This month ended our mini grant experience. I am so grateful and thankful to have been chosen as a grant recipient. This was my first time writing and applying for a grant so I am extremely happy that I was able to have this experience. I originally went into this with thinking that I was going to have a partner to help with implementing/executing the project but my partner ended up leaving the agency so I was the main one in charge throughout the majority of the grant. It was very stressful and tiring at times to try to coordinate and plan everything on my own. I did have some support from co-workers for my events in June which was very appreciated as I don’t think these events would have been able to be pulled off without them. The final monthly workshop of dancing to drums was one of the better workshops that we have have throughout the series. The youth seemed to really enjoy it and be engaged. It also had one of our larger turnout of participants for our events. I really enjoyed watching the youth smile and interact with the facilitators. The changes in some of their affect was noticeable throughout the workshops. I hope to be able to partner with these facilitators again at some point. The June events went well overall. I wish there had been more participation and turn out from the youth but otherwise I think it was successful. I definitely had to pivot on half of my original ideas due to lack of participation from the youth. The LGBTQ event with the t-shirt making night and pride event turned into a tie dye t-shirt making night and going to the Palm Beach Pride Market. We had a good turn out for both of these events and the youth seemed to be overall happy and involved during the events. The multicultural event turned into partnering with Jeannette Brown who runs the Utterance Open Mic. Nights. This was to provide an opportunity for any youth who wanted to preform any of the skills they had worked on throughout the year a space to do so. There was one youth who attended and they have been talking about it every since. The Juneteenth event of having people turn in art or photos related to Black Lives Matter turned into attending a Juneteenth concert put on by Spady Museum at the Art’s Garage in Delray. There were no youth that attended but I enjoyed the experience. The Spot Anniversary event stayed pretty true to the original idea of having a lunch type event to celebrate the anniversary of the Spot building at Vita Nova. There were some youth that were able to attend and it was great to have the opportunity to show them the building and have them actually see some of the resources we have available for them in the building. I am optimistic that even though throughout the project there was limited participation that some seeds were planted and some memories were created for the youth. Even if the impact at this time seems small I am hopeful that it will grow over time and a ripple has been made in the water that can possibly turn into a wave. I know that my first grant experience won’t be one that I forget anytime soon.
Glee and wide-eyed enthusiasm are not typical descriptors of middle school students, but I can honestly say that’s what is seen on competition days. Five minutes of “fitness training” every class period has given most students the confidence and motivation to use their new skills to become class champions for the week. Even better, some participate to improve upon their personal best! When reluctant students state that they actually enjoyed competing I congratulate them for doing something outside their comfort zone. Having the students choose the events helps with “buy-in;” reflecting on what worked and didn’t strengthen critical thinking, persuasion, cooperation, and compromise which help improve the next iteration. Although many don’t like to complete the fitness homework log, I am frequently told about more time being spent being active than playing video games! Several students come into class excited for the “First5Fit!” workout, and the challenging behaviors have been reduced. On the days we have competitions, participation and performance on the weekly quiz increases for most students! This project has helped me as an educator as well as my own physical fitness and well-being. I have experienced growth in skills and confidence that I did not anticipate. Sharing the experience with my students has improved our relationship, which is key to student engagement. I look forward to continuing the practice as long as I am in the classroom!
I recently taught a Drum Circle Class at Vita Nova. Everyone learned the basic skills so quickly, leading to a very fluid session. I enjoyed getting to know everyone’s stories and how music played a role in their lives. My favorite moment was when each person shared a song that meant a lot to them; they then tried to duplicate the beat on their drums with everyone else following. I would definitely be open to working with Vita Nova in the future, they are an amazing group of people doing impactful work in our community.
Sister to Sister Palm Beach State College – In March we had two events. One was Nutrition. My name is Sherry Fletcher and I am the coordinator of the program but I am also a registered dietitian and we reviewed some information about the credentials of a dietitian/nutritionist and some basic nutrition information with Mentors and Mentees. It was interesting because one of the Mentors is our Director of our RN to BSN program. It was nice to see that she was backing up the information I was trying to get across to the audience and her knowledge about nutrition. We made a great team. Mentors and Mentees attended the final Money Skills sessions from PNC Bank at this session the discussion was how to protect yourself from fraud. It was interesting to hear how some of the students had the personal information almost stolen or altered. Many of the students felt that both sessions were beneficial to them.
For the Women Helping Women mini-grant, we’ve been very receptive in regards to client mental health needs during this difficult time as it relates to world affairs. Previously, we were offering virtual-only Zumba classes every Monday evening as a COVID-19 safety measure. Now that restrictions have been relaxed, we have recently been able to offer in-person Zumba classes at the park next to our site to great success. Originally, our numbers for virtual Zumba were small but steady. However, since we’ve started offering in-person classes, those numbers have been growing! Our participating clients love in-person Zumba classes and have commented on how helpful they’ve found the class. “I feel refreshed and energized, and I’ve been losing weight.”, said one 25-year-old client. “Attending classes in-person has been a breath of fresh air. “Every Monday evening, the Lake Worth West Park is flooded with women of all ages, dressed in athletic attire with the goal of living a healthier, less stressful, and wholesome day-to-day life. Everyone is all smiles from the time the music starts to the time it ends. Our Zumba instructor is lively and friendly, always happy to guide and help others through the steps. “I love Zumba!” she says. It’s certainly easy to tell from the energy she puts into the class instruction. By the time the class is over and it’s almost dinnertime, the participants part ways with a new outlook on health and fitness.
