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Gift Giving Event at the

Homeless Resource Center

 

For families experiencing an episode of homelessness, the holiday season can be especially difficult. Without a place to call home or resources to purchase gifts, parents feel a heavy burden, desperately wanting to provide their children with the joy of the holiday season.

Sensing this struggle among the clients served at the Homeless Resource Center, AAF’s Engagement Quality Assurance Tech, Lisa Raymond, organized a free holiday shop for parents in 2015. The Gift Giving Event is now an annual tradition and has grown significantly over the last eight years as our community continues to rally their support around families in need of holiday hope.

For three days every December, parents are invited to the Homeless Resource Center to select new gifts and stocking stuffers for their children from an elaborate display of toys. The gifts are then hand wrapped by volunteers and the staff of the Homeless Resource Center.

The 2023 Gift Giving Event received hundreds of toys donated by groups and businesses from all over Palm Beach County. The outpouring of support lifted a weight off the shoulders of the 75 parents who attended the event and experienced the joy of picking out new toys for their children. Over 200 kids in our community will have presents to open this holiday season thanks to your kindness.

We’d like to extend a special thanks to the following supporters for their generous support of the 2023 Gift Giving Event:

  • Alton Town Center
  • BAK School of the Arts
  • The Benjamin School
  • Carrier
  • The City of Lake Worth Beach Human Resources Department
  • Jet Aviation
  • Denise Hand and Friends
  • Lisa Kochersperger
  • Palm Springs Police Department
  • Parkline Palm Beaches
  • Kristen Press
  • Publix – 18th District
  • Royal Poinciana Chapel
  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
  • Shandralyn Smith
  • SOMA
  • TLJ Medical Society
  • Tradewinds Middle School
  • Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl – Organized by Kim Riccardo and Dana Prowell
  • Zuhre’s World

 

Parkline Palm Beach

The Benjamin School

TLJ Medical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jet Aviation

 

Publix – District 18

 

Tradewinds Middle

 

 

Adopt-A-Family Celebrates 40 Years

 

In 1983, three Palm Beach County women heard a radio story about a family of four who had become homeless after exhausting their savings on medical bills. Determined to help the family get back on their feet, the women recruited members of the community to “adopt” the family and support them until they regained stability.

In the forty years that have elapsed since that first family was served, Adopt-A-Family has had the honor of working with nearly 60,000 local families in need of a stable place to call home.

At Adopt-A-Family’s 2023 Annual Meeting in September, CEO Matt Constantine chronicled our four decades of operation by sharing the sharing a timeline of agency highlights and accomplishments in 5-year blocks.

 

1983:

  • Lucy Runyon, Jayne Ellison, and Kay Mansolil heard about a family who became homeless and was forced to take shelter under the Royal Palm Bridge.
  • The three women rallied the community to assist the family, finding them an affordable home, helping secure employment, and ultimately, helping them reclaim their dignity.
  • With a desire to help more families facing similar challenges, Adopt-A-Family was born.

1983 – 1988

  • Adopt-A-Family (AAF) incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity in 1984.
  • The agency “adopted” families by matching donors with households in crisis.
  • AAF’s first major fundraiser was held, our first annual Tree Lighting Celebration
  • The agency moved into our first corporate office at A.G. Holley Hospital in Lantana.
  • By the end of 1988, we had served 351 families.

 

1989 – 1994:

  • The agency headquarters was moved to Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach.
  • Project SAFE and Project Grow began.
  • AAF hosted our first Santa Shoppe and golf tournament, traditions that continue to this day.
  • The agency was featured on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, highlighting the story of a family who fell on hard times, and AAF was helping them get back on their feet.
  • By the end of 1994, Adopt-A-Family had served 2,508 families.

 

1995 – 2000:

  • Two apartment complexes in Lake Worth were acquired which increased the agency’s impact:
    • Lucerne Gardens Apartments, a 32-unit complex that is now known as Project SAFE.
    • A 24-unit complex that still operates today as Service Enriched Housing.
  • Adopt-A-Family’s campus setting was born.
  • By the end of 2000, Adopt-A-Family had served 10,090 families.

