camdenpropertieswithwamataaccess

Metro Accessible Camden Apartments in the DC Area

camdenpropertieswithwamataaccess

If you are not familiar with the DC Metro area, just know one thing: traffic is intense. You may have read my previous blog post about commuting traffic on the Capital Beltway, and how much of a nightmare it can be. The great news is that there are several Camden communities in this area that are close to Metro stations, or offer close proximity to public transportation.

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss

All of us have experienced hardships at some point in our lives during the holiday season. Whether it is due to monetary reasons, sickness, or being separated from our loved ones, the holidays can be a difficult time of year for a lot of people. Luckily, there are a lot of charities out there that really try to make sure that those in need have a great Christmas. This year, at Camden, we volunteered at the Salvation Army and for other charities in our offices across the country.

Seven years ago, my family found ourselves struggling to have a happy Christmas. My infant son had been in the hospital for almost three months in the ICU fighting for his life. We were faced with celebrating our first Christmas with him in the hospital. Because of our son having to have been in the hospital for so long, we were having a hard time providing Christmas for our family. Luckily for us, Toys for Tots exists.

The US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots’ mission is to provide new, unwrapped toys, which they collect starting as early as October, to children who are less fortunate the communities that they serve as well as children in hospitals. Their goal is to give these children a message of hope that will assist them in becoming productive citizens. In addition to the toy drive, Toys for Tots sponsors other fundraising events throughout the year such as golf tournaments and races in order to raise funds. There are collection bins a various businesses, as well, to collect the toys.

Because of Toys for Tots and their generous sponsors we had a wonderful Christmas that year. We were also able to obtain toys for our two year old son, as well. It made a hard time just a little bit easier and put smiles on our children’s faces.268216_518579308165656_433062176_n

In the spirit of the season, please reach out to others. Even small things count. Say kind words to a stranger. Push the door open button on the elevator for that annoying co-worker who is trying to get into the elevator.  Help that cranky elderly neighbor with her groceries. You never know whose life you might touch.

#CamdenHealthy

As one of the  Fortune 100 Best Place to Work For® (eight years in a row), it is well documented that Camden Property Trust has a great culture, wonderful benefits and caring people. I have come across one more ingredient that makes up Camden’s secret sauce:

A Healthy Camden is a Happy Camden

#CamdenHealthy running run

For the past four years Camden has participated in corporate runs in multiple cities. We first started out in Orlando with only 16 participants and this past year we had over 105 runners and walkers! Participation keeps growing and growing every year. Camden uses running to build comradery, add to our culture and stay fit all at the same time.

2015 Orlando IOA Corporate 5k with 105 participants!

2015 Orlando IOA Corporate 5k with 105 participants!

2015 Kaiser Permanente Corporate 5k in Atlanta. Camden’s first year of participation with 50 participating from a workforce of 107!

2015 Kaiser Permanente Corporate 5k in Atlanta. Camden’s first year of participation with 50 participating from a workforce of 107!

 

Not only does each corporate 5k bring our Camden employees together, they also raise money for local charities and food banks. By participating and bringing food donations we help feed and clothe local families.

#CamdenMarathon

As we enter a new year here is my challenge to everyone (yes everyone), run or walk a marathon, a Camden Marathon! That’s 26.2 miles. I know that sounds crazy but, here is how we all can accomplish this goal:

  1. Starting on January 2nd commit to walking or running 1 mile every day.
  2. It can be on a track, treadmill or neighborhood…it all counts.
  3. For some us it takes 10 minutes and for some it might take 25. Do it at your own pace.
  4. Walk or run for 26 days from January 2nd through January 31st.
  5. On February 1, 2016 you will have completed your first Camden Marathon!

At Camden it is all about challenging yourself to be a better person and achieve your goals. You should know your limits, but still push yourself so you can achieve great success.

