Payday Lending Practices Harm Communities

Payday Lending Practices Harm Communities

Join Touching Miami with Love, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and CBF FL and faith leaders across the country to stop harmful predatory lending practices. Read more about CBF’s advocacy efforts on payday lending HERE.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is rolling back a recently created rule that requires predatory payday lenders to make affordable loans. Without this rule, payday loan sharks can prey on vulnerable consumers with debt trap loans causing default on other bills, overdraft fees, and even bankruptcy. The CFPB must protect families and stop the debt trap – not enrich payday loan sharks.

In my first months of ministry, I remember a faith leader offering a challenge to not simply create programs and services that serve people who are caught in tough situations in the river of life, but instead to go upstream and see who is pushing people into the river. That analogy stuck with me. Heading up the river is what advocacy is all about.

Recently I was able to be a part of CBF’s training event, Advocacy in Action, held in New York City. Throughout the four-day event, pastors, faith leaders and seminary students from across the country joined together to learn practical ways to put faith to action while impacting the most pressing issues of the day including immigrant and refugee issues, religious liberty and human rights.

Our group visited the United Nations to learn about global advocacy and hear about interfaith work being done from a panel of UN advocate experts. During our week, we viewed refugee stories up close at the Tenement Museum and stood beneath Plymouth Church in Brooklyn in the same room as those escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. All of this was a great reminder of both the importance and the investment required for advocacy.

It seemed fitting that the following Monday, I would get to be a part of putting my new advocacy learning into action at a Pray-In and Press Conference to denounce the abusive practices of the payday lending industry.

This gathering brought together the Center for Responsible Lending, the Florida Council of Churches, the 11th Episcopal District of the AME Church, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida to protest outside of the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami as the national payday lenders association, The Community Financial Services of America (CFSA), held their annual meeting.

Touching Miami with Love joined this effort years ago and continues to learn about the industry that grows wealthy off a debt trap designed to force borrowers to take out increasing loans to pay off previous loans. It was encouraging to join prominent leaders in this movement as we prayed and called for justice to uphold the rights of the poor. We held signs attracting the interest of the police and media as we condemned the industry for their 400% APR rates and predatory practices that lead to an average of ten loans per borrower.

Following this experience, I was invited to join a researcher from the Center for Responsible Lending to be a local voice on Miami’s local public radio station WLRN’s show, “Sundial.” It was a privilege to shine light on the abusive practices of payday lending because no one should be thrown in the river drowning in debt.

Angel Pittman is a CBF field personnel serving as the Vice President of Touching Miami with Love. Since 1995, Touching Miami with Love has been serving the neighborhoods of Overtown and West Homestead, sharing the love of Christ through providing hope, opportunities, and resources.

Oasis Camp 2019

Reset! Oasis Camp, hosted by Branches, was truly a “reset” for our youth. God’s presence was at camp this year and the youth were blown away by their experiences. Surrounded by nature and with no technology for four days, they have an opportunity to connect with Jesus in new ways.

The theme this year was centered around Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

At camp, the youth and counselors had a chant that focused our attention on this verse.
“Hebrews Twelve. One two, One two…
Drop the weights.
Run the Race.
Set your eyes on Jesus’ face.”

After a few rounds of the chant, everyone would yell: “RESET—right now, right now” and the chant would begin again from the top. Reset.

Camp is an opportunity for our TML staff to connect on a deeper level to youth. During Cabin Devotions, one youth was really struggling with if she could stop a bad habit. She said she didn’t want to “drop the weight” because she didn’t think she’d be fully committed. “I want to follow Jesus, but I need to stop sinning first.” TML staff encouraged her that despite our human attempts, we are not the ones to clean up our lives. Jesus is. Reset. Jesus didn’t come for healthy people, but the sick. Reset. He died for us while we were sinners. Our bad habits might not change overnight. The more we learn more about Jesus and His love for us, the more we walk closer with Him, the less attractive those heavy sins will become.

