Feature Story: Jack Kosik’s Ark

What happens when individuals with “intellectual disabilities” lose their main center of support? Their parents, what happens when their parents leave this world and leave their sons and daughters behind with no one to care for them? If only there was a facility “designed to be sensitive to the unique needs of individuals who are intellectually challenged” and for a long time there was no such place.  Before 1997 there was no such place in Florida and as well as there being no place there were some troubling facts around this time concerning those with developmental disabilities in Florida:

  • The State of Florida ranked 47th nationally in providing support services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
  • 93% of Special Education Students with developmental disabilities that received a certificate of attendance will be unemployed and most will remain that way for their entire life.

Noah’s Nest, “an ‘in-town’ neighborhood ideally located close to shopping, public transportation, restaurants and employment.  This neighborhood provides eleven individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live independently and freely engage in the community while living in a supported-living environment…” as it is described on Noah’s Ark website.

Kosik sees the Noah’s Landing community to come as a “Mayberry” type place a la The Andy Griffith Show, where everyone in the community helps out one another and takes care of each other.

It’s an in-town housing situation that has about 108 units and 200 tenants with disabilities.  This living area gives individuals the chance to learn how to live on their own, but still be in a caring environment.  That is what separates Noah’s Ark from other programs, because the Agency for Persons with Disabilities only assign individuals to a group home or something of that nature when the parents die or are too old to care for them.

Noah’s Ark allows them to get out on their own when every one else is setting out for college.  And in relation to college Noah’s Ark even has program with Florida Southern College that acts as a Transitional program and is described as: “An innovative partnership with a 90% success rate at preparing ESE students for independent living and acquiring competitive employment BEFORE THEY GRADUATE…” on the Noah’s Ark website and was also named “Best Exceptional Student Education Program in Florida” in 2005.

All of these things combined are what make Noah’s Ark different; it gives off a sense of freedom but not freedom in sense of being alone.  The tenants live in a community where people who care for them surround them, but they still are for all intents and purposes living “on their own.”

Jack Kosik is one of those people, he cares for them Kosik, the man behind “Noah’s Nest” and eventually “Noah’s Landing,” he does essentially every job for the community he has created.  He does everything from changing light bulbs in the units to getting laws changed to make Noah’s Ark possible.  Such regulations that have been changed like, “an Administrative Rule from the Florida Medicaid Handbook that limits how many people with developmental disabilities can live in a given area.” Which Kosik said took nine months to get the rule removed.

There was also a little problem with the neighboring communities having people with developmental disabilities living that close.  This problem was quickly solved when Kosik explained with a presentation what to expect and compared it Lambs Farm in Illinois (a similar community that Noah’s Ark is modeled after in a way), and after this comparison he received approval from the neighboring communities, “If you people are anything at all like Lambs Farm, we got no problems with you!” one of the residents exclaimed after the presentation.  The presentation was a success and then it was time to break ground.

Jack Kosik, who has a developmentally disabled child of his own, was driven to create Noah’s Ark when he had his own fears for his daughter Britney’s future after he would no longer be around to care for her.  “Parents are Afraid to Die…” is a prominent headline on the website and it must be a scary thing to feel, fearing for what will happen to their children once they are gone, but with Noah’s Ark now there is hopefully less to worry about.

For more information: http://noahsarkflorida.org


Stand-up School (Part 4): The Punchline.

The Punchline.

Don’t forget the punchlines in your jokes. This is the most difficult part for a beginner and also the most important part to remember. Punchlines should be obvious and probably the climax of whatever subject you’re talking about. The most obvious way an experienced audience member can tell if this is your first time is if you’re just on stage rambling about nonsense and not giving the audience very specific places to laugh. You shouldn’t go onstage not knowing when in your act that the audience will laugh.

Also don’t forget to just go up there be natural and be yourself…an audience can tell when you’re being phony and the whole art of stand-up comedy is based on individuals being personable, likable, and relatable. And always remember what your up there for…you’re there to make people laugh, which is fun! Don’t worry too much about it, but you should still care…so worry just the right amount.

For record none of this was supposed to be funny, just informational…I take comedy very seriously.

Stand-up School (Part 3): Performance.


“Stepping on laughs” refers to when a comedian will get to a “laugh break,” but they stifle the laughs by continuing with their material instead of pausing and excepting the laughs. Usually an audience will stop laughing if you are still talking and when you “step on the laughs” the audience is usually expecting something even funnier, yet still related to the topic, so…don’t do that.

