January 2012

"Big Sister" Offers Foster Teen Friendship and Family

Samaria, left, and Tausha

Before abandoning her, Samaria's mother always told her she was worthless. She never met her father, and though her grandmother put a roof over her head, Samaria never felt loved or supported.

As a teenager, she entered the foster care system, struggled in school and thought she would never make anything of herself. Her life changed when she enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County's Inspire Within program, which pairs teens aging out of foster care with caring adult mentors.

Samaria was "matched" to Tausha, a Ph.D. and author. Though it took time to gain Samaria's trust, Tausha patiently allowed their friendship to grow. Tausha helped Samaria with homework and taught her about working hard for success. One night, Samaria was rushed to the emergency room after suffering an epileptic seizure. She called Tausha who arrived at 1 a.m. and stayed by her side. "That night, she became family," said Samaria.

Samaria is now 23 years old and visits with Tausha weekly. She attends college, has been employed at a law firm for three years and wants to pursue a law degree. Thanks to love and support from her Big Sister, Samaria is now mentoring an Inspire Within teen who reminds her of herself when she entered the program.

Interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister? Learn more.

First-Time Homeless Family Regains Independence

At the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, homeless individuals and families in crisis receive shelter, comprehensive services, and something just as important ... hope.

Through a 2011 grant, The Jim Moran Foundation supports three case managers for the family program, a critical component to helping participants become self-sufficient. One of the 150 families served last year was a single father, Mr. Foster, and his two teenage boys. They turned to Sulzbacher when Mr. Foster lost his job and could not afford rent and bills any longer. It was their first time being homeless.

Though Mr. Foster was born deaf and struggles with other medical conditions, he has always worked hard to care for his family. While at the shelter, he took full advantage of its case management services, life skills classes, as well as youth programming for his sons. After finding full-time employment at Shands Hospital as a Linen Transporter, he saved enough income to transition his family into an apartment.

Each day, he walks 30 blocks to work without complaint and takes part in the Aftercare Program for ongoing support. Both boys are also doing well. The Fosters wanted to share their story as a way to say thank you to Sulzbacher for helping their family find "the way home."

Read more about programs at the Sulzbacher Center.

Working Together to Combat Hunger in Palm Beach

Volunteers gather leftover corn from a local field.

Almost one in six residents of Palm Beach County are food insecure. In an effort to provide nutritious food to those in need, The United Way of Palm Beach County partnered with other organizations and individuals to create the Community Food Alliance (CFA). Rather than purchasing or buying in bulk, it collects quality food that would otherwise be discarded by restaurants, hotels and growers -- and distributes it to more than 75 pantries. In recent years, the CFA has increased the amount of food rescued by 45% and doubled the number of volunteers gleaning produce at local farms.

Starting next month, the CFA will host hands-on, skills-based nutrition and cooking classes through FLIPANY for children and their parents at Village Academy in Delray Beach. Designed to encourage healthier eating, participants will also receive the ingredients necessary to prepare the meal they learned how to cook, along with a week's worth of groceries.

With support from The Jim Moran Foundation and other funders, the CFA will provide food assistance to approximately 100,000 individuals this year.

Community Garden Coming Soon to Deerfield Beach

Recently harvested bok choy from the garden in Pompano Beach.

With a simple and innovative approach, The Need to Feed addresses poverty in Broward County by providing fresh produce from its community gardens in Hollywood and Pompano Beach to local food pantries.

Through a grant from The Jim Moran Foundation, an additional garden will be planted in Deerfield Beach this Spring. We look forward to sharing updates on its progress later in the year.

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