About Stephanie

Stephanie is the founder of San Antonio Nerd Night and currently serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary/Treasurer.

February Nerd Night Wrap Up

So, I know I say this almost every post, but…

You. Guys. Are. Awesome.

I won’t lie, I was worried about the venue change and all of you making the move to another part of town. But wow, did you all prove that I worry a lot over nothing! We had FIFTY happy game-playing nerds at Geeks Cafe on Friday, and you all collected an amazing amount of STUFF for SAMMinistries. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

February Nerd Night

February Nerd Night

 

February Nerd Night - Nathan's Room

Nathan’s Room

 

February Nerd Night - Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride

 

February Nerd Night - Paulina, Kelly & Shane

Paulina, Kelly & Shane

 

February Nerd Night - Keller, Aiden and friend

Keller

 

February Nerd Night - Vince

Vince

 

February Nerd Night - Winner!

Winner!

 

Melanie from SAMMinistries speaking to the group

Melanie from SAMMinistries speaking to the group

Anyway. Apologies for some of these blurry pictures, I’m apparently challenged when I don’t have a flash.

Our next Nerd Night is scheduled for March 11 and will again be at Geeks Cafe. We’re collecting items for the Animal Defense League of Texas. I will post a spotlight article very soon with details about what items they are in need of to take care of all the pups and kitties that are lucky enough to end up in this no-kill shelter.

Shameless plug time!

Art by Freddy Gonzalez

Art by Freddy Gonzalez

This fabulous piece of art has been donated to help raise money for SAMMinistries. Colleen and Vince of GaMExpo and Geek Out SA are handling a silent auction. Starting bid is $100. Get on over to their Facebook page and make a bid, y’all!

Speaking of Geek Out SA…

Nathan and I stopped by to plug Nerd Night and talk about all things geeky. Give it a watch!

 

PAX South Shenanigans

So this was an amazing, exhausting weekend! First, just housekeeping:

As I hope most of you will have already seen elsewhere, February Nerd Night has changed locations. We are now meeting at Geeks Cafe on Babcock Rd. Same time, still Friday night, February 12, at 7pm. Just a shiny new location.

While that last-minute news did nothing good for my level of stress on Friday afternoon, I did manage to get my stuff together and get postcards/business cards handed out at PAX South. The Enforcers (PAX volunteers) couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive, pointing me to a table near the games checkout where I could leave my materials, and I’d estimate a good 60-80 were picked up during the con! So maybe we’ll see some new faces. Also, the Enforcer I spoke to during my 5-midnight shift (at the Iello Games tables in the Foam Brain Games booth) took my card and said he would look us up when they started planning next year’s tabletop area. Looks like we might have the opportunity to come in to the con next year, teach games, and meet fascinating folks! I met a lot of game designers, talked to game publishers who will perhaps start sending us swag for raffles and a game library, and shook hands with enough people to pick up quite the nasty, voice-stealing cold. The ultimate PAX souvenir, I guess. All in all, it was a great experience. Thanks to Iello and Foam Brain for making our area so much fun.

 

Iello Game Demo Crew at Pax South 2016

Me, Daniel, Cynthia, and John rocking some yellow. In fairness, this picture was taken at closing time on Day 3. We look really, really tired. Please do not judge 😛

I learned how to play a few Iello games really well. I played my first military tactical game in a long time, and while I won’t say I learned it really well, I can play the heck out of Shadows Over Normandie‘s first campaign scenario. We also played Welcome to the Dungeon, Steam Park, Medieval Academy, Dungeon Fighter (which has some ludicrously funny “dexterity” requirements), King of New York, and Fun Farm.

At some point I’ll get the opportunity to choose some games from Iello, and I’m looking at a few goodies that I wished had been available for demos – The Big Book of Madness and World of Yo-Ho stick out in my mind at the moment. We’ll see what my choices are when I get that magical email. World of Yo-Ho uses your smartphone or tablet to make a custom pirate ship that sails on a map. It’s so cool. Check out the link above for a video (the bottom video).

