Wednesday, November 27, 2013


While many families gather around the Thanksgiving table this week to give thanks, some of us will be left out. The nearly 16 million children living in poverty will be struggling to have something to be thankful for. These families won’t be choosing between sweet potato or pumpkin pie this holiday season but will face choices about paying for groceries or rent, heat, medicine or clothing —choices no family should have to make in our nation with the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world.   And while these families will struggle to make such choices, Congress will be choosing how many of these desperate families and children  to cut from life-giving and life-sustaining programs such as SNAP.  Congress has put the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often called food stamps) on the chopping block.
 Congress is working to cut $4 billion from SNAP while the House bill slashes more than $40 billion—denying food to as many as six million people, including children, seniors, and veterans. The House proposal would also drop 210,000 children from school meals.  SNAP lifted 2.2 million children out of poverty in 2012 and provided benefits to over 46 million Americans including more than 22 million, or more than one in four children. SNAP was a life saver for millions of families in need during the recent recession and still sluggish recovery.  Any cuts will take desperately needed food away from many vulnerable children and adults.
At a time when child poverty remains at a record high, and three-quarters of our nation’s teachers report students who routinely show up to school hungry, what kind of political leaders could for one minute consider cutting food assistance to children that need it?  Hunger and malnutrition have devastating consequences for children and have been linked to low birth weight and birth defects, obesity, mental and physical health problems, and poorer educational outcomes. SNAP cushions these threats and  children who benefit from SNAP are less likely to be in poor health, experience fewer hospitalizations, and are less likely to have developmental delays. A recent study found that needy children who received food assistance before age five were in better health as adults. Specifically, the girls studied were more likely to complete more schooling and earn more money, and not rely on safety net programs such as SNAP.
Adults who care and have common sense would strengthen, not cut this critical lifeline for children. During this Thanksgiving week, those of us blessed with enough or too much food can show our gratitude by urging our political leaders to put hungry children first for a change.
And by saying a prayer for those less fortunate.

Monday, November 18, 2013


"I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be."

Lyrics to Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All," one of my all time favorites.  And I completely agree with Whitney, that our children are our future.  This week marks the introduction of the Strong Start for America's Children Act by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Reps George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY).  This is a major step in the right direction for poor and low income children as it prepares them for school in their early years, providing the groundwork for future success. 

Research shows that poor children can perform as well as other children if given the support to do so.  But the reality is that the majority of poor children and especially children of color, are left behind when it comes to quality education.  Their parents simply do not have the resources to invest into their children's education in the variety of ways that kids from privileged backgrounds have.  The access to quality private schools, private tutoring and camps are simply out of reach for poor children and their parents. What we have is a majority of American elementary and middle school students that cannot read or do math at their grade level and most of these kids are African-American and Latino.

Putting the resources into place to provide a quality early education for every child, allows us to disable a system that serves and saves just a few children while depriving many, many others of a good, quality education. The Strong Start for America's Children Act, will do just that.  And to act upon it now, is a commitment to leave no child left behind.  God said it best when He said, "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end..."  He wasn't just talking about rich, affluent and kids of privilege, He was talking about poor kids too.

Monday, November 11, 2013


How to Teach Kids About Veterans Day

Here are a few ideas:
1.  Have your kids write short articles or essays of how veterans are honored around the world.
2.  Research how American veterans were treated after they returned from various military conflicts,  (Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War). Discuss with your kids their findings.  Talk with your kids about the way women and minorities have been treated that served in various wars.
3. Have children draw a picture of Veterans Day, and what this holiday means to them. Military children can draw a picture of a parent who is currently deployed, or a relative who has served.
4. Make a thank you card for veterans. Children can give this card to veterans that they know or to veterans who are listed through the local VA medical facility.
5. Have your kids make a colorful and fun poster with the names and pictures of relatives who are veterans.
There are a variety of ways to celebrate Veterans Day with your children. And teaching children about the significance of this holiday will help give them a deep appreciation of our nation's servicemembers and veterans.

And remember, teaching kids about Veterans Day doesn't have to be a "once a year" event.  Find the time to fit it in regularly. We are our children's teacher and should never miss the opportunity to empower, educate and inspire our kids to greatness.  Who knows?  You might have a five-star General in the making!

Monday, November 4, 2013


How can we help our kids be more responsible with their money?

It is fairly simple.  By using what is called the "10-10-10-70" plan, it is possible to teach good stewardship principles to our children, not matter what their age. Whether it be their allowance, money for doing a specific chore or money earned from a paycheck, show your kids how to divide up their earnings according to the following:

1.  They should set aside 10 % of their money for tithing.  You can explain that the Bible tells us that because everything belongs to God, we are to give Him the "firstfruits" of our earnings. 

