Making an Impact: Irene Shaw reflects on her team’s inspiring visit to LTF grantee, For the Children
When we walked into For the Children’s (FTC) bright, cheerful headquarters at the historic Osbourne school, we all had the same reaction. It was a true “thousand points of light” moment! FTC passionately serves over 250 children in the Lake Worth area, providing high quality, affordable preschool, afterschool and family support services for nursery children through high school seniors.
In 1999, Reginale Durandisse, a refugee from Haiti and a true force of nature, created FTC in the Lake Worth area with just one grant, three staff members, 25 children and the steadfast belief that “every child should have a chance.” Keeping the children engaged, inspired and off the streets is critical in a community deemed one of the most dangerous in the country, with no shortage of temptations and predators trying to lure children into a life of “quick money.”
The dedication of Reginale Durandisse and her team have improved the lives of countless area children and families. School hours in Lake Worth run from 7:30 am – 1:30 pm. At dismissal, FTC buses arrive at the various schools to bus the children to after school programs, including academic and creative cultural activities, leadership programs and recreation. Between 6-7 pm, the buses load up the children and deliver them to their homes. Buses are a necessary part of the FTC mission and our team’s recent visit was to evaluate their grant request to purchase a new 24 passenger bus for their small fleet, which includes one we donated 12 years ago. While the bus still runs, it breaks down often, causing program cancellations. Last March, the agency had to cancel its evening transport services to the Teen Learning Center, which offers critical SAT and ACT instruction. In the summer, FTC also runs an all-day summer camp with academics in the morning and robotics, gardening, drama and school trips in the afternoon. Next year will be the first year of a pilot program working with 25 middle to high school age children who are one stop from juvenile detention or jail, many of whom are smart kids who have been handicapped by their circumstances. This new project could be another interesting area for future LTF’s consideration and allow us to help FTC in their belief that there should never be such a thing as a lost child.
I encourage all of us to get involved with the Lost Tree Foundation. It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity to roll up your sleeves with friends and neighbors, and make a real difference in our local community. Everyone deserves a chance – and together we help make that happen.
Special thanks to Irene Shaw, Team Captain, for sharing this experience with us and to her team Maureen Kenny, Barbara Milanese, Jim Sebastian and Bill Kelly for their time and care in reviewing the request.