Touching Miami with Love (TML) is proud of our Alumni, Quadrell, Artrisha, and Jahnya, who make a difference in the world by bravely serving in the U.S Military. TML is honored to have impacted their lives and helped prepare them for their journey by empowering them to explore and develop their gifts and talents during their time at TML.
Quadrell has always been a jovial young person with a big personality, powerful charisma, and great humor. During his time at TML, he learned to expand his mindset by engaging in different assignments that prepared him for his military journey.
Quadrell often led activities because of his natural leadership capacities, which he now uses in his Human Resources position in the United States Army.
Quadrell highlights that his time in the Military has allowed him to travel across the U.S. and even live in South Korea. He currently lives in Hawaii, serving as Staff Sargeant (E6), and he continues to lead his life and career with excellence.
Artrisha had a charismatic personality, was always curious, and had a positive attitude during her time at TML.
She describes TML as a safe and steady place that propelled her to grow and be herself. She accredits her mom’s efforts and key relationships with our TML staff that allowed her to thrive and stay away from negative influences in the community surrounding her.
Artrisha is in the United States Marine Corps, and as a result of her dedication and hard work, she has been promoted several times while pursuing her degree in Zoology.
She loves to take care of animals and looks forward to becoming a veterinarian after her military service.
Jahnya is adventurous and believes that the lessons she learned in TML’s youth program and as a TML intern prepared her to be a better leader. She gained skills that have allowed her to transition into her military career successfully and provided her with leadership capabilities that she uses daily working in her team.
Jahnya serves in the U.S. Navy, and she recently was on the CVN78 Gerald Ford aircraft carrier that performed the shock trials bombs, televised on national news, which was a thrilling experience for her. During the trial, she was stationed with fire prevention that required her to wear Firefighter gear.
She is looking forward to finishing her degree in business administration and applying her business knowledge to her career in the Navy.
Theresa is an inspirational, intelligent, and independent young lady who is constantly striving to better herself. Nevertheless, at the beginning of her journey at TML, she shared with her instructors that she struggled with self-confidence and at times felt like she wasn’t good enough. As the oldest of 4, Theresa always wanted to be an example for her siblings, which created a lot of pressure because she didn’t want to disappoint her parents.
Many teenagers experience similar feelings as they strive to develop a sense of identity and purpose; therefore, good role models are essential at that stage in their lives.
TML instructor has become that role model for Theresa as she has worked with Theresa by investing daily in her by encouraging, celebrating her accomplishments, giving her feedback, and increasing her sense of ownership.
The change in Theresa was evident as she began to see herself differently. She is confident about herself and no longer feels that she needs people’s approval. She has become an inspiration for her classmates, helping them improve their self-esteem and encouraging them with their school work.
Confidence is one of the primary characteristics of a thriving teenager.
Would you join us in helping teenagers like Thereas thrive?
You can help us continue making a difference for over 1,000 adults, children, and youth in Overtown and West Homestead communities just like Theresa by becoming a fundraiser for TML during Give Miami Day this year. Help us reach our goal of $75,000! Follow the steps below to become a TML Fundraiser.
Touching Miami with Love is grateful for the long-lived partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida (CBF FL). Throughout the years, their support has been a strong foundation that has helped TML grow and impact the communities of West Homestead and Overtown through Inspiration, education, and empowerment.
As an organization now over twenty-five years old, one of our greatest joys is to watch our children mature through adolescence and transition successfully into adulthood. We walk alongside our children by educating, inspiring, and empowering them to reach their potential.
We do this by providing extensive education services to help children strengthen their cognitive abilities and succeed in school. We aid in children’s development of confidence as they successfully navigate social relationships and giving them the social skills to succeed. Their character grows as we inspire them to make a difference in their community and cultivate their spiritual development. As they enter adolescence, staff aid in selecting youths to serve as junior interns in our children’s program, which allows them to gain needed on-the-job skills and learn to care for others.
Throughout their high school years, we empower youth to begin to live into their God-given gifts, and we get a chance to inspire them to be all that God has created them to be. Then, as seen in the stories later in this newsletter, we experience the joy of seeing these same young people thrive as adults.
Similarly, Touching Miami with Love has matured and grown over the years, and CBF FL has been with us along the journey since the beginning. As one of the founding partners of TML, it was CBF FL who spearheaded a fundraising campaign and purchased a building for our use in programming. When the first building did not suit our growing work, CBF FL sold it to buy a different building for TML for our community-based work as our Overtown Site.
During the same period and in response to the needs of the under-resourced in southern Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Andrew, CBF FL helped secure land and built a building for Open House Ministries, which later became our TML West Homestead site.
CBF FL support did not stop at just providing the two buildings. They also provided the funds for utilities, building renovations, and maintenance on the two properties. Just like the children and youth we serve, as TML has grown, we have been able to slowly take on more of the responsibility of the operating costs of the two buildings.
Now, as a mature twenty-five-year-old nonprofit, CBF FL is supporting our organization by donating the two properties to us, the Overtown and West Homestead Site. This incredibly generous gift will allow us to continue to impact our communities for years to come. CBF FL continues its commitment to the critical work of TML. The countless children who have grown up in our programs and are now thriving as adults testify to the power of partnership.
Thank you, CBF FL, for the years of support and your generosity in supporting future generations of TML children. – Jason Pittman, Touching Miami with Love CEO
The vast amount of violence across our nation is heart-wrenching, and our hearts ache with the nation, as so many more mainstream Americans are now experiencing the same devasting impact of gun violence. Unfortunately, our communities of Overtown and West Homestead have endured the epidemic of gun violence for many years.