Not only will the Camden Marathon help kick off your healthy New Year’s resolution, but you may catch the running fever and complete more than 1 mile every day. Share your progress with @CamdenLiving and use the hashtags #CamdenMarathon and #CamdenHealthy. We look forward to seeing your results!

Ed Malone is a Regional Vice President for Camden and is responsible for overseeing all facets of property operations related to Camden's 13,000 apartment homes located in Florida and Georgia. Ed has been with Camden for 35 years.

Ed Malone is a Regional Vice President for Camden and is responsible for overseeing all facets of property operations related to Camden’s 13,000 apartment homes located in Florida and Georgia. Ed has been with Camden for 35 years.

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Top 6 Reasons Gift Cards are the Best Gifts

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Gift cards are truly the best gift to give during the holidays. There is nothing worse than opening a gift from a relative that barely knows you and seeing something you would never want. I don’t want to sound greedy or rude, but if I can help spare someone the title of giving the worst gift, I will.

Almost every retail location, restaurant and service offers a gift card. There are some that have set amounts, and even some that offer the option to choose your amount.

Here are my top 6 reasons why gift cards are the best option for holiday gift giving.

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gifts

Are you a good gift giver?

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photo courtesy of McDaniel Music

 

Seeing as Christmas is right around the corner, it’s time to ask yourself, “Am I a good gift giver?” For those of you who said yes instantly- give yourself a pat on the back for another year in the books of amazing gift giving! I am sure your friends and family appreciate your skills. Now for those of you who were little hesitant to answer yes, or even flat out said no, I have some tips for you on how to boost your gift giving game up just time for the holidays!

Giving the perfect gift is not easy. There are many factors you need to consider when picking out the right gift and some guidelines to follow. First comes first-price. Regardless of how much money you have, price is often the deciding factor when purchasing a gift. The best advice I can give is to budget yourself for the holidays, and stick to it. Try to plan out ahead of time and decide about how much you are going to spend on each person. You don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money to get a great gift. Look for coupons, and sales, and remember is really is “the thought that counts”. On the flip side of that-don’t be cheap either. The whole point of giving a gift is for the person to actually use it and enjoy it, getting them something cheap is pointless and a little embarrassing.

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photo courtesy of apprisen

Next big thing is to really put some thought into it. Never get a gift to just get a gift. Don’t rush through shopping for people and pick up anything you can find. Do a little research about their hobbies, interests and favorite things to do. Get them something they can use in their home, or for an upcoming trip. Listen throughout the year when they say, “Oh, I would love one of these!” Personally, I am anti- gift card, I think it is very impersonal, but sometimes a gift card is the right pick. There are those friends and family members who are super picky and hard to please. Or for those of you like myself who have to travel for the holidays- a gift card is the smart choice.

 

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Look at this cute idea! The gift card wrapped in the cup! Photo courtesy of pinterest. 

This leads to my next advice tool. Be creative and original! Buying something original and unique really makes the gift stand out from all the other presents under the tree. You can even spruce up your gift card!! Put it in a small present, a coffee mug, or a koozie, tie it to a candle with some ribbon, the list of possibilities is endless. Adding a personal touch makes the world of a difference. Also, I’m sure we have all ordered something that did not come in on time. Don’t worry; you can still give them something to open. Instead of just telling them their present isn’t here yet, print out a picture of the gift, put it in a little frame and wrap it or tie some ribbon around the picture. Check out the ideas on Pinterest. Trust me, it’s much better than not having anything to open.

Lastly and most importantly give from the heart. Remember, it is always better to give than receive. The holidays are truly about surrounding yourself with people you love, and they will love you regardless of your gift giving skills. They might just love you a little more if you get them the present of their dreams! #nailedit

Remodeled Bar

GUAD: Houston’s Texas Chef-Mex Sensation

Guad Texas Chef-Mex

Looking for a new restaurant to try in the Houston area? I had the pleasure of dining at GUAD Texas Chef-Mex today with a new cuisine that is to die for! After the old Guadalajara weathered an attic fire back in August 2013, the restaurant was updated and renovated with a new gorgeous dining room, atrium, and stunning bar. If you’re a resident at Camden Greenway, Camden Plaza, or Camden Vanderbilt– this restaurant is only 5 minutes away!

