Volunteering at the AAYC by Ada Sanchez

My time volunteering at the AAYC,  by Ada Sanchez  March 7, 2016

ada sanchez

The Amarillo Activity Youth Center (AAYC) is a 501c3 non-profit that opened April 11, 2007. It is located at 816 S Van Buren, Amarillo, TX 79101.  The organization is investing their time to helping make sure the youth receive all the resources and programs to stay safe and off the streets.  The AAYC is not just for the youth there are programs for adults as well for instance; Zumba, juggling, self-defense and many others. All the staff are volunteers, no one is paid. Al proceeds go to the children to get more programs going and keeping them off the streets.  Volunteers during the month of October get together and display the famous haunted house, Van Buren Frightmare.

Many organizations focus on either having enough money or not having enough people helping but the AAYC’s primary problem is not getting the word out there about what all they do. Having kids and adults to help build together to make this organization even more great, for instance in June they will have a car show called Kars4kids and all the proceeds will go to the community center.

My time spent there was amazing.  The staff made me feel welcomed and it is an inviting atmosphere.  Saw the children be themselves and having fun, running around playing and interacting with each other brought a warm smile to my heart.  It makes me want to spread the word about this organization so that all families know that there is a place here in Amarillo that is family friendly and inviting to anyone.  There are so many activities to do and it is not expensive at all, the max is $3 but   that is a donation.  I saw teenagers interacting and playing with the younger children. This organization is not just run by adults there is a younger staff helping out and they have so many ideas to help improve their facility and Amarillo as well.

“Piaget believed that children’s moral judgements build on their cognitive development” (Myers, 2014 pg. 142). The AAYC organization is focused on the children, it helps them to understand that this is a place where they can go and feel safe and be able to grow in their development.  By seeing and experiencing a good environment it will make their little minds hake good moral judgements. “One way we learn is by association: (Myers, 2014 pg 238) Everyone learns by example of other people. Children are easily influenced either it is good or bad, but the AAYC is a good place to see that there are good things to experience.  By having volunteers who are willing to give their time up to help other children/adults and paving programs to help benefit both is a wonderful community enter.

I believe I will continue volunteering, it was a different experience that made me realize that I can Make a difference even if it is something small. I would like to see how much more this organization can expand in helping children and this community.  Matt Hite and his fellow volunteers have done a wonderful job providing for this establishment and I would like to see it grow even more.  Mabey from me staying and helping out I can use my ideas to make a new program or just by getting more people involved so that no child has to roam the streets and that they can be in a place where they know they are safe and cared for.

By Ada Sanchez


General Psychology

March 7, 2016
















AGN Article on Van Buren Frightmare

Amarillo Globe news writes about Van Buren Frightmare. Matthew Hite quoted:

Check out this link:


Van Buren Frightmare

The downtown Amarillo haunt will nearly double in size this year, thanks to the addition of a new outdoor area.

Matt Hite, AAYC executive director, said the haunt has more improvements inside, too.

“We got a lot more help and a more professional-type setup,” Hite said. “We had artists come in and paint the walls … with a lot more details.

“We’re going the extra mile to make everything look more … realistic,” he said.

The haunt features 43 actors in several rooms that are generally Dark Ages-themed, he said.

“We added more face paints, costumes — everything has a lot more oomph to it,” Hite said.

how to go

 What: Van Buren Frightmare

o When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31, plus Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28

o Where: 816 S. Van Buren St.

o How much: $25

o Information: 806-373-2292 or www.fearamarillo.com.

Can You Be Of Service?

huddleCLRWhenever people mention the word VOLUNTEER, very few show up to help out. I think most people think that volunteering for something might take up too much of their time. They view their time as being too valuable. As though they require monetary compensation for everything they do. Other people feel as though they do not have ENOUGH time to be of service. And that is what keeps them from showing up.

Either way, these people are WRONG. Volunteering does not have to take up ALL of your free time. As a matter of fact,in a lot of cases it is the smallest of things that has the largest impact on people.I know first hand how this can happen.

