Building Precious GEMS
Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries
Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries (Milk and Honey) was established in 1992 as a children’s Bible study program within a low income, inner-city housing project. By 1996, the program was incorporated as a community-based nonprofit organization, with a mission to help children and youth live up to their fullest potential.
Services included after-school care, tutoring, mentoring, and nutrition, in addition to Christian education. A delinquency prevention grant from the State of Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in 1997 enabled Milk and Honey to extend its programs and increase the number of children served. The GEMS Program (Girls Embracing a More Excellent Way), is designed for economically disadvantaged African-American preteen and teenage girls. The girls participate in a year-long program that focuses upon the positive aspects of being African-American and female, while stressing the realities of AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and disease. The program provides weekly activities and special workshops within the girls’ neighborhoods, but in a controlled, safe environment through lock-ins and supervised programs.
IMPACT funds will enable Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries to build a classroom facility to house the GEMS program as well as after school and summer programs. Milk and Honey currently owns the land located at 1100 W. DeSoto Street, in the heart of Attucks Court Housing area. This location enables local children to walk to a
“safe haven” area full of activities to stimulate, encourage and keep their minds active and bodies physically out of harm’s way. The facility will be a resource center that stimulates interest and participation in activities that build skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The skills and knowledge developed, such as computer literacy, creativity, reasoning, and growth will inspire and prepare children, specifically girls, for careers in STEM fields. The facility will include three state-of-the-art classrooms (two learning-teaching rooms and one video/media center room) for 30 participants each; a reception area; office space; two restrooms and a separate storage area with secured cabinets for food, supplies, miscellaneous donations, and other equipment.
The local Escambia County Juvenile Justice Council has targeted the Pensacola area housing projects as contributing to the majority of anger, violence, stealing, and truancy cases originated. The number of youth entering the court system is skyrocketing, at a rate that exceeds the state average. The Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries facility will be a recognized and supervised safe haven for the Attucks Court Community. Providing a safe haven with benefits to at-risk youth who spend their after school, summer, and weekend hours without guidance keeps them from becoming targets for negative influences by their peers, gangs, drug dealers, and criminals. The facility will offer creative thinking programs, skill sets that will encourage, and make ready each participant for an ever-changing technology market, as well as provide a home base location for up to 120 girls on a weekly basis. Activities such as academic tutoring, homework assistance, computer labs, group counseling, Friday night workshops, fitness training, mentoring, teaching core values (respect, love, responsibility, self-control, and academic excellence), will allow children and youth opportunities to reach their fullest potential. The expansion of GEMS, after school and summer camps activit ies will substantially increase with the construction of a central facility. This will impact the target population by decreasing the waiting list for Milk and Honey and allow them to be a service provider to the overall community.