Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 Return
Touching Miami Love Helps Communities in Need, by Sergio Bonilla, contributor to Impact Global News Magazine.
Isaac Williams is no stranger to seeing young men in his community perish. Every time he hears someone he grew up with is gunned down, he thinks of the same hypothetical question: What if they were given the same opportunity?
The opportunity Williams refers to is the various services and community support the organization Touching Miami with Love provides for people in the Homestead and Overtown neighborhoods in South Florida. Two cities riddled with youths constantly exposed to excessive drug abuse, violence, and crime.
Williams first became involved at the age of 13 – a decision he is grateful for every day of his life.
“TML is here not just for one person,” Williams said. “It’s up to you to make the choice and become part of something great. TML is constantly trying to salvage people’s lives.”
Williams, now 21 years old, is a fitness instructor afterschool for young children in grades 2-3.
TML is celebrating its 20th year of serving those in need in South Florida. When it comes to reaching students’ needs, TML offers a year-round program helping tutor students who need academic assistance in grades K-8. The daily academic and extracurricular activities consists of literature classes, science, technology, engineering, math, social skills, and fitness.
The dedicated staff is trying to provide people in the Overtown and Homestead communities the chance to improve their quality of life.
Tranee Wallace is currently an assistant instructor providing academic help for students in the aftercare program from 3-5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. She has been involved with TML for about two years, and she highlights how the students benefit from the academic programs.
“Kids have the opportunity to get help in subjects they are struggling in,” Wallace said. “We also have technology for them to use because many don’t have access to computers or Internet at home.”
However, the teaching that occurs at TML extends beyond the classroom. Living in areas where crime is an all-too-present reality, kids need more than academic education, Wallace mentioned. “We also teach them how to love the community and one another,” she said.
When asked exactly how TML taught kids to love, she responded by saying the organization is Christian-based and guides students to develop faith during difficult times.
Despite being located 35 miles apart, Overtown and Homestead do have a couple of things in common: socioeconomic problems and lack of positive educational influences. TML reports that 43 percent of the children under 18 years old live below the poverty line, and 60 percent self-report that they live with one individual suffering from drug addiction.
According to the US Census, 71 percent of the Overtown residents age 25 and older have a high school equivalent or less.
This is why the youth program, offered on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, is critical for the communities and focuses on dealing with social issues such as familial conflicts and drug use in the community.
The organization extends its opportunities to not just children. Its programs include life skills classes, entrepreneurial projects, tax preparation, and a computer lab for adults as well.
Williams also notes how the organization will extend to elementary schools in the communities to educate students in areas such as social and life skills.
Additionally, TML organizes special events to promote positivity amd unity in the Miami community. For example, the Books Bound for Home event partners with numerous organizations to donate over books for Overtown residents to take home. Last year’s event resulted in families taking 1,000 books home.
Using the same philosophy Wallace teaches students, TML used faith and partnerships within the community to help those in need. TML’s mission for the last 20 years has been to help as many people as possible using positivity and love’s enduring power.
“The name speaks for itself: Touching Miami with Love,” Wallace said.