Anyway! I also visited the Indie Games area and play-tested as many as I could. I only had 3 hours or so in the Main Expo hall — since I worked on Friday and half of Saturday morning was spent dealing with the venue change for Nerd Night — but I put them to good use. I met one of the designers of Karmaka, Dave Burke, and that is possibly the most gorgeous game I’ve ever seen. Backed it on Kickstarter, so we’ll get a copy of that one when they ship. There is a print-and-play available here, and I will try to have a copy of it at Nerd Night. You start life as a dung beetle, and try to live your lives well enough that you eventually reach enlightenment.

I played a lot more games, but a lot of my pictures were crappy. Bad light, Steph in a hurry.. but here are a few.

 

 

Takat (I won!)

Takat (I won!)

 

Cuisine A La Card (Developer Dani Demarest)

Cuisine A La Card (Designer Dani Demarest)

So. I’m going to stop here, and fill you all in on the latest developments for Nerd Night in my next post, either tonight or tomorrow. I’ll tease you by saying big changes, all for the good, are coming down the pike! I’m excited to see what 2016 brings for us!

PAX South - Indie Games[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

January Updates: Codenames and More

So it’s been a busy month. I’m sorry for not posting as regularly as I should have. Fact is, with the holidays, it felt like we had pretty much back-to-back Nerd Nights and I’ve also been working on a couple of other projects, some kind of big that I’ll tell you all about when they’re closer to being real and not just imaginary things in my head.

Some news I can tell you: We’re going to be welcoming Melanie Riley from SAMMinistries to Nerd Night on the 12th of February. She’ll be talking with you all briefly about the work SAMM does and what will happen with the items you’re donating. I really enjoy it when people come from the organizations we are supporting. 1) I don’t have to talk as much, and 2) it really cements the bonds I’m hoping to build with these groups as we involve more people around the community with Nerd Night.

Some more news! I’m happy to have a copy of Codenames from Czech Games for our February raffle prize! This somewhat hard-to-find game (at least around Christmastime, when I tried!) arrived too late to make January’s raffle, so I’ve been resisting the impulse to play it myself and I’m saving it for all of you. You’re welcome! 😛 Codenames is the #1 party game on BoardGameGeek and everyone I know who has had the chance to play it has really enjoyed it. Hopefully whoever is lucky enough to win the raffle will let us crack it open and play a round or two. Read ShutUpAndSitDown’s review of it here if you want to get an idea of how it plays.

That’s about it for now. I’m almost ready to make a biggish announcement, though, so hopefully I’ll get back to you before Nerd Night on February 12th. Take a look here for the SAMMinistries Charity Spotlight, and scroll all the way to the bottom for the Wish List of items. Grab a couple of those and bring them to Nerd Night, help the homeless population of San Antonio as they transition to temporary housing so we can do our part to make sure they are successful.

 

 

Charity Spotlight: SAMMinistries

About SAMMinistries

SAMMinistries is an interfaith ministry whose mission is to help the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless attain self-sufficiency by offering, with dignity and compassion, shelter, housing, and services. Since 2008, SAMM has prevented 20,000 San Antonians from entering homelessness. Each night, SAMM offers 350 families a place to call home. In 2014, 98% of the families served through SAMM’s Homeless Prevention Program remained out of homelessness after 18 months.

Homelessness in the SA Metro Area

Homelessness is a real problem in San Antonio and its surrounding communities. We will get a new survey later this month to count current homeless, but 2015 numbers are available from SARAH, the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless. In 2015, there were 2,891 homeless individuals counted at the Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. The PIT Count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is used in determining federal funding for San Antonio’s homeless programs. 546 of these were children (average age of 6) and 309 of these were veterans. This total number has been largely steady for the last three years (2,892 in 2014 and 2,980 in 2013). SAMMinistries estimates the current San Antonio homeless population at approximately 3,211.