Many of our staff members, including our CEO Jason Pittman, Vice President Trina Harris, Spiritual Formation Director Amanda Knight, and Office Manager Brittney Jackson, are long-time Overtown residents and have experienced the horrors of gun violence. They have witnessed the devastating and lasting impact gun violence has on families through the loss of loved ones and the financial hardship, trauma, and associated mental health issues that accompany these incidents.
For instance, a few months ago, for three consecutive days, there was a shooting in the housing projects across the street from our Overtown location. In addition, one of our staff members experienced the thunderous sounds of gunshots in the parking lot of her nearby home on lunch break. Consequently, we have invested in deep and meaningful relationships with the youth in the community, only to see some lose their lives at an entirely too young age; many were innocent and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We have attended way too many funerals, candlelight vigils, and collectively, our staff has grieved while supporting others in the grieving process. We have been listening to countless children and teenagers who have witnessed the horrors of what can only be like warfare. We saw countless youth and adults killed with minimal media coverage of these losses.
As part of a community effort to see gun violence cease in the Overtown community, many local organizations have gathered to speak up. During a live interview with Michael Putney, Senior Political Reporter with Local 10 News and host of “This Week In South Florida,”
Trina, our Vice President, addressed questions and provided feedback and strategies to push for large-scale changes to combat violence. Her petition to local government officials is to address the violence at the community level with community partners directly.
We are proud of TML’s work with children at a young age with our current resources and programs. However, it is time to add a new model that starts with the understanding that we have a public health crisis of gun violence and work to see community and cultural norms on violence change.
As we are coming to the close of our summer programming here at Touching Miami with Love, we reflect on the many triumphs, laughter, and learning opportunities our children and youth engaged in this Summer. After not being able to offer Summer Camp last year, we are glad to provide our students with live in-person programming in Literacy, Math, Science & Art. Offering Summer camp once again has tremendously impacted all students’ lives by allowing a safe space for them to learn and grow, especially those who only attended school virtually due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the lack of interaction throughout the school year left many students craving social interaction and physical activity. Therefore, our instructors diligently crafted fun, relatable, and hands-on activities for every subject to keep students engaged. Some instructors used Differentiated Instruction, a student-focused approach that tailors instruction to students’ different learning needs by teaching children phonological awareness basics through chants, rhythms, and movement. Our instructors worked hard to implement these approaches to retain students’ attention and teach them different learning skills throughout their lessons. These strategies help us bridge gaps and assist our students in making adequate academic gains. Additionally, we used Reading Rockets, Scholastics, readers Theatre, and Nearpod, which are essential resources and curriculums to reach various milestones.
Furthermore, we made sure to engage in daily transformative interactive learning activities, including investigations, solving math problems in escape rooms, making zip lines for dolls in our exploration of Brazil, and many more! And all this was possible because we had a great team of staff, certified teachers, volunteers, and community partners working together to serve our children.
In addition to our instructor’s efforts, we are thankful to the many partners who joined us to make Summer Camp a success; because of their help, we offered the best programming for our children and youth. We have received support from community partners like Florida International University (FIU). The FIU’S Reading Explorers team rekindled their partnership with us to work alongside selected students needing grade-level literacy assistance. The Children’s Trust Summer 305 Program assigned four certified teachers who spent one-on-one time with our children. The Children’s Trust provided grade-level standards summer success kits to assist our students in critical areas effectively o impact learning in the upcoming school yearly.
Finally, we included weekly field trips in our program, which has provided memories that will last a lifetime for students and staff. At Pinto’s Farm, the children had the opportunity to feed and pet several farm animals, including horses and cows, and enjoyed a pony ride, while our youth zip around a racetrack on an avocado farm. The day ended with a tractor ride and an extra-large bounce house, the perfect way to end a fun-filled day. Our students are still talking about their memorable day at The Venetian Pool, where they explored the caves, grotto, natural rock cliffs, and ventured through waterfalls.
Summer camp has come to an end, but our impact continues! We know that the tools we shared with our students will positively impact their success in the upcoming school year, and we are looking forward to having them back for after-care programming.
For over 25 years, Touching Miami With Love has significantly impacted many children’s lives. From alumni graduating college and succeeded in the workforce to others deciding to be part of our staff at TML, it’s a joy to be a part of their success.
Our commitment and dedication to our families are our utmost priority, especially during these challenging times. The pandemic’s ongoing impact affected our community the most. Parents who lost their jobs faced a tremendous financial burden, often affecting life at home. It is for this reason that we were glad to open our doors once again.
*Amy, a sweet and bright girl, was one of the first students that joined our day program. Unfortunately, Amy struggled to settle in, and for weeks, she cried almost every day, expressing that she missed her family. Her challenges included difficulty identifying letters and sounds, command of the English language, and computer skills, making it difficult for her to work independently.
Despite her difficult circumstances, TML’s instructors worked patiently with Amy, helping her gain confidence and making her feel at home. With love and dedication, Amy began to show progress every time her instructors interacted with her. After a few months, her progress was undeniable; even with the virtual barrier, she continued to show an exponential amount of growth day by day.
As we fast forward seven months, we are proud to say that Amy is doing fantastic and is one of the best students in her class. She developed a love for education and quickly learned her letter sounds, leading to significant gains in her ability to read and speak English. She has also learned basic computer skills, works independently, cooperates with tutors and teachers, and has developed new friends.
The impact made on her life is inspirational! TML’s programming served as a vehicle for her academic improvement and gave her new possibilities for her future. She inspires us every day, and it is an absolute honor to have her as part of our program. Like many of the children that have walked through our doors, we are confident her future is bright, and she is an example of hard work and perseverance. Her success is proof that nothing is impossible with the right opportunities, resources, and hard work!
*The child’s name has been changed to protect her identity