A former foster child who grew up in the “system,” Alecia Rodriguez returned to the youth shelter she once frequented to help beautify the grounds with the help of her nonprofit, Sadie’s Kids, along with volunteers from local South Florida organizations.
The event took place at the Homestead campus of Miami Bridge on Saturday, Feb. 16.
“This beautification project was truly a labor of love and I’m so happy that some of the at-risk youth participated,” said Rodriguez. who is president and executive director of Sadie’s Daughter Inc. and Sadie’s Kids. “Not only does it give them a wonderful space to enjoy but I’m hoping the experience helped to foster a sense of responsibility and self-worth. For now this is their home and it’s important for them to take pride in its upkeep.”
The Miami Bridge grounds beautification project was funded by Florida International University’s (FIU) Global Civic Engagement Mini Grant in partnership with Sadie’s Kids; Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Science of South Florida (MANRRS SoFlo), and The Mission Continues. Volunteers, along with kids being served by Miami Bridge, spent the day planting trees, clearing debris and restoring the outdoor area of the youth shelter.
The organization’s emergency shelter program provides a temporary haven for youth ages 10-17 until they can find a permanent home and/or resolve family conflict in order to return home. The youth live in a safe, nurturing and structured environment that provides 24-hour supervision, maintaining safety and creating an environment of trust.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing one of our former kids return to give back to The Bridge in such a large way. It speaks to the potential these kids have and to the dedication, patience, and tireless work of our amazing staff,” said David Sharfman, chief operations officer of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services Inc.
Florida International University’s Global Civic Engagement Student Advisory Board is a program at the Center for Leadership and Service funded by Wells Fargo to expand global awareness and community engagement by supporting student-led service projects. The board’s mini grants, like Miami Bridge’s ground beautification, encourage students at FIU to develop projects that address issues regarding any social issue such as: public police, education, the arts, the environment, economic development, community beautification, health and more.