Remodeled Bar

I spoke with Phillip, the owner, about their menu changes and new decor. He stated their new menu consists of 90% customer favorites and 10% new flavorful recipes. Their menu features Vegetarian and Gluten-free options on the front page, which made me so happy! I ordered the Portobello Renello which was a eye-pleasing tower of flavor with a fried portobello mushroom, topped with roasted vegetables and a guacamole salad. Can you say YUM? And for dessert we finished off with the Painted Churros, a treat given to us to sample by the owner, which was a mouth-watering delight dipped in Heath Bars and Butterfingers, paired with cinnamon ice cream. I might’ve died and gone to heaven for a few minutes there! You can view all of their new menu items online here.

Portabello Renello

Guad menu cover

Painted Churros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t believe how beautiful their new decor was. If you have family coming in for the holidays and need a large dining room to get together, you should definitely reserve their beautiful extended dining area! I think I may reserve this space for my husband’s birthday coming up soon! I heard they have Red Velvet Tres Leches cake with a topping like Creme Brulee….excuse me while I wipe my drool….

Reserved DiningThe new GUAD definitely gets five stars in my book for Houston’s top restaurants. They aren’t specially advertising for their re-opening as the owner said he’s letting the customers speak for themselves. Spread the word, try a new dish, and enjoy GUAD!

~Cali Hix

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Photo Courtesy of: http://www.bellymotions.com/dance-classes/zumba/

Taking the Work Out of Workout

Have you ever been to a Zumba Class? It’s like a super fun dance party with easy choreographed moves that make you forget that you’re even working out. The best part is, that you don’t even need to know how to dance to join in on the fun!

One thing you should know about Camden is that we really like to have fun! We had brain stormed so many fun ideas for resident events.-food trucks, pool party, etc. when we came across the idea of hosting a Zumba class here at Camden Plantation. We figured being that we have this enormous racquetball court, why not take advantage of our wonderful amenities?

We started to research local Zumba instructors in the area and reached out to a few of them. I emailed Catherine and immediately she was on board. We started promoting the event through our Facebook, Twitter, and flyers. We asked residents to RSVP through the mycamden.com portal.

There were 25 people RSVP’ed for the class, and we were so eager to see the turnout and ready to have some fun. Cristina, one of our amazing leasing consultants, and I decided to stay and take part of this awesome event. People that were registered and even some that hadn’t, showed up and were ready to get their dance on. The class was so fun and the instructor was great too! She was very patient and involved and danced with us and in between us. It was only one hour and you wouldn’t even think that with all the laughter and smiles that you we were burning calories. The group had  such a good time, that they asked for an encore!

We will now be hosting Zumba classes at Camden Plantation every Thursday at 7pm starting December 3rd. So if you haven’t taken a Zumba class yet or are looking for a great place to have fun with your neighbors, come to our very own Zumba class!

 

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My Official Pumpkin Pie Primer- The 3 Main Components to Consider for Successful Pumpkin Pie Making

When most of us think of Thanksgiving, some of us will automatically picture a turkey and all of the trimmings. For those of us who like our dessert, first, we think of PUMPKIN PIE. And, if you are like my husband, you dream of pie with a pound of whipped cream on top.

For most of the population, it does not matter to you how your pumpkin pie gets to the table. I, personally, agonize over how I am going to make mine each year because I am just that kind of person. I have a goal that each year I will try to do something slightly to my pie different in hopes of topping the year before. I drive my family crazy, but they enjoy the results.

A basic homemade or semi-homemade pumpkin pie has three main components: crust, pumpkin filling, and whipped cream. Each component can be store-bought, semi-homemade, or homemade.

