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
As Touching Miami with Love (TML) celebrates twenty-five years of faithful work in 2020, it’s a great time to celebrate our impact while also taking a glance forward towards the future. Since 2005, Jason and Angel Pittman have served in leadership at TML through the support of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Working alongside each other, they have brought their unique gifts and educational backgrounds to allow TML’s growth to serve more children and youth in more impactful ways for fifteen years.
No matter what role Angel has held at TML, her motivation has always been to support students holistically. From her first years at TML serving as Overtown’s Children’s Director to moving towards fundraising and organizational leadership, it has always about helping students get the support they need. Her passion for students is what has made her so skilled at developing new programs and projects for TML and made her an effective fundraiser. Whether in a personal conversation, a written story, or a grant application, it’s not hard to miss Angel’s love for the students at TML. Angel has also worked hard to shape the culture of TML from building a strong sense of family within the staff to the students at TML. Both staff members and TML participants have both created fond memories over meals and games in the Pittman’s home in Overtown for many years. Through her efforts, Angel has supported TML’s strategic plan by helping the organization grow exponentially, and her impact has gotten her notice. She was named a “Miami Leader” class of 2017-2018 by the Miami Foundation, a “Woman to Watch” by Global Women, profiled by Baptist Women in Ministry in “This Is What a Minister Looks Like” and named AXA Advisors 2013 Businesswoman of the Year, in the Non-Profit category.
Angel will be transitioning out of her role at Touching Miami with Love and is excited to continue her eighteen years of service with CBF as she begins to advocate for students more broadly as an Educational Advocate. This multi-faceted role will include supporting students in Miami, building capacity for local advocacy efforts, and working on behalf of public-school children on a state level all to reduce educational inequities. She will also have the opportunity to use her experience at TML to support CBF’s national educational programming efforts.
While her departure is undoubtedly a loss for TML, she’s excited to step aside to allow Trina Harris to become Touching Miami with Love’s next Vice President. Trina brings her eleven years of leadership at TML, along with a fantastic set of skills, gifts, and passion for our communities, to this new role. While her duties will be different from Angel, her work will be vital for the continued growth of TML’s impact. Angel begins several months of transition from July to September to ensure a smooth and successful conversion. You can learn more about Angel’s new work HERE.
As we gear up for Spring Break, nearly 400 students are continually being served in Overtown and West Homestead at Touching Miami with Love.
Thanks to great supporters we have a new and engaging STEM curriculum and during Spring Break we’ll be enforcing different skills and topics! Last month Brave Church provided items necessary for the upcoming STEM projects and assembled the kits! Supplemental to our STEM activities, is “Structured Free Choice” where our students play to reinforce the skills they’ve learned throughout the day. For example, after learning Human Anatomy, their structured free choice will be playing a game of Operation.
In addition to STEM activities, we will offer a fun approach in our Children’s devotional, fitness, visual arts, social skills, and literacy. Another fun addition to our Spring Break week is the opportunity to explore Zoo Miami. At the zoo, we will enforce previous lessons about animal habitats, differentiating between predators & prey, and really giving them a hands-on experience.
The children don’t have all the fun, it’s Camp OASIS time for our middle and high school youth! During Spring Break, our youth will embrace a change of scenery in Central Florida where they will get to connect with one another and grow spiritually. This years’ theme is “Disrupt” and coinciding verse is Mark 16:24 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
During this spiritual retreat, the youth get a chance to disconnect as they have no access to their cell phones, allowing God to “disrupt” the normal day-to-day hustle and bustle. Some of the activities available to our youth are swimming, archery, boating, and crafts. Being exposed to different activities really opens up the youth’s mind as they learn more about themselves and what they enjoy.
Looking back at past Camp Oasis pictures has us excited for what’s to come!
February in Miami is all about the Super Bowl coming to town, and our students were buzzing with excitement for the big game! We are utilizing the spotlight on the Super Bowl to “tackle” pressing issues facing our youth as well as have some football fun.
The month began with a visit from a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader teaching our Kindergarten through Fifth-grade girls a cheer routine during their fitness time.
We then hosted a Super Bowl themed Fun Friday which included a friendly series of flag football and hot dog and popcorn feast for our children. Our youth didn’t miss out on the fun as we hosted Super Bowl watch party on game day for them at TML.
It’s not all fun and games when it comes to the Super Bowl, though. As you may know, whatever city the Super Bowl is in, human trafficking increases. To ensure our students understand the dangers, as part of our holistic programming, our middle and high school youth will take part in a three-day human trafficking workshop led by Unitas, whose mission is to prevent human trafficking and exploitation through education and awareness.
We are very thankful for our current partnerships that continue to help us provide a fun yet safe, secure, and healthy environment for our children and youth at Touching Miami with Love.
At TML, we believe in sowing into our youth so that they bear the fruit of long-term impact. While it is no surprise to have students visit us after they’ve graduated from our program, it is always rewarding to see them return for a simple “hello,” others invest and become part of our staff team. If you’ve ever called our offices, then you’ve likely talked to Brittney. She gave us permission to share her story.
Brittney was in grade school when she moved to Overtown with her grandmother when she and her two sisters began attending our children’s programming. By the age of fourteen, Brittney was already showcasing her leadership skills and became one of our summer Jr. Interns are working alongside our children’s program. During the summer, our Vice President, Angel Pittman gave Brittney one of the most precious yet valuable opportunities to babysit her own children while she would debrief with summer teams. Not only had Brittney become a leader, but she earned trust as she always showed signs of love, loyalty, and commitment through her actions.
As Brittney matured into a young woman, she consistently proved herself as a calm and caring individual. After graduating from high school, Brittney began volunteering at TML, which eventually led to a regular position as a receptionist. Our programs grew and we discovered the need for a Program Assistant. Brittney was the obvious choice as not only had she first hand experienced our programs as a student but now her son would be joining as well. While serving as Program Assistant, Brittney discovered many things, from having more confidence in herself and how to communicate professionally and effectively with her colleagues. Five years later, we are excited to announce that Brittney has become our new Office Manager. While this role has more responsibilities, we firmly believe in her ability to continue to learn and grow alongside the rest of our staff.
Having Brittney transition from a child in our program to a staff member years later is another example of the tremendous work our teams dedicate themselves to. We believe in our students, even on the days, they don’t believe in themselves. We are confident in the leader Brittney has become and are excited for her as she takes on her new role.
Family time is important in order to strengthen bonds, and sharing in special events together creates memories that make being a part of a family feel special. But what if you don’t have transportation or you can’t afford the entry price for the popular events in your city? Without a car, it is hard to experience new things and in an expensive city like Miami, it can be next to impossible for low-income families to enjoy new experiences.
As Touching Miami with Love seeks to create strong communities, we create opportunities for Family Field Trips each year to provide families in Overtown and West Homestead the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful city. Over the past few years, we have taken our families to the Miami Symphony, Zoo Miami, Universoul Circus, and more. Through the support of partners, we have taken families from both sites for several years in a row to the Fun and Fit as a Family Event at Jungle Island.
Hosted by the Food Network, our parents and their children strolled through Jungle Island’s interactive zoological park, watched chefs’ presentations and learned healthy-lifestyle tips for kids. TML’s children explored the food garden, ate free food, and played interactive fitness games, as well as enjoying everything else Parrot Jungle has to offer. Our families enjoyed the time with spent with each other, and who doesn’t enjoy an opportunity to see their favorite celebrity chefs too like Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, and Robert Irvine!