With fistfuls of play money on the line, blackjack players wait for the turn of a card that might make them a winner. This is the scene at one of "21" for Fun's professional-grade tables, where swift-handed dealers place cards in a wide fan and guests vie for faux dough. Along with blackjack, the traveling casino offers such games as poker, roulette, and 52-card pickup for events and parties.
The staff members at Sylvan Learning's numerous centers understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don’t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they design custom lesson programs based on the results of a skills assessment using diagnostic tools and one-on-one interviews.
Tutors work with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan’s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. Camps and after-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.
Since 1995, the non-profit certified credit counselors at Debt Counseling Corporation have guided thousands of people toward brighter financial futures. Their approach is straightforward: listen to the client describe their goals and financial situation, and then develop an action plan based on that information. Beyond Action Plans, the company can devise strategies for managing debt, share tips for budget planning, and even help formulate short- and long-term goals for clients seeking guidance. Their approach has evidently been successful—they were voted the best debt-consolidation service in 2013 by Best of Long Island, and the company's education director was recently featured as an expert on NBC's The Economic Crisis: Surviving the Storm with Chuck Scarborough. As a non-profit organization, Debt Counseling Corporation also provides many of its ongoing services for free, and also offers bilingual services. Outside of pain-free budgeting, DCC offers bankruptcy services and housing counseling, as well.
Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard started in 1978, when newlyweds Ed and Monica Harbes bought some land and began growing potatoes and cabbages to support their family. Ed, a 13th-generation farmer, worked with his father to get the business up and running. As the years passed, the couple's children started to work on the farm as well. Eventually, all the family's tomatoes, sweet corn, and growing brood of scarecrows outgrew their original plot of land, and the family expanded into three separate locations—which Ed and Monica's eight children still operate. As the Harbes plow and harvest the fields, visitors at each location can stock up on fresh produce and participate in seasonal activities. An 6-acre Wild West corn maze draws visitors to Jamesport farm, whereas at Riverhead farm, the fall season brings opportunities to pick apples and pumpkins. Another 5-acre Robin Hood-themed corn maze entertains the masses while a spooky moonlight corn maze cast spells of fall splendor. Visitors to the Mattituck location—the largest farm—can shop for fresh produce in the market or relax in the wine-tasting barn. Amid its warming and inviting wood walls, servers pour selections from Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard's award-winning wines, which Winemaker Ed Harbes IV creates using his vineyard's vinifera clones. But as much as the Harbes family loves food and wine, it also devotes a large portion of time to environmental preservation. The farmers use locally sourced compost to reduce to need for commercial fertilizer, and as of 2012, they have placed more than 50 acres into conservation easement, ensuring that the land is never developed or used to grow an army of giant brussels sprouts.