 

2001 – 2006:

  • In 2003, the agency headquarters was built in Lake Worth, home to Project Grow and the agency’s case workers and administrative staff.
  • A second office in Lake Park was the homebase of our homeless prevention program.
  • After serving as Adopt-A-Family’s fearless and dedicated CEO for over two decades, Terry Bozarth retired, and Wendy Tippett was named the agency’s second CEO.
  • By the end of 2006, Adopt-A-Family had served 21,996 families.

 

2007 – 2012:

  • Adopt-A- Family was asked to serve as the lead family entity in the newly opened HRC.
  • We completed construction on our 9-unit Wiley Reynolds Gardens Apartments, introducing three-bedroom units to AAF for the first time.
  • As part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program consortium, the agency acquired 41 units of housing in Lake Worth, selling 17 and maintaining 24 for affordable rentals.
  • By the end of 2012, Adopt-A-Family had served 39,296 families.

 

2013 – 2018:

  • The Project Grow playground was reimagined with turf, a playground, and a basketball court.
  • Property adjacent to our campus, the future site of Julian Place, was purchased.
  • After over 20 years of service and visionary leadership, Wendy Tippett left the agency and went on to take a leadership role within Palm Beach County. Matt Constantine was named CEO.
  • By the end of 2018, Adopt-A-Family had served 51,722 families.

 

2019 – Today:

  • Julian Place townhomes received its certificate of occupancy and 14 families moved in.
  • AAF received a $5 million grant from the Day 1 Families Fund, allowing us to find creative ways to serve more families experiencing homelessness.
  • New positions were created to provide much needed support services to our families – our Job Coach, Youth Success Coach, and Volunteer and Community Impact Coordinator were hired.
  • From 1983 to today, Adopt-A-Family has served 58,751 families.

 

Today, the agency serves over 1,200 families each year through a range of programs and services that include 112 units of housing, a 19-unit emergency shelter, dynamic afterschool programming for elementary school students and teenagers, and diversion and rapid re-housing interventions for families experiencing homelessness. Additionally, we offer a robust Homeless Prevention Program, a financial assistance program that carries on the model designed by our three founders.  All agency programs are accompanied by case management and access to support services which include mental health therapy, job coaching, and financial literacy training.

To mark the 40-year milestone at Adopt-A-Family, we hired Apex Productions to document the agency’s beginnings and growth, and to acknowledge the early pioneers who placed Adopt-A-Family on a path to impacting thousands of families throughout Palm Beach County.

The video features the agency’s three incredible Executive Directors, Terry Bozarth, Wendy Tippett, and Matt Constantine, each one leading the agency to new heights during their tenure. It also features two of the agency’s most dedicated volunteers and former board members, Chris Oberlink and Alice Tarone.

 

In this season of gratitude, we extend our sincere thanks to every member of our community of supporters who has walked beside us during the last forty years. We are immeasurably grateful for your dedication, trust, generosity, commitment, and community spirit. The agency’s growth and impact are only because of the incredible partners who believe in our mission.

To the families we serve, thank you. It has been an honor to be a part of your journey.

From the land to the sea, museums to theatres, waterparks to the classroom, Project Grow’s 2023 summer camp has been a blast. Here are some of our favorite moments so far:   

 

Children’s Production: The Lion King Jr. at Lake Worth Playhouse 

Each Project Grow class took their turn seeing Lake Worth Playhouse’s production of The Lion King Jr.  

 

 

Nexplore STEAM Activities 

The students practiced robo-coding and constructed their very own bubble blowers during enrichment activities led by Nexplore, a nationwide, STEAM-focused academic support organization.  

 

 

Pool Day at the Santaluces Aquatic Complex 

Project Grow beat the heat at the Santaluces Aquatic Complex! Students lathered on the sunscreen, strapped on their floaties, and dove in for a day of play in the expansive pool.  

