Branches – Grow Deeper, Climb Higher
Dear Charity Services Centers, P.A.,
I would personally like to thank you for your dedicated and kind support of Branches over the past six years. As you know, Branches provides life-changing opportunities to help working families and their children break the cycle of poverty. We support children and youth through our Grow and Climb programs from K through college and surround them and their families through our Achieve programs’ financial wellness services, as well as the community at large to help them become financially stable and economically independent in the long-term.
One success story we would like to share with you is focused on one of our High School seniors, Ms. Danielle Neil. Danielle Neil is a current senior at Coral Reef High School, enrolled in the IB Magnet Program, and is an incredibly bright, gifted and caring young woman. Danielle was born in Miami to Jamaican parents and weighed in at just 2 pounds at birth. Life was tough from the very beginning but this tiny “miracle baby” made it through and has grown into the beautiful strong person she is today. As a baby, Danielle moved to Jamaica with her parents where she spent the majority of her early years, yet her mother soon realized that living in the US would give Danielle many more educational opportunities. Forced to leave her father behind, Danielle and her mother moved back to Florida.
Fortunately, Danielle was referred to Branches Florida City shortly after her move and at age 8 began attending Summer Shade Camp, as well as the Grow after-school program in 2010 where she thrived academically. Danielle and her mother also began attending the Branches United Methodist Church on Sundays and church became a special place of love and support for them both. Danielle’s mother began volunteering at Branches when she was not in school and has officially now been employed at Branches for over seven years as the Afterschool Assistant. Danielle was invited to sing in the church choir and has truly blossomed as a worship leader.
Danielle was also one of the carefully selected youths hired by Branches to work as a Summer Guide, camp counselor, for Summer Shade for several years. However, her most recent Guide summer, Danielle also took on a leadership role and was placed in charge of planning and executing the morning opening Fiesta and closing Fet, engaging over 150 students. Danielle greeted her team members and the children with a genuine smile and hugs, every single day. In addition, 2 summers ago, Danielle spent 6 weeks in Seoul Korea through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth which she says was a simply unforgettable experience! Also, last summer Branches helped Danielle get accepted into the highly competitive LEDA Leadership Summer Institute. LEDA Scholars are carefully selected as juniors in high school and spend the following summer at its signature program on the campus of Princeton University. Danielle said it was life-changing for her to be a part of such a high caliber program, and only ever applied because Branches pushed her. Last but not least, Danielle just found out she was accepted at Yale University, with a full ride! She will be attending Yale this Fall and we are incredibly proud of her and all her accomplishments.
THANK YOU again for your kind support and for helping us provide opportunities to the children and families in Miami-Dade who need us the most. We are truly grateful.
We support children and youth through our Grow and Climb programs from K through college and surround them and their families through our Achieve programs’ financial wellness services, as well as the community at large to help them become financially stable and economically independent in the long-term.
Brent McLaughlin, Executive Director, Branches