For the past two decades, the guiding light of Helping Hands has shone brightly, casting its compassionate glow on over 4,000 individuals: a diverse tapestry of youth, adults, families, seniors, and disabled Veterans, all of whom find themselves at the precipice of vulnerability. Together, hand in hand with our esteemed partners, we weave a safety net of support, addressing the most fundamental of human needs: nourishment, shelter, social services, and transportation. Our mission is clear—to empower those in crisis or ensnared by poverty, enabling them to grasp the elusive strands of economic independence and embrace a brighter future within the embrace of the 33311 zip code, the very heartbeat of the community we dutifully serve.
Behold the captivating image above—a vivid glimpse into the realm of The A.I.R. Project, aptly named The After IRMA Recovery Project. In the aftermath of devastating hurricanes, this noble initiative emerged, offering respite and hurricane awareness to the community, with a special focus on the revered elders among us. Not content with merely lending a helping hand, we extended tenfold the force of our impact by providing gainful employment to those in our midst. For a resolute eight months, ten remarkable individuals were able to find solace in the sanctuary of work, earning hourly wages ranging from $18 to $36. And when the funding from CareerSource Broward eventually ebbed away, rest assured, we did not forsake our steadfast commitment. With our unwavering assistance, each and every one of them transitioned seamlessly into permanent employment, embarking upon a new chapter in their lives.
In this vibrant corner of our city, where echoes of history reverberate through its streets, a striking mosaic of culture thrives. Its canvas, painted with hues of resilience, is predominantly adorned by the rich tapestry of African-American heritage. Here, amidst this tapestry, the challenges of unemployment weigh heavily upon our youth, where an alarming 64% find themselves grappling with the absence of opportunity. Moreover, the cruel grip of poverty tightens its hold on 64% of families, eclipsing the potential for prosperity. Even within the hallowed halls of learning, where young minds should flourish, 75% of students in elementary, middle, and high schools bear the burden of reduced or free lunches.
Yet, in the face of these daunting statistics, we refuse to surrender to despair. United under the banner of Helping Hands, we march onward, kindling the flames of hope, fanning them into a blaze of transformative change. Together, we shall reclaim dreams and breathe life into aspirations, for within this vibrant community, resilience prevails and the seeds of a brighter tomorrow are sown.
With the enticing call from President Addo to “come home” and delve into the rich tapestry of Ghana and our Black heritage, the Community Center seized the opportunity with fervor. Back in 2019, the Fort Lauderdale Community Center embarked on a transformative journey to Ghana, marking the advent of “The Year of Return.” Little did they know that this inaugural voyage would ignite an unquenchable thirst for connection and upliftment, leading to subsequent annual returns.
Immersed in the embrace of Ghana, our intrepid troupe composed of seasoned adults and former high school students set foot on the hallowed grounds of a nation steeped in history and culture. It was a harmonious fusion of souls, a vibrant bridge spanning across borders, with the sole purpose of fostering growth and inspiration within the Black youth of both lands.
Over the course of ten awe-inspiring days, the program unfolded like a well-crafted symphony, orchestrating a profound understanding of Ghanaian heritage through a tapestry of captivating experiences. Guided by knowledgeable locals, we traversed the storied paths of Ghana, absorbing the essence of its history and basking in the brilliance of its cultural tapestry. Each day unfurled like a vivid chapter, blending on-the-ground visits to sacred sites and enthralling presentations that illuminated the intricacies of Ghanaian traditions.
As the sun spilled its golden rays upon the second week, a new chapter dawned. Now, the attendees became the torchbearers of knowledge, stepping into the roles of teachers and mentors for Ghanaian students hungry for enlightenment. From Monday to Friday, a bustling flurry of activity consumed the hours from 9 am to 5 pm. Engrossed in their areas of expertise, our passionate students engaged their Ghanaian counterparts for a captivating seven hours each day. The exchange of wisdom and skills flowed like a mesmerizing dance, fortified by workshops that nurtured growth and culminated in thought-provoking assignments to be completed in the ensuing three months. Even the vast expanse of the ocean couldn’t hinder their connection, as Zoom calls bridged the distance between Ghana and the eager hearts of our participants.
And then, as the final day cast its gentle embrace, a profound sense of unity swelled in the air. Americans and Ghanaians alike converged, their spirits brimming with newfound knowledge and shared experiences. Conversations flowed like a vibrant river, carrying with it the essence of their learnings and the beauty of their encounters. It was a symposium of enlightenment, a celebration of newfound kinship, and an homage to the transformative power of cross-cultural exploration.
The Community Center’s yearly pilgrimage to Ghana, ignited by President Addo’s beckoning, has transcended mere visits; it has evolved into an everlasting bond, a conduit for connection and empowerment. Through the lens of education and cultural exchange, this odyssey stands as a testament to the resilience, vibrancy, and unbreakable spirit of Black youth, weaving a tapestry that spans continents and generations.
We connect clients with resources to help with utilities and rent as well as volunteer opportunities.
Shawn Pool 2020 Awardee of $500 From
The Preston Andre Flowers Foundation
2018 Awardee of $500 @
The Black Empowerment Summit From
The Preston Andre Flowers Foundation
The Preston Andre Flowers Foundation (TPAFF)
In 2015, tragedy struck our founders once again as they experienced the devastating loss of their nephew, Markest Flowers, to a senseless act of gun violence. Markest’s life was abruptly taken away when he was fatally shot in the face by a white man who harbored anger over Markest occupying a seat he had previously chosen at a restaurant. At the time of his passing, Markest was just 24 years old, leaving behind a young son.
The unimaginable circumstances surrounding Markest’s untimely demise underscore the profound injustice and heartbreak that can arise from such acts of violence. The pain of losing a loved one in such a senseless manner is immeasurable, and the lasting impact on Markest’s family and friends is deep and far-reaching. Their grief is compounded by the fact that Markest’s young son will grow up without his father, missing out on the love, guidance, and presence that should have been a part of his life.
It is essential, now more than ever, to empathize with the anguish experienced by Markest’s family and to recognize the urgent need for compassion, understanding, and efforts to address the deep-seated issues that perpetuate violence in our society. Our hearts go out to the family as they navigate through this profound loss and strive to find healing amidst their grief.
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