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THE NEWSLETTER OF TOUCHING MIAMI WITH LOVE
SERVING OVERTOWN AND WEST HOMESTEAD
A PLACE TO CALL HOME Touching Miami with Love offers essential programming to students
W hen values are shared in a home, the family grows together. The home becomes a foundation
for a shared sense of purpose while providing a place for each member to dream and grow. As we dream for a bright future with our students, it cannot be understated how important our work is. For many, Touching Miami with Love serves as home for those whose home life is difficult. This is true for Janice* who watches her mom struggle with substance abuse. During low times when her mom relapses, Janice’s home is with different relatives. The lack of a consistent place to call home has made her connection to the youth staff at our Overtown Site all the more important, as missing out on a healthy relationship with her mom has taken its toll on Janice’s sprit. Creating a place that loves young people like Janice starts when they walk in the door. Years ago, supporters saw this vision and helped us to make our lobby at our Overtown Site look like a home, there are comfortable couches, a bookshelf, and even a fireplace.
e it On Adm EE RE FR ETS A ion is TICK at r t s Regi ired Requ mer
Registration, Directions, & Sponorship Information www.touchingmiamiwithlove.org Palms At Town & Country 11715 Sherry Lane Miami, FL 33183
Devon Seafood Grill
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 12:00pm Hear from our BIG Dreamers and celebrate those in our community who support the BIG Dreams of the children and youth at Touching Miami with Love.
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Come inside TML and see how the youth in Overtown find support at TML after school. As school ends, TML staff greet students as they enjoy snacks and unwind from the day. Homework time begins and youth grab a laptop as staff make themselves available for help and tutoring. During the final hour of afterschool programming, each day of the week has a different focus. Mondays become Motivational Mondays as staff and guest speakers share encouraging words of wisdom inspiring the students with new information or challenges. Tuesday afternoons allow students to let their creative juices flow as they try out new forms of creative expression. From “The Aluminum Foil Challenge” working in groups to create a sculpture from aluminum foil or trying out culinary arts as youth
use teamwork to make cinnamon sugar donuts--it is a time for self-expression and fun. Wednesdays staff teach from our social skills curriculum adding creativity to speak the language of the youth. Such was the case for a recent five part series on communication they titled, “Watch Yo’ Mouth.” Each week presented important information starting with Communication 101, the seven steps to being an effective communicator. Next were lessons on
A guest speaker shares with students after school in Overtown for Motivational Monday
verbal expression and non-verbal communication. The session titled “Pure Intentions” focused on helping students be clear in their communication and not use their words to manipulate others. The final session “Bad Intentions” presented important information on proper manners social media to avoid bullying. The support, lessons, and a loving environment provided each afternoon for youth in Overtown are essential for Janice and students like her longing to dream and grow. Each site has evening programming for youth and this fall we will be expanding our youth programming in West Homestead to afternoons as well. We are thankful for all in our TML Family who play an important role in making Touching Miami with Love a place for students to call home.
Overtown Site: 711 NW 6th Avenue Miami, FL 33136 • West Homestead Site: 1350 SW 4th Street Homestead, FL 33030 Mailing: PO Box 01-3279 Miami, FL 33101• www.touchingmiamiwithlove.org
P.O. Box 01-3279 Miami, FL 33101
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A SEASON OF TRANSITION
INSPIRING Inspiring students at Touching Miami with Love starts with letting them know they are created and loved by God. During the season of Lent, our Overtown Site’s Spiritual Formation Director, Amanda Knight, coordinated activities to help students find new ways to connect to God. Through interactive prayer stations, students learned through silence and solitude. The students acted out a skit about Jesus and the Feeding of the 5,000 to learn more about God’s desire for us to live lives of simplicity. On another week, youth played tug-o-war games and heard a lesson to learn more about submission. The last week of lessons came before youth head to the annual spring break trip, OASIS Camp, hosted by Branches. This final session was a time of relational serving, as youth heard stories from people struggling with homelessness on the streets of Overtown and played board games with them.
is with much sadness that we announce a significant transition in the Touching Miami with Love family. Wanda Ashworth-Valencia, West Homestead Site Director is moving to be closer to her family in South Carolina. She has this message to share with the TML Family. Wanda accompanied students on Reward Trip to Everglades National Park in February
TML student reads a passage from the Bible at the beginning of his time in interactive prayer station
EDUCATING At a recent awards ceremony for West Homestead K-8, over half the students honored were from TML. Through a combined effort of social support, academic support, access to technology, and rewards we have seen tremendous strides in the academic achievements of our students this year. As a reward, several students who have consistently remained on the Honor Roll were invited to participate in a field trip to Everglades National Park with our partners, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida.
Children’s Program Director, Jessica Neely, poses with Honor Roll students from TML: West Homstead Site
Many of our Kindergarten students did not participate in Pre-K programs so they were behind when they started school. Of our fourteen Kindergarteners who aren’t reading at grade level at our West Homestead Site, twelve have a language barrier. We have added another reading interventionist to this site this year to assist our youngest struggling readers and are excited about the potential to push our students up to grade level.
EMPOWERING At Touching Miami with Love, our efforts to empower our students are very practical opportunities. We’ll be conducting interviews soon to provide youth with their first job. Youth will benefit from on the job skills training as well as classes and special presentations on leadership development during their work as interns this summer. One of the most exciting new opportunities to empower our students is through our partnership with the Overtown Children & Youth Coalition in their very first Youth Commission. Our students went through a rigorous application and interview process with the Commission’s Program Director and Coordinator. TML students stood out with their high academic achievement and five of the ten students selected were from TML! We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact our young representatives have on their community of Overtown.
Wanda takes part in prayer vigil in the community with West Homestead Site youth
Dear Friends, For almost 13 years, I have been blessed to serve in the community of West Homestead. After a year of discernment and contemplation, there has been a stirring in my soul to enter a new season, one that will allow me to be closer to my family in South Carolina. After much prayerful deliberation, Tony and I are moving on July 1, 2017. When I was interviewed for the Director position in 2004, the search committee asked me to share my vision. I could see that
know in my heart that it is time. This does not mean my heart will ever leave these children, youth or their families. They are forever written on my heart and this is why I am writing you today. The same students that are with us today will be sitting on the floor in July after I am gone. They will still need YOU! TML will still be my first choice for support and I urge you to continue your support as well! My new role
God had begun to knit together a safe haven to nurture the precious life in our neighborhood. The image that came to my mind was one of a bird’s nest, with various churches, individuals and organizations contributing their bits of string and straw to weave a place of grace. Over the past decade, I have watched new life emerge from our little nest. I also have watched new life emerge from our children and youth. Some have flown away to bless the world, but many have stayed in our community and are “paying it forward” by nurturing the next generation. Currently, we have nine staff members that grew up in our program. These emerging local leaders are from the hand of God and I am so grateful! As you can imagine, it is very difficult for me to leave this ministry, but I
Wanda is well loved by the all the children at TML: West Homestead Site
in the TML family will be as a tireless ambassador for TML and a part of my heart will always in be Homestead! Love,
See our website for FAQs on this transition at
GIVING THANKS FOR WANDA
Mark your calendar to join us as we celebrate Wanda’s years of faithfulness to the children and youth of West Homestead!
Touching Miami with Love’s OCYC Youth Commission representatives
Homestead Celebration Open House Touching Miami with Love West Homestead Site June 17, 2017 at 2:00pm-4:00pm
National Celebration Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Florida State Meeting, Atlanta, GA Thursday, June 29 at 4:30pm
RVSP to email@example.com Can’t make our celebrations? Please email us with your words of encouragement to share with Wanda.