Hungry Teens Find a Place at the Table at TML

We are always encouraged by the generosity, creativity, and passion of our supporters. An article recently came across my news feed about why teenagers were always so hungry. Thinking of our son’s first weekend home from college and his constant grazing, it resonated with me. Reading deeper researcher Susan J. Popkin shared about the immense gap in food insecure teens. She wrote, “It’s easy to line up little kids and give them a backpack filled with food,” says Popkin. “But you can’t really do that with teens. There are stigmas about not wanting to stand out. I think they’re often seen as too hard to get to.”

We recognized the difference dinner could make over five years ago when we began providing meals each night of our youth programming as we re-created the family dinner hour. Not only were evening meals providing nutritious food to hungry youth in Overtown and West Homestead, it also created space for caring staff and volunteers to be a listening ear for young people. As we tried to match our resources with hungry youth, we found a new opportunity to engage the community at large and our project “Guest Chefs” was born. Individuals, church small groups, companies, and even families have joined us in providing one night of meals to our youth. We ask that groups do not just provide the meal, but stick around and chat with our youth too. It’s led to great conversations and open eyes on both sides of the table.

One partner church has taken being a “Guest Chef” to a completely new level. Several times a year, a small group of people from the church gathers to create hundreds of servings of dinner. It’s part of their outreach event, City Serve, and Christ Journey Church has created some huge fans of their cooking! We’re grateful for all those in the TML Family who use their time, talent, and treasure to bless the children and youth we serve.

Open Doors Lead to Open Hearts at Touching Miami with Love

Our doors are always open for you to see the impact of your giving and we invite you to stop in and see us in Overtown or West Homestead. When you do, here is just a glimpse of what you may find.

Our Spiritual Formation Directors (Amanda in Overtown and Martin in West Homestead) will be guiding the children through weekly devotionals that proclaim how they were fearfully and wonderfully made. Some of our children’s program instructors are leading engaging and educationally enriching lessons on literature, fitness, and enrichments in science topics, literature, or history.  Others are teaching the kids a drum cadence or dance lesson or are cooking up a culinary arts lesson.  You can peek in the window and see our Reading Interventionists; five in all at both sites.  They meet with students in one of the tutoring rooms where students get needed help with reading skills.  Our Case Managers will likely be just returned from their daily time in our partner schools where they met with teachers and shared lunch in the cafeteria with our students. Over the course of the afternoon, they will meet one-on-one to encourage the students and ensure that they are on track with their individualized Success Plans we create each year with students.

Our middle and high school students are working on TML’s laptops as they do their homework every afternoon and if you have time to stay for evening programming you’ll find staff setting up for dinner as we serve a full sit down dinner to begin each night of youth programming.  After dinner, our staff will then lead Creative Arts sessions, and on other nights Social Skills classes. Our Spiritual Formation Directors lead devotions for youth, challenging students to connect with the God who loves them.

We stay busy with nearly 450 children, youth, and adults actively engaged in our year-round programming and we couldn’t do it without your support.

Summer Matters

Touching Miami with Love provides programming in Overtown and West Homestead all-day for students. Because of all the learning and love that is happening. . . SUMMER MATTERS

Summer matters as research shows that children born into poverty are likely to suffer a 6,000 hour learning gap compared to their middle school peers.  This learning gap isn’t from a lack of classroom learning, but rather from the lack of access to greater world learning through a lack of preschool, summer camps, after school activities, family reading time, and day trips.  Here’s our top 10 ways we’re showing SUMMER MATTERS!

  1. Because Summer Matters our middle and high school students have been busy coding, drawing, writing, performing, programming, sharing, and learning a ton!
  2. Because Summer Matters we built partnerships with YouMake, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Children’s Bereavement Center, Project YouTurn, and Augmented Intelligence Academy to make all this learning possible!
  3. Because Summer Matters we’re building up the literacy learning for all students each day, offering intensive courses for our most struggling readers, and a Kindergarten readiness program in partnership with Florida International University.
  4. Because Summer Matters we keep our children’s minds busy as they take part in visual arts, enrichment sessions, computer time, structured free choice.
  5. Because Summer Matters we keep our children’s bodies busy too as they take part in daily fitness.
  6. Because Summer Matters we share God’s love through Devo Time every day with fun songs, games, and skits.
  7. Because Summer Matters we go on weekly field trips engage, enrich, and open new learning to our children.
  8. Because Summer Matters we engage high school youth as interns in our summer programming building leadership skills with hands-on learning through internships.
  9. Because Summer Matters we challenge our students to give back. West Homestead Site youth traveled to Daytona to support the children’s summer programming at Central Baptist and our Overtown Site youth take part in weekly community service projects around Miami.
  10. Because Summer Matters we invite teams from across the country to come share in the summer fun as they bring new learning and experiences to our children at both sites. Thank you to all our great summer teams this year!
Summer matters to each and every child, youth, and adult we serve through our programs this summer. We hope the great things happening at Touching Miami with Love matter to you too!  Help support our summer programming through your summer gift to TML.  Just go to with your gift of $10 or more.  Summer is almost over, so don’t wait to show that Summer Matters!

