As Neighborhood Focus continues to grow and expand, we increasingly need the help of dependable volunteers for a variety of one-off and ongoing volunteer responsibilities. There is a fit just for about everyone interested in helping, with a particular need for help during the 3-6pm Afterschool hours on Monday – Thursday. For more information, please contact Catalina Rendon at (864) 412-8465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The inaugural beginner's level ESL class at Neighborhood Focus, taught by certified ESL instructors from Grace Church, graduated 13 students on October 11. All 13 students have enrolled in a follow up beginner's plus class beginning October 18.
The Gamma-Mu Colony of Tau Kappa Epsilon at Furman University has selected Neighborhood Focus as its 2016-2017 local philanthropy. Tau Kappa Epsilon members will proactively support Neighborhood Focus with student volunteers for the afterschool program and through monetary donations to the academic needs of the organization. The Gamma-Mu Colony of Tau Kappa Epsilon was installed as a chapter at Furman on May 19, 1950. Its mission is “to aid men in their mental, moral, and social development for life,” according to Chris Razo, TKE Philanthropy Chairman.
Neighborhood Focus is pleased to announce the following additions to its programming staff. Lauren Dailey has been hired as LAUNCH Program Manager, responsible for all programming for elementary children ages 1st-5th grades. Lauren is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Modern Languages (Spanish) and was previously an intern for Grace Church with its Grace en Espanol campus. Jorge Jimenez has been hired as ACCELERATE Program Manager, responsible for all programming for middle and high school students ages 6th-12th grades. Jorge is a graduate of Furman University with a degree in Political Science and Spanish, the Bridges for a Brighter Future program at Furman, and was previously an intern with the Hispanic Alliance of South Carolina. Catalina Rendon has been hired as Programs Manager, with responsibility for volunteer development, parent engagement, and administrative support. Catalina is a graduate of Greenville Technical College with a degree in Marketing and was previously Hispanic Outreach coordinator for the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Our overall theme for the 2016 Summer Enrichment Program was Walk This Way.
During Main Session, the Launch children in 1st-4th grades learned about the way that people in the Bible followed God in the direction that was that He was leading them even if it was going to be hard to follow Him. We learned that walking with God is an act of faith, meaning that even though it may be hard to believe and trust God sometimes, we can always remember that He is alive and He is working out His plan through us. Because of that, we can Walk This Way and follow Him no matter what.
During Main Session, the Accelerate students in 5th-12th grades got the chance to study two different themes. The first was called “Me.” Throughout this session, students learned that God loves us even when we might feel like the people around us have abandoned us or don’t care about us. When we decide to follow God in this way, we find our purpose in His purpose, and not in our own desires and the things that people around us might think about us. The other theme was called “Stepping Up.” During this study, the students learned about Joshua and the task God gave to him to lead His people after Moses even when he might not have felt like he could do it. Joshua trusted that the Lord would step up so that he could step up, and he Walked This Way as the Lord was leading him.
Our prayer was that above all else that God would use the children and students' camp experience to teach them something about themselves, that they would come to a better understanding of who God is, that He loves us, and that He wants us to follow him so that we can show His love to the rest of the world.
For the second year in a row, the City of Greenville and the Fall for Greenville Board of Directors has selected Neighborhood Focus as a beneficiary for its 2016 Volunteer Charity Program. Fall for Greenville, to be held on October 14-16, will be celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
The first phase of the Neighborhood Focus building renovation program is now complete with the full replacement of the HVAC system. Future plans include updating the bathrooms, kitchen, and classrooms and the possible additions of a large multi-purpose space and a covered open air recreation court.
Neighborhood Focus has added three new members to its Board of Directors. Nathan Barr is a Sales Executive with SAP North America. Ann Shaw is Director of Higher Education for the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching. Thomas Willcox is a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual.
Our Afterschool kids wrapped up a very successful Spring Reading Challenge on April 30 with a celebration field trip to the Kroc Swimming Center. For more than 3 months beginning in mid-January, each student in 2nd-5th grade was challenged to read 30 minutes a day, in addition to his or her normal homework. The kids did a great job, surpassed their collective reading minutes goal, and had much fun exploring the many new books that Neighborhood Focus purchased with its grant from the Neill M. Timmons Foundation.
The initial class project of the Neighborhood Focus CS First Club – in which each participant developed their very own working video game – will be coming to a close on May 13. Sponsored by Google, CS First is a free program for Afterschool environments that increases student access and exposure to computer science (CS) education. Targeted for students in 4th-8th grades, the Neighborhood Focus CS First Club is facilitated weekly by a volunteer leader. Over the 7 week online course, participants learned basic coding and programming using Neighborhood Focus’ new Chromebook laptops that were purchased with grant funds from the Lucyle S. Love Foundation.
Approximately 25 children, students and staff from Neighborhood Focus participated in the Grains of Grace Food Packing Service Project on April 24 at First Presbyterian Church. The Neighborhood Focus group was responsible for packing approximately 4,400 meals, enough food to sustain about 12 children for an entire year.
We continue to work closely with Orange and Core Essentials for monthly character education. Having already studied this year values such as Respect, Responsibility, Creativity, Gratitude, Generosity and Commitment, we’ll finish up the school year with an emphasis on Kindness, Patience, Peace and Honesty.
Our Afterschool kids wrapped another successful Christmas Bank project in December. For six weeks leading up to the holiday school break, students earned credits into individual “virtual” bank accounts for doing assigned chores and tasks each day. The purpose was to earn enough in their account to buy a Christmas present for their parents. Piggybacking on our monthly character education curriculum, the kids learned about work ethic, doing a good job, delayed gratification, personal financial management, and putting others before themselves. With the support of employees fromWells Fargo Private Banking Group, each child was able to celebrate their hard work by “buying” and wrapping slow cookers, recipe books, and meal ingredients for their parents.
The Roe Foundation has awarded Neighborhood Focus a grant to help underwrite the first year curriculum costs of an innovative pilot program for at-risk middle school and high school students. Designed to keep students engaged in a quality afterschool program during their middle grades years (6th – 10th grades), The Empowerment Project is a multi-phase, long-term initiative that will help under-resourced students stay on the pathway to high school graduation and personal progress. Students often fail to see themselves as capable until an adult comes alongside and breathes into them a compelling vision of what they could be. We want to inspire students to be awesome and break the power of generational poverty. It starts by eliminating bad habits and establishing discipline around healthy habits. The goal of The Empowerment Project is to develop Christ-like young leaders with a solid foundation for future success.
Neighborhood Focus has received a grant from the Lucyle S. Love Foundation to upgrade and expand Neighborhood Focus’ computer lab. Used daily throughout the year to support Afterschool, Friday Night Club and Summer Enrichment Program learning activities, the computer lab is an essential element in providing high quality out-of-school time programming. Computers play a pivotal in narrowing the digital divide to grant more under-resourced children afterschool access to computers and online educational opportunities.
The Neill M. Timmons Foundation has awarded Neighborhood Focus a grant to be used to improve and expand Neighborhood Focus’ collection of values-based reading materials for K5 thru 5th grade students. The goal is to empower at-risk students to achieve higher levels of reading readiness by providing them with a new library of high quality, age-appropriate books that reinforce the monthly character education curriculum taught during afterschool and summer programming. Funds will support the purchase of approximately 360-400 books that correspond with the recommended monthly reading selections from Core Essentials.