It is well documented that children’s educational and social outcomes improve when their parents are engaged in their academic experience. Parent involvement is even more critical for very low-income children who often have to overcome additional obstacles including under-resourced schools and stressful environments. Studies show that low-income parents want to be involved in their children’s education, but language, transportation, cultural, and employment barriers make it very challenging.
One of the Agency’s core programs, Project Grow is an afterschool and out-of-school program which fosters a stable and educational environment for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. At Adopt-A-Family, Project Grow provides an Academic Advisor to eliminate some of these barriers by acting as a liaison between parents and the school. The program is customized to meet the unique challenges of 60 formerly homeless and low-income students from Adopt-A-Family housing programs and the surrounding community. Project Grow teachers work with the children’s parent to ensure parental involvement and encourage parent/children engagement. The mission of Project Grow is to provide a safe, stable environment for low-income, formerly homeless children in which to learn.
Click the link below to read an article from How Housing Matters to learn more about the structural barriers preventing low-income parents from engaging in their children’s education, and the ways in which the community can come together to accommodate parents who have a desire to support their children in the classroom.
Sandy first came to Project Grow scared and heartbroken. Her father had tragically passed away and with him, the sense of stability of their home and livelihood. Her mother worked incredibly hard to support her family and Sandy was grateful for that, and even though her mother did everything she could possibly do, they still had a very low income and struggled to get by.
English was Sandy’s second language and her mother spoke very limited English. Sandy did the best she could, but it made it extremely difficult for her to understand her homework, make friends and feel any sense of self-confidence. In addition to educational challenges, Sandy suffered from significant dental issues, but due to her family’s lack of insurance coverage, those issues went untreated. She was a very picky eater but loved candy, which exacerbated her dental problems. Sandy missed school often as a result of feeling ill.
“Sandy did the best she could, but it made it extremely difficult for her to understand her homework make friends and feel any sense of self-confidence”
Sandy started attending Adopt-A-Family’s Project Grow and immediately began receiving academic services, including literacy tutoring from Literacy AmeriCorps members and one-on-one tutoring in all subject areas with Grow’s school District of Palm Beach County’s tutor. Sandy also started seeing Adopt-A-Family’s on-site counselor to process the loss of her father. She expressed that she was afraid to see a dentist so Project Grow staff talked to Sandy about the importance of proper hygiene and regular dental visits for her overall health. After participating in the “Grow it, Try It, Like It” nutrition classes at Project Grow, she learned that she could substitute fruit for candy. Adopt-A-Family was able to connect Sandy’s mother to dental and health services for her family and Sandy has since received the dental treatment she needed.
Sandy had a hard time easing into the program at first; she would cry almost every day, struggled with her reading and was
extremely shy and hesitant to participate in class. The amazing teachers, tutors and staff refused to give up on her though, and diligently worked alongside her and regularly met with Sandy’s mother to better support her academic and personal growth.
Sandy is now in 1st grade and has become a bright, outgoing young girl. She is absent from school much less often and has even become a leader in her Project Grow classroom. Her reading skills have improved as a result of the tutoring services she has received, her dental and overall health has improved significantly and she has gained immense self-confidence. Sandy enjoys participating in science experiments in her Project Grow classroom and dreams of one day becoming a police officer.
Do you want to be a part of Sandy’s story and other’s like her? Consider donating today and your gift will go directly to Project Grow and the impact the program has on children’s lives every single day.
Christine knew chaos and uncertainty well. Growing up surrounded by trauma, it was common to be uprooted suddenly, moving from one place to another, never knowing how long they would stay before leaving once again. With no real guidance or support system, she dropped out of school in 6th grade. She continued her transient lifestyle, lacking self-confidence and feeling like her life was going nowhere.
Until the day she found out she was pregnant at 19.
With no home and a baby on the way, Christine was scared and unsure of what she could do.
However, with the knowledge of soon being responsible for a newborn, she was determined to break free of what her life had been like and be able to provide a more meaningful future for her and her soon to be son.
“When I got pregnant while homeless, I decided that I wouldn’t let my upbringing determine my life, moving forward. So, I put everything I had into creating a better future for my son and me.”
Christine was able to connect with Adopt-A-Family (AAF) and soon after her son was born, she moved into the agency’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program, Project SAFE, which provides a safe, consistent, and nurturing environment for families experiencing homelessness.
An AAF Family Advocate helped to ensure Christine stayed on task with her finances, offering well-rounded support as she aimed to gain independence and stability. She attended the many different classes offered by AAF and was able to earn her GED as a result of one of those courses. During her time at Project SAFE, Christine was a waitress at a local restaurant and took online classes, working towards earning her Associate’s degree, all while being a new, full-time mom.
After spending five years in the program, Christine and her son moved to Washington State to be closer to family. It was there that Christine discovered her passion for baking. She began honing her skills, and upon moving back to Florida a few years later, enrolled in the Lincoln Culinary Institute school to start pursuing her career in baking.
