MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Amigos For Kids is a nonprofit organization founded on the premise that children have their best shot at life when families are strong.
They started over thirty years ago in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood and provide after-school care and other services for working families that are aimed at stopping child abuse before it happens.
"We work in communities where there are high-risk factors for abuse where families struggle financially where there might be substance abuse problems or mental health problems. Those are the families we work with. Working parents need a place to leave their kids a safe place a nurturing place to leave kids after school without the worry of them being home alone unsupervised and vulnerable. We provide children with enrichment, academic support, snacks, fun activities, physical activity, and literacy support”. - Karina Pavone, President & CEO.
One of the co-founders, Jorge Plasencia, saw the need at the young age of 17 and stepped into action. He was volunteering with an organization called Children's Home Society and from this, Amigos Together For Kids (now Amigos For Kids) was born. He is still active on the board of directors.
The organization serves 120 kids now at two locations. For families who arrive in this country not speaking English, the staff helps with homework assignments.
In addition, they have parenting classes and host annual back-to-school supply events and holiday toy drives, delivering joy to underserved kids every year.
The Blue Backpack Project is one of the longest-running free school supply initiatives in the community.
Their most recent program, Amigos Care, is for parents, it came about during the pandemic when there was a rise in financial need. Financial stressors are a known factor that can create an environment that may lead to child abuse and neglect.
"If we have families come to us that are struggling, we can assist in connecting them with the right resources," Pavone said.
She added that all the services deliver on their core mission. "Children can only thrive and be healthy and happy if the families or caregivers or their environment is healthy and happy."
Amigos For Kids gets funding through the Children's Trust and other donor sources. They are always looking for volunteers and support. As much as they are doing, Pavone is well aware that the needs far exceed their efforts.
They hope to expand their services and build a permanent location.
Source: CBS News