 

 

 

Frost Science Museum 

Miami’s esteemed Frost Science Museum, Aquarium, and Planetarium was a playground of wonder for the kids. The students flocked to interactive exhibits, coming face-to-face with some of nature’s most extraordinary sights and creatures.  

 

P.E. X-Games

P.E. X-Games incorporates physical education with high-energy games to keep brains and bodies feeling sharp. Project Grow students have enjoyed active challenges together, like scooter-basketball and tug of war.

 

Fishing Boat with Florida Fishing Academy

The Florida Fishing Academy treated Project Grow’s 4th and 5th graders to a day of fishing! For some students, this was a first experience out on the water. Some kids were even lucky enough to reel in a fish! After fishing, the kids cooled off with some dock-side swimming.

 

A Day at the Norton Museum of Art

Provided by the Norton’s Community Access Program, Project Grow students enjoyed a tour of the museum, lunch, and even pottery-making, where each student shaped and painted their own small bowl.

 

We are so grateful to provide our students with these special opportunities! Each summer, our local community opens its arms to welcome Project Grow and help them build memories they will cherish for life. We thank each and every organization who has helped make this summer an awesome one!

Adopt-A-Family’s Youth Success Group participated in a 6-week “Youth Issues, Youth Voices” dialogue group led by Barbara Cheives of Converge & Associates. The sessions explored topics like racial and ethnic tension, violence in the community, healthy relationships, and substance abuse. Each gathering allowed students the space to openly share opinions and experiences, and brainstorm solutions to issues youth are facing today.

To conclude the 6-week course, several leaders in the local criminal justice system joined the Youth Success Group for an open conversation with the middle- and high- school students on May 11. Judge Bradley Harper, criminal prosecutor Cheo Reid, criminal defense lawyer Maegan Young, Deputy Morales, Agent Ramsey, and Palm Beach School District Police officers Morales and Nickelson shared advice, bringing valuable perspective from their years of responding to juvenile offenses.

“It’s hard to see what kids like you go through in the system all because of a stupid mistake, or because you never got the help or guidance you needed,” Prosecutor Reid shared with the kids.

As conversation flowed, covering hot topics like social media crimes and the rising popularity of vaping, each professional took the time to share heartfelt advice and personal anecdotes.

“You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Judge Harper told the students. “Every guest in this room made decisions that made them uncomfortable at some point – either it had never been done in their family before, or it was a tough road. You have opportunities coming for you, but those doors won’t always be open. If you have an opportunity, take it, give it a try. When you feel buried, when you’re in a dark and uncomfortable place, that’s when you grow.”

We thank each guest for taking the time to have this special evening with the students of our Youth Success Group, and to Ms. Cheives for her continued work within the agency.

Project Grow’s Impact Highlighted in Recent Report

Project Grow is designed to provide academic, social, and emotional support to elementary school students who have experienced homelessness and housing instability. In 2022, we invested in an independent evaluation of the program to measure Project Grow’s effectiveness in meeting its goals.

The recently released Project Grow Student Progress Report published by Geo Education & Research (Geo) concluded that the program has a measurable positive impact on the test scores and grades of the elementary school students we serve. Project Grow students were compared to other students at their school with similar demographics and household income, and Geo found the following notable achievements:

  • FAST (Florida Assessment of Student Thinking) Test: Project Grow students scored 18 percentage points higher in Math and 7 percentage points higher in English Language Arts.
  • Palm Beach County i-Ready Diagnostic: Project Grow students scored 14 percentage points higher in Math and 7 percentage points higher in Reading.
  • 2022 Report Card Grades: The percentage of Project Grow students earning “Proficient” or “Approaching Proficient” was 23 points higher in English Language Arts and 10 points higher in Math.

Geo also tracked high school graduation data for the students who participated in Project Grow during the 2007-08 school year and found that the Project Grow graduation rate was 4.4 percentage points higher than the district-wide average.

