Jessica Medwin and her mother, Jennifer Warren Medwin, attended a Yom Kippur service at Temple Beth Am In 2018. Shortly after Rabbi Barras welcomed everyone, he showed the congregation a video about Tikva, a rescue and educational organization which saves the lives of at-risk Jewish children and works to relieve the suffering of impoverished Jewish families in Odessa, Ukraine.
The presentation had a profound impact on Jessica, then a 10th grade student at Gulliver Preparatory, and was the catalyst to creating Children for Children. She decided that she wanted to form a club with a mission to foster cultural awareness, tolerance, and commonalities of the soul through connection, social media, and guest speakers. The group would aim to help children regardless of their religion, ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Shortly after Yom Kippur services, Jessica approached Kylie O’Day, one of her closest childhood friends and someone who recently transferred to Gulliver, with her idea. The two then decided that in order to best carry out the club’s mission they would need an additional organization of another faith that helped children.
After much research, Jessica and Kylie decided on His House Children’s Home because of its Christian morals, platform, and South Florida location. His House is a private, non-profit, faith-based organization dedicated to restoring the lives of children from newborn to 18 years of age. Children for Children could do hands-on projects with the organization in addition to organizing drives for needed items and fundraising.
When Jessica and Kylie initially brought the Children for Children club idea to the school in fall 2018, Gulliver administrators were enthusiastic about the concept, but there was one problem. Gulliver students are not allowed to raise money within the school. This was when the snowball began to roll.
The girls were determined to make this club a reality. Along with their mothers, they began researching the steps needed to become a non-profit organization (501c3).
At the same time, they recruited Swati Raolji and Kate Harnett, two other Gulliver students, to spread awareness throughout the school of their mission without fundraising. Shortly thereafter, in spring 2019 members of Children for Children did community service hours at His House and had their first two events — a carwash and a 5K race. The group raised over $4,000 and donated the majority of the proceeds to Tikva and His House.
In August, Jessica and Kylie decided to speak with the head of Gulliver schools about re-establishing themselves as a club within Gulliver.
Being a club at Gulliver would allow them the opportunity to raise awareness about their mission, recruit volunteers, and have community service projects that would benefit so many children. The fundraising would be part of the 501c3, which would have nothing to do with the school. After some challenging discussions with administration, the school allowed Children for Children to become an official club under the terms of it being two separate entities, a club and a non-profit. The club’s goal was to recruit approximately50 to 100 students, which it did, to help at the events for community service hours, and to spread awareness of the mission. Additionally, the club would hold drives for local organizations in need.
Children for Children Inc. was granted the 501c3 non-profit status on Sept. 5. At this point, Jessica and Kylie began establishing different chapters of the club in other schools such as Christopher Columbus High School, Belen Jesuit Preparatory, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and Westminster Christian School, in addition to Gulliver Preparatory. They are still hoping to open new chapters of Children for Children in the coming months and are looking forward to the many events they have planned for 2020.
In addition to the annual 5K and the many carwashes and drives planned for 2020, the girls have partnered with the Share Foundation for a unique opportunity. The Share Foundation is an international non-profit organization that gathers children from different lifestyles so they can appreciate differences and challenge prejudices through relationships. The foundation’s goal is to give children and youth the tools and experiences needed to be more empathetic individuals who are capable of working with people of different backgrounds. Through the funds donated and earned by Children for Children, the organization will be hosting and financing a sleepover at Zoo Miami for 25 individuals. Ten children who are residents at His House who have been recognized as leaders and 10 heads from the Children for Children Club along with chaperones will participate in a two-day curriculum workshop to learn these skills.
The hope is that the students take what the they learn in this workshop with regard to leadership, equality, respect, reducing discrimination, and increasing cultural awareness and teach it to elementary and middle school students at each
of their schools.
Children for Children wants to continue to grow and spread its mission.
Press, upcoming events, and fundraisers can be seen on Instagram
@children4childrenn and on the website www.childrenforchildren.net.