  1. The Crust: The crust is the foundation upon which a pie is created. In the past, I have opted for a premade crust because they are beautiful and all that you have to do is pour your pumpkin filling in. Plus, there are so many types of premade pie crusts available if you like variety. However, for the past few years, I have opted to make my own homemade crust that I would find off of Pinterest or out of my old Betty Crocker The basic ingredients in a homemade crust are eggs, butter or shortening, flour, and a liquid. The ratios of each of these ingredients determine the texture of your pie. This year, I am going to make The Pioneer Woman’s “Sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust”. What makes it different than other recipes that I’ve tried, before, is the addition of vinegar. We’ll see how it goes…
  2. The Filling: The biggest decision you must make…
    1. Pumpkin: There are three options in choosing what type of pumpkin to use- canned pumpkin pie filling, canned pureed pumpkin, or fresh pumpkin puree. Libby makes a mighty fine pumpkin filling with wonderful self-explanatory instructions printed on the label that is pre-seasoned. No fuss, no muss. I was perfectly fine with using this method and grew-up with our homemade pies being made using this type of filling. Two years ago, I had a lot of time on my hands and decided to buy a pie pumpkin. I then roasted and pureed it. I made my pumpkin pie using this fresh pumpkin and I fell in love! In my opinion, the fresh pumpkin is much lighter tasting. A word of caution, make sure to strain your fresh pumpkin puree. I made that mistake the first time by omitting this step and it made for an almost burnt pie crust and watery filling. Another word of warning, pie pumpkins might be hard to find in your area so you may have to shop around. I purchased my pumpkins at Whole Foods this year.
    2. The other decision to make in regards to the filling is whether to use sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk with sugar. That’s a tough one- I have made my pies with either. I personally feel that sweetened condensed milk makes for a richer tasting filling.
    3. The last major component of the filling is the spices. When you opt to use fresh or canned pumpkin puree, you have the opportunity to adjust your spice ratios to your liking instead of its taste being predetermined. This is a great option for those who are sensitive to over-spiced pies. In my case, I am going to toast my spices- I just saw that on TV and it looks like a good idea.
  3.   Whipped Topping: When you are ready to eat your pumpkin pie, you have to think about what you are going to top it with. The nice thing about the times that we live in is we have so many options for whipped topping: Cool Whip, canned, or homemade whipped cream. My family likes all options, sometimes in massive quantities to the point that I must hide it. I just made a pie a few weeks ago and I used Reddi Whip. This Thanksgiving, since my mom will be there and making it for me, we will use homemade whipped cream. I am such a nice daughter…

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Making a pumpkin pie is not a daunting task- anyone can do it. Have fun and get creative. Another option is to switch it up and instead of making one big pie, make mini pies. Or, just skip the pie making altogether and find yourself a great bakery that will pile your pie high with whipped cream. There are also other ways to enjoy pumpkin if you are not a pie person. Either way, have fun and please enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Dinner table thanksgiving

Easy DIY Holiday Recipes!

Gobble gobble gobble! Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and you know what that means! It means yummy goodness to overfill your belly and cause that traditional tummy misery that we all love so very much. It is that time of year where over eating is expected and encouraged and diets and calorie counting is absolutely not allowed. This is one of my favorite times of the year and I cannot wait to get together with my loved ones and over indulge.

Here now comes the dread question… What do you bring to the family dinner? Do you opt for paper goods and drinks? Or do you go for the store bought desserts?  This year you will go for neither! I have some great quick recipes that are super simple to make and even faster to whip up! These are great recipes that you and your family are sure to love!

Grape Salad: This will make a large salad. Feel free to cut the ingredients in half for a smaller salad)

What you will need: 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract,  2 pounds seedless red grapes,  2 pounds seedless green grapes (I like both types of grapes),3 tablespoons brown sugar,  3 tablespoons chopped pecans

Directions: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until blended. Add the grapes slowly and toss/stir around until covered in the mixture. Once all of the grapes are in, keep blending until they are all coated with the mixture.

Transfer into the serving bowl you want out on display. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans just before serving.