2.  Next, encourage your kids to set aside a second 10% of their money for savings and investment.  If they don't already have one, take them to open a savings account.  Then pick-up a kid friendly book on saving and investing, one that explains in simple language how interest compounds over time.  For older kids, help them to open a brokerage account with an online brokerage like Fidelity or E-Trade.

3.  The third "10" in the plan you teach them to dedicate to giving.  This is going beyond tithing  by distributing a portion of our money to help those who are in need.  God clearly tells us to help the poor and this is something we should instill in our kids at an early age.  Whether it be charities, ministries, a homeless shelter or a needy family in the community,  possibilities are endless for those experiencing financial difficulties that need a little help.

4.  The remaining 70% of their money can be used at their own discretion.  Naturally, you'll want to teach them to spend wisely by purchasing items that have value and by saving money to make purchases for those things they really want. 

(These principles also apply to us grown-ups who haven't mastered the skill of budgeting and wise spending as well.)

Your Kids Can Master Their Money, by Ron and Judy Blue and Jeremy White.


Thursday, September 12, 2013


LSD in the 60s, weed in the 70s, cocaine/crack cocaine in the 80s, heroin in the 90s.  Every decade, it seems, has an "in" drug.  The new and popular drug for the "in" crowd, the young, the old,  the middle class, the poor, the rich.  Well, this decade continues with the same pattern with the emergence of "Molly." 

Molly is made up of many substances to include cocaine, crack, ecstasy, crystal meth and bath salts.  It comes in powder, crystalline or pill form and is very popular among teenagers. It is odorless and easy to conceal.   It has the makings of what can be called absolute disaster and is akin to playing Russian roulette.  As easy and as cheap to get as a six-pack of beer, it offers a euphoric high, a burst of energy and hallucinations.  The symptoms include:  high blood pressure, seizures, teeth grinding, insomnia, fever and hyperthermia.  Emergency room visits have more than doubled for overdoses contributed to Molly in the past few years, some resulting in death.

It is embraced by rappers such as Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Rihanna and Rick Ross.  Miley Cyrus even has a new single in which she sings what sounds like, "We like to party, dancing with Molly."  At a music festival last year, Madonna was criticized for asking the audience, "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?"

Molly is the big thing now with our children and youth.  We must stay abreast of what is out there, what it is our children are being exposed to.  The age old advice still works:  be involved in your children's lives, know their friends, keep communication open and honest and don't be afraid to talk about the effects of drugs and alcohol with them.   And if you suspect your child of drug or alcohol abuse, don't be afraid to seek help.  We are still in the middle of the "War on Drugs," don't put down your weapons yet.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Research conducted by the Center for the Study of Social Policy has shown that certain protective factors can help improve a child's health and wellbeing.

Parents who can handle stress appropriately and thereby rebound from challenges more quickly, can parent more effectively and promote their children's healthy development. When emotional support and social connections are provided by family, friends, neighbors and community members, parents cope better with stressors. 

When food, clothing, housing and other basic needs are met, families are better able to thrive. Also, when parents have access to services and supports to ensure these needs are met, they are better able to handle a crisis when it arises.  Parents that understand basic child development based on age, to include appropriate behavior expectations, are more likely to discipline and nurture children appropriately.  When children can communicate effectively their feelings and regulate their behavior, they are better able to form positive relationships with their family, other adults and peers.

Awareness, education, prevention, these are just some of the things that we can all do to ensure that a child is safe from the evils of abuse and that a parent is receiving the support they need to be good parents.  Both contribute to productivity in society and emotional well being.

Monday, August 26, 2013


There is a lot of work to do to increase the graduation rates for African American males in Duval County. Black males leave high school before graduation in a much higher proportion than white males. Seeing that a diploma is tantamount for going to college & getting a good paying job, I'd venture to say that we have a lot of work to do. 

Researchers have found that one in four black male high school dropouts are either incarcerated or in detention. Along with the expense of incarceration & the dependence upon public assistance, this adds up to roughly $300,000 in taxpayer money spent over the lifetime of a dropout. The life of our communities depend upon our black children being educated & our males graduating on time. Some states are performing exceedingly well in graduating black males on time. 

More must be done in Duval County to unite parents, educators, mentors & the males themselves in order to turn it around & to see that black males are graduating, going to college, going to vocational school, going to the military or just going anywhere except going to jail & prison. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013


On August 28, our nation will celebrate the "March on Washington" that took place in 1963. This is where the famous "I Have A Dream" speech was uttered by MLK Jr. As we take time to reflect on this moment in time, we must also look around to what is taking place in society today. 

The march is credited with helping to create the Civil Rights Act & the Voting Rights Act for African-Americans. It was a huge rally for human rights & attended by over 200,000 people. People marched together in peace & in solidarity to take a stand against prejudice & racial injustice. 