The last night that same youth wrote these words, “I realized I don’t have to be perfect in order to follow Jesus.” She said she wanted to “put two feet in, instead of one foot.” She wanted Jesus to reset her life.

The truth is, we all need a reset. Not just our youth, but all of us. Omar, one of the staff from KIX, another participating ministry, said it like this: “We don’t need just a daily reset, but a moment-by-moment reset.” That is true for all of us. Reset.

Choosing to follow Jesus is a journey. It happens over time. There are days we will mess up, and we will need to reset. So, we will start again giving God the stuff holding us down, getting back to our purpose, and fixing our eyes back on Jesus.

Here’s what other youth shared from their experiences at Oasis camp,

“I don’t want to go back home; can we stay another week?”
– N. G.
“I’m going to make an effort to be different when I get back.”
– J.L.
“After tonight’s worship service, I felt a weight lift off of me!”
– A.P.

Drop the weight.
Run the Race.
Set your eyes on Jesus’ face.

UM Family Navigator

 

It’s tough news for any parent, their child’s diagnosis of a disability. Parents are often unsure of where to turn or what to do. After the shock begin to fade, the panic, fears, and the distress begins to set in. For low-income families, like the ones served at Touching Miami with Love, it can feel overwhelming.

We are excited to announce that our partnership with the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development has expanded. In February of 2018, we announced our formal partnership as University of Miami brought their impactful Parent Child Interaction Therapy to our two sites, read post HERE.

This winter, TML was asked to be among three community agencies to have staff trained in their Family Navigator Program. Five of our staff representing both our Overtown and West Homestead Site received the extensive training to be called a Family Navigator for the families served by Touching Miami with Love. The Family Navigator program was developed to ensure that children and their families receive needed services. The navigotors empower, support and educate families by implementing a system of care where Family Navigators work with families to help them get services for their children.

Our team of TML Family Navigators are equipped with skills to help parents identify family strengths, connect with needed services, advocate for their child, learn how to address school concerns, and help parents connect with other families of children with special needs or health care needs.

Touching Miami with Love is pleased to expand our partnership with the Mailman Center and are excited to continue working with Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, MD, PhD and his great team. Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, MD, PhD knows better than most about how important serving the whole child, and their family, is to their overall health. In a 2017 interview with Miami’s local public radio station WLRN following his appointment as Florida’s deputy secretary for Children’s Medical Services Dr. Brosco shared,

“A person’s health, and especially child’s health, is not just about their medical conditions. It’s also about their school, and their neighborhood, and their family, and violence in the community, and if there are playgrounds. And so we also have to think about the public health issues that inform child health.

Events that children live through, their environment, how they grow up—actually gets written into their biology, gets written into their bodies. If you look at the most important health issues in the United States, things like stroke and cardiac disease and cancer, almost all that starts as a child.”

As Touching Miami with Love continues to serve children through our wholistic programs, we are excited to now have five trained Family Navigators to assist our efforts, ensuring our families in Overtown and West Homestead have access to the support they need.

A Giver’s Heart

As we enter in a season that is known for giving, our middle and high school students have had a greater focus on Civic Engagement. The current civic engagement initiative is “Celebrating the Unsung Heroes.

Our first event in the series focused on Mrs. Gloria, our housekeeper at our Overtown Site. The TML youth worked hard and threw her a surprise “Appreciation Party.” In a very simple way, our students learned the power of selfless giving and the beauty of loving others in proximity. They learned that you don’t have to go far to show love and there are always people around you who deserve our appreciation.

Our second initiative was to honor our local firefighters. Our students baked and decorated cookies and delivered them to two local stations near our Overtown Site. The Miami firefighters from Stations 1 and 3 were grateful for their treats! The firefighters even took time to show us around their homes away from home. Making the time even more fun, they put some of our students to work a bit.  It was a wonderful exchange of love in the community and a great way to teach our youth to have a giver’s heart.

