Since our founding in 1998, over 550 children from the Parramore, Griffin Park and Reeves Terrace neighborhoods have come to Outreach Love from basically two schools; Fern Creek and Lake Como Elementary Schools. These children have all been identified by their teachers or school counselors as at-risk children. This risk includes academic challenges as well as economic and social challenges. 90% of them live below the poverty level, most of them being far below that level. The Outreach Love Creed recited every week by both children and tutors, summarizes our work in a nutshell. The last portion of that Creed is, “Today I will listen, think and wonder. I will ask, seek and ponder. It’s okay to learn in my own way. Big dreams start with the small steps I take today.”
One of the aims of Outreach Love is to expand the very limited horizons of these children showing them there are other options for their futures than what they see in their daily lives. We bring in people and organizations from Orlando and the surrounding area to help them experience things they only hear about. We have a field trip every year to UCF sponsored by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. We have brought Birds of Prey to our campus as well as Mad Science, the Wild Animal Experience, trips to Kennedy Space Center, the Sanford Zoo and the kids’ favorite…an overnight camping experience, complete with campfire and smores. We can show them the world beyond the poverty and crime they are too familiar with and foster in them a hope for a better future.
Outreach Love averages 75 volunteers per year and several of those volunteers have been with the Outreach Love program for over ten years. These terrific people come from every background and walk of life because they have come to love these children and have a deep belief in our mission.
We are proud of all our children who have gone on to graduate from high school. Often they are the first of their families to do so.
Just as exciting are those children whose “small steps” led them to the “big dream” of college. This is huge because college in their neighborhood is almost out of the question, either because of financial limitations or lack of a culture of education or both.
Our tutors see the hope of a better community for our kids through giving them an extra boost in their learning and life experiences. As a bonus, we fall in love with the children, creating a win-win experience for all.