This Fourth of July, Miami's One Love Club is partnering with the locally owned North Miami pizza and wings restaurant
The charity was founded three years ago in partnership with the Children’s Home Society of Florida to create events for foster children on holidays that would usually be spent with family. “These kids aren’t being listened to. No one is sitting down and getting to know them,” said One Love Club board member Elizabeth Montealegre. “One Love Club (OLC) is about engaging with these children and showing them that someone is listening to them. We try to meet their needs as much as we can.”
The organization hosts four events every year on major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July. Unusually, the events are held on the actual day of the holiday, meaning OLC’s hardworking volunteers generally give up being with their own families to spend it with the children. Yet the experience was described as “incredibly rewarding,” and one volunteer even adopted two of the children she met at an event.
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This year, One Love Club is trying to create “the most epic Fourth of July ever,” according to board member Maria
Because of the increased resources, One Love Club will be expanding the event. For the first time, families in CHS’s Preventative Program will be able to attend as well. Families that are viewed as at risk of homelessness or caught in a cycle of abuse are invited to bring their children to the event and enjoy free Fourth of July fun. “It’s not about the haves and the have-nots,” emphasized Tellechea. “It’s about giving these kids an experience they otherwise would not have had.”
Though the children’s ages vary from three months to almost 18, the organization has struggled to reach teenagers in the past. Soon, they hope to launch a new mentorship program to give older children access to the professional world. “They’re usually not exposed to people in their family having a career. We want to create those connections,” said Tellechea. The program would give students one-on-one counseling by participating businesses, giving them life skills they can use to support themselves after they age out of the system.
But for now, One Love Club is focused on organizing the upcoming event. Though the location will be kept secret to protect children enrolled in the program, those interested in donating their time or money can help out by going to oneloveclub.org.