Pathways For Change, Inc.
The mission of Pathways For Change is ........
SAVING LIVES, REDUCING CRIME, BUILDING FUTURES
Pathways For Change is requesting the assistance of 100 RSVP members to act as mentors, tutors and instructors in a project that will expand the current PFC mission to include The Family Center. The goal of The Family Center is to eradicate poverty in individuals and families and strengthen communities by increasing knowledge and providing support in areas of health, education and economic opportunity. The Family Center will be a hub of education and services that will provide opportunity for those within walking distance to advance their human potential in all areas of living. The Department of Children and Families, Pensacola State College, George Stone Vocational School, Area Housing Commission, County Health Department, County Extension Office and other non-profit organizations will help create a one-stop shop for social services and hub for education and career advancement. PFC will not have to be experts in every field, but an encourager of those who have a passion for their mission and a willingness to serve. RSVP participants will have the chance to get involved in one or all three areas addressed in this proposal.
The Family Center is bordering two area housing projects, Sanchez Court and Morris Court, where 148 households have been exposed to crime, low levels of employment and poverty since the early 1940s. Recognized factors for many of these residents include (1) a lack of connection to their community (2) a lack of education (3) no means of transportation (4) mental illness (5) substance abuse and (6) the mind-set that may not allow them to successfully move out of poverty into a lifestyle that is self sufficient. The Pathways For Change RSVP (PFC-RSVP) program will be committed to connecting this population to senior mentors and activities via the healthy futures, education and economic opportunity initiatives.
Pathways For Change is excited about expanding its mission of Changing Lives, Reducing Crime and Building Futures to include residents of the poorest ZIP Code in Pensacola - 32501. Pathways For Change is requesting RSVP funding to help eradicate poverty and increase community participation and empowerment over a three-year period in the following areas of need:
1). Healthy Futures: One of the goals that will establish a sense of community and empowerment for neighbors of Morris Court and Sanchez Court is through the creation a vegetable garden. Adults and children, living in area housing, will have the opportunity to receive training in horticulture and nutrition; they will become physically active; they will be recognized for their contributions to the neighborhood as they act as leaders, increasing the motivation to become volunteers via distribution of their harvest. Because most low-income individuals are exposed to many risk factors, including malnutrition, poor physical and mental health, the residents of Morris Court and Sanchez Court will use their new found knowledge by helping other area housing project residents develop their own gardens-all will reap the healthy benefits. We propose, by an increase in physical activity, that we will see a drop in obesity, depression and anxiety in our resident partners. We will be able to track those successes from data obtained before the start of the project.
The PFC-RSVP program partners include: the Executive Director for Area Housing, Dr. Abe Singh, who is eager to utilize the green spaces nearby and is deeding PFC a large portion of land for the garden, as well as a paved parking lot for a future green house. Dr. Singh is also deeding an adjacent lot with many large, shady oak trees for our Farmers Market. By building small huts, residents, along with our RSVP members will be able to sell produce to the general public. Proceeds will go back into the project to purchase seeds and supplies. The green house will allow for germination of vegetables that will be used as starter gardens in other area housing communities. RSVP members will fill a vital role, working alongside Morris Court and Sanchez Court residents as they fulfill their required 8 hours of community service each month. Dr. Singh is happy that his residents who will have a project in which to invest their service obligation for the privilege to live in subsidized housing.
The Andrews Institute, a world renowned sports medicine facility in nearby Gulf Breeze, has agreed to partner with PFC and will work with the assigned RSVP members in creating education programs that will eliminate health disparities in children, adults and other seniors. A wellness program for elementary school boys and girls that teaches fun in-door and out-door exercises, healthy food choices, i.e. the rainbow plate that proves the value and tastiness of fruits and vegetables and helps establish a new way of thinking about food. Children will have the opportunity to cook for their parents under the tutelage of the Home Extension Office and Manna Food Bank volunteers. In another program, the Home Extension Office will show parents what food they can purchase with a one-month supply of food stamps. Healthy meal plans and recipes will be shared. Working toward engaging fathers from Morris and Sanchez Courts, the PFC-RSVP will honor men who join our Dads can cook! and Fathers For Life, sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition. This program gives each father 20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father; Becoming a Father: The First Two Years; Building Blocks for Father Involvement; Keys to Effective Father-Child Communication, and will meet criteria needed for men to regain visitation with their children, and/or meet probation requirements, motivating factors that will attract our future healthy dads. Again, senior mentors who are encouraging and who can guide young adults as they become more involved in the lives of their children are fundamental and essential to the success of this project.