There’s usually two extremes when it comes to nervousness on stage: 1. you fly through your material at lightning speed…or 2. you forget your material. The first won’t hurt you in the short term, but the second has an easier fix…bring your material on stage. There’s no shame in bringing a cheat sheet on stage, but there’s is shame in reading your material directly from the sheet. People want to see you talk not “read.”

Stand-up School (Part 2): Practice.


After you have material written, practice will be important.  Keeping in mind that most open mics will have a limit of 5 minutes, you will have to time yourself. When you’re timing yourself it is important not to go over your time.  A good rule of thumb to have is to make sure you have a solid 4 minutes of material saying it at a normal pace and keep it around 4 minutes, because it’s worse to go over than it is to get off stage a little early. It kind of goes with idea of “leaving them wanting more” or “sparing them from more of your awful comedy.”

Either way it will be beneficial to you.  Another reason for the extra minute is for “laugh breaks” which will hopefully go longer than you expect, after you tell a joke or get to a punchline you’re not going to keep going on with your material…which leads me to another common mistake in the performance of a comedian: “stepping on laughs.”

Stand-up School (Part 1): History Lesson

If you ever wanted to be a stand-up comedian then you should consider reading the next three posts. I’m a stand-up comedian (take my word for it), I’ve been doing it for a while and I just want to share the different phases that I went through before I became anywhere near average at it.

The Beginning.

Well, before you can get onstage and say anything remotely edifying or funny, you need to write some material “jokes” if you will.

However, even before you do that: you must understand and study the comics that lie before you.

History Lesson.

When I say study, I mean study. Watch videos from Steve Martin(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bI–TGQGNFc), George Carlin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmXacL0Uny0), Don Rickles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGT_DjGWyh4), Steven Wright (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD0KApiFdLg) and MItch Hedberg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6xaj2fC1jI) just to name a few…

And with the mention of Hedberg, there are a lot of more contemporary comedians that are definitely worth a watch, but I’m not here to recommend comedians to you…I’m here to help you get on stage with the goal to be humorous.

Now, once you’ve watched these comedians you will get into the process of figuring out your style and in what kind of way you will be writing. It is also important to keep in mind the delivery that will accompany the words you will be writing. Some things are funnier when said slower or faster and different inflections, but practice will make these possible adjustments obvious…

Republican Debate Analysis

Let me tell you something about the Republican Debates…as someone who doesn’t follow politics much, I feel it is my duty to weigh in on the recent Republican Presidential Debates.

I will go candidate by candidate:

Mitt Romney: Clearly a front-runner for a a couple reasons…1. People know his name. 2. He doesn’t say stupid things 3. His values line-up with the core of the Republican party. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Ron Paul: He’s a Republican?

Rick Perry: The dude’s been doing pretty good…except for forgetting the third government agency he would do away with in the middle of the debate and his idea of a recovery is bumbling around for a ridiculous amount of time and he eventually ended with: “Oops.” Smooth.

Michele Bachmann: I remember she was a Republican favorite for a while…and that’s all I know of this name.

Rick Santorum: Another name that was talked a lot about a while ago, but now…(cricket)

Jon Huntsman: I’m more of a “Heinz guy.”

Herman Cain: Okay…Herman Cain acts like he has nothing to worry about. He gives off a vibe like, “I’ve got this wrapped up…Foreign policy? Whatever, man.” I just don’t understand why he’s running, he doesn’t make any attempt to try and understand any sort of facts that a presidential candidate should know.

I say all of this to give more of an “every-man’s” view on how the primaries are looking…and I’m calling it now: Mitt Romney.

The Irish

Ireland is such a beautiful place…and I’m not just saying that.  I’ve been there and it truly is a sight; the grass is seriously greener in Ireland.

My way of arriving in Ireland was by way of a cruise which was of the British Isles.

Ireland’s splendor was even greater compared to Scotland’s less than amazing climate and countryside. No offense to the Scottish or their countryside, but it was just raining everyday that we spent in Scotland, which is really misfortunate because I might’ve enjoyed my time more if it wasn’t raining.

All of that is besides the point, but something that is interesting is I realized that goat’s milk tastes like cow milk that went bad…I also found out that in England goat’s milk is used extensively for cereal.

My point here is not about cereal (as bad as it may be with goat’s milk), but my point is about my perspective on Scotland because of it’s poor weather…but even more so about how much more I enjoyed Ireland, probably because of it’s better than average weather.

My bias is probably more extreme than my talk of bad weather even leads on… you see, my heritage is actually that of Irish descent and with that Irish blood pulsing through my veins I was always was destined to hate anything Scottish and in turn: Scotland.

Long live the Republic of Ireland.