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Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not.  Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree.  Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education.  Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.

The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities.  Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities.  Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.

Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.  They call their program participants Apprentices.  These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity.  Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices.  These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.

So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men?  They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:

  • Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
  • They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
  • They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
  • And they celebrate their successes.
America What About the Children

America What About the Children
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.

Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program.  His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction.  Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork.  He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home.  He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.  He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.

You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.

Their program results are impressive.  They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education.  Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program.  In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.

Expressing Love (available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

Expressing Love
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

How can you help?

  • If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor.  Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher.  They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program.  Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.  You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
  • In kind donations are also appreciated.  Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.

You can learn more about Life Pieces to Masterpieces on their website, www.lifepieces.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Face It Foundation

Face It Foundation

“Six million American men will be diagnosed with depression this year. But millions more suffer silently, unaware that their problem has a name or unwilling to seek treatment.  The result is a hidden epidemic of despair that is destroying marriages, disrupting careers, filling jail cells, clogging emergency rooms and costing society billions of dollars in lost productivity and medical bills. It is also creating a cohort of children who carry the burden of their fathers’ pain for the rest of their lives.” – Julie Scelfo (from a 2007 article named Men and Depression: Facing Darkness in Newsweek)

Today’s organization is focusing on men facing depression.  Roughly 12% of men experience depression in their lifetime, but men are less likely than women to seek treatment for their depression.  Untreated depression is the primary cause of suicide, and suicide is the 7th leading cause of death for men in the United States.

Mark Meier founded Face It Foundation after his own first-hand experience avoiding his own depression for 14 years.  Mark’s depression caused him to avoid his wife and be “useless as a parent.”  He had no tolerance for his children’s needs or requests, so he avoided them, wasn’t engaged in their life, or was angry at them.  One night, he quickly put his children to bed after his wife had gone to work.  He turned to his usual distraction of alcohol then retreated to his bedroom where he sat with a gun in his mouth.  Before he could pull the trigger, his then nine month old daughter cried and jolted Mark back to reality.  He was soon thereafter admitted to the hospital by his wife and slowly gained control over his life.  That was seven years ago.  Mark now has a successful consulting practice, serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota, and travels the United States speaking, training, and building programs about depression.  You can read the detailed story from Mark here.

Guys get depressed, but are often too stubborn, proud, or unaware of their symptoms to address it.  Thoughts such as only women get depression or that you can just get over it are common among men.  Many men also tend to be taught not to talk about their problems in public.  These are some reasons why men are often unwilling to consider treatment for depression.  Mark founded the Face It Foundation to help, “Depression in men is common, but far too often men don’t recognize they are suffering from depression and equally often when they know they are suffering it is difficult to talk to someone.  Face It wants men to know that depression is treatable, but to begin the recovery process a man must come forward.”

The mission of Face It Foundation is to work with men to understand and overcome depression through education, online tools, and peer support.  Their website offers a wealth of information including signs and symptoms of depression, frequently asked questions, real life stories, treatment options, articles, videos, podcasts, and more.

Mark told me in an e-mail, “The treatment for depression is complicated and has many facets.  The use of antidepressants and psychotherapy are the primary approaches used, but many men reject both of these options.  Face It believes that there are many ways to deal with depression and the first step is to begin talking to others who understand the issue.”

You can hear more about the founder and the Face It mission in this short video:

How can you help?

  • You can spread the word about the information available on the Face It website.
  • You can read the stories and articles on the Face it website if you feel depression may be impacting a man in your life, then utilize the tips for discussing depression from Face It.
  • You can also support the mission of Face It by making a monetary donation.
  • Face It is also seeking men who have gone through depression and are willing to be peer mentors to other men.  You can contact Face It Foundation via e-mail or phone (612-600-3953) if you are interested in helping with this online peer connector system.
  • In July, the third annual Alive at the Market event will benefit the Face It Foundation.  You can learn more about this event and how to volunteer or donate to the silent auction at aliveatthemarket.com.

You can learn more about Face It Foundation on their website, faceitfoundation.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, via e-mail, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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