Every now and then, there comes a time when you are part of something special. If you’re lucky, you get close enough and it becomes part of who you are. Then along the way there’s a trigger that reminds you how special that thing is. As we explore “goal setting,” we’ll follow New Image Youth Center as the organization evolves in the months ahead.

After hosting a goal-setting program in 2013, Just Keep Pouring continues to work with New Image Youth Center (NIYC) in an advisory capacity. It is truly amazing what has been accomplished by NIYC over the ten years of its existence. NIYC is a year-round after school program for seventy five disadvantaged children of the Parramore community in Orlando, Florida, providing a safe haven and a place where they can learn to realize their potential. At first glance, that might not sound like a big deal. After all, Orlando is where tourists flock every year. For those who live in Orlando, it must be magical year-round. That isn’t the case for the children of Parramore, a neighborhood named one of the most dangerous in America. Some statistics about what the children face are below:

• 86% of Parramore families run out of money before the end of the month;
• 32% of Parramore’s children lost a loved one in the past year;
• 61% of children under the age of five in Parramore are not in childcare or pre-Kindergarten; and
• 41% of Parramore’s children have chronic health problems.

So, what does New Image Youth Center do? NIYC saves lives. First, NIYC saves lives literally by providing a safe place for kISS to play, do homework, and participate in activities. Second, NIYC saves lives philosophically by giving children hope and direction; by giving them the faith and confidence to realize their potential.

Many kind souls live in Parramore, but many others have lost hope and reacted with violence, drug abuse, prostitution and other criminal activity. The children of New Image Youth Center regularly witness unbelievable horrors. Yet if you’re fortunate enough to meet these kids, they’ll amaze you with their strength, their smiles, and their resilience. They’re facing situations I hope my children never have to see, and they’re REALIZING SUCCESS. They’re kids being kids.

NIYC teaches lessons we ALL should learn. One of the tenets of the organization is GIVE BACK. No matter how little you have, you always have enough to give back, whether it’s a few hours or a few bucks to help someone who needs it. So the children of NIYC are engaging in their community. They’re engaging in life. And they’re learning how to smile in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

If you’re interested in learning more about New Image Youth Center, check it out at http://newimageyouth.org. There are opportunities to give, and opportunities to volunteer (for those in the Orlando area).

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