Although many battles have been fought & won along the same lines since then, prejudice, discrimination, poverty, oppression & injustice still permeate our society. As we remember, let's not forget the declaration, "...All men are created equal...all men have the right to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness..."

Thursday, August 15, 2013


A new report by the American Journal of Public Health states that obesity accounts for 18 percent of the deaths among Black and White Americans between the ages of 40-85.  This is a correction of the previously reported number of 5 percent.  Women appear to be more susceptible of dying from obesity than men.  Black women have the overall higher percentage of obesity-related deaths at 27 percent followed by white women at 21 percent.

A child growing up in today's society have a higher risk of obesity than their predecessors a generation ago.  Super-sized drinks, sandwiches, fries and snacks all contribute toward the overall health problems that children face in today's society.  Their clothes sizes are bigger and their peers are bigger.  Our society must do what is not only necessary but mandatory to reduce the number of obesity-related health issues and deaths.

Obesity has been linked to memory loss in older women and even causes the flu vaccine to be ineffective in some instances.  This is not to even mention the everyday challenges obese men, women and children face on a daily basis.  From discrimination at work and school to physical and emotional issues, this is a fight that we must all participate in.  We have had  the  "War on Drugs" and we must now wage the "War Against Obesity."  It's time to put our health first in our children, ourselves and our nation.  We all deserve to live life to the fullest.

Monday, August 12, 2013


North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory  signed a bill Monday requiring photo identification at the polls and eliminating a slew of voting measures designed to protect against voter disenfranchisement.  The bill will require voters to show photo identification, reduces early voting by one week, eliminates same day registration and eliminates pre-registration of 16-17 yr. olds just to name a few.

The governor, announced by way of a YouTube video that he had signed House Bill 589.

Just hours after McCrory's signature, the ACLU of North Carolina and a coalition of other groups filed a lawsuit against the bill, charging that it violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The North Carolina NAACP and Advancement Project followed shortly after, filing another lawsuit.

The latest bill comes after the Supreme Court struck down the core of the Voting Rights Act, which required Southern states with a history of racial discrimination -- including North Carolina -- to have their laws cleared by the Department of Justice.

Stay tuned.  There will be much heated debate and discussion in the months to come as this bill and others like it that will follow, will effect the Democratic turnout in upcoming elections.  This is just another reason why we must all register to vote and exercise the right to vote.  It is our God given duty.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


"When it comes to the education of our children, failure is not an option."
                                                                                   President George W. Bush

Every child has the power and ability to succeed in school and it is our responsibility to help.  When a child has the right supplies for school, they feel prepared, do better and have positive feelings about going to school.  Teaching reading and writing without supplies is nearly impossible as kids have no way to practice the skills being taught in school.  Having pencils, paper and notebooks give children a way to take what they have learned and to practice and apply it. 

Having the right supplies for school allow children to express what they have learned and provide valuable feedback to teachers.  We can all contribute by donating to one of the many back to school supply giveaways in our city or by simply helping a family with children in need.
Some of the kids from Girlz Talk/Boyz Talk.


As our nation celebrated the Voting Rights Act signed by President Johnson 48 years ago on this week, we find ourselves as a nation in a heated debate over the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the very essence of the law.

The issues at hand were whether or not minority voters still continue to face barriers to voting in those states with a history of discrimination.  In a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court freed nine states to change their voting laws without having to obtain advance federal approval.  Section 4 of the VRA prohibited Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia from making changes such as moving a polling place or redrawing electoral districts without advance approval.

The VRA was one of the greatest achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and has made significant strides in reducing the gap between African-American and white voter turnout in the south.  While the debate continues, we must all reflect on where we as a country have come from and the fact that we all have a right to vote for whom we will without being unfairly discriminated against.  If you haven't already, please register to vote.  It is your constitutional right.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


What an exciting time we had today at the Cummer Museum.  Every 1st Saturday is "free for all."  The gardens, the car exhibit, the oil paintings - we enjoyed it all.  Some of the youth had never been to the museum before and it was with great pleasure to see them reading some of the history behind the paintings.  The highlight of the day?  You guessed it, the car exhibit!  Mouths gaped in awe as they wondered how people drove cars back then without the spinning rims, the hydraulics and (thank God) without the booming sound systems!  

Friday, August 2, 2013


August 18 at 2pm
Meet us at Samuel W. Wolfson HS
Join us as we come together to pray for the safety and protection of all children, staff and teachers for the upcoming school year.
Yes, "it still takes a village"...

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Some of our kids enjoying and having fun at Jax Beach!  Still amazes me to see the joy on some of the kids faces that have never been to the beach before.  Money can't buy the feeling you get when one of them screeches "Waves!!!" in wonder.