brown's mom, Jane Brown, who taught in the district for 27 years, stepped up to be her sub. She comes in as a volunteer and helps on Brown's bad days. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Jennifer Brown, an English teacher at Dwyer High School, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Aug. 19. She learned this week that there are no more signs of cancer in her body. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Jen Brown, the Dwyer High School English teacher fighting ovarian cancer, got some very welcome news this week.

There are no more signs of cancer, she learned after a new type of blood test and another ultrasound.

“Words just don’t explain the relief and the happiness. I feel like I’ve been carrying a pile of bricks with all of the stress and the worry. That was totally lifted,” Brown said. “For an English teacher to not have any words, that means a lot.”

Jen Brown and her mom, Jane, a retired 10th grade English teacher and guidance counselor, have teamed up in the classroom. On the days when her daughter is away getting treatments, “Mama Brown” teaches the lessons Jen Brown prepared. She volunteers in the classroom for continuity on the other days.

Jen Brown’s dad, J.P., is with her in Houston. She received treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center there.

“We both cried,” she said.

Warning signs of ovarian cancer:

  • Bloating
  • Eating less but feeling full
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tiredness and trouble with the bladder

H.O.W., Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper, in Jupiter helps women with ovarian cancer with their financial needs. To make a donation, call 561-406-2109 or go to https://www.ovariancancerpbc.org/donate.

Here’s a reason for police body cameras you probably haven’t heard

New body camera equipment that records video and sound worn by West Palm Beach police officers August 20, 2015. The Department purchased 250 cameras for around $815,000.  (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
New body camera equipment that records video and sound worn by West Palm Beach police officers August 20, 2015. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Ask Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters what he thinks about police body cameras, and he’ll tell you the city needs to find a way to get them now.

Riviera Beach, after all, is an international city, and he’s worried about terrorism. While it may seem an unlikely target, Masters points out the city has the Port of Palm Beach, Ocean Mall, the John F. Kennedy Bunker, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection station and a marina.

“It’s better to be cautious and be preventive and preemptive rather than to react,” Masters said last week. “I’m saying we need them now.”

Masters, who went with a group of elected officials and clergy in November to press members of Congress and the Department of Justice to provide money for body cameras nationwide, said Riviera Beach can’t wait for the money for body cameras to come from somewhere else.

His comments came before a 30-year-old man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group on Thursday ambushed a Philadelphia police officer sitting in his marked cruiser at an intersection. The Associated Press reported the man wounded the officer, firing more than a dozen shots at point-blank range.

Masters said it’s his goal for every police officer in Riviera Beach to have body cameras.

“It’s good for police, and it’s good for citizens, because the body camera tells the story,” he said. “The body cam can show and tell us exactly what happened.”

Palm Beach Gardens City Council members voted last week to set aside $262,296 to purchase about 100 body cameras and have the program fully implemented by this summer. The fatal shooting of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old drummer and housing inspector, in October by police officer Nouman Raja prompted public calls for police body cameras and other changes.

Police Chief Stephen Stepp detailed changes at Thursday night’s meeting.