Where others might see a young woman struggling, Rosene Johnson sees promise.
Johnson heads the Orlando-area Pace Center for Girls, which provides counseling and academic support to teenagers who have experienced trauma.
“We say our girls are at-promise because, while these situations may have hindered them briefly, they do not hinder them forever, and that is really where we come in,” Johnson said.
Once young women join any of Pace’s many centers across Florida, 84% improve their grades, while 95% go to avoid the juvenile justice system and, instead, toward employment or higher education.
But until recently, something was missing from Johnson’s work.
Last year, a young woman named Emma came in to start the program, and a counselor asked if she needed anything. She asked for food.
“It’s not for me,” Emma said. “It’s for my family. I have siblings, and my grandmother and mother are living with me, and we haven't had food in our home in three weeks.”
That marked a turning point for Johnson.
“Emma helped really open our eyes to the challenges that our girls were having with food insecurity,” she explained.
Hunger is not new to Johnson or Central Florida, but the worsening pandemic in the state has magnified the great need that already existed, leaving many families desperate. While Pace launched a campus food pantry after Emma’s eye-opening request, Johnson knew they had to respond to the deepening crisis and its impact on their young women.
“Food insecurity became an even higher concern, especially with all of the children in the home and without access to the typical food that they would have from school,” Johnson said.
“Food affects everything from behavior, mood, and academics to social, emotional, and mental health services.”
That’s where support from No Kid Hungry and partners like Chrysler comes in.
Now through the end of September Chrysler is making contributions to No Kid Hungry for every Chrysler Pacifica sold with the goal of raising over one million dollars. This donation helps support programs like Johnson’s and others, feeding kids from Maryland to Arizona, California to Texas, and everywhere in between.
Like Johnson, we couldn’t be more thankful for Chrysler’s gift and the impact they’re having on so many kids.
“You have allowed us to support Emma, along with the rest of the girls in our program,” she shared. “We are truly grateful for the good work that you are doing to make our world a better place, at least for our young ladies. Thank you.”