Pembroke Pines Campus Gives Local Families a Big Help
Director of Education Jarmaine Evans (left) worked with Tamara Ryan (right) from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County to give away surplus desks to local families in South Florida, like this happy father from the community.
As Florida Career College in Pembroke Pines was reconfiguring space to better accommodate students, the campus had 30 extra classroom desks that there was no longer room for. Executive Director Gregory Falcon wondered what to do with them.
Kenyon (Jarmaine) Evans, Director of Education at Pembroke Pines, had an idea. He is a longtime volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) and currently serves as a mentor for BBBS of Broward County.
“I suggested that we could donate the desks to Big Brothers Big Sisters families. With the coronavirus impact closing schools, I thought it might be helpful for kids to have a desk for their online learning and homework activities,” he said. “One of the biggest challenges for parents during the onset of the pandemic was scrambling for online learning at home during school closures.”
Gregory loved the idea of donating the campus’s surplus desks to families in the community. Jarmaine worked with BBBS staff to identify local families who would benefit from having a desk at home. The Pembroke Pines campus then invited those families to come to campus and pick up a donated desk over the course of two weekends in November.
“After learning we would have special visitors (parents and children) for the Saturday morning desk giveaway, I wanted to be there to greet the families,” Gregory said. “The parents were overjoyed by Jarmaine’s dedication to the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County and the opportunity to pick up a desk for their child. In the end, FCC was able to make an immediate difference in the lives of our community.”
“Families served by Big Brothers Big Sisters typically are struggling,” said Chad Van Horn, Board Chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “57 percent live in single-parent households; 77 percent receive free or reduced school lunch and 21 percent receive income assistance. And COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing issues facing these vulnerable families, stretching them to the breaking point.”
“Thanks to Florida Career College, 29 families have been able to set up a dedicated work space at home to help students be more focused and productive from home,” said Tamara Ryan, Case Manager for Big Brother Big Sisters of Broward County.
“There are a lot of parallels between Big Brothers Big Sisters and our mission here at Florida Career College, especially the emphasis on the importance of education, building confidence and strengthening their perceptions of self-worth – working to guide them in the right direction,” Jarmaine said.
BBBS is the largest evidence-based mentoring program in the nation. Research has shown that being matched with a mentor through BBBS can make a big difference in how a child performs in school and how he or she feels about school in general. They are less likely to skip school, less likely to abuse drugs, and less likely to drop out of high school.
“One-on-one attention from a caring adult role model is a key part of developing self-confidence,” Jarmaine said. “I’ve always enjoyed tutoring and helping youth. Teaching is fun to me. It is such a rewarding feeling when they are excited to see you and show you their grades.”
Jarmaine first started as a volunteer mentor 17 years ago, while he was in college studying criminal justice as an undergraduate student. He mentored an elementary school boy in Miami for several years, and the experience had an unexpected impact on his own life: it inspired him to pursue a career as an educator.
“It was so rewarding. I saw first-hand how this program helps youth. I’m so happy that we were able to donate these desks to families who really need them,” he said.
“I applaud the Pembroke Pines campus for donating desks to local families who will put them to good use, and Mr. Evans for his dedication to supporting local youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Dr. Fardad Fateri, President and CEO. “This is a wonderful example of how Florida Career College is dedicated to driving personal and community transformation. Bravo!”
To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County visit https://www.bbbsbroward.org/.