Not only does Project Grow provide a supportive, stable, and safe environment for students who have experienced homelessness, but its holistic curriculum and tutoring help students improve their educational performance and blaze a trail to high school graduation, which improves the long-term trajectory of their lives.

FULL REPORT:

ADOPT-A-FAMILY’S 5-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN

Every five years, Adopt-A-Family’s Board of Directors and staff collaborate to create a strategic plan for the next five years of agency operations and impact in Palm Beach County. This plan responds to our county’s changing market and needs, identifies goals and opportunities for improvement and growth, and cements agency values as we create a roadmap for continuing to achieve our mission in the years ahead.

After a year of workshops and a full day retreat facilitated by Rita Barreto of Top Tier Leadership, Adopt-A-Family’s recently-completed strategic plan sets a vision for our next five years, spanning July 2022-2027, and focuses on maximizing Adopt-A-Family’s efforts in four key areas:

Program and Service Excellence: Building on current efforts, create and deliver programs that are executed with excellence and a strong attention to exceeding expectations.

Talent Management and Culture: Identify, attract, and retain a talented and diverse board and workforce while maintaining and enhancing the agency’s unique culture built on: respect, collaboration, inclusion, safety, and health.

Fiscal Strength: Ensure continued financial sustainability with a focus on diverse revenue streams.

Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness: Strengthen operations (money, information, systems, and physical assets) to ensure the efficient and effective management of resources and Board engagement.

Our past five years have been defined by several incredible milestones, including the opening of Julian Place and the Jayne and Tim Donahue Community Center, and receiving a $5 million grant from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund to launch and grow our services to families experiencing unsheltered homelessness. These victories provided timely opportunities for expansion for the agency, as the affordable housing crisis wrought havoc on the lives of families across Palm Beach County.

Over the next five years, Adopt-A-Family will continue to mobilize efficiently in response to our community’s needs, and strive for excellence in all that we do. As we expand our staff and reach, we build on the heart and longtime mission of Adopt-A-Family: to strengthen families with children in their efforts to achieve stability and self-sufficiency by providing access to all-encompassing services.

Read the Strategic Plan Summary here.

Don’t miss this opportunity for free professional tax filing through the Fifth Third Bank and United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)! 

Spanish: Haga clic aquí para esta información en español.

Creole: Klike la a pou enfòmasyon sa yo an kreyòl.

On February 6 and 7, Adopt-A-Family will host the eBus, where IRS-Certified volunteer preparers will be stationed to provide tax filing assistance. Households whose income was $70,000 or less in 2022 qualify for this assistance. 

This event is open to the public and will take place at Project SAFE (1736 Lake Worth Rd.) to ensure easy access by Adopt-A-Family residents.

WHAT TO BRING:

  1. 2021 tax return
  2. Social Security cards and correct birth dates for all family members
  3. All W-2 wage and tax statements for 2022
  4. Form 1098 – mortgage interest, property taxes
  5. Form 1099 – DIV, G, INT, MISC, Q, R, RRB, SSA for 2022
  6. A photo ID (for you and your spouse, if filing jointly)
  7. Join returns require both filers to be present to sign the return
  8. A voided check and/or savings account number for direct deposit

For Dependent Care Credit you need: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Tax ID or social security number of care provider

For Education Credit you need:

  • 1098-T or 1098-E
  • Amount paid for qualifying education expenses

For Premium Tax Credit you need:

  • 1095-A

On December 10, 2022, our families celebrated the most wonderful time of the year with a beloved AAF tradition: Santa Shoppe! This year, the event made an exciting return to its long-time host venue First Christian Church.

Dozens of generous volunteers gathered the day prior to the event to transform the church into a winter wonderland, adorning the space with tinsel, string lights, and stockings.

The helpers busily wrapped gifts for AAF kids and decorated the Christmas tree, which was the central décor alongside a festive photo booth. The side rooms housed the “Shoppe” and gift-wrapping station, where hundreds of donated gifts awaited.

