THE NEWSLETTER OF TOUCHING MIAMI WITH LOVE
SERVING OVERTOWN AND WEST HOMESTEAD
MOUNTAINS AS METAPHORS Partnership with Big City Mountaineers takes Touching Miami with Love youth to new heights
youth from Touching Miami with Love learned about the beauty of nature and the strength within themselves this August as they took on the challenge of a week-long hiking adventure with our partners at Big City Mountaineers (BCM). This summer was TML’s fourth year of partnership with BCM. Following a long flight from Miami to California, the boys hiked through Lower Yosemite while the girls backpacked through the Sierra National Forest. Gary Francis, TML Youth Director says, “The mountain became a powerful metaphor for life for the students and adults alike.” For most, this trip was the first time to travel on a plane or go outside of Florida. For Devon, a TML youth at our Overtown Site, this was a once in a life-time experience. He described feeling the power of freezing cold and then the blazing heat near the valley. The group contended with hail storms as well as snow. As a team, he said they summited mountains as tall as 10,000 feet and saw unbelievable views. They learned to build fires, cook in transportable outdoor stoves, and played
TML girls group cross a mountain stream
with snow. During their adventure, the youth learned how to pack gear, treat water with iodine, and set up and break down tents. Additionally, the youth learned best practices in stewardship of
the earth such as “leave no trace” as they packed out trash and learned to leave nature undisturbed. Memories were made as they fished, played on the rocks, laughed together, were challenged to the extreme, and overcame fears and failures. “It was an incredible trip. I’m gonna remember it forever” Devon shared. Amanda Knight, TML Spiritual Formation Director led the girls group and guided them in their daily
TML guys set up camp for the night
reflection times as they enjoyed the vast beauty around them. Amanda shared, “It was an amazing experience for youth to have the perspective of feeling so small in the grand majestic surroundings of the mountains.” If overcoming the steep mountain terrain and exposure to the elements represents a metaphor about our youth’s ability to conquer trials, then our youth became more prepared than ever for the adventures of life. Our thanks to BCM and their mission to serve under-served youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions. The BCM curriculum provides handson training for essential life skills for close to 1,000 youth annually. We are grateful to our partners at Big City Mountaineers for providing the opportunity for youth from both our sites to experience these great lessons!
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
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As a third grader in our program, Danny* struggles with appropriate ways to express his anger and frustration which presents problems for him at school. Through our case mangement program Bridges, our staff provide intense individual attention with him teaching coping skills and reinforcing our social skills curriculum. Our staff regularly meet with his teachers in school and have opened the lines of communication connecting his parents with Danny’s teachers. Buidling bridges from TML to school and home is essential for Danny’s future. The results of Bridges are decreased aggression in school, less school suspensions and absences, and less conduct referrals. Staff have also noted more positive interactions with peers and increased academic gains. Our Bridges program supporting students like Danny relies heavily on support from our annual Give Miami Day fundraiser. This one day, online-only giving event sponsored by The Miami Foundation provides a percent match for donations of $25.00 or more. Additionally, our Spiritual Development programing, and specific aspects of our children and youth programming rely on Give Miami Day. Join us on Thursday, November 16th at www.touchingmiamiwithlove.org to donate. Below are just a few highlights of supported programming from Give Miami Day.
Partnership and the Strength of the TML Family Bring Improvements to TML: West Homestead Site
were thrilled when the local affiliate of Rebuilding Together put TML’s name forward in a contest for potential project funding from Cricket Wireless for improvements to our West Homestead Site in September. Our TML family, our parents, supporters, and donors, were asked to vote online and we recently heard TML had the most votes. This award brings with it essential funding from Cricket Wireless. Throughout this
fall, Rebuilding Together will be coordinating volunteers to complete the myriad of projects that include replacing carpeting in the back rooms, painting projects throughout the building and much more. Thank you to each essential part of this much needed face-lift to our West Homestead Site. This TML Site was built entirely by volunteers and we’re excited to welcome Excitement builds for the children in West Homestead the next generation of volunteers for a how you can join in and help out in much needed facelift. Stay tuned for upcoming projects!
STANDING IN THE GAP
Before Left to Right: Weekly Devo Time, Leadership Opportunities for Youth, Staff Participation in School Events, Small Group Tutoring, and Community Service for Youth just some of the program aspects supported by Give Miami Day funds.
The Children’s Trust and Ocean Reef Community Foundation Support Summer Internships at TML historically low high school graduation rate, high poverty rates, and high crime illustrate the need for strong youth leaders to not only rise above these struggles, but be prepared to impact change for the next generation.
In the days and weeks following the storm, our staff were able to distribute much needed grocery store gift cards to families at both sites often hand delivering them to extremely grateful parents. Because TML is not a relief agency, parents were suprised and overwhelmed by the support. One mother broke into tears when
West Homestead Site Director, Jeff Rice, presented her with a gift card to a grocery store. “I was just praying for something like this.” Another father overwhelmed by the generous gesture repeated over and over, “Thank you. God bless you.” TML was able to distibute thousands of dollars worth of support thanks to all who responded so generously to our communities need. On behalf of our TML families who were so appreciative of the help. Thank You!
KEEPING FIT: SPIRIT, MIND & BODY
Youth Interns provide essential support for programs while gaining leadership and work skills
Ocean Reef Community Foundation supported youth at our West Homestead Site. We are grateful for these partners helping us empower youth leaders through hands-on opportunities. *All
names in the articles on this page have been changed to protect children’s identity
Here is a peek into some of the ways we are promote spiritual, mental, and physical, health in our children’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Program this fall. As we are inspiring, educating, and empowering children and youth we love when holistic learning happens when spirit, mind, and body combine!
Amanda, Overtown’s Spiritual Formation Director, teaches dance moves for a worship song in Devo Time.
Children jump out their energy before homework time after school.
When students in a national study were asked their thoughts on leadersip they overwhelmingly asked for 1) hands-on experience in leadership roles and 2) programs to build confidence and 3) regular encouragement to lead. Again this summer, through generous support from parnters we were able to During our over twenty years of em- provide summer internships to youth. powering youth, we’ve heard the The Children’s Trust provided support same requests. Our communities’ for youth at our Overtown Site and
With spoiled food, jobs on hold with power out, and federal assistance weeks away, the need for
more was apparent. Once again the TML Family responded, before the formal request via our E-News had even been sent out, support was already on its way.
It has been our joy to provide leadership opportunities to our youth. Just this past year, our youth have taken part in the mission trips and service opportunities with Micah Center of Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, FL), South Venice Baptist Church Yard Sale, and participation in the 30 Hour Hunger Famine sponsored by World Hunger Relief along with many local service projects.
Hurricane Irma blew by Miami, it devestated the nearby Keys and destroyed farmland in the southern most portions of Miami-Dade County. In the days immediately following the storm, TML staff visited families from both sites assessing and responding to immediate needs. Staff delivered ice and food as nearly everyone in the County was without power.
Jakayla* a high school youth in our program, has the potential to be a great leader. Confident and out-spoken, she loves to be in charge. However, these qualities needed some refinement. Interning at TML this summer gave Ja’mesha and many other youth at both our sites the opportunity to add team-player and good listener to her growing leadership skill set.
TML Supporters Provide Much Needed Emergency Support Following Hurricane Irma
The Oral Health Institute hosts a fall dental clinic during an October Teacher Planning Day,