It seems like everywhere we turn the news is bad. We can’t turn on the TV, scroll through the internet, or meander through the casual, water-cooler conversation without some dire news striking us in the heart. People are hurting out there. It’s plain to see. Divided politics, anger, bitterness—it can sometimes seem like these are the currency of modern culture.
Quieter, though, are the good things happening. Under the radar and around the world, people are doing spectacular things to help others, to share the good. To reach the underprivileged and share love where love is so sorely lacking. These are the things we need to focus on and to seek out actively if we are to cling to hope and faith in this world.
The problem for some of us, though, is the seeking part. Relegated to the last three minutes of most of the news, our “feel good” buckets are hard to fill. For the most part, those doing the most good aren’t shouting it from the rooftops. They aren’t clamoring for the limelight and living to tell the whole world about the impact they’re making. Most are not even motivated by the spotlight but, instead, a deep love for people and a passion for giving back.
Their stories deserve to be told. We want to give light to those bringing light to others, to share their vision and their message with you so you can walk away feeling hopeful about the good in this world. These three non-profit organizations are doing incredible things in their local communities: helping women, children, and families who would otherwise fall between the cracks and get lost. They are fighting hard for what’s right in this world, and we believe their stories are important and worth sharing.
These 3 Non-Profit Organizations Are Doing Great Things
Seed of Hope
Oak Brook, Illinois
Seed of Hope’s Executive Director, Gwendolyn Young, and her mother, Jacqueline Barnes, have a heart for the girls in the underprivileged areas of their Illinois home. This heart comes from a place of personal pain and history. We love what they’re doing: helping young women through a unique 6-8 week program designed to plant seeds of hope into their lives. This is what Gwendolyn has said about their organization:
“10 years ago, my mother, Jacqueline Barnes, the founder of Seed of Hope Foundation came to me with a vision to start an organization for girls to teach them leadership and entrepreneurship.
I was not at all thrilled to say the least, considering I had a teen girl at home and knew all too well the challenges of multiple personalities and all the joys and woes of raising a teen girl. However, as I began to reflect on my life, I realized that I never had a space to build community with other girls, a place I could share my deepest hurts, fears, and what was happening at home, and get some real help to cope with it all. That is when I realized I had a responsibility to bring this vision to life.
However, as we began teaching entrepreneurship, we realized that these young ladies could not focus or even think about creating a future or setting goals because they were just trying to survive the day. They need real skills on how to cope with alcoholic parents, abusive parents, being sexually abused, bullied at home and school, and the fact that they hated themselves. That’s when it all changed for us and we revamped our entire curriculum to focus solely on the social-emotional learning and to help them build their emotional intelligence and coping strategies.
As my mother is a survivor of domestic abuse and I was also a victim of that abuse, we knew all too well the pain these young girls were experiencing. Many years ago, my mother was beaten, kicked, and stomped by my former stepfather and left to lie on the bathroom floor bloodied and bruised after he stood over her one last time to say that he hated her and he hated himself. As a teen girl, coming home to find the house empty and a bucket of blood in the bathroom tub would send me into a panic and fright I had never felt before. Thinking, ‘Where is my mom, is she alive, is she not alive?’ The agony. It is because of experiences like that, that we have made it our mission to create a safe space where teen girls can speak their minds without judgment and be heard, healed, and helped with the proper resources.
Our teen girls are hurting and hopeless. Our program takes them through a 6-8 week journey of self-awareness and self-love, choices, conflict resolution, social-emotional learning, and planning for the future. We take them through a myriad of exercises that challenge them to dig deep into who they are and why they behave the way they do, and then ultimately making a decision and planning on how to move forward. We plant a Seed of Hope back into their lives, we nurture it, and we pray that we will have the opportunity to see many of those seeds blossom into beautiful flowers one day.”
Bryan’s House CEO, Abigail Erickson, explains how they are helping the most at-risk children in North Texas get the care they need while supporting their families in places they need it most.
“Our Dallas-based non-profit, Bryan’s House, has emerged as national and statewide leaders in our field—meeting high standards of care, accreditation and huge gaps in service in our region for at-risk children, who live 200 percent below the poverty line, with special medical, social and emotional needs.
We have redefined how medically-fragile children living in poverty in North Texas receive a special-needs focused curriculum, in-home case management, evidence-based early childhood education, and after school and respite care. Our team is focused on two-generational programming, infant mental health, early intervention/coping mechanisms, parent training, environmental impact, and more.
We are especially proud of our Single Working Mothers program—it is so hard to make ends meet when you are escaping abuse, violence, or are newly divorced, and have a child with special needs. Many mothers have no income, stayed home to take care of their child or children with special needs, and are starting from scratch. That is where we come in to provide robust and holistic wrap-around services for longer periods of time—to stabilize families to become self-sufficient.
We serve families for longer periods of time, creating fun, nurturing programs in safe, creative environments where kids can just be kids. We impact 1,000 people a year with multiple services daily, weekly, and year-round.
We believe in the ‘all-in’: we are changing children’s trajectories for life, because every child has the right to thrive, no matter what!”
Urban Youth Impact
Palm Beach County, Florida
Bill Hobbs of Urban Youth Impact created a non-profit aimed to empower inner-city youth. Through various programs and initiatives, Urban Youth has managed to transform countless lives and make a huge difference in the Palm Beach County area.
Urban Youth Impact exists to love, equip and empower inner-city youth to fulfill their purpose, and it was founded in 1997. The areas they serve have all been identified by Children’s Services Council as the areas with the most at-risk children based on numerous indicators such as poverty levels, school readiness, graduation rates, teen birth rates, and percent of children on free/reduced lunch among others. Through its core programs, UYI serves nearly 230 youth weekly with educational enrichment and job-readiness training while building lasting relationships. An additional 270 youth are impacted weekly through our collaborations with community partners.
Some of their after-school programs include: The Leadership Academy (for K-8th grade and is intensely focused on improving literacy), the Reframe work program (for high school students, teaching youth how to become employable with college prep and work internships), and SMART (Science Meets Art), where all students can choose from nearly 20 electives in music, cooking, science, the arts, and more.
In 2018 alone:
· 96% of Urban Youth Impact students improved their reading ability. Of those, 72% were reading on their grade level vs. Palm Beach County scores hovering around 55-60%.
· 100% of the high school students graduated from high school, and either enrolled in post-secondary education or secured a job.
· Many of the urban students are discovering their talents to inspire others and create a proﬁtable living by having their artwork on display in West Palm Beach’s popular downtown shopping district CityPlace. The Urban Youth Artisans Shop is an outreach of their SMART program.
Mr. Rogers once said to look for the helpers when times are scary and troublesome. We tell our kids this all of the time when natural disasters happen or scary things are in the news. We try to show them how to look for the good in the world instead of the bad. (In fact, here’s an entire article on how to talk through these things with your children, written by a licensed psychologist.) These three non-profits are the helpers we should be looking towards; they are the light that shines in the dark times. Mr. Rogers was so very right, and not just for the kids, but for us too.
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