This February, we are sharing some EXTRA love for our community. We had the amazing opportunity to not just work with another non-profit in Broward County, but also gift each of our students a pair of shoes! ‘In Jacob’s Shoes’ gathered over 100 pairs of shoes, both new and refurbished. They sorted them by size and name, and packed them up for us. One of the great things about ‘In Jacob’s Shoes’ is that they are also a program funded by The Children’s Services Council of Broward County.
We then took the bags of shoes and socks back to our Orange Park Center. HQ staff, alongside our mentors, separated the bags by center. Over 120 of our students all around Broward County will receive shoes and other gifts (i.e. chocolates, candy hearts, etc.) for our Valentine’s Day delivery. Make sure to check out our YouTube channel on February 14th to see our complete recap video of the deliveries and our work with ‘In Jacob’s Shoes’.
If you would like to visit ‘In Jacob’s Shoes’ website for more info on their organization, go to injacobsshoes.org
We would like to introduce you to one of the organizations in our Firewall Family today. You may have seen their logo on our website or social media before. “The Children’s Service Council (CSC) funds close to a hundred programs that serve children and families, advocates for policies that protect the interests of future generations and provides leadership that brings the child-serving community together.”
The CSC has helped build many stepping stones in Firewall’s journey recently. Last year they graciously granted us $20,000 for capacity building. This money was utilized for a re-branding and many new assets that have been pivotal in our organization. This year, the CSC is helping us fund 2 centers, and continue to keep them open for FOUR YEARS! Lauderhill 6-12 and Bair Middle will be at a sprint when the school year starts because of the CSC’s help. These grants will not only allow us to serve our students academically but also provide each student with their own Success Coach. The Success Coaches develop relationships with the students and keep them on track in school, while also connecting to their families and making sure that any material or social-emotional needs the family might have are also met. We are very excited to continue working with the CSC to further our vision: to transform students into servant leaders!
Firewall strives to help students achieve academic success and build character, but another priority is meeting the needs of their families. It is hard for families to adapt to life during COVID-19 when they are unable to put food on their tables. We are thrilled to partner again with Harvest Drive to change that reality.
Harvest Drive partners with Publix to provide the food that we give our families. Volunteers from Harvest Drive come equipped with supplies as they pack the meals and help our staff pass them out to many of the families we serve at Firewall.
The need is great, and thanks to Firewall’s partnership with Harvest Drive, we are able to meet the needs of the Davie community. When we tell families that we have food for them, they come without hesitation. We have received countless texts from grateful parents that remind us why what we do is so essential. “Thank you for always thinking of us. You guys really care,” said one of our parents.
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.
Firewall Centers strives to deepen its impact on families by working collaboratively with other organizations. Firewall and Harvest Drive have worked together over the last 7 years, gathering food for the families of many of our students. Harvest Drive strives to educate students on the issue of hunger in our community and empower them to take leadership roles in lessening hunger’s devastating impact. During the month of December, we sat down with them to discuss how we can grow our partnership in 2020.
One way that we will be collaborating is by bringing our students and mentors together to one location to pack 144 boxes of nonperishable items provided by Harvest Drive. This will take place during our 7th annual Serve-A-Thon in the spring, and these boxes will then be distributed to the families that we serve who are most in need.
During this new year, we are planning to have many opportunities to impact Broward County. Through our annual Serve-A-Thon, we will be collaborating with multiple non-profits and serving the community with about 20 different projects. It is important that the students at Firewall learn how to serve others while being a part of our program. Through Serve-A-Thon, Firewall students will learn the importance of serving by making cards for senior citizens, bags with supplies for the homeless, collecting canned food items for Harvest Drive, and more.
Everyone is eager to see what will unfold as these organizations work together to bring change to our community.
When you think of Thanksgiving most think of a relaxed, fulfilling time with family and friends. Our biggest problems are usually debating between leftover turkey sandwiches or eating another slice of pumpkin pie. It’s almost too easy to enjoy our time and never stop to think of those who may need help during this Holiday season, yet more than 1 in 5 families across the country and over 260,000 individuals in Broward County are unable to provide themselves with a meal that many of us may end up taking for granted.
These families are not far from home, but are often your neighbors and fellow community members. These are the families of students we serve every day here at Firewall. This Thanksgiving, we strived to meet more of the needs of our students by also serving their families. A partnership between Calvary Chapel Plantation, Harvest Drive Florida and Firewall Centers Donors collaborated to bring over 150 Thanksgiving Day meals to Firewall families all over Broward County.
On behalf of all the families that make up Firewall Centers, we would like to give a BIG thank you to our generous partners for sharing in something special for our community. Calvary Chapel Plantation and Harvest Drive Florida are paving the way in servant leadership and we are humbled to have been a part of serving with you.