Florida Weekly Column

Weaving a New Narrative for Youth

Weaving a New Narrative for Youth

By Abdul’haq Muhammed, Executive Director
2015 grantee of the SWFL Community Foundation

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories. Here this week we learn from the Quality Life Center. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers. If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected] or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

“I like the weaving program because there’s no pressure,” said 13-year old Alanna, a student in Quality Life Center’s teen program. “It’s just relaxing. We weave and talk, and hear the ladies’ stories.”

Many of the youth in our community deal with issues like poverty, violence and living in an unsafe neighborhood. These stressors can cause problems that make it difficult for kids to succeed. Small behavioral issues can lead to bigger problems that can derail a young person’s life. Finding acceptable ways to cope can be a challenge.

An opportunity arose when the Weavers of Char-Lee brought the historic Newcomb Loom to the center, along with a few of their members to teach youth in the teen program the art of weaving. With a grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the program took off. Smaller, individual looms were purchased to allow students to work on projects like bracelets, belts and cell phone bags, while making bigger items with the large loom.

Always looking for ways to make money, the teens anticipated selling the products they made and learning a little about business. Their first lesson came as they realized how long it takes to make each item. In addition to classes about finance, they learned about different types of businesses when professionals from the community came and spoke to students about their careers. During a business tour one Saturday, students visited different types of businesses, and had the opportunity to ask the owners questions. “We learned that there are different business models. Some require a lot of money to get started, and others just require a computer,” noted 15-year old weaving student, Carisma.

All of the 20 students involved in the program learned a new skill, and had the opportunity to express their creativity. In addition to spending time with the ladies from the weaving group, students participated in events, demonstrating how to weave, and interacting with the public. These activities helped students gain communication skills and confidence speaking with different types of people.

“You can have classes and help with homework,” said Quality Life Center instructor Shari Armstrong, “but having some time to bond, to talk without an agenda, is crucial to make a difference. They know people care; they feel loved.” This project showed how three organizations worked together to turn stressful circumstances into opportunities to build strength and character.

About Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida
Quality Life Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization transforming the community by developing the potential of underserved populations in Southwest Florida through early learning and youth development programs, including afterschool and teen and summer camp programs. “The Q” is celebrating 25 years of instilling values of discipline, integrity and self-sufficiency. Quality Life Center is headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, call (239) 334-2797 or visit http://www.qualitylifecenter.org.

About the SWFL Community Foundation
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $88 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $61.2 million to date in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants. For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com

Leave a Reply