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Photo from: dishmaps.com

No Bake Snicker Pie: This is one of my favorites that my aunt makes for our holiday get together. Actually, we have her make this every time we get together if we can talk her into it. I am sure it will be a favorite at your table as well!

What you will need: 1 Oreo cookie pie crust (store bought is the easiest) , 1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese, ½ cup dulce de leche, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1- (8 oz.) package Cool Whip, 3 Snickers candy bars (you will need to chop these up into smaller pieces)

Directions: Spread 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche on the bottom of the pie prepared pie crust . Sprinkle 1 of the chopped Snickers bars over the bottom of the pie crust.

In a large bowl, beat ¼ cup of the dulce de leche with the cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in Cool Whip and beat mixture until creamy and fluffy, scraping the sides as needed to ensure everything is fully incorporated. Add in 1 chopped Snickers bar.

Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Dollop the remaining 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche around the top of the pie and swirl in with a knife. Top with remaining chopped Snickers. You can also choose to add additional peanuts to the top or drizzle with chocolate for added flavor.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Snickerpie

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Cornbread Casserole: I am a lover of cornbread so this is a recipe I use all year long! I have this at my own dinner table often and I am sure you will too.

What you will need: 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained and 1 can cream-style corn, 2 eggs 1  (8 ounce) package dry corn bread mix (I like Jiffy), 1 cup sour cream 8 ounces Shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees, lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine corn, reserved liquid, eggs, corn bread mix and sour cream; stir until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool some before serving.

Corn casserole

Allrecipes.com

I hope these quick and easy recipes will help ease the stress level as your wonder aimless in stores trying to figure out what to bring to the holiday dinner! These are always a favorite at our dinner table and I am sure that they will be at hit at yours as well. The real meaning of the holiday is to simply gather around and be thankful for all that we have and most of all for one another. We all need that reminder every once in awhile… click here for one. Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and what it really means as you turn these moments in your Camden home into life long memories. Eat up and enjoy!

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Camden Cares for YOU, Houston!

Have you ever gone to bed beyond tired, but in a good way? This is the tired that you feel after sweating all day in the Texas heat for a good cause.   You feel so good that you can even ignore how bad you smell afterwards… This is how many of us in Houston felt after our Camden Cares volunteer days.

As with other Camden offices, the Houston and corporate offices partnered with Rebuilding Together Houston to help the aged, disadvantaged, and or disabled out with fixing up their homes. Camden committed to rehabilitating 15 homes here in Houston this year; 8 having been completed on September 23-24 and the remaining 7 were completed on October 7-8. As with other cities, volunteers from all corners of the organization helped out with this cause. Everyone from vice presidents to average employees work side by side to accomplish our goal- to put smiles on the homeowners’ faces.

The houses that we are assigned by Rebuilding Together Houston are first toured and screened by a taskforce of Camden employees in order to assess what needs to be done in each of our assigned homes. Camden employees go out to the homes the day before to try to complete some of the preliminary work such as pressure washing or organizing and gathering supplies to insure that the each of the volunteer days run smoothly. Our crews show up early in the morning, receive their assignments, and get cracking. It is like watching an orange Camden swarm overtaking a house!

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Mrs. Terrel’s house Camden Cares Crew. What a lovely lady! – Samantha Dickerson

One of the best things about your volunteer day is hearing everyone’s stories. You hear stories about employees’ past experiences volunteering for Rebuilding Together and the homeowners that they had the pleasure of meeting. This was my first experience with Camden working for Rebuilding Together. I had volunteered in another city for another company with this same organization years ago, but it did not feel as good as this experience that I had with Camden. One of the homeowners that we were helping was a beautiful 80 year old lady and mother of three children. In her home, she had fostered over 100 children over the years. Some of which she still has contact with today. The best part of our day was seeing the smile on her face when she saw her home re-painted for the first time.