Santa Shoppe opened the following morning, welcoming a large crowd of AAF families for holiday festivities. Children shopped for gifts for their parents and siblings, then passed their selections to our team of volunteer elves who wrapped and bagged each present. Families enjoyed crafts and lunch, then posed for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, where each child received a gift specially chosen from their wish list by one of our incredible donors.

Every donation, hand-picked gift, and hour of volunteered time, made a difference. Thanks to the incredible generosity of each of Santa Shoppe’s supporters, every family in attendance left with full arms and hearts.

In addition to the many incredible individuals who generously donated time, resources, and gifts, we would like to thank the following groups for their notable commitment to helping families in need through their support of Santa Shoppe:

  • Adopt-A-Family’s Board of Directors
  • AmeriCorps
  • AMG
  • Clipped Wings (United Airlines)
  • First Christian Church West Palm Beach
  • Lost Tree Chapel
  • Old Marsh Group
  • Palm Beach Rotary Club
  • The Breakers Palm Beach
  • Thrivent Action Team
  • UBS

And as always, a very special thank you to Santa and Mrs. Claus for making the trip!

 

The 2022 Trunk-or-Treat brought spectacularly spooky fun for the whole family.

As golden hour fell over Project SAFE, dozens of excited visitors poured into the parking lot to find a Halloween carnival, complete with a bounce house, popcorn machine, photo booth, and games.

Throughout the night, families enjoyed mingling with one another while perusing the trunks creatively decorated by staff and volunteers. This year’s lineup of trunks was out of this world!

To everyone who donated costumes and candy this year, your donations were appreciated by all. Thanks to your generosity, the kids lived out their Halloween dreams as mermaids, construction workers, zombies, pirates, and more.

Academic Resource Coordinator Andrea Abreu coordinated the event with the help of a group of staff and volunteers, deemed the “Boo Crew.” Youth Success Coach Michelle Pinto and the teens of the Youth Success Group worked hard to design signs for each station, which they manned themselves.

We owe the success of Trunk-or-Treat 2022 to the hard work of all donors, volunteers, and staff involved. We thank everyone who had a hand in making this year’s event a night to remember.

The annual United Way Campaign celebrates our longtime partnership with United Way of Palm Beach County, who works to unite the resources of donors, volunteers, agencies and the community to make lasting impact in the lives of our neighbors in need. The week-long campaign encourages Adopt-A-Family staff to rally support through personal pledges, kicking off with a challenge to reach 100% staff participation. We are excited to share that after a week of events, games, and themed dress-up days, staff once again reached the campaign goal of full participation (and won a day off)!

Several United Way team members joined Monday’s kick-off breakfast, including Senior Director of Resource Development Dana Collier, who thanked Adopt-A-Family for our years of successful campaigning.

Program REACH Shelter Service Coordinator Ina Mallet spearheaded Adopt-A-Family’s campaign for the second year in a row.

Tuesday’s outfit challenge prompted awareness for a variety of causes honored throughout the month of October. Staff were invited to wear purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or other colors to represent an observance of their choosing.

 

 

Jodi MacNeal wears a shirt representing the USA Womens Soccer team

Emily Gorman, Ryan Frederick, and Lindsey Morrel rep their favorite teams.

On Wednesday, staff dressed to represent their favorite sports teams, and AAF Grants Writer Jodi MacNeal returned for the third year in a row to lead virtual trivia. Over 20 staff members showed up to the competition, but only three left as champions: Congrats to Dylan Blue, Evan Schoenly, and Arianna DeLeo!

The campaign’s grand finale took place at Drive Shack. Trivia and raffle winners were awarded prizes and CEO Matt Constantine announced the news the whole team was waiting for – we had reached our goal of 100% staff participation.

Adopt-A-Family is grateful to partner with United Way, whose efforts help ensure everyone in our community has access to stable housing, education, food, and other needs.