Not long after graduating from Lincoln, she found out she was pregnant with her second child. It was extremely high-risk, and Christine was put on bedrest for most of her pregnancy. When her son was born, there were health complications which
required him to remain in the hospital for three months. Even when he was able to come home, he still needed to see specialists frequently, which took a toll on Christine.
“It took a while for me to pick myself up and heal. However, I became stronger and healthier every day, in part thanks to skills I learned during my time at Adopt-A-Family, and decided to start my own, home-based business so that I could do what I’m passionate about but also still take care of my kids.”
Christine is now fully pursuing her own baking business, Christinessweetcheeks, specializing in molding and big celebration cakes. She can stay home and raise her two sons and assist with her youngest’s remaining health complications while earning a living by utilizing her skills and passions.
From a traumatic childhood and homelessness to a thriving independent business owner and loving, stay-at-home mom, Christine beat every odd that was stacked against her. She didn’t let the circumstances she was born into determine the outcome of her story. She utilized the resources and support offered to her, to ensure that she found self-reliance and stability for her family.
“Adopt-A-Family is such a great resource to have. For a long time, I didn’t think I was worth the help that people offered and that I could do it all by myself. However, I learned that if someone is offering you a helping hand, like Adopt-A-Family did for me, you should take it. If you do that, keep focused on the task at hand, and keep going. Eventually, you will get to the other side and see all the challenges you stepped over to get where you are now.”
Show your support, this #GivingTuesday and donate to Adopt-A-Family so we can continue serving people just like Christine as they work towards hope and stability.
An Education-Centric Plan With Hope Built In
Adopt-A-Family is embarking on a new affordable housing capital campaign and we’ve already received immense support from our community! Adopt-A-Family wants to share our sincerest thanks to the anonymous donor who has backed this exciting project. Because of their donation, we are able to keep moving forward with the Capital Campaign and get closer to bringing stability back into the lives of families throughout our community.
You can learn more about our Capital Campaign by clicking on the links to press releases below:
Adopt-A-Family launches capital campaign, receives $1 million gift 5.18.18 Palm Beach Happening
$1 million gift helps pay for 14 homes coming to Lake Worth by 2020 5.25.18 The Palm Beach Post
The Strength of a Mother
Kyla and her one-year old daughter Savannah, came to Adopt-A-Family scared and fearful of the world around them, holding on to each other tightly because they were afraid of the unknown. Kyla had not had it easy, struggling for a long time with PTSD and extreme anxiety. She wanted nothing more than to provide a good and happy life for her daughter but needed a confidence boost and helping hand to do so. Kyla and her daughter moved into SAFE in October 2012 and slowly began to open up and work towards gaining the courage and boldness to achieve her goals.
After spending time working and building her self-esteem with her Family Advocate at AAF, Kyla put her daughter in daycare so that she could explore employment and school opportunities. With the help from AAF staff, Kyla’s confidence grew stronger and stronger while Savannah learned to no longer fear the world, but to explore it and learn everything she could. In 2014, while also working part-time and caring for her daughter, Kyla started to attend PBSC to go for her Associates in Human Services and was so successful there that she even made the Dean’s List two years in a row.
“Kyla’s confidence grew stronger and stronger Savannah learned to no longer fear the world, but to explore it and learn everything she could.”
With her success earning her Associates Degree, Kyla is currently working towards earning her Bachelor’s degree. By mid-2016 Kyla was married and expecting her second daughter Arabella and with help of her spouse and his family they were able to move into their own home in OK in September 2017 while being self-sufficient and providing a fulfilling and safe life for their daughters.
If you want to help other mothers like Kyla, you can donate below. Let’s make it a special Mothers Day to all the moms in our community!
Adopt-A-Family is excited to be a part of The City of West Palm Beach’s Clematis by Night Summer in Paradise event again this year! This year’s Summer in Paradise will feature fifteen child-size playhouses, collectively referred to as the “Fairy Tale Playhouses.” In partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, the mini-homes will provide entertainment and shade to the smallest of waterfront visitors, all while raising awareness of affordable housing. Adopt-A-Family’s Fairy Tale Playhouse will take on the story of “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen and the playhouse will be designed and painted by local artist Freddy Hennevelt.
The first “unveiling” of the event will be held on June 7th, but other special for Clematis by Night series will be held all summer long! Come out and show your support to Adopt-A-Family and many other local nonprofits! We can’t wait to see you there.
(for mobile viewing, turn your phone horizontally for best quality).
Angela is a full-time crossing guard employed by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. As a single grandmother to David, a ten-year-old student in Project Grow, life poses many challenges. Adopt-A-Family has provided a stable, consistent, and nurturing environment David would otherwise not have while his grandmother is working.
“Coming to know Adopt-A-Family has turned the light on,” shared Angela. “It has been such a joy and peace of mind knowing David has a special place to go each day afterschool.”
