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Our mission, is for every child from a true single parent or working poor home environment that enters our program having been bruised by the abandonment of a missing or negligent parent to leave with leadership skills, a heightened sense of self esteem, and an abundance of love. While every single parent will leave with stress management skills, access to a network of help groups, and an understanding of the importance of showing each child equal love; which will help them recognize when their child is in trouble.
In School Program:
Encouragement to Enrichment ProgramGoal: The Encouragement to Enrichment Program seeks to provide a systematic series of programs and services to a group of young ladies in distress, creatively structured for self-analysis, application of life skills and learning to redirect their current stresses. Our overall goal is to help each young lady realize she can reach her full potential individually, academically, and professionally in spite of the negativity being inflicted upon her or any other current deterrents.
The late-twentieth-century children of single-parent families are growing up violent, uneducated, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and bereft of values. Without solid families, America's children and society will continue the downward funnel into destruction. "Jean Bethke Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago.
In response to the trauma so many young ladies feel, (that has resulted in detrimental acts of destruction, due to her inability to comprehend the absence of a parent), Love In Abundance (LIA), has partnered with Families Under Urban & Social Attack (FUUSA), who has allowed us to take on schools currently in their overflow, to address the distress of a group of young ladies who have taken the first step toward lessened life expectations by exhibits of violence that has redirected their educational experience to an alternative school. Through Communities in Schools (CIS), LIA has been provided the opportunity to extend to a specific group of young ladies a program structure to help increase their self-esteem and desire to achieve beyond her current circumstances, because an absence of love felt in the home has allowed some to look for love in all the wrong places, and presented many with a premature family of her own. And an Aldine ISD intermediate school has afforded LIA the opportunity to work with a group of young ladies, most of whom are direct descendents of generational early childhood parents, to help deter a life path that could prohibit their life's fulfillment. These ladies are being told, by their only parent: "I've done all I can do" or "You're on your own" at age eleven and twelve, which leaves them open to the first person (positive or negative) who shows her some attention to be the model for how to pattern her life.
Love In Abundance, through Vickie Gunnells-Hodge, is working with 102 young ladies, where she meets with each group twice a month, with one new program being introduced to each group every single month. A psychology professor once told Vickie, "When I don't feel good about who I am, I am going to look for what's missing in a person, place, or thing". This means that any program offered has to reach the ladies right where they are, which will allow them to feel receptive to growth and an alternative to her current life's path. So program titles address such things as:
§ "Who's the Boss of You?
This program uses the lives of the young ladies to show them instances when they have given the authority of their choice away to another individual without even realizing it. This is necessary because the ladies need to see how easy it is to give away the authority of who you are to someone else, and how far that can go to deter their lives from their original path or a path that would be in their best interest.
§ Etiquette, Feminine Hygiene, Make Up & Abstinence Education
If we, as a society, want to see young ladies striving to reach their goals in a tasteful manner, these things must be taught to them. The media, videos, cable television, and even the lack of parental authority are this group's teachers and have shown some that it's quite acceptable to only be some version of a female, and not a lady who demands respect simply by the way she chooses to carry herself. The dearth of connection and acceptance in their home provide some the mindset to seek lost love in a manner that may lead to a premature family of her own.
§ Fun Day In & Leadership Development
This day will be inclusive of an introduction of True Colors, a program that allows for indebt discovery of individual motivations, which will help make easier choices that could prove to work in that person's best interest. Once this discovery is made, avenues must be provided to help the ladies learn of her own leadership capabilities, so the lades will be allowed to select officers to act as the voice to lead in regular forums to determine how they feel excitement and positive encouragement can be brought back to their education and other areas of distress in their lives.
§ Where Do You Want to Go in Your Life? With a mentor being provided
Time has not been well spent towards an earnest reversion to teachings of old that mandated that you be focused, with dedicated direction toward the fulfillment of your life's passion or fulfillment; so Love In Abundance has begun a program that introduces that philosophy. Distress exists in their lives, but blanket responses to a career choice, with no real idea of exactness is not an option. The young ladies are encouraged to discover for herself what she is passionate about and is then pointed in the direction of a career that would allow her passion to meet her life's fulfillment. LIA will provide a mentor to help the ladies gain better insight into a field she has expressed an interest, to help redirect some of their negative idle time.
§ Peer Aged Motivational Speakers
Each person coming in to speak to the young ladies, two young men and two young women, will help provide our ladies another choice about their lives from women, who were on the wrong path but redirected their lives before it was too late. And young men, who will give similar real life experiences, but will add some of what boy's will do to make girls lessen who they are for the boys pleasure or contentment.
§ Behavior and Attitude/Public Speaking
This program will allow the ladies to interview with potential employers without the benefit of guidance at the onset. While it may seem harsh, it's necessary that these young ladies understand how great an impact their attitudes/body languages play in how people treat them; thus are willing to extend opportunities to them. They will then have the opportunity to interview again based on comments given from their initial interview.
§ Let's Talk About Money (Parent's Invited)
This program will be an introduction into effective money management, and will be presented by The Women's Council of HREA (Houston Real Estate Association), where Vickie is the current Education Chair, and will cover saving, budgeting, credit and identity theft.