While 3,211 may not seem like a very large number in a city with a population of 1.4 million, the reality is that nearly 50% of San Antonio’s population is living with no savings, which puts them at a high risk of becoming homeless if they experience a loss of income. More than half of all homeless individuals in San Antonio cite a loss of income as their reason for homelessness, and affordable housing is the most requested service by homeless individuals in San Antonio.

SAMMinistries offers the following services:

  • Homeless Prevention: Providing rental assistance, utility assistance and supportive services to enable individuals, families, veterans and seniors who are in imminent danger of eviction avoid homelessness.
  • Transitional Housing: SAMMinistries offers 65 families transitional housing through individual homes in San Antonio, as well as the Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC). The Transitional Housing program provides housing, support and resources to families who show a commitment to gaining self-sufficiency. The individual needs of all family members are supported for a two-year period, promoting the viability of the family as a whole while they transition out of homelessness.
  • Rapid Re-Housing: The Rapid Re-Housing program reduces the amount of time a family experiences homelessness and rapidly re-houses families into permanent, affordable homes. Financial assistance is provided for up to 3 months along with 12 months of case management.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: Permanent Supportive Housing assists and empowers families to live as independently as possible. SAMMinistries has a permanent housing program that assists families with whom one member of the family has a disability. SAMMinistries also manages 100 set-aside housing vouchers to help families find permanent housing in the private rental market.
  • Supportive Services: In order to serve their clients and the community holistically, SAMMinistries offers supportive services to all program participants to support them spiritually, mentally and physically. These services include spiritual services, educational assistance, wellness classes and employment development.

What are we doing to help?

February Nerd Night on February 12th will specifically be targeting item collection for “Welcome Baskets,” given to each family as they enter SAMMinistries’ Transitional Housing program. These baskets give families much-needed household goods as they begin their journey to self-sufficiency. We will collect the following items at Nerd Night and deliver them to SAMM’s donation center.

FAMILY MEALTIME

Dish Sets & Large Plastic Cups
Flatware Sets
Pots & Pans
Cooking Tools (ex: wooden spoons)
Oven Mitts & Pot Holders

LINENS

Sheet Sets: Twin & Full
Crib Sheets
Comforters: Twin & Full
Towel Sets: Bath, Hand & Washcloths

CLEANING SUPPLIES

Buckets & Sponge Mops
All-Purpose Cleaner
Antibacterial Wipes & Bleach
Brooms & Dustpans
Dish Detergent
Toilet Brushes & Toilet Cleaner

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Garbage Cans & Trash Bags, 13-gallon
Laundry Detergent
Laundry Baskets

 

Nerd Night Reminder and Meetup Group Updates

Nerd Night Updates

Just a quick note to remind everyone of Nerd Night on January 8th at Magic Beans. We’ll be collecting item donations for the Battered Women & Children’s Shelter run by Family Violence Prevention Services.

A quick look here will tell you a little more about FVPS and the shelter specifically.

We are again planning a lot of open gaming, a raffle (Prize TBD by whichever game gets to my house first, curse you FedEx!) and possibly a Ticket to Ride or Catan tournament, depending on interest. I’ve got two new games I’d like to play – Dead of Winter and Castles of Mad King Ludwig – and one borrowed game I need to practice, King of Tokyo. I’ll be demoing some IELLO games at PAX South and it’s probably best to be able to explain it quickly and concisely before a command performance 🙂 So I hope some of you will let me use you as guinea pigs.

Meetup Group

In case you missed it, we now have a meetup group! There are almost 100 people subscribed to the meetup as of this morning, and I’m super excited for what that means in terms of publicity for Nerd Night and for the new people it may bring to the event. We have 15 Yes RSVPs as of this posting. Some of those are brand new folks, so there will hopefully be some new faces at the event this Friday.

Very important!

Here is the list of requested donation items from FVPS. Please give generously and often 🙂 I’ll be collecting these items into boxes/bags at Nerd Night and delivering them to the shelter next week.

