Stories of Hope 2020

Jacob Webster - Westside Elementary FBHonors

December 17, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides afterschool programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

My name is Jacob Webster, and I am in fourth grade in FBHonors. Food Brings Hope means a lot to me. It has helped me with everything to become a better person and a better student at Westside.

When someone asks me my favorite subject in school, I always say that I like all of them. Really, I like math the best because I like to do division problems. FBHonors has helped me a lot in science because after school we also do STEM projects and experiments.

Since this is my first year, we have not had any field trips with Food Brings Hope, but I'm hoping we will be able to go on the field trip at the end of the year to the Pigeon Key Marine Biology Center. It will be fun to learn about the ocean and to