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Member Spotlight!

Posted By Sophia Raymond, Monday, July 23, 2018

Nonprofits are doing extraordinary work in Palm Beach County. They are part of the fabric of our community — they protect, feed, heal, shelter, educate and nurture bodies and spirits of tens of thousands of residents, every single day.

 

Too often, their achievements fall under the radar. And so, Nonprofits First is showcasing some of the organizations and the differences they are making to improve our county.

 

Here is the story of Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group.

 

 

At the end of a long, dead-end road on the edge of Lake Worth, a small nonprofit is taking good care of the residents of the area’s close-knit immigrant community.

 

There, young children get extra help reading so they don’t fall behind in school and struggle academically. First-time moms and dads learn the qualities of being great parents. High school students are prepared for college, with many students going on to become the first in their families to attend college. And families take part in organized sports and social activities as well as getting a say in how their neighborhood is run.

 

Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group doesn’t have a high-visibility name, but its educational, recreational, wellness and cultural services are well-known among those who depend on them: the community’s influx of families from Central America, the Caribbean, and other areas of the world.

 

“We’re one of Palm Beach County’s best kept secrets,” said Rhonda Rogers, executive director of the organization, which has a staff of 16 full-time and part-time employees. “Our objective is to create opportunities for our residents to thrive. And that’s what we focus on in everything we do.”

 

Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group is centered in a renovated bungalow-style house surrounded by a well-maintained park, just off Military Trail south of Lake Worth Road. On any given day, dozens of families with young and older children pass through, taking workshops, signing up for benefits from other agencies, or simply stopping by to socialize with other residents.

 

It wasn’t always like this.

 

For many years, the community was dilapidated and overrun with drug dealers and gangs. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Palm Beach County government, Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies stepped in to work with residents in paving the roads, installing drainage, painting houses, landscaping yards, and kicking out the troublemakers.

 

And then Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County and other funders provided vital programming and social services dollars to help residents increase healthy births, prevent child neglect, improve literacy and tackle many other challenges. The community also has a resident group to solve problems in the neighborhood.

 

Rogers and her staff are always looking to make life better for residents.

 

For instance, there was a need to find activities for middle schoolers during the lazy summer months and in the hours after schools end during the rest of the year. Many children sat at home, watched TV and accomplished very little.

 

So this year, the organization applied for funding from charitable group Impact 100 Palm Beach County – and were awarded $100,000 to create a summer camp and yearlong after school program exclusively for those students and focused on health and wellness, as well as learning academic skills such as computer coding and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

 

“We set out and created a middle school camp to give the youth a place to go this summer that was educational and fun,” Rogers said. “I think we succeeded.”

 

There is still plenty of work to do.

 

That includes making sure parents encourage their children to attend school regularly, which is critical to keeping students on track to reading at their grade level. A committee of residents, business leaders, school administrators, pre-school operators and other stakeholders has looked at solutions to improve attendance for all students in the area west of Lake Worth – and, with it, raise reading proficiency levels.

 

“We’re always looking out for our residents – we want them to do great as they raise their families in our community,” Rogers said.

 

 

Learn more about Lake Worth West Planning Group here. And watch a video about the agency here.

 

If interested in having your nonprofit showcased by Nonprofits First, contact Charlotte Gill, Director of Development and Business Strategies at: 561-910-3891 or cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org.

 

 

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Tags:  Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group 

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