Again, thank you! See you on Friday night.

Charity Spotlight: Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc.

Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. (FVPS) has been helping victims of domestic violence in San Antonio since 1977.

They host a number of events throughout the year, raising funds to support their many services. Among these is the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of Bexar County.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Odds are, there is someone in your life who struggles or has struggled with domestic violence. 74% of all Texans have experienced some form of domestic violence or have a friend or family member who has experienced it. 31% of all Texans report that they have been severely abused at some point in their lifetime. Some more statistics:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Almost one in three female homicide victims reported in police records were killed by an intimate partner.
  • One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
  • Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45% of abusive relationships.

What Can We Do to Help?

We are collecting items this month to support the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of Bexar County. This very important service offered by FVPS gives women and their children a safe haven as they leave an abusive situation. Our donations will go toward providing their clients emergency food, clothing, personal care items and baby and child care items. Here is a link to their wish list. I’ve also put a short version in the event listing.

If you or someone you know is afraid about something in their relationship, the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter helps with the following resources:

  • 24-Hour Crisis Intervention Hotline: 210-733-8810
  • Individual and Group Counseling for Women and Children
  • On-site Attorneys
  • On-site Adult Education
  • Case Management
  • Transitional Housing
  • On-site Primary Medical and Dental Care

Again, if you are in immediate danger, call 911 or reach out to the Crisis Hotline at 210-733-8810.

Meetup Group, Updates and More

Meetup

In the interest of finding more like-minded folks, I’ve started a Meetup group. Click here to visit, join up and stay informed about Nerd Night goings-on. I’ll still be maintaining the website as I 1) enjoy it and 2) think it’s really a better platform for blogging and such, but this gives me access to better recruiting tools and an additional promotional avenue. We’ll give it a shot and see how it works out!

San Antonio Nerd Night

December

Nerd Night is TONIGHT! I’m excited to see how a Friday works out at Magic Beans, and also to fill up that huge barrel. Check out our list of 12 Most Wanted Items and come by to see us tonight!

12 Most Wanted Items:

Peanut Butter
Cereal
Tuna
Beans
Rice
Mac & Cheese
Chili
Canned Stews
Canned Soups
Canned Luncheon Meats
Full Means Can/Box
Pop Top Food Items

January

I’m also excited to announce that next month’s Nerd Night is going to benefit the donation center at Family Violence Prevention Services. I’ll have more information about what’s most critically needed over the next week or so, and I hope everyone will get behind this very worthy cause.

See you tonight, nerds!

Giving Tuesday: Virtual Food Drive!

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Food Drive

This is the 4th year for Giving Tuesday, a day to highlight volunteering and charity donations on the day after “Cyber Monday.” In the last four years it has come to symbolize the beginning of the charitable season. I’m all for anything that encourages people to give back! Consider this my official Giving Tuesday post to encourage everyone to take a moment and visit our Virtual Food Drive to benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.

One of the only complaints I had at our November toy drive was that I didn’t have any way for people to donate using their credit cards. Luckily for me, the San Antonio Food Bank is on top of things and set me up with the virtual food drive for our December event! It’s a cute little flash-based shopping spree, where you drive your shopping cart down virtual shopping aisles and select food items by the case or dollar amounts to donate. It’s easy and fun, and is a secured option provided by the food bank for your peace of mind. No worries about handing over cash to some stranger at a game night!

Anyway. Those of you who can’t make it out to see us at Magic Beans, please consider clicking here and doing some virtual shopping to help feed the hungry and food insecure in Southwest Texas. The food drive will be active throughout the month of December. The food barrel will be at Magic Beans from December 4th – 14th, and December Nerd Night will be Friday, December 11th, starting at 6pm. Clean out those cupboards, put a few extra cans in your cart at the grocery store. Be a part of the solution! The Nerd Nighters and the San Antonio Food Bank thank you. 🙂

Charity Spotlight: The San Antonio Food Bank

For December, we highlight another charity close to my heart: The San Antonio Food Bank.