In our request for $105,000, PFC aims to recruit from the 300 seniors who live in Westminster Presbyterian Village adjacent to The Family Center site. Last summer, PFC staff spent an afternoon with 62 of the residents and conducted a formal survey of what activities the seniors would want to engage in at The Family Center. Requests for instruction with computers, sign language, woodworking and art were common. Connecting with their neighbors by playing cards and bingo and working with ceramics were fun activities requested to fill their long days. All of those surveyed wanted to volunteer in some capacity and were excited to hear of the proposed projects in health, education and economic opportunity. PFC staff all agreed that the energy level at Westminster Village was high that day! Last month, we held a meet and greet session at each of the five Westminster Village Towers to re-aquaint the residents to The Family Center mission. Again, residents were thrilled with the idea of becoming active mentors, tutors and volunteers within the Center.
The residents are aware that, as RSVP Volunteers, they will be able to walk out their back door and report for duty and/or enroll in core training, wheel chair aerobics, Tai Chi and other exercise classes. They seem to understand that strong muscles prevent falls and healthy bodies increase a sense of wellbeing and were ready to engage in new activities. PFC wants the FC to be a second home to seniors as they benefit from programming and then give back in the way of tutoring and mentoring others.
The Healthy Futures team (PFC Staff, VISTA and RSVP members) will be tracking (1) the number of participants in each area of programming (2) weekly classes/sessions/groups; (3) agencies participating; (4) number and value of volunteer hours (5) the BMI and measurements of height, weight and physical strength of all participants enrolled in our healthy living activities.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has agreed to teach physical safety instruction and education for children, and RSVP members will be apart of that training. Three classes that demonstrate brain injury prevention called (1) Safety Bingo uses safety practices instead of numbers, and children will win prizes; (2) the Amazing Brain utilizes a real-like brain that kids can hold in their hand. They will learn the importance of taking care of their brain and (3) board games that highlight how the brain works will engage the children and seniors in fun competition.
BRACE-Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies will train the senior residents as well as all 148 households in Sanchez Court and Morris Court, the importance of having a plan in the event of an emergency. RSVP members will be instrumental in this training and can get involved on a more personal level with their neighbors, making sure the emergency plan is understood and practiced.
2). Education: The Family Center will be a nucleus of education. Both George Stone Vocational School and Pensacola State College will offer GED at The Family Center, one 9-12 morning session and one 5:30-8:30 evening session so residents can still work as they earn their GED. Workforce Escarosa has agreed to use SNAP funds to pay for the $30 entrance fee and $75 GED testing fee. A year long tutorial program by Learn to Read NWF, with a focus on FCAT, SAT and ACT preparation for all age groups will be offered. Residents can gain financial literacy through the Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World curriculum. Non-profit organizations will be teaching classes with a focus on enlightening moms and dads of the essential bonding that takes place when they hold their child in their lap and read to them; empowering senior citizens to utilize their life experiences and wisdom in making a difference in a young persons life; providing a fun place for elementary school boys and girls to congregate that will prevent them from slipping into a life of crime. RSVP members will act as mentors or grandparents and will be recruited to meet children as they get off the school bus at the Family Center. Senior citizens will share a nutritious snack, do homework and have some fun every afternoon. Kids will not be going home to an empty house, left to make their own choices at such an impressionable time in their life. Senior citizens will be a force to be reckoned in the fight against low school performance and early drop out rates, obesity, drugs and crime.
3). Economic Opportunity: The Family Center will partner with George Stone Vocational School and offer up to 40 on line training programs, a school of cosmetology, classes for seniors on computer basics as well as art classes that teach jewelry making and art appreciation. PFC masters level interns, matched with RSVP members, will teach an 18 week job readiness course so that every resident at Morris Court and Sanchez Court can secure better employment opportunities. Sustainability will be ensured after our RSVP project comes to a close by the use of students who must complete a 6-12 month internship that requires 20-32 hours of volunteer work each week. Interns filter into the PFC Internship program every semester, so seasoned (trained) interns will lead classes as the newer interns learn curriculum. The cycle continues as new interns learn from the seasoned interns before them. The only cost of the internship program is the time spent by the Executive Director in supervision of interns. By the end of this grant period, senior volunteers will have made The Family Center a second home and will continue to be involved in spearheading healthy futures, education and economic opportunity.