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Project Grow Summer Camp Round-Up

Project GROW Summer Camp Memories

It was an incredible Summer at Project Grow, Adopt-A-Family’s afterschool and summer camp program for homeless and low-income elementary school students. We owe a special thanks to The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-By-the-Sea who generously provided fund support to enrich the summer camp activities and trips, leading the way to exploration and continued learning for all of our students. Thanks to Project Grow supporters, campers went on more than a dozen field trips and had special visitors conduct workshops and activities on-site.  

Here are our favorite highlights:  

Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science
A student favorite every summer is off-site field trips. The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science offers hundreds of interactive exhibits. Visitors can see exciting science demonstrations and presentations by community experts.  

All of the Project Grow students attended the field trip and were able to take in a showing of “Backyard Wilderness” which explores the natural ecosystem of a typical family’s backyard on the museum’s famous iMAX theatre screen. They were also able to do a mock TV News broadcast (we think there may be some future newscasters in the bunch!) Their minds were opened to the incredible work that paleontologists and meteorologists do, and they even took a ride on an everglade’s airboat simulator! 
 

 

Florida Fishing Academy:  

Florida Fishing Academy took students out on the open ocean for a very special deep sea fishing experience. Using their newly gained knowledge from classes that Florida  Fishing Academy held for the them over the summer, students enjoyed the salty air and sunshine, jumped into the cool ocean waters, and fished for deep sea critters (they were even able to bring back their catch!) For many of the students, it was their first time on a boat and on the ocean, making for a memorable trip.  

 Frost Museum: 

The highlight of our students summer camp experience was their visit to the brand-new Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami. The Frost Science Museum is dedicated to sharing the power of science to its visitors.  

Every grade level of the Project Grow students enjoyed the 2-hour drive, their minds racing with excitement and curiosity of this new adventure. They excitedly explored each of the floors of the 3-level aquarium, which includes a 31-foot oculus! The students rested underneath it as they observed large fish soar overhead.   

Their imaginations were heightened when they viewed other exhibits including “Feathers to Stars” where they learned all about flight. They also viewed the “Me Lab” and learned how their body works and the different systems within it, as well as the “DaVinci Inventions” and much more.  

 

These trips and activities allowed students to explore places and experience things for the very first time. Thank you again to all who ensured our students and campers thrived during the summer months, when opportunities to learn would be minimal without the structure and enrichment of Project Grow.

TJ Maxx Supports Adopt-A-Family

 

Adopt-A-Family’s relationship with TJ Maxx began in 2015 when they put on a “TJ Maxx Fun Day” for our Project Grow afterschool program students on the Grow playground. They brought every child a backpack and t-shirt, played outdoor activities, and got to know the students and staff. Everyone had such a blast that they came back the following year and held a “TJ Maxx Fun Day” again!

Since then, they have “adopted” us in many ways.

  • TJ Maxx has provided grant support of our  Housing Stabilization Program (HSP) which provides rent and utility assistance for families on the verge of homelessness.
  • Since 2015, they have donated more than 60 turkeys to our families to ensure that they all have a special Thanksgiving.
  •  They provided more than 50 children books for the agency to use as the beautiful centerpieces at our 2017 Tree Lighting event, which are remembered as one of the most popular centerpieces in the event’s history.   
  • Each new school year, TJ Maxx provides Project Grow students with backpacks, school supplies, and clothing; a huge financial relief for a lot of the families of our students. 
Thank you, TJ Maxx for all you do to support Adopt-A-Family and the families that we serve. Click To Tweet

We want to share some exciting news with the Adopt-A-Family community. Adopt-A-Family is proud to report that we received our 12th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

With more than 1.5 million American charities, Charity Navigator aims to accentuate the work of efficient and transparent organizations. The intent of our work is to provide donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in both the charitable decisions that they make and the nonprofit sector. Forbes, Business Week, and Kiplinger’s Financial Magazine, among others, have boasted on Charity Navigator’s unique method of applying data-driven analysis to the charitable sector. By evaluating ten times more charities than their nearest competitor leads the way for Charity Navigator to be the leading charity evaluator in America.

