Back To School the Right Way

Everyone knows the building anticipation as the kids get ready to go back to school. There’s excitement and nerves, eagerness to start a new year, sadness that summer is ending. Unfortunately, counting down the days to a new school year is yet another reminder of struggle for many kids across the country. Imagine how excitement would turn to trepidation if going back to school meant a supply list filled with items that mom and dad couldn’t afford, sneakers from last year that don’t quite fit, and hand-me-down clothes from older sibling that leave you feeling less than confident.

It’s hard to for struggling families to prepare for a successful school year when they are in the midst of crisis. Wherever homeless families end up staying, if it’s not a permanent, sustainable home, the children suffer incredibly from constant displacement and insecurity. If parents can’t afford a place to live, how will they equip their children with the supplies necessary to attend school?

image1FOCUS North America’s Back to School program involves parishes across the country in providing high quality backpacks, school supplies, and clothing to children when it is time to return to school. FOCUS works closely with school workers in every community to ensure that donated items are given to the kids who are experiencing homelessness, living in hotels, or doubled up with friends or family.

A study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that there is no jurisdiction in the United States where a working family of four, earning the poverty threshold wage of $24,000, can afford even a one-bedroom home at fair market rates. This means that there are struggling families in your town. Even if the poverty is not always visible, it is always present.

FOCUS needs you to help meet these basic needs, and take the stress off of many hardworking families that are already stretched thin. Help us give kids everything they need to get back to school and succeed in acquiring an education.

FOCUS will send participating parishes high quality backpacks with a packing list of items to fill them with. Filled backpacks will be collected at the parish. Through our school district partnerships, FOCUS will ensure the backpacks and supplies are given to the kids with the greatest need in your own city.

If you know your parish, SOYO, church school, women’s group, or other group would love an opportunity to bring FOCUS’ Back To School program to your town, contact us today! This is a great opportunity for groups that regularly work with FOCUS, as well as new communities who may be just figuring out the best way to serve.

Redevelopment effort in Hill District targets effects of long-term trauma – FOCUS Pittsburgh in The Post-Gazette

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.16.03 AM“Trauma-Informed Community Development grew out of research that found underlying causes of violence, homelessness, joblessness, poverty, addiction and abuse in exposure to chronic emotional stress and trauma. The premise is that if people can get help digging out from trauma and start to heal, they can get their own traction to improve their relationships, the well-being of their block and what happens on it, Rev. Abernathy said.

“Trauma is the most challenging problem we have” in the African-American community, he said. “We are seeing people get jobs and lose jobs, get housing and lose housing, not because they are stupid or bad but because they are wounded. We want them to be healthy enough to sustain opportunities.””

Click HERE to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from this past Sunday about the Trauma-Informed Community Development Initiative.

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FOCUS Backpack Program on OCN

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Helping kids go back to school on the right foot

Imagine how excitement could turn to trepidation if going back to school meant a supply list filled with items that a family might not be able to afford. Your parish can sponsor backpacks for children in your community!

How does it work?

FOCUS will send you as many brand-new backpacks as your parish can commit to sponsoring. Parish families will take the backpacks home and fill them with supplies on a packing list included in the backpack. Also included in the backpack is a $10 donation envelope to FOCUS to cover the cost of the backpack.

Once filled, parishioners return the packs to church and the coordinator delivers them to a local FOCUS partner that works with children in need.

E-mail JavaScript required to view address to get your parish involved this August!

We hope to work with you and your local schools this fall!

2016 Summer Feeding has begun! Join us today!

This summer, through our Summer Feeding Program, FOCUS will serve 46,000 meals in eight cities across seven states. And this is just the beginning. We hope to expand this program each year to new cities and sites using our core methodology of providing high quality, nutritious meals to children when they need it the most. Of course, we can’t do this without your help.

Sign up to serve in the following cities:

Columbus
Washington, D.C
Fairfax County
Detroit
Southern California 
Phoenix
Pittsburgh

 

Ionian Village participates in the FOCUS Backpack Program to provide 500 backpacks to Homeless Children in Orlando.

With over 2 million homeless children in the United States, childhood poverty continues to be a focal point of FOCUS’ national programs. With the blessings that many of us have inherited from our youth, there is little question that children living without the proper equipment to receive an education need to be provided the resources, in order to break the cycle of poverty we see in many American communities.

Last week, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Ionian Village held their annual summer camp reunion in Orlando, Florida and chose to include an aspect of service in the schedule, participating in the FOCUS Backpack Program. Officially launched in 2014, this program engages our volunteers throughout the United States by asking churches and groups to fill brand-new backpacks that are provided by us with school supplies. Through FOCUS partnerships, these backpacks are then donated to local children who are unable to afford these things on their own.

Campers from the Ionian Village program took time to learn about child homelessness in the Orlando area, and then filled 500 backpacks with school supplies. The backpacks were donated to the Homeless Education Department of the Orange County Public Schools, which serves the greater area of Orlando, Florida. This department works with homeless children in their district to provide them with the educational, social, and physical resources they need to perform academically, while often living in traumatic circumstances.

According to an article published in the Orlando Sentinel in March, 2015, “Nearly one-fifth of all homeless public-school students across the state now live in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties…With only a tenth of the state’s total population, the tri-county area identified more than 13,700 homeless students last year — including families doubled up with relatives, living in motels, staying in shelters, sleeping in cars and camping in the woods.”

We thank all of our partners as we to work together to combat the ever-flowing tide of childhood poverty in our nation.

If your church or group is interested in participating in the Backpack Program please contact our office at 866-267-3083 or email JavaScript required to view address.

 

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