§ Career Counseling
This program will present each lady at least 10 different careers in a field she has already expressed an interest. It will be her responsibility to find out the integral specifics of the job, as well as which career offers the greatest financial potential. We will work on interviewing techniques, letter and essay writing, and the significance of sending a thank you note after an interviewing opportunity. LIA will also seek out opportunities for the ladies to visit college campuses for a summer program or excursion to continue to heighten her interest in education .§ Fashion Show, Mother Daughter Tea or Luncheon
This will be an opportunity to show our mothers how a real lady enters society and her approach to life; while allowing both the opportunity to have some fun and maybe learn something different about each other.
§ Culmination of all the Monthly Agendas
We will work on any area that still needs some fine-tuning, and we will have some clean fun.
§ A Formal Presentation to Reward the Ladies Hard Work
We want to reward the ladies hard work via a formal presentation or outing (a concert, play or ballet).
The premise is to help these ladies (African American, Caucasian, & Hispanic) realize they do not have to look for love in all the wrong places, nor do they have to believe that their life has to be limited to the misgivings of their current circumstances. On a larger scale, everything done for the young ladies will make our future work a lot easier because everyone (their parent and instructors) will see the results of our work in the presentation of a different attitude and altitude in the minds and hearts of their daughters/students. The ultimate goal of Love In Abundance is to serve at least 50 families per month, in a facility of our own, at five-year intervals, with a designated, disciplined program to change their lives during that same time.
"According to the U. S. Department of Education and U. S. Department of Justice (1998), one of the key elements of a high-quality after school program is an effective partnership between community-based organizations and schools". National Youth Development Information Center, A Project of the National Collaboration For Youth.
The Encouragement to Enrichment program in Love In Abundance began at the request of a principal who wanted to help a group of young ladies under her authority learn who they are and what their true possibilities are in spite of the negative environment they call home, but now thrives as a result of being able to see the light come on in the heart of these young ladies because of the realization (for them) that they actually have potential. Many of these young ladies are starting to believe that their life does not have to include a child prior to graduation from high school, in spite of being told that that will be their fate from those who are supposed to love them most. It is the desire of Love In Abundance to take a proactive, instead of reactive response to this problem, because when you address any problem prior to destruction, an amicable response is always available. If, on the other hand, we choose to wait and react once negative feelings have become negative actions, we will all be guilty of hindering a group of young ladies from understanding that you must always strive to be the leader of your life in spite of your circumstances; because this will always provide you with the tools to exceed in every other area of your life throughout the rest of your life.
Long-Term Program PlansLove In Abundance (LIA) is a nonprofit in Houston formed to be the much needed support system for single-parent families deemed not poor enough according to the Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Division, but those actually too poor to handle their lives right where it is; or to use societal terms, "the working poor".
These are hard working parents who are finding that they have fewer and fewer functions in common with their own children; which has loosened the ties that used to bind them together. Add the absence or negligent interaction from one of the two people who are supposed to always reassure these children and it should be obvious that the child ends up feeling dissension instead of the desired love. Now take into consideration that parent having to work two jobs just to avoid homelessness, and a teacher with several too many children in his/her class to delve too deeply in the "why's: associated with this child's new disposition and you have just laid the groundwork that denotes the necessity (in the mind of many children) for endurance to strive through your current circumstances.A closer look into the disconnection some single parents face shows conflicts have manifested within their family structure (due to the absence of a parent and partner and his/her finances) that leave their children feeling that the new attitudes of their parents are their new mode of existence. Sincere communication and avenues of positive expression are often absent, so many in this group feel more of the negative effects of family, which hinders their desire to succeed through their circumstances. This places both child and parent feeling discouraged about other life choices, which can greatly hinder the successful progression of this family. While a type of checks and balance system is in place to address most areas of concern (having a positive approach to balance a negative situation), divorce and its affects on the child and parent left with sole responsibility of care for said child remain in the negative column. Regrettably, divorce has become (for some in this group) an increasingly, insurmountable dilemma, with psychological effects growing and gravely harming once innocent children and the active parent.
The long-term aspirations of Love In Abundance, therefore, are to serve 50 families per month, in a facility of our own, at five-year intervals, with a designated, disciplined program to transform their lives during that same time. Most know that the same thing will always produce the same results, which means that we cannot presume that everyone knows how to budget, save, manage his/her finances or adjust to all the new dynamics in their lives, alone. Love In Abundance will, therefore, offer constructive redirection, with our focus the first two years beginning with financial literacy, an introduction to the necessity of saving right now with Covenant Capital who will double all monies saved (up to a limit) as long as the money remains in the account for the entire four years. We will provide credit restoration services via Sure Structure Development Co and homebuyer education classes via CTS because divorce can rearrange everything. And to help relieve some of the stress for our parents, we will provide mandated self-help group sessions. It is crucial that these parents realize they are not alone in their new struggles, while gaining the relief that comes in knowing that their children are in a safe environment during the troubled hours of 2:30-6:30p. One major goal during this period is to assist our parents in remembering the power that exists within the boundaries of a family before it begins to negatively affect their child's psychological balance, as well as helping them realize the necessity of change in their lives if a change is going to take place in their lives.