“Only 1% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 12 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Adopt-A-Family outperforms most other charities in America.”

In the updated rating letter to the agency, Michael Thatcher (President and CEO of Charity Navigator) writes; “Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Adopt-A-Family exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 1% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 12 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Adopt-A-Family outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Adopt-A-Family apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

None of this would be possible without the support and generous investment of our donors, funders, and board of directors. We are extremely grateful for this recognition, but even more so, we are thankful for the privilege to serve the families in our community every single day.

Thank you again for all that you do to support Adopt-A-Family’s mission.

5 Tips for Fundraising with Adopt-A-Family 

Looking to raise money for Adopt-A-Family but not quite sure how to get started? Consider hosting a fundraising event!

Did you know that 80% of Americans believe it’s essential for people to come together in order to promote positive change–regardless of age, gender, income, or geography?

Fundraising events can make a big impact when advocating and spreading awareness for a good cause– like Adopt-A-Family! Each day, we’re working toward our mission to strengthen families with children in their efforts to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. By providing access to all-encompassing services for our families, we’re holding true to our withstanding vision of being leaders in “helping families help themselves.”

At Adopt-A-Family, we encourage our supporters to take action and give aid to our organization. With your help, we can reach our full potential! Fundraisers are a great way to get involved in our organization (and they’re fun too)! Here are a few important factors to keep in mind when planning your event!

 

1. Set a Goal
The foundation of hosting a successful event is understanding its overall purpose and goals. Are you seeking to bring in donations, or simply to spread awareness? If you’re after financial gain, start there. How much money do you wish to make, or even need to make in order to turn a profit? Ensure that all your objectives, no matter how easily attainable, have measurable targets. Registering your event through an online ticketing platform can allow you to track real-time sponsorships and donations! Analyzing your success is crucial to indicating changes to make in the future.

2. Create a Budget
Creating (and sticking to!) a budget can be one of the most stressful components of event planning, especially when fundraising for a nonprofit. When all is said and done, you want to be left with funds to donate to your cause! Establish a rough budget as soon as you begin event planning, and be sure to document all your costs through a spreadsheet. Even your smallest costs can add up to more than you may intend, so be sure to leave room in your budget for the unpredictable!

3. Host Your Event in Collaboration With an Upcoming Celebration
One of the most simple ways to host a fundraising event is to schedule it in tandem with a personal celebration! Requesting attendees’ “presence” instead of presents is becoming a popular trend in children’s birthday parties and holiday celebrations. Is your birthday, wedding, or anniversary right around the corner? Ask friends and family to donate to a meaningful organization (like Adopt-A-Family!) rather than giving gifts. Not only is this an effective way to fundraise, but it also reminds others to be charitable in their daily lives.

4. Choose a Unique Theme 
It’s important to remember that when planning a fundraiser, your guests are excited to contribute to a good cause, but they’re more excited to have a great time! Select a fun theme that will motivate others to both attend and donate. Make sure your event is unique, exciting, and in line with your cause or organization. From trivia nights to neighborhood street parties, the options are truly endless!

If you don’t have the time to host your own event, that’s fine! At Adopt-A-Family, we’re constantly hosting special events to raise money. Be sure to check out our events calendar .

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Erlande, a Project Grow alum, speaks about her future, her eyes brighten with enthusiasm.

 

“I know I want to work with neo-natal infants because it’s the most meaningful way I could give back to others,” she shared. “I don’t want to sound too cliché, but when you grow up around nothing but crisis and hurt—it only makes sense to find something that can impact others in a powerful way.”

Now a senior in High School,  Erlande was visiting Adopt-A-Family as she preparing for her adventure into college. While here, she shared the amazing life accomplishments she experienced since her time in Project Grow.

Erlande came to AAF as a young child, uncertain and worried, reaming closed off to staff and the other kids in the program. That all changed though, with the support from teachers, newly made friends in the program and the on-site mental health counselor.  “When Erlande first started the program, she was really shy and spoke in such a quiet tone,” shared Daron Morse, Project Grow’s Director of Educational Programs. “Over the years, her confidence began to build more and her voice grew along with it.”

