Serve-a-Thon 2021 was a SUCCESS!

On Saturday, April 24th, over 40 Firewall staff, AmeriCorps members, and high school students gathered at the Davie mobile home park where Firewall Centers’ Headquarters is located. Blue shirts could be seen all around the community completing different service projects like delivering groceries, painting a family’s mobile home, cleaning shoes, and painting the Orange Park community center.

This all started with a packing day in partnership with Harvest Drive of South Florida. With their support, we were able to pack 144 bags of groceries, which totaled to 3000 pounds of food all to be distributed to families in the mobile home community.

For Serve-A-Thon, we partnered with In Jacob’s Shoes to get new/refurbished, name-brand shoes. We deep-cleaned over 100 pairs of these shoes so that we could send them back to the In Jacob’s Shoes distribution center to be delivered to needy youth all across Broward County.

Inside the Orange Park Community Center, we had members begin renovating our students’ learning space in preparation for the 2021-22 school year. We expect the full renovation including the addition of new computers, furniture, flooring, etc. to be completed by fall 2021 so that our students have safe and beautiful place to study and learn.

Our favorite and most rewarding project was in the hands of our Home Painting Team! Firewall was able to accomplish a full-service paint job for one of our Flamingo Elementary students and his family. They even got to pick their own color! They were so happy with the finished product and were so grateful that Firewall made such an impact in their day-to-day lives.

At the end of it all, Vertical Church supplied the team with lunch from Chil-Fil-A as a thank you for continually changing lives all around Broward County. It was a well-deserved gift as you can see from the smiles on our staff and AmeriCorps members’ faces.

This all couldn’t have been accomplished without the support of our Serve-a-Thon sponsors: Guy Brickman from State Farm and Lime in Plantation.

Meet & Greet

Firewall Centers’ first week of virtual sessions was wrapped up so perfectly by, all of our staff coming together and packing about 70 care packages for our parents and students. We filled backpacks with school supplies that every student needs. We added items like notebooks, pencils, pens, and markers to the bags. This was along with a specialized pouch of supplies for interactive lessons, that we will be going through in the next two weeks.

We’re also “walking with them through life, so they can succeed in everything they do.” We had to do more for our community than just backpacks for the kids. We had to help the families with what they need. With the donations from Harvest Drive South Florida, we handed out each family a bag full of groceries. “Some families were going through a hard time and you could just see how grateful they were.”

This day of deliveries was not just a gift to the families but also for our staff members. “You could tell that [the families] had not been around other people for a while, and seeing us was so emotional for them.” We went out in teams of twos and threes, some blasting 80’s music and some slurping slushies. This delivery day gave us an opportunity to get out of the office and experience life with each other.

Handing Out Hope

On Saturday morning, the 15th of August, Firewall handed out hope as parents started lining up at Calvary Chapel Plantation for free backpacks full of supplies, but they received more than that. Volunteers from Calvary Chapel and staff members from Firewall Centers banded together to hand out groceries and other basic essentials to these families. All students in Broward County are required to attend school virtually, because of COVID-19. This means that families have to make many sacrifices and endure much hardship in order to balance work while assisting their children with home-schooling. We weren’t just handing out large bags of groceries and backpacks full of supplies, but we were handing out hope.

After just an hour and a half, volunteers and staff members gave out over 120 backpacks. With sometimes multiple families in each car, we had 50-60 cars pass through the parking lot. These opportunities to help our community and partner with others who have the same heart, are what Firewall Centers is all about.

Church Leader’s Breakfast

On March 5th, Firewall Centers hosted an amazing breakfast at Community Christian Church where pastors and leaders from churches across Broward County gathered together. This breakfast was to inform the church community of what Firewall does to impact students’ lives and how they can be a part of it.

Having partners in the community is vital for growth. We currently partner with businesses, other non-profits, and churches all across the county. By reaching out to more churches, we hope to increase in volunteers, mentors, and even join together to do projects and outreaches to help the community.

Pastors from Greenhouse, Calvary Chapel Plantation, and Vertical Church spoke about their experiences partnering with Firewall. Church leaders were able to hear about the impact Firewall has on not only their students, but the student’s families and community as a whole. Pastor Greg from Greenhouse spoke about how he was a previous intern with Firewall. He was blown away with how real the relationships between the mentors and the students were. Pastor Greg loved how the mentors had the opportunity to display the love of Christ every day. “Volunteering with this program is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Greg Grzesiak said. Pastor Virg from Vertical Church spoke about the outreach opportunities and church projects that they have worked on with us. Pastor Chris from Calvary Chapel Plantation spoke about the importance of churches joining together in schools where God is already at work. Pastor Chris mentioned the multiple outreaches that we have done together including a Thanksgiving outreach and packing backpacks full of supplies for needy families. We have been able to greatly impact the families of our students and there are even more ways to love on them when the church is joining in.

People who want to get involved have the chance to volunteer with us and to help students improve their reading skills and complete their homework. Volunteers are also welcome during Serve-A-Thon month, which is taking place in April. College and post-college students can apply to become AmeriCorps Firewall mentors for the 2020-2021 school year where they will receive a stipend and education award towards tuition and loans. We are excited for the churches to use their creativity to come up with other opportunities for us to work together.

Thank you to Community Christian Church for letting us use their campus to hold this event and to Chick Fil A for the delicious meal.

We Couldn’t Have Done it Without You!

Giving Tuesday was a great success for Firewall Centers with generous donors offering to match dollar for dollar your end of the year donations. We are thankful for all your support!

With the end of the year approaching quickly, there is still time for you to double your impact by participating in our matching challenge. From now until December 31st, every dollar given to Firewall will be doubled.

Consider donating so Firewall can continue transforming students into servant leaders.

We are so excited to impact more lives with your help!