In 2007 I had major surgery for my breast cancer. I came out after 10 hours of surgery. A someone who was used to working out a lot, the year long recovery time seemed like an eternity. At the time  we had a golden retriever. Her name was Dutchess. She was probably the best dog I have ever had. As part of my come back after surgery, Dutchess and I started walking. I live not too far from the beach. And there is a walkway, that is two miles long.

Neither one of us was in great shape when we began walking together. I was just getting my strength back and Dutchess needed to lose a few pounds. We both got winded the first few times we walked within the first fifteen minutes. But we kept on going. It was not that long before we were walking a mile four to five days a week. It was during these walks that a curious thing .began happening.

One day we were walking along when to my right there was a woman in a wheelchair. She had positioned herself underneath the shade of a tree. As we went to pass by, Dutchess walked straight over to her. As she approached the woman in the chair, I had my heart in my throat. I was afraid she was going to try and jump into the woman’s lap.

But what happened next took my breath away and made my eyes fill with tears. Dutchess walked over to this woman and gently placed her head in the woman’s lap so she could be petted. All the while her tail was wagging as though she had found her  favorite toy. Over the next few years we met plenty of people along our walks who were disabled. I did not notice them myself. Dutchess had a radar for them. And every time we stopped  for her to give them some of her time they were endlessly grateful.

One little girl who had downs syndrome would not let us leave until her grandmother took a picture of her with Dutchess… the little girl was holding the leash in the picture…

I lost my beloved Dutchess two years ago to old age. But I have learned that anyone can volunteer. Even when you do not think you have anything to offer. One kind word or a few minutes to listen to someone who is all alone. These are the gifts that money cannot buy!!

Find a way to share your gift today!!

Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

By Matthew Hite Amarillo, Texas

YIPPEE it’s summer time, kids are out and about, staying up late, sleeping in… Some organized activies but LOT and LOT of free time…  WAIT!  Parents this is a fun time for your kids but please be vigilant with what your kids are doing and where they are going.

Sometimes kids go and stay at their friends houses for a day or two or hang out all day places.  Do you know where they are, exactly, and what they are doing?  If they are staying at a friends or neighbors, cousins, schoolmates, etc; Do you know who else is there and what type activities go on there?

This is a breeding ground for lots of activities that you may NOT want your kiddos involved in or it could be a great safe and enjoyable experience for your kiddos.  How do you know?

Did you know that Childcare’s are required to screen visitors and keep your kids safe but they are also required to allow parent to watch, visit, and see exactly what goes on in the childcare.  Even with this policy bad things happen in childcares everyday.  It would be GREAT if these same policies were in place everywhere our children go, but that’s not the case.  If your kiddos are going somewhere and you don’t have access to them or can’t check on them…… Something is WRONG!

Here is a quick check-list of things you can do to make sure your kiddos are safe AND not into anything you don’t want them to be in.

  1. Keep in touch, Cell phones are a great thing
  2. Be honest and open with your kids about expectations while they are away from the house.
  3. Know and talk with the parents, adults and people that are around your kiddos
  4. An unannounced drop by to check on your kiddos is a GREAT idea, anytime.
  5. Check your kiddos social media and internet and see what they are posting and who they are with
  6. If you are uncomfortable with a situation just tell your kiddo(s) “NO” but be real with them and tell them why.
  7. Talk with your kiddo(s) make sure they know how to keep there body safe AND to get away if they become uncomfortable for any reason.
  8. Let your kiddo(s) know that you are there fro them and even if they are embarrassed or uncomfortable;  they can trust you to be there for them, no matter what and that they can tell you anything, anytime!  Open honest dialog.
  9. Be part of your kiddos life, do things with them and there friends.  Take interest in them and their activities!

Please use this check-list when they go to friends houses, go to a camp, enroll in a program or spend a lot of time anywhere.

It’s important with all the drugs going around that your children know the boundaries you have set for them and that YOU help them keep those boundaries and help them stay safe and secure.  There are many predators out there as well; know whom your kiddos are around and what influences those people have on them and what they are doing.