 

After Project Grow, Erlande became focused on improving her mental health by participating in counseling and becoming involved in the community—healthy coping strategies that Erlande credits with eliminating frustration and anger management challenges she struggled with throughout childhood.

While sharing her excitement to AAF staff during her visit, she couldn’t help but express her gratitude for Project Grow, a program that helped shape her childhood and formative years for the better.

“Project Grow was my childhood,” shared Erlande with a smile. “Everything I remember about my youth revolved around this program—from the singing and activities, to learning how to cope with challenges at home, Project Grow meant everything to me at a very difficult time in my life. I knew I could always come here no matter the crises I frequently faced in my home environment.  The program taught me how to treat people with respect and humility; qualities that helped me excel in the healthcare career I began working toward early in my high school years. I remember volunteering with the nursing home across from Adopt-A-Family and applying everything I learned during my Project Grow years on a daily basis. To work in the healthcare field, you need to have a lot of compassion and patience; both are qualities I don’t think I could have refined without my time in Grow.”

Once she graduated out of Project Grow,  Erlande became focused on improving her mental health by participating in counseling and becoming involved in the community—healthy coping strategies that

Erlande credits with eliminating frustration and anger management challenges she struggled with throughout childhood.

“I knew I could always come here (Project Grow) no matter the crises I frequently faced in my home environment.  The program taught me how to treat people with respect and humility; qualities that helped me excel in the healthcare career I began working toward early in my high school years.”

As a busy high school senior, community volunteer, and Medicana employee, Erlande also successfully earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), EKG tech, and Medical Assistant licenses through a rigorous program offered through her high school. Erlande’s resilience, academic and professional success, and commitment to community volunteerism caught the eyes of two local patrons of Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, who became significant mentors in her life. Soon afterward, Erlande was honored with a tuition-scholarship from Bethesda-by-the-Sea in addition to significant scholarship support from Florida State University and other private scholarship providers!  She planned to pursue a degree in nursing with hopes of someday working in a neo-natal intensive care unit.

Even after sharing her many successes, Erlande has one focus on her mind—how she can impact her hometown.

“Project Grow and Lake Worth had a GIGANTIC impact on my childhood,” said Erlande in closing. “Lake Worth is where I was born and raised, however, you always want to become someone better than you grew up around. Even though I’ve gone through things that were so difficult and hurtful, I see myself back here in ten years giving back to this community (hopefully as a neo-natal intensive care nurse).”

 

We congratulate Erlande and wish her well on her incredible journey forward!

 

 

 

 

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.

Jackie and her two sons, DaVante and Xavier, came to Adopt-A-Family several years ago on the verge of crisis—they had just learned the place they called home was going into foreclosure, and the family would soon be without a home. Turbulence and trauma in life had been commonplace for the family—three times previously Jackie and her sons had been on the verge of homelessness.

However, from day one at Adopt-A-Family, Jackie was determined to build a better life. She took advantage of every opportunity to grow within the Service Enriched Housing (SEH) program, which is dedicated to equipping and empowering families on their journey toward financial independence and homeowership. Both of her sons enrolled in Project Grow, Adopt-A-Family’s afterschool and out-of-school program that is customized to meet the needs of formerly homeless children.

While an Adopt-A-Family SEH resident, Jackie earned her high school diploma and CNA certification, ensuring her employment options would drastically improve. Jackie also worked diligently to repair her credit and reduce past debts that had weighed heavily on the family throughout the years. Working with Adopt-A-Family’s NeighborWorks Certified Credit Counselor, she developed meticulous saving habits and budgeting skills—while also participating in the program’s “Home Buyer’s Club,” earning her first time homebuyer’s certification.