Vida Smith sharing her story of survival and struggle from domestic violence and being a homeless mother to a successful PhD candidate truly inspired me — as I listened to her story as part of Family Promise SPBC’s Sharing Survival Stories Saturday. My role at Family Promise is to interview the storyteller and prep them for going live or being recorded. Over the course of two days/six hours, I was enthralled with Vida’s story of leaving her homeland of Ghana and moving to the United States after getting married to a seemingly nice American man. Once here, she suffered terrible mental and physical abuse from a very controlling husband, who wanted to dominate her in every way – to the point, she was held hostage in her own house. When she had her daughters, the abuse worsened for her until one day with the help of an angel (her neighbor), she escaped with her children. Through local social services, Vida and her daughters were able to find housing and much needed help and guidance. Vida said that it is through her faith in God that she overcame this terrible situation. She decided to draw upon her inner strength to become the person and mother she wanted to be. She chose to be a role model to her daughters and not a victim. Today, she is working full-time AND earning her PhD in Leadership. How this story impacted me. Listening to her story, I thought how many other women, moms and children are out there – that go unnoticed as abused or trafficked. As a result, of her story (I’m getting emotional as I write), I have found a church that helps with abuse and human trafficking and aim to be an integral part of this mission.
This mini grant was liberating and allowed me to make an impact in a creative way. I had a vision of empowering youth all over the County by shifting mindsets. This vision is not just about planting seeds of purpose, leadership, financial know how, and the like–it is about uprooting generational seeds of poverty and lack. This Future Leaders course is designed to deposit seeds of abundance and to tap into a curiosity about themselves and the world, which may not have existed before. I have had the freedom to invite keynote speakers who are passionate about a topical area that could speak into the lives of young people. So far, the workshop on discovering your purpose really had the youth engaged and questioning their individual purpose in a safe and reflective setting. The class on microaggressions and racial equity stirred up a lot of passion and shared experiences. The group was most quiet while they created their personalized vision boards using the canva software and many spoke in a group setting full of strangers for the first time during our public speaking course. Although the course isn’t over, (our graduation ceremony will be in July), watching the youth ask questions, get engaged and go through this stretching process called growth, has been amazing!
There have been three workshops that have occurred since the first sensemaker update I believe. There wasn’t the turnout of youth that I was hoping for and it has been very hard to get to youth to come to the events. At the beginning of the grant I had another co-worker helping with the grant. They are no longer with the company so that has been an added difficulty as they are not longer they to help with coordinating the events. The poetry event was awesome. It was amazing to work on the community poems. I loved how they all turned out and were each so unique. I have my on my bulletin board in my office. It was such a great way to get insight into some of our youth without having to be serious or have some sit down in depth discussion. It made me feel and I hope it helped others to feel part of a community and valued. To know that someone (hopefully) put thought into what you, then others, had written before adding to your poem was very special. I would have to be able to do this again in the future. This seemed to be the workshop that had the most youth at it and that the youth seemed to enjoy the most. I gave the youth blank notebooks at the end of the workshop and I am really hoping that they will continue to use writing as a creative outlet. The photography workshop went nothing like planned. I wanted to have the youth get their headshots taken and talk about how you can express yourself thought photos, what you can learn about someone through a photo, and how to show your/ help others express their unique personality in a photo. There were only a few youth that showed up and a majority of them did not want headshots taken so the facilitators had to improve and mainly focused on what to do when taking photos of others. The advantage of this was that the facilitators were able to talk about how to get to know the subjects you are photographing and helping them get comfortable and express themselves. I was then able to turn this back to the importance of expressing our true selves. They also were able to discuss the value of capturing organic moments. The monologue event was great. It was a zoom online workshop due to covid numbers being higher at that time. I had accidentally made the event on Eventbrite public for a period of time. We ended up having a youth from Germany join us. It was amazing to see that even though the youth that attended didn’t know each other they were able to seem comfortable with each other in a short period of time. It was such a heartwarming experience to watch them practicing their monologues and amazing to watch them perform them for the group at the end. The next workshop is coming up soon and while I am excited I am also nervous about the attendance. I want to maximize the mini grants funds and help as many youth as I can. I hope that the last three workshops and the events in June have a bigger turn out and that they are able to reach more youth to have as much as an impact on the youth in the county as possible.
The mini grant allowed me to get my “back of store” in order, which includes signing up for and using a new streamlined sales funnel/project creator (HoneyBook), which has made the proposal, contact, and payment progress 1000x smoother. This also makes my business, SPARC Guidance, more professional and helped me establish contracts for trainings/coaching sessions with Early Head Start via the Early Learning Coalition. I am also now able to offer family coaching sessions and I hope to expand SPARC to the School District next.
Family Caregiver One (FC1): “Amazing, thank you so much”. This is one of the initial response Each Starfish Matters (ESM), received from FC1 after she received a care package. As we listened, we heard that FC1 is caring for her mother. Her mother is 84 years old and is experiencing the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. FC1 does not have any siblings and she has a fulltime job. Luckily for FC1 her work schedule is flexible. However, the demands of her job required that some of her meetings were late evening. She told us that her lifestyle now resolves around her mother’s daily needs. FC1 indicated to us that her work schedule was now being driven by her mother’s needs. As we continued to support FC1 we learned that she is now having all meetings by early afternoon and in some cases she has asked her contacts to allow her to meet with them on the weekends. FC1 is trying to maintain own her lifestyle and her job while coping with the new demands of family caregiving. As we closed out the grant, FC1 thanked us for her last care package and told us that other family members had taken the “cute” face masks which were included in the package. (Each Starfish Matters)