"There is a growing consensus that after-school programming should not be a continuation of the school day (McLaughlin, 2000; Pittman, Wilson-Ahlstrom et al, 2003) Partnerships for After-School Success." LIA will, therefore, offer the necessary creative outlets of release via our Liberal Arts Program (featuring music, art, and dance); the power that positive self-esteem and teamwork provide through our Life Skills Program (featuring Tae Kwon Do and Fencing); a Mentoring Program to help these children be encouraged instead of discouraged, and the coup de grace of Love In Abundance will be our Self-Help Group Program for both the children and their parent. LIA will give back the feeling of family by having dinner once a week with our child and their active parent, and a lot of other family in the other participants and their parent, and break into peer aged self-help group sessions for our participants to be able to address those things most distressing to them. . At session end, parents will sit and listen only to the greatest concerns associated with their children, and they will have signed a "Word Contract" in advance pledging no retaliation or reprisal will come to their children for voicing those things most distressing to them. This contract will show the children the respect their parents expect from them, they are willing to extend to them; a very vital step because many of these children are filled with feelings of lost connections. Parents will also be using a journal penned by Vickie Gunnells-Hodge, (with LIA receiving 40% from each book) currently in the last stages of production with Tate Publishing, the 2006 Christian
Publisher of the Year, entitled "I'm Hurting, Can Anybody Hear Me? For Parents of Divorce or Separation". This journal allows for an individual self-evaluation of his/heir relationship from beginning to end, and offers the choice of sending the completed journal to their ex at month's end. The hope is to improve lost or damaged communication, an imperative necessity, because until we can get parents to the point of facing or acknowledging the origin of the problems between them, there will be no relief for the child in the problem being alleviated or reduced for the sake of the child's psychological development.
We, as a society, must help deter some of the negatives facing these children now, because when you do not feel as if you are being heard or that you matter, you will act out in ways to obtain the desired attention in other ways. "Results from existing programs demonstrate that school-based after-school programs that are run by community-based organizations benefit communities, schools, families, crime and victimization, increase parental involvement in schools, and make the school more desirable to parents, and allow parents to work without worrying about their child's safety (Ferrin & Amick, 2002, Friedman & Bleiberg, 2002)"Partnerships for After-School Success. LIA knows that our participants will come in suffering with feelings of worthlessness, having diminished self-esteem, suffering a loss of dignity or extreme confusion because of the attitude of the person having the ability to make a difference (the missing parent), but refusing to do so. LIA's program structure will combat those feelings by helping each family member establish positive self-images for him/herself and their family in the midst of what most consider a tragic loss. LIA will also point our parents toward achieving, at least, an Associates Degree (through North Harris College), because they must change certain patterns in their lives if their lives are going to experience permanent change.
The goal of year three is to initiate the absent or selectively present parent back into the life of their child. Parents must understand that though they have differences and may not care for each other; major strides still need to be made toward amicably interacting with each other as the parents of their children. LIA will offer self-help group sessions for this parent, and even separate family sessions for this family if it will help them learn to behave as a family. Our goal is to assure, to the children, who are our future, know that we will make the necessary advances toward helping them remain as psychologically healthy as possible, so that their dreams will remain their dreams and not merely lost opportunities.
Year four will begin a new era in the lives of our parents. Each parent will have sufficiently mastered the mindset of a change having to be evident in their financial structuring for success to be a part of their ultimate future, so LIA will help make available to them the gift of homeownership. LIA, Sure Structure Development and CTS will continue to work very closely with our participants to assure that they stay focused financially while avoiding predatory lenders, so that entrance into a home of their own is not a temporary situation.
The fifth and final year will be the true initiation of our family's independent, financial freedom. It is the desire of Love In Abundance to be a hand up not out for our participants; so programs/services previously offered free will move to a sliding scale basis. This change is mandatory because we are of the mindset that if we show our families a better way to live and continue in that old path once they have learned the new way, we will be no more effective than the current welfare system; which has become a serious hindrance to every family who has made this system their life's goal or career choice.
If our society is going to act as a vehicle of change to some who currently believe certain entitlements are beyond anything they should ever hope for, it must begin in the hearts of the children, who are the future, who can encourage their parents through their hope. The children of Love In Abundance, who are an integral part of the future, can be models for your Youth Leadership Development Initiative in that, once they truly learn that their life's outcome does not have to repeat that of their parents, no one will be able to deter their desire to achieve every mountainous possibility! Hope, from your internal core, has the ability to change everything about you. Where millions of children have constant surges of hope, possibility, and encouragement thrust upon them; many, like those who are participants of Love In Abundance, were dying to know what that felt like. If the young ladies growing up with a dearth of everything remain uninspired and unmotivated, will there really be room to wonder why their parent's circumstances have become their life's agenda? Can you please help us to give hope to many other young ladies so that their life's path with always be one determined by their true actions and not as a result of other's feelings of reduced expectations?
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