All the while, Jackie dedicated her drive and passion toward building a better life for her children.
“While I was struggling, my kids were struggling as well,” she shared. “That’s what made the stability of Adopt-A-Family so vital. Stability has always been the primary goal for my kids. It’s finally happened. I’ve accomplished that goal. Having children taught me how to be strong, and motivated to reach this level of independence. I never had a blueprint for how to be a good mother and raise my children. I’d admit, I wasn’t prepared for it at first. However, they were what kept me together and gave me that added motivation to push forward.”

“Jackie has fought incredibly hard to get to this moment,” shared Christina Hewitt, Jackie’s Adopt-A-Family program manager. “Regardless of how difficult things became for her, she never lost her ability to stay positive that her life would take a turn for the better. I truly admire her resilience and perseverance.”

We congratulate Jackie, and her entire family, on achieving the dream of homeownerhip! The family celebrated their home dedication with our partner, Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, on August 21st, 2017. Special thanks to Habitat for Humanity and the many partners who came together to make this dream a reality.


About Service Enriched Housing: Service Enriched Housing (SEH) is an innovative housing program for low-income families dedicated to the pursuit of increased financial stability and homeownership. SEH provides safe and affordable housing for 30 families who meet program requirements. Families work collaboratively with the program manager to address credit obstacles, eliminate debt, and learn the necessary steps to becoming a homeowner.

For part two of our four part Great Give 2017 series highlighting Adopt-A-Family programming, we caught up with Director of Homeless Services, Nydia Sabugo-Marrou. Our second feature focuses on how emergency housing solutions provide a stable foundation for families in crisis.

What are common barriers faced by families entering Program REACH and the Lewis Center?

The common barriers of the families we serve are the following: they have very limited income, limited education, parents that may have been in the foster care system, and have experienced a plethora of traumatic events in their lives. Because of the significant trauma, many families come to us with additional mental health challenges on top of their experience with homelessness.

What are some key goals for families served in your programs?  

The first goal when we bring them here is to put a roof over their head. This starts with a hotel voucher or a referral to Program REACH. Our next goal is to obtain more stable and long-term housing solutions. The primary way we accomplish this is through Rapid Re-Housing. Another goal is to ensure we limit the amount of time each family spends being homeless. Once a family is housed, we provide referrals and other services offered by collaborative partners to help families grow.

Why is it so important that this work is possible in Palm Beach County? How is it making a difference? 

We begin with saying that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to stay.  Every child should know that when they come home from school, they have a space that is truly their own.  It’s important in this community and across the world. Shelter is a BASIC human need. – Nydia Sabugo-Marrou

 

From the perspective of the families you serve, what would you like the community to know (that they may not know) about the work that you do? 

The first thing that comes to my mind is to eradicate the stigma of homelessness. There are so many false stereotypes going around. I’d want to tell the community that so many of our community’s residents are just one paycheck away from homelessness. Anything that causes you to miss work could put you in the same predicament of so many of our families. We have families that are doing their best – some even working two part-time jobs and still having a  difficult time to afford rents in this county.

It’s truly an uphill battle. However, with the supportive services provided by Adopt-A-Family and our partners, we’re able to see great successes.

What makes your job so meaningful? 

The most meaningful aspect of my work is giving families a place to stay when they otherwise wouldn’t have a home. I’ll never forget one mother saying, “I can finally cook. I can make a meal for my family.” Click To Tweet Simple things like cooking that we take as an everyday luxury is simply not a reality for struggling families in our community.

Thank you for sharing this insight Nydia!


Our 2017 Great Give mission statement: Housing stability creates opportunities for our families. When you give with your heart during this year’s Great Give, our families and children will thrive. We can only impact the lives of families with you. Create the opportunity for our families and children to grow.  #GiveAAF17 during the Great Give. 

This blog is part two of an ongoing series that aims to give our community a closer look at the programming they will directly support during this year’s Great Give. Stay tuned for additional features on our self-sufficiency programming and educational programming. Throughout the campaign, you will also hear straight from our families on how their lives have been impacted by Adopt-A-Family. To view our Great Give fundraising page, click the logo below. To help share this feature, please click the Twitter or Facebook share icons below.