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THE NEWSLETTER OF TOUCHING MIAMI WITH LOVE
SERVING OVERTOWN AND WEST HOMESTEAD
TML Youth Program Coordinator Shares the Development of an Engaging New Project
There are several principles that guide our work
with middle and high school youth and one of the most important is the creation of physical and psychological safety as we promote safe peer group interactions. During a weekly social skills session with our middle school students in December, our students shared with great sincerity their discouragement at all the negativity around them. As conversation continued, we asked them to describe what they heard most throughout their day. Their instant reply was curse words. Youth shared that some of their greatest griefs were the harsh and painful words that they suffered from friends, teachers, family, and others. As I discussed this troubling news with the staff in our debriefing session, we decided we wanted to be responsive to this heart-cry and combat this negativity. We decided what better way to
through seeing their art they can be reminded to speak life. The culmination of their personal creations were written and artistic pieces to help students begin the process of being intentional in their words, thoughts, and actions. To encourage the youth and keep the Speak Life focus active, our staff also created a “Tree of Life” as a reference to students, and ourselves, when they are having a hard time being positive.
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Tuesday, February 27, 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.
TML youth shows off his contribution to the “Tree of Life’
TML students show off their artwork as part of the Speak Life project
During our first month on the project, we had returning motivational speaker and clarity coach, Nina Obier, guide students as they created vision boards and life plans. Always a great group facilitator, Nina extracted some beautiful thoughts from our students who were affirmed in realizing that positive thinking was already present in their hearts. The students spoke boldly as they read their plans and we were so encouraged. We still have much more to do with this project as we look for more creative ways to help our youth Speak Life!
start off the New Year than to walk alongside our youth to Speak Life. The months-long project we developed is based on Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat of its fruits.” As part of the project, the youth also created -Gary Francis, Touching Miami with Love some wonderful art as reference points so that Overtown Site Youth Development Coordinator
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
Address Service Requested P.O. Box 01-3279 Miami, FL 33101
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THE VALUE OF MONEY
West Homestead first graders spent January learning and practicing how to use money. Miss Jeanette Wright our first grade instructor spent over three weeks working with the 15 students in her class. Each week she taught students the value of each coin and bill of US currency as well as how to count up the total cost of items. After they mastered the process Miss J’s lesson culminated in “class store.” Each student was allowed time to shop and then decide what items they wanted to take home with them. Students then correctly calculated the cost of their prizes and completed the purchase with play money which equaled the total required. Miss J’s lesson has given the West Homestead first graders some very practical skills and life lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a huge accomplishment Miss J, thanks for setting such a high standard! -Jeff Rice, West Homestead Site Director A surprised face
Miss J guides
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TML student as
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the goodies at the
make their pur-
TML store avail-
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their play money
weeks of learning
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THE UGLY TRUTH OF VIOLENCE Families in Overtown and West Homestead are left devestated following a cruel season of violence
December 2017 will go on record as one of Miami-Dade’s most violent months. Making a tragic story worse is that the majority of victims were young people and the pain hits close to home for Touching Miami with Love staff and families.