In 2012, I was laid off from a job and once my SNAP benefits expired, the food bank was my next stop. Time to pay it forward.

It’s impossible to overstate how much this organization relies on donations. It’s also impossible to overstate how desperately it is needed in Southwest Texas. Food insecurity, or not knowing where your next meal is coming from, is a rampant problem in our wealthy state. Some statistics:

  • One in five adults in Southwest Texas struggles with hunger.
  • One in four children is at risk of food insecurity.
  • Texas ranks 8th nationally in rate of food insecurity.
  • Each week, the San Antonio Food Bank assists 58,000 individuals in sixteen counties through their various programs.
  • 98% of all donated resources go directly to hunger relief.

Some of the San Antonio Food Bank’s programs include:

  • Kid’s Cafe: Neighborhood children can go to one of 28 Kids Cafe sites in the San Antonio area after school for a hot meal and homework help. 1,000 children visit these sites each day.
  • Project HOPE: Provides a 50-lb. bag of shelf-stable, supplemental food items to fixed-income seniors. 7,500 seniors every month are served by Project HOPE.
  • Nutrition Education: The San Antonio Food Bank deploys nearly a dozen bilingual nutrition educators into the San Antonio community every day to teach people how to shop for and prepare healthier meals.
  • Distribution: Mobile Food Pantries and Food Fairs allow the San Antonio Food Bank to distribute 1 million pounds of food weekly to difficult-to-reach individuals in the 16-county area (17,559 square miles) the food bank serves.

The San Antonio Food Bank distributes 50 million pounds of food every year. We’re trying to make a very small scratch on the surface of that with our food drive. A single shopping cart = 100 lbs, and we’re trying to fill three.

So dig into your pockets, go through those cupboards. Find some of these “twelve most wanted” non-perishables and bring them by Magic Beans, or just click here to go to our virtual food drive and make a cash donation. Every $1.00 donated provides seven meals to a hungry Texan.

12 Most Wanted Items:

Peanut Butter
Cereal
Tuna
Beans
Rice
Mac & Cheese
Chili
Canned Stews
Canned Soups
Canned Luncheon Meats
Full Means Can/Box
Pop Top Food Items

Join us in supporting the San Antonio Food Bank in the month of December. Donate food at Magic Beans Gaming Cafe from December 4th – December 14th, or donate online here. Mark your calendar for DECEMBER NERD NIGHT on Friday, December 11th starting at 6:00 PM.

November Nerd Night is in the books.

November Nerd Night Wrap-Up

What a great night! Thank you so much to everyone who came out to see us at Magic Beans and especially to you lovely people who donated toys. We collected two large boxes of new, unwrapped toys for the Elf Louise Christmas Project!. It was a great learning experience for me, and even though we didn’t get to do all the things I would have liked, the things that were done were enjoyed and everyone had great feedback for me on what they’d like to see at future events.

Our Ticket to Ride winner was Kelly, and she was super excited to get her Alvin & Dexter expansion. I have custody of the little monsters, as she doesn’t own a copy of the game just yet… I might have to see what can be done about that 😉 and Shane and Paulina won the raffle, with their own copy of Settlers of Catan!

Watch the site over the next couple of days for more information about December. Nerd Night is scheduled for December 11th (Friday) at 6:00 pm. We’ll be gaming for the San Antonio Food Bank, and the site will be hosting an online Food Drive. We’ll also be collecting non-perishable food items at Magic Beans from December 4th through December 14th!

Elf Louise Elves
Our guests from Elf Louise: Elves Betsey, Lewis and Laura.
Toys for Elf Louise
Two boxes this big!
Kelly won Ticket to Ride
Kelly with her Ticket to Ride prize.
Raffle Winners
Paulina and Shane won the raffle and got a copy of Settlers of Catan