Did you know that enrolling in a class, program or activity with your child is a great way to get to know them and learn with them?  You get to see their friends and interactions with others and become a more in-depth part of their life.  Your kiddo will learn that we all learn, even as parents and its ok not to be in control all the time.

It is important to note that some kiddos get embarrassed when their parents are directly involved.  Sometimes your kiddos need to be away to grow more independent and to learn on there own.  As a parent you  can’t shelter your kiddos and be there every second of everyday.


The AAYC has an open door policy, we invite you to come to any of our programs with your kid(s). Join the program and participate if you’ like.  The more adults and parent we have the better.  All our programs are designed so that the kiddos can go independently or with an older family member.


The AAYC also screens all our volunteers and staff to make sure they are safe and our administrative team is always watching the classes, programs, activities, other adults, parents and even kids because we want YOUR children to be safe.  Make sure the places your kiddos go are safe for your kids.

AAYC Child Safety Initiative

AAYC Child Safety Initiative Take a stand with us against Child Abuse

The AAYC Child Safety Initiative is one way WE work with our community, families and law enforcement agencies to keep your kids, our kids safe as we help develop them into future leaders of Amarillo.

Our goal is to help inform parents, please free free to copy and post this information. If you’d like to publish in pleae contact Matt.hite@amarilloyouth.net for permission.

What Childhood Is Made Of…

bronze-children-statues are long summer days filled with laughter and playing.That is for children who are healthy and living in a family structure that is loving and supportive. But summer can be long and torturous for those who are the victims of child abuse. If you are saying to yourself “I do not know any child who is being abused” you may not be able to recognize some obvious signs.

Children who are abused are usually afraid to speak up.They have been warned that something FAR worse will happen to them if they say anything to anyone. They remain silent also from a sense of shame. These feelings are drilled into their head from those who are abusing them. They have been told over and over again that they are stupid or unworthy of what everyone else is getting.

I knew of a child whose mother would hit her the majority of the time she was growing up. The mother never laid a finger on her older brother. One day the mother told the little girl that she knew exactly when to stop hitting her as to avoid causing any bruising. No one would ever suspect that the mother was abusing her. There were no outward signs and the mother had a prominent position in the town.

This plan would have worked indefinitely for the mother except for one thing. As the daughter grew up she developed an eating disorder. At one of her annual checkups the doctor told the mother that the child’s condition warranted contacting the authorities. The girl was close to being emaciated. She stood five feet four inches  tall and weighed a mere ninety eight pounds.

For the first time the mother was the one in the spotlight.Suddenly the little girls world changed dramatically for the better. Her mother went out of her way to make sure the child was eating every meal every day. That was something that had never happened before. It took that little girl a long time to get to a weight that was in normal range.

She was one of the lucky ones. Most of the time children remain silently imprisoned in a world created by the adults who surround them! The only way to create change is to BE the change!!

Lobsterfest 2015

The AAYC is excited to help the Amarillo Ara Adult Literacy Council and its event, Lobsterfest this year.

At the AAYC we are excited to reach-out and HELP non-profits in the area with free tickets to our Haunted House Attraction (Van Buren Frightmare).

If you work with a non-profit organization that could benefit from donated tickets to our haunted house PLEASE email us at info@amarilloyouth.net or call the AAYC directly 806 373-2292 and ask for Matthew Hite.

The AAYC (aka Van Buren Frightmare) Silent Auction for Lobsterfest, 20

The AAYC (aka Van Buren Frightmare) Silent Auction for Lobsterfest, 2015

New Beginnings…

its-amazing-how-someone-can-break-your-heart-but-you-still-love-them-with-all-the-little-piecesAre what life is made up of. It is also made up of endings as well. The truth be told one usually evolves into another whether we want it or not. Some of these new beginnings are laced with emotions dangling around someone or something that we had to leave behind. Maybe we are holding onto some emotions regardless of how the relationship ended . You see it is difficult to turn off our feelings even though our interaction may have ceased.

