Member Since: 2010
Family – it’s the center of life and community, where kids feel safe and develop character and learn skills to become healthy, productive adults. But what happens to these components when families live below poverty level? What are the challenges they face to prepare their children to dream and reach their full potential?
Imagine a child living in a car, not having the luxury of visiting the doctor, or visiting mom or dad in prison. These situations are all too common for children who come to Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center.
“There is a lack of parenting. They have good intentions, but don’t know how,” explains Executive Director Freda Gandy. It’s simply a matter of educating not only kids, but parents, and this is where Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center steps in. The center is in the business of training entire family units, equipping them to be responsible for their children’s success.
Sixteen staff members, including four social workers, provide a host of programs to educate parents on running a successful household – budgeting, family nutrition, job search skills, strengthening fathers, home visits, parenting assessments, individual counseling, crime victim advocacy, among others. Understanding the importance of early childhood education, the staff provide children with family focused pre-school to help them prepare for success in school and life and before and after childcare for working parents.
Freda explained one situation where one boy at the age of five experienced no success at childcare centers. With delayed speech and behavior concerns, his future seemed bleak until he came to MLK Family Outreach Center. Like all the kids, he received a development screening which indicated he had autism. This one screening changed his future. After proper treatment, he now experiences successes as he begins his first and most important years of education.
“This is a collaborative effort to meet the most vulnerable in society,” Freda said. She explained the most important investment anyone can make is to invest time into a child. Whether making crafts or reading a book, kids need positive role models to come alongside and encourage them.
Thanks to the grassroots work of the founders of the MLK Family Outreach Center 40 years ago and the continuous collaborative efforts between their organization, businesses, churches, government and the community, they are strengthening our region one family at a time.
Note: The MLK Family Outreach Center will celebrate its 40th anniversary by hosting a breakfast on April 27 from 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at The Lincoln Center.