Each day we see the positive impact a stable environment provides our families and children. Click To Tweet
We are asking for your support to ensure we provide access to opportunity and stability for more families than ever this year. Your donation will go directly to enhancing educational programming through our afterschool program, Project Grow, in addition to strengthening our efforts to end and prevent family homelessness throughout Palm Beach County.
When you Give with your heart for this year’s Great Give, our families and children grow, just like Angela’s.
We hope you will choose to #GiveAAF17.
About the Great Give: Great Give Palm Beach and Martin Counties is a 24-hour online giving event led by United Way of Palm Beach County, Achieve, Nonprofits First and United Way of Martin County designed to raise as much money as possible for nonprofits in a single day. This community-wide event celebrates the spirit of giving and the collective effort it takes to strengthen our community by raising critical funds for local nonprofits.
We recently caught up with Celine J., an Adopt-A-Family success story from the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center and Program REACH.
Celine, can you share a bit about what caused you to fall on difficult times?
After my partner and I separated, things began to fall apart. Going from a two-income household to just me, was life-altering and scary for me and my children.
My rent was over $1,400, I had a car payment, and all my other bills were simply too much for me to stay on my feet. I was working a pretty good job but it wasn’t enough to sustain my expenses. We ended up homeless and lost nearly everything. My car was repossessed and on top of it all, I found out I was pregnant only a month later. My pregnancy was very rough and I was put on bed-rest for the majority of it. This inevitably caused me to lose my job. Everything in my life was coming undone.
It was then I found out about Adopt-A-Family’s Lewis Center office. The team helped me right away (the same day of my appointment). My caseworker told me she wouldn’t let my precious children and I spend another night not knowing where we’d stay. The team worked fast to ensure I’d have a roof over my head. After staying several nights in a hotel, I was referred to Program REACH, an emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness. Everything began turning for the better.
How did participating in the program change your life?
The kids (I have 10-year old twins and a healthy 5-month old baby girl) loved it here.
Having stability and a foundation made us feel safe again. - Celine J. Click To Tweet
In addition to my case manager helping me find a new job, we were introduced to a number of community resources: I learned budgeting skills, developed a savings plan, and worked with a housing specialist toward finding affordable housing that fell within my existing budget. In a matter of weeks, my housing specialist found a beautiful (and most importantly, affordable) home to call my own. With my newly acquired budgeting skills and savings plan, I was able purchase a reliable used vehicle without the need of a car loan. Going to and from work will now be easier than ever without the need to rely on public transportation.
What will you remember most about your time at Adopt-A-Family?
Sometimes people fall flat on their faces and just may need a second chance. I needed Adopt-A-Family to help rebuild my life. I was pushed to work hard all while being treated with compassion, kindness, respect, and a family spirit. I’ll never forget my family at Adopt-A-Family.
And, neither will my children.
*Celine’s name was changed for privacy purposes.
Our #GiveAAF17 mission statement: A stable home creates opportunities for our families. We cannot change lives without you. When you give to Adopt-A-Family for this year’s Great Give, you are creating the opportunity for our children and families to grow.
I can't remember the last time I felt this way. I'm Home. Click To Tweet – Brittany S., Wiley Reynolds Gardens Apartments
Words are not enough to describe our gratitude toward the United Way of Palm Beach County’s Emerging Leaders Society (ELS) Steering Committee!
The ELS team is the most recent participant in Adopt-A-Family’s new community engagement series, Feels Like Home, which aims to create a welcoming environment for formerly homeless families in Project SAFE and Wiley Reynolds Gardens Apartments. The majority of families served by these programs have a place that is “truly home” for the first time their lives. The committee approached the project in a new and innovative way, creating an Amazon “wish list” of items for a family in Wiley Reynolds. In less than a week, all wish list items were purchased and the team met on Friday, March 17th to drop off the gifts in person.
” I feel like saying thank you isn’t enough,” shared Brittany, the mother of a bright-eyed six year old boy who were the family recipients of the project. “The fact that people in the community care about giving back to me and my son is such a cool feeling. It makes me more confident and empowered to work that much harder on my goals.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Brittany shared her journey to becoming a resident at Adopt-A-Family. Brittany, a full-time assistant manager at a local business, plans to pursue a degree in Health Services Administration.
“In the midst of our busy lives it’s so nice to take a moment and remember why we are supporters of the United Way and members of the Emerging Leaders Society affinity group. Hearing Brittany’s story reminded us all how quickly anyone can fall on hard times and how important it is as a community to come together and support one another.” – Kelly Eppy, Emerging Leaders Society Chair.
The Emerging Leaders Society’s mission is to attract, enlighten and rally early to mid-career professionals around the United Way of Palm Beach County by creating a society of like-minded individuals who believe in giving back financially while being able to network, participate in community services projects and educational opportunities.
Interested in learning more about the Emerging Leaders Society? Click here.