LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. – Every day, an organization in Palm Beach County helps more than 800 children who are homeless or near home.
They need academic and emotional support and a chance to feel like any other child.
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Play ball, on the playground, throw a Frisbee, even take a spin with our camera. Project Grow gives these children a chance to thrive.
“One of the things we notice is that after a while they can actually relax because they feel safe,” said Daron Morse, director of youth educational programs at Adopt. -A-Family of the Palm Beaches.
Morse runs Project Grow, an afterschool and summer camp program for dozens of children whose families have fallen on hard times and are part of the Adopt-A-Family housing program.
“We really think about serving the whole child,” Morse said. “So we look at their emotional development, their studies and provide services where they can fit in.”
Adopt-A-Family CEO Matt Constantine said the need for housing and complementary services has only increased year over year and has increased over the past three to six months. .
“Every day our phones ring all day,” Constantine said. “We’re getting emails and I think the housing affordability crisis we’re going through right now has affected so many families and people in our community.”
Constantine said Adopt-A-Family serves about 300 families at any one time, but the waiting list is longer than she can keep up.
“It’s become an issue in our community right now,” Constantine said. “It’s so bad that we’re outnumbered and we need help.”
Constantine said Adopt-A-Family works with families to help them avoid homelessness by paying their rent and utility bills, among other services. For homeless families, Adopt-A-Family provides emergency shelter.
Unfortunately, Constantine said current needs outweigh available resources.
“We actually hear from a lot of families that we weren’t used to,” Constantine said. “Families with two full-time working parents. Never had to ask for help before, and now they find themselves in this situation because their lease has gone up by $800 or $1,000 a month.”
Stable housing is a key part of the Adopt-A-Family program, and many of the children involved live at Julian Place in Lake Worth Beach, one of the housing units that is part of this operation.
Then the kids come across the street for Project Grow’s summer camp and after-school program.
“A typical kid who comes to Project Grow has moved four, five, six times in the past two years,” Constantine said. “They’re behind academically. They’ve changed schools. They’ve been through things that a lot of kids shouldn’t have gone through at this point in their lives.”
Project Grow provides them with the consistency and stability they need to thrive.
“We really try to meet them where the kids are when they come to see us,” Constantine said.
Project Grow just received a $25,000 grant from State Farm to continue providing services to children in the community.
If you would like more information or need the services of Adopt-A-Family, Click here.