Written by, Gary Francis Overtown Youth Coordinator

Connected Stories: Connect to the life of a child through reading

The ability to read is not just essential for getting a good education; it is essential to life! Reading helps students grow their imaginations and build empathy skills as they envision themselves in the stories they read seeing the character’s life experiences through a new lens. At Touching Miami with Love, we provide all kindergarten through eighth-grade students thirty minutes of Literacy Class every day. Additionally, we have five Reading Interventionists between our two sites working individually and in small groups with our most struggling readers. Through our partnerships, we can provide bonus incentives for improved reading. One of our partners in this effort is the Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant. They offer us the opportunity to bring five students a month for a free meal at their restaurant. One parent recently commented, “I’m so glad that you can reward my daughter for her improved reading. I’d love to be able to take her to Bubba Gump’s as a reward, but I just can’t afford it. It’s so nice to know TML can take her for me. Thank you!”

We’re excited to add another component to our reading program this summer. In collaboration with our all-day summer programming, we are launching CONNECTED STORIES. In this initial project launch we are inviting TML supporters to take part in one or more ways:
• Come to our Overtown Site and read to children Fridays throughout June and July
• Purchase books from our Amazon book list
• Host a drive or donate to our children’s book drive for gently used books
• Volunteer to assist in sorting and preparing for our book giveaway at both sites.

CONNECTED STORIES is our way to connect to the larger community to the work of Touching Miami with Love and instill in the children the importance of reading. We hope you can join us! Find out more HERE

 

University of Miami Program Comes to TML

University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development
The scenario is a common one. Mom is in the grocery store line anxious to check out after enduring aisle and after aisle of her young child begging for everything from juice boxes to her favorite cereal. The candy is now the latest in a string of battles and Mom has had enough. If this scenario sends waves of memories I bet you wished you had an expert voice in your ear guiding you through this and other tough parenting situations. For parents in Overtown and West Homestead, that expert guiding voice is now a reality. Touching Miami with Love is excited to be partnering with the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development in an innovative evidence-based treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders. PCIT stands for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and improves the quality of the parent-child relationship by changing parent-child interaction patterns. This parenting education program includes a blend of parent education and parent coaching.  During live interactions with their children, therapists coach from an observation room with a one-way mirror into the playroom, using a “bug-in-the-ear” system for communicating to the parents as they play with their child. Concluding each session, therapist and caregiver together decide which skill to focus on most during daily 5-minute home practice sessions the following week. Substantial research has demonstrated the effectiveness of PCIT for families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. In addition, PCIT has also been shown to work with children with autism spectrum disorders, chronic illnesses, and developmental concerns. So what does this mean for TML? UM’s PCIT program rents two converted rooms at both TML West Homestead and TML Overtown sites as therapy space in order to provide PCIT services to families in our community. Given the large number of children we serve at our sites and the daily access of parents picking up their children from our programming, we were excited to answer University of Miami’s call for partnership for PCIT. They recognize we are trusted by community members and our programs and services are already regularly accessed by families. For families being served by TML and UM PCIT, the PCIT therapists provide after-school behavioral consultation to TML when children or youth are exhibiting significant behavioural difficulties that may be impacting their ability to learn or perform academically. Additionally impactful for our children, when TML students in our year-round out of school program are exhibiting disruptive and/or aggressive behaviors or are at-risk for child maltreatment, our staff are able to provide a warm hand-off linkage approach to the PCIT therapist on site. The PCIT therapist then discusses services with the family and initiates the treatment engagement process. UM Therapist at our Overtown site coaches a parent as they interact with their child. Therapy sessions like these would usually cost families thousands of dollars, but through this unique partnership and the funding support of The Children’s Trust our communities’ parents have free access to this most advanced intervention for parents. View a video of what an example of PCIT with UM looks like HERE.

UM Therapist at our Overtown site coaches a parent as they interact with their child.