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Here’s a picture of me and the amazing team I got to spend the day with in front of the house we worked on. – Stephanie Oribhador

On a side note, the other benefit of Camden Cares is meeting and spending time with people who we may not get to interact with on a daily basis. As a Camden newbie, it was great to hear about how long many of the employees have worked with the company. It just shows how much our employees love Camden. It also showed me how much our employees care about the community and provided us with a unique opportunity to give back.

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Mrs. Terrel’s dog, Coco.

Camden Cares is something we at Camden look forward to every year! No matter how much paint you get on yourself or how beat up you feel at the end of the day, it’s always such a special feeling to truly make a difference in someone else’s life. Even Coco’s…

This was a collaboration from Stephanie Oribhador and myself.

Hark! The Texas Renaissance Festival

The Texas Renaissance Festival

Dates from the TRF website!

When I think of fall in coastal Texas I think of bagpipes, jousting, corsets and mead! I am of course referring to the Texas Renaissance Festival, the world’s largest Renaissance festival. The Fair runs from the second week of October through Thanksgiving weekend every year and attracts people from all over for some ye olde fun. The dates this year are October 10th-November 29th.

Whether you have been to a Renaissance festival before or not, the Texas Renaissance Festival has something for everyone. Fair-goers enjoy shows all day long that include music from the time period, hilarious comedy acts and amazing dancers and acrobatics. Come with an appetite because the fair has foods common to the time period from many different countries. Be ready to enjoy good alcohol too as the fair has a wonderful wine and mead assortment plus an onsite brewery.

Vendors from across the world come to display their handcrafted jewelry, clothing, oils and more! With a different theme every weekend, the TRF, as it is commonly called, is also filled with activities for kids from medieval carnival rides to face painting. There is absolutely never a dull moment.

One of the best parts about the fair is the people watching. Many fair-goers dress up either in medieval clothing or in a costume that goes with the theme of the weekend. You are always guaranteed to see costumes that astound and delight. The front of the fair has costumes to rent as well so that you can blend in! If you are feeling bold ahead of time, you can easily make a costume and blend in yourself like I did last year.

Texas Renaissance Festival

We had so much fun doing Day of the Dead makeup on All Hallow’s Eve Weekend that we’re making it a tradition!

Like I said, the TRF has something for everyone, but what I love most about it is the freedom that it gives visitors to let go of our busy 21st century lives for a day and to get a glimpse of how people used to eat, dress and be entertained…sort of.

Houston dwellers have a quick 45-minute drive to the fairgrounds in Plantersville, and even though it does take about 3 hours from Dallas and Austin, it is worth the car ride.

Check out the TRF this fall! You won’t regret it. They have group rates on tickets and If you like the Texas Renaissance Festival Facebook page, you will get inside info about their ticket sales.

Camden Cares – Tampa, FL – Paying it Forward at it’s Finest!

Helping the homeless, making paracord bracelets for our troops overseas, welcoming our veterans home
from an honor flight to DC… These are just a few ways that Camden employees volunteer to show our love and support for the community we live in. What I’m talking about is Camden Cares, a yearly nationwide effort. We’re more than just a community: we’re family!

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The most recent Camden Cares event in Tampa, Florida where we helped paint the interior of the Starting Right Now campus, which is a program that meets the needs of the growing population of homeless families and children in Hillsborough County.

This was an extremely heartwarming event not only because of the bonds we made with our community and each other, but also because it was our second time helping Starting Right Now. Last year we helped paint the exterior of the campus and we also got down and dirty with some landscaping. We pulled weeds, cut branches from fences, we raked, and we planted. We poured our StartingRightNowLogoCamden blood, sweat, and tears into this incredible project.

We’re helping our community and we’re helping each other. We’re doing great things and we’re giving back to those who have given so much to us! When you do great things, great things begin to happen everywhere. It’s like a contagious happiness!

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Keep following our blog to learn more about what Camden Cares is all about and to learn what we have planned for upcoming volunteer events – Because I’m happy!

#CamdenCares #CamdenHappy