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!!

For The Graduates…

for the graduates of 2015 I have a message. It is probably one you have heard many times before. I am fairly certain that every commencement speech sounds an awful lot alike. In fact you could block your ears and be able to tell what they are going to say.All of us adults drone on and on about what to do after graduation. We emphasize how lucky you all are as well as how there is an abundance of opportunity ahead for you.

While you are thinking to yourself “OH great here we go again.” Think about this. How many of the people you started high school with did NOT make it to this day. Maybe they are sitting around secretly thinking they have outsmarted YOU. But they are only fooling themselves. They are also dooming themselves to a life filled with upward battles. And in some cases wars.

We all know that we can make life whatever we want it to be, however there is an expiration date on some dreams. I still have never seen a major league baseball,football or basketball player begin their career at the age of thirty or forty. Have you? For careers that involve extreme physical agility the window of time is short.

That is why many of us adults are pleading with you to try and bring your dreams to life NOW while you are young. There will be plenty of time to get an office job where you work in a cubicle using a computer for eight hours a day. If you have a talent regardless of what they may be … NOW is the time to go ahead and audition for that part in the Broadway play or try out for that major league team on open call day.Because when you get older you will not have any regrets over not HAVING tried. You may not make it. I am not going to fill you with a lot of false promises.

But what you will know is how FAR you can go. Until you try everything else is just a guess!

2015 Kars4Kids Car, Truck and Bike Show

3rd Annual–Kars4Kids Car, Truck and Bike Show 

This great family event was help on June 5, 2015.  It was originally scheduled for May 23 but because of heavy flooding rains the event was postponed.  Our event Director was Rudy Rodriguez and Matthew Hite.  DJ Mike Megamix (Michael Potter) made his first appearance as the AAYC’s official DJ.  We had quite a few great vendors and a lot of local support at the event.  There were two other local car shows on the same day and a major Car Show in Albuquerque, NM as well but our event was a lot of fun and raise funds for the Amarillo Activity Youth Center.

Also we joined forces with Coffee Memorial Blood Center and did a blood drive at the event were 19 people presented themselves to donate blood.  It’s great to reach out and work with other great non-profits in Amarillo and to help SAVE a life with the gift of blood.

Click these links for more info

Ch4 Coverage

Pictures from the event

Pictures of the Event from Amarillo Globe News 

You Tube Recap Video

The 2016 Kars4Kids Event will be on June 11, 2016.  Mark your calendars now!

2015 Kars4kids Car, bike and truck Show

2015 Kars4kids Car, bike and truck Show

AAYC Kars4kids Car Show

2015 Kars4Kids Car, truck and Bike Show, hosted by the AAYC. Picture by Matt Hite

2015 Kars4Kiids Car, Truck and Bike Show

2015 Kars4Kids Car, truck and Bike Show, hosted by the AAYC. Picture by Matt Hite

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!

Center City Mayhem


Center City Mayhem is a professional level haunted house that is also the primary fundraiser for the Amarillo Activity Youth Center.  Each year around 5,000 people from around Amarillo come out to get their socks scared off of them.  The Haunted house opens every year in October on Fri and Sat nights from 7:00-midnight.

The official web-site for Center City Mayhem is and the contact phone is 806-373-2292.  For online discounts everyone can follow the Mayhem Facebook instagram @fearamarillo and the AAYC instagram @amarilloyouth.  Also we have coupons up in all the Toot ‘n Totum stores and throughout the city of Amarillo.

Our History

Since 2007 the AAYC has been involved in the Haunted Business.  We started out slow with a small set-up hiring/sub-leasing, owning no props or equipment at all  but now (since 2009)  have expanded to be one of the major haunted houses in the area.  We have purchased two complete haunted houses and spent thousands and thousands of dollars accumulating the best props we can.  Our youth, staff and supporters build most of our props.  Since 2007 we have been scaring people, and raising funds for our youth center.

Our Staff

The Mayhem staff is ran by the youth, parents and families that make up the Amarillo Activity Youth Center.  Under the direction of Matthew Hite, AAYC Executive Director, this fundraiser keeps our youth center up and running and is our primary fundraiser.

The youth at the AAYC take on the project each year.  It’s a learning process for them.  We teach them how to frame walls, use basic tools,  paint, square, design sets, act, make costumes, sound, lighting effects and much more.  The haunted house is born out of the ideas of the youth at the center.

We take safety of our youth and those going through our haunted house VERY serious.  All the leaders of the center and of our haunted house go through an application process and a background check each year.

We do allow new people into the process each year.  If you are interested in Scaring people  and helping a great non-profit shoot us an e-mail:

For profit?

It’s important to understand that Center City Mayhem is NOT about lining anyone’s pockets with money.  All the funds raised go to support the youth of Amarillo through the center. The AAYC’s website is if you’d like more info about the AAYC, or please take a few minutes to read our other blog post!

The haunted house at the AAYC has always been part of a great group of people who work together to help make all the haunted house in Amarillo great.  This group is known as Amarillohaunts.  If your trying to find out which Haunted Houses to go to this season, check out the Official Haunted house map and info on the website.


The entire city of Amarillo has been very supportive of our haunted house and we look forward to the continued support!

The Youth of Today

The Youth of Today


We have all heard it, “The youth of today…” fill in the blank, it has been said. The most common I hear is this: “The youth of today have no ambition”. People can talk all they want to about the youth of today, but all they are doing is just that, talking. In order for things to change, something must be done, something for Amarillo’s youth. When AAYC opened their doors many youth saw it as a place they could go to have fun and be safe. A place where they could go and learn something new and get to know other people who they may not have ever met.

I participated in several community service events at the AAYC in order to get into the program I wanted to for college, and I worked with several people who were there for other reasons. We were expected to respect each other and get along, which was not hard because when it came down to it, we were all kids needing something this program had to offer. These times taught me a lot about the other kids, some did not have access to food and some did not have goals once they got out of high school. I saw several occasions the staff making sure these kids had food and talking to them about college admissions. Looking back at it now, I am glad this program was able to go above an beyond for the kids that needed it.

The program I was most involved in as a teenager was the fencing program. I started in the program when I was in middle school and continued it as it changed into the AAYC program. The idea of fencing brings many ideas to mind: from using pickets and nails to the older form of fencing. The AAYC offers the modern Olympic style classes one night a week, but what most do not realize, it teaches you more than swordplay.

During my years in the program I was taught how to work in a team; relying on others and having others rely on me for our success. Even though fencing is an individual sport, having others there to support you and guide you is important, even if it is to hand you a bottle of water.

I learned what sportsmanship is about. In fencing you can loose over and over, and still move on to the elimination rounds. What I found unique about fencing is the level of respect that is asked win or loose. You salute each other and the referee each bout and you shake hands at the end. After a loss it was not uncommon for your opponent to coach you in what you should have done. I don’t know of any other sport where your opponent will help improve your skills.

As for ambition, I learned what it was going to take to succeed and I worked towards it. I was not aiming to be an Olympic level fencer, but rather someone who was enjoying something they loved.

Though I am no longer involved fully with the fencing program, its lessons will always stick with me. Think before you act, follow the rules or you will injure yourself, be there for your team and most of all work towards your goals. This program is here to serve the youth of Amarillo and guide them to being the best person that they can be. The AAYC has had an impact on my current life, leading me to currently working on my masters degree so I too can work with children who are needing someone that they know is there for them, just as I have seen this program do.

carajohnson1      This blog post was written By Cara Johnson