It seemed to start on December 15, when a 2-year-old boy was shot and killed while playing outside his home a South Miami-Dade neighborhood. This area is often referred to as the South Miami Ghetto alongside others that include TML’s West Homestead community. Hours later a 17 year-old boy was killed in NW Miami-Dade and a week later a 16 year-old died from gunfire in North Central Miami. The violence shocked our TML family when two teens, one a TML graduate, were caught in cross-fire while talking outside the day after Christmas. Through visits to the hospital
TML staff learned the multiple gun shot wounds would require her to learn how to walk again. Then just weeks ago our West Homestead TML family experienced another loss of young life as a result of gang violence. Officials have noted the increase in gang activity in the area since November of 2017. In a small community like West Homestead it doesn’t take much to realize how connected we are. As a result of the tragedy and the feelings of increased anxiety TML West Homestead has counseled 18 students regarding life choices, forgiveness and making better choices. We have sat and asked the hard questions such as “Why does God allow this to happen?” and “Where is God in this?” Our reality is that bad things happen and we have the opportunity to love our families and students through these difficult times. While we can-
RADIO PLAY TELLS STORY
Several years back, a Los-Angeles based producer, Dan Froot, contacted TML
to see if any of our families would be interested in telling him their story of food insecurity for project called Pang! he was creating. Many told stories of their experiences including a TML parent, who is now also a TML employee, Tranee Wallace. Tranee’s story intrigued Dan and over two years of careful and respectful work, her family’s moving story of life in Overtown was created into Photo credit, Rose Eichenbaum a live radio play. Their story was performed at Miami Light Project on January Performers Cristina Fernandez, Christopher 26-27 alongside other heart-wrenching and beautifully told stories of people Rivas, and Donna Simone Jackson hungry for change. Watch a preview of Pang! at http://bit.ly/DanFroot
The TML Journey of Young Men from Overtown who Dreamed BIG!
If you step into nearly any of the of-
fices of staff at Touching Miami with Love centers in Overtown or West Homestead you will see pictures of children and youth on the wall, in framed photos, or snapshots pinned to boards. Some are old photos holding memeories of long ago like the enlarged picture showing the smiling faces of three young boys age 5 as they sit on the side of the pool. The photo was taken during a summer field trip over fifteen years ago, over three years before I would join the staff here. One of those boys in the photo, Zayquan, lived in the government projects in the block next to our Overtown Site and would later bring his cousin Conrad to TML programming. Over many years, all ten of the families cousins were in or are currently in programming here.
Our Overtown Site mural created by local artist, GG, was painted by TML staff to spread a positive message of love to our community.
not provide reasons why or answers, we chose to show up and be present with our families and students in the hurting world. We get to model what love and community look like in a fallen world. We become the “Good Samaritan” of Luke 10. It is our joy and privilege to demonstrate compassion, love and respect to the community we serve and in doing so answer the question, “Where is God in this?” He’s right here.
For Zayquan, his older brother Taress, and Conrad their involvement increased more and more as they moved from middle school to high school. As they grew, they would each experience immense tragedy and overwhelming obstacles to success and TML staff would be with them through each disappoinment and shared grief. It was more than great programming where they were encouraged to complete homework and stay on top of their grades, it was the caring mentoring and spiritual guidance they found the strength to stay on the right path. In May of 2016,
Taress graduated and last year both Zayquan and Conrad graduated as well from Booker T. Washington High School surrounded by family and several TML staff. These young men’s plans for their futures didn’t stop at graduation. Throughout their final years in high school, our staff walked them through preparing for the SAT and filling out college applications. We sat with them as they navigated scholarships and finacial aid and celebrated when the college acceptance letters came in. Now all three young men are in college and their BIG dreams aren’t stopping! Taress continues his quest in business as he studies in Central Florida with dreams of being an entrepreneur. Zayquan is on the path to study dentistry at Florida Atlantic University and Conrad is working towards a degree in architechture at Florida International living on campus here in Miami. If you are in Miami, you won’t want to miss hearing from Conrad as he shares his story at our annual BIG Dreamers Awards Luncheon. His inspiring story is just one of many great things on the program including the announcement of our award recipients. Come be inspired as you hear of the BIG dreams from our littlest dreamers in Kindergarten to those of our high school students. Learn the ways we are helping students be all God has designed them to be as they dream BIG. Not in Miami? Stay tuned for highlight clips on our social media channels.
Conrad, TML student, Booker T. Washington graduate, and proud college student at Florida International University
AWARDS LUNCHEON WHEN Tuesday, February 27, 2018
WHERE Devon Seafood Grill Palms At Town & Country 11715 Sherry Lane Miami, FL 33183 TICKETS Just $12 online at www.touchingmiamiwithlove.org -Sponsorship Opportunities Available-