TML Kids Featured in Run 51 Music Video

Touching Miami with Love kids know how to live and enjoy each moment.  We were so pleased to be invited to be a part of Run51’s latest video release for their song “This Moment.”  The moments we have to live, to grow, to smile, to enjoy, are not to be taken for granted. In this life there are challenges, trouble and hard realities we all face, but through Jesus and what he accomplished we can live a victorious life now. Check out Run51’s video and follow the story of one young boy as he journeys through a crazy world, but chooses to to take a moment to make the most of it, new friends that make the journey an adventure! Click below to watch and order your copy of Run 51’s EP HERE!


Ocean Reef Community Foundation Supports Summer Youth Employment at TML: West Homestead

A recent 4-H National Youth Survey on Leadership of 1,501 students in 9th-12th grade gained their thoughts on leadership.  Only one in three young people say they have the skills needed to be prepared to lead. “Survey shows American youth feel today’s leaders have a different agenda; they lack skills to lead themselves.” (2016, April 12 National 4-H Council). Students participating asked for 1) hands-on experience in leadership roles and 2) programs to build confidence and 3) regular encouragement to lead.  We see the same requests in our work in West Homestead at Touching Miami with Love.  Homestead’s historically low high school graduation rate, high poverty rates, and high crime illustrate the need for strong youth leaders to not only rise above these struggles, but impact change for the next generation.

Our solution to the need for Youth Leadership is to continue our successful project “West Homestead Youth Internship.” Through the continued support of Ocean Reef Community Foundation Touching Miami with Love will provide meaningful summer jobs to 10 youth with hands-on leadership training as youth take active roles in our summer programming, but also a comprehensive approach that includes lessons for leadership skill building. We are excited to announce our 2017 Ocean Reef Community Foundation TML: West Homestead Summer Interns-Irina, Edwin, Tiana, Eufemio, Christian, Travis, Jerry, Darrian, Luis, and Jessica. These students were selected to apply and interview for these coveted positions. Almost ALL of the interns we selected are frequent volunteers.

Our model for empowering young leaders is working!  We recently expanded our children’s programming this year to include seventy-five more children served every day for a total of 150 students in K-8th grade in our Tomorrow’s Leaders program.  Our need to increase our staff includes many young adults who grew up in our programming.  This year we added Vanessa, Paul, Kennesha, Maria, and Celina to our staff ALL of which were formerly in our children’s and/or youth programs and many who are past TML Summer Interns.  We are extremely thankful for the continued partnership of Ocean Reef Community Foundation to continue to make a measurable impact on our community through the lives of our young leaders.

Elevating Our Communities Takes Commitment: Bank of America Supports Touching Miami with Love

Some South Florida communities continue to falter when it comes to financial growth and economic mobility, despite the overall recovery of the U.S. economy. The situation may be getting worse. Barriers to economic success are growing in South Florida with all wage earners seeing an income decline, except for the top 5 percent, a report from the FIU Metropolitan Center reveals.

Furthermore, United Way of Florida’s latest ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report reveals that 21% of households in Miami Dade live in poverty and an additional 27% are one emergency away from financial instability, meaning more than half of all households in our community struggle to make ends meet.

It’s clear that effective solutions are needed to close this growing economic disparity in South Florida, now one of the largest such gaps in the United States. Bank of America recognizes that low-income individuals and families face a variety of challenges, have diverse needs and may qualify for multiple services, so they support nonprofit organizations providing supportive services that will enable individuals and families to move forward.

The invaluable nonprofit organizations that provide a safety net for individuals and families are central to the success of these efforts. To this end, we are proud to announce the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has named Touching Miami with Love a recipient of its 2017 Workforce Development and Basic Needs grant. Touching Miami with Love will use the funds to support our Bridges Program in West Homestead. Growing up in West Homestead is difficult, many children are underperforming academically, struggling with behavioral issues that leads to trouble in the classroom, and suspensions further impede their academic progress and their chances of exiting generational poverty.

Touching Miami with Love’s Bridges program provides wraparound services in conjunction with our Tomorrow’s Leaders Out of School Children’s Program Monday to Friday afterschool and all-day on most Teacher Planning Days, Spring Break, and six week of Summer Programming. Children meet with our Case Managers in sessions within the afternoon program hours to doing social emotional learning individually and in small groups. Our Case Manager visits the children’s school every day in the midmorning hours to meet with teachers and talk with administrators to track the progress of students in her caseload. Through our strong partnership, our staff is also able to check in and encourage the students at school as well. We are grateful for this partnership, because it means helping more of our children get the necessary support to succeed.

Touching Miami with Love is also indebted to all of the volunteers, including Bank of America employees, who continue to demonstrate how incredibly invested they are in our community. They generously share their time, passion and expertise to improve the quality of life of their neighbors and people they have never met in many ways every day.