It is okay to start a new beginning carrying old emotions. You may be thinking that cannot be right!! But if you think about this for a  moment, you will realize that no matter what we do in life we carry with us some old emotions. Most of us remember our very first romantic relationship. Some of us will smile at the thought of it. While others will shake their heads in disbelief, wondering how they ever dated that person in the first place. Whichever situation you find yourself in, these emotions form the basis of all of your future relationships.  This is how we have learned what kind of person we are attracted to.

All of this is true with one very important exception, OUR CHILDREN.  They seem to be our Achilles Heel despite  the relationship we have with them.The entire time they are growing up, we as parents strive to make as many opportunities available to them as possible. Some of our children will jump on top of these situations while others will balk. But when they are grown and it is time for them to enter into their own lives, a new beginning unlike any other occurs.

Suddenly the house is quiet and lifeless. All those days of scampering footsteps are long past. Alone with our own thoughts, is not as appealing as it seemed when everyone was around. But within that silence there can be solace. Comfort that is in knowing that our children are now adults. They will be capable of making good decisions for themselves. Because of what WE have taught them. And if they slip and fall a little, that is okay too. It is all a part of becoming an adult. They do NOT need to hold your hand. That time has passed!

Your new beginning is right in front of you coupled with a successful past.Take all of those positives with you and use them to your advantage in your new pursuits. Whatever they may be!!

AAYC Receives 2015 Amarillo Award

Press Release



AAYC receives Amarillo Award for Youth Orgainizations

AAYC receives Amarillo Award fr non-profit youth organizations; 3 years in a row

Amarillo Award Program Honors the Achievement

AMARILLO June 4, 2015 — AAYC (Amarillo Activity Youth Center) has been selected for the 2015 Amarillo Award in the Youth Organizations category by the Amarillo Award Program.

Each year, the Amarillo Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Amarillo area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Amarillo Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Amarillo Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Amarillo Award Program

The Amarillo Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Amarillo area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Amarillo Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Amarillo Award Program

Fiddle Playing Frogs…

friendly frogsAre strewn within the Botanical garden in Amarillo. I can only read about them being there. But those of you who live in the area could probably have your picture taken with them if you went to visit the Botanical Garden. They look fairly friendly from the pictures I have seen. If you have never seen these fiddle playing reptiles, I  invite you to do so.  Yes they are part of the reptilian family! A nice little factoid I picked up in my research!

Being aware of the attractions in your area is extremely important. i know this first hand. I grew up in Salem Massachussetts  where the  House Of Seven Gables is set in a back lot of  a back street. As kids growing up, the house seemed dark and gloomy. It is after all a large black house that is dimly lit in the evenings. Most of my friends and I knew little of the house. Some of us knew that Nathaniel Hawthorne had written a book about the home. And he lived there for quite some time.

I became very aware of the importance of the House and some of the other attractions when my relatives from New Jersey would come to visit us every summer. There we were in the middle of the hottest day of the summer walking through a house without air conditioning. I do not believe they have heat either.  What an education I got from each of these visits.

Unlike my friends I got an up close look at what the living conditions were like for the early settlers in this part of the country. Every room is kept exactly to period standards. There are still the heating pots that were placed underneath the beds to keep people warm overnight. The original cook ware is in the kitchen, placed strategically in the hearth where everything was made over an open fire. The most fascinating tool was the toaster. It is a long piece of metal that holds one piece of bread at the end. The person would hold it over the fire until it was toasted.

I remember, it was about the fifth year in a row we went into the house for a visit. That was the year I could recite verbatim every word our guide was saying. As taxing as these visits were becoming, I was the envy of my friends. Most of whom had never entered the house and did not appreciate its significance.  To this day, I know of many people who have never entered any of the attractions in Salem and wish they had done so.

There is no time like the present to begin to DISCOVER what is around you!  One of these days I am going to have my picture taken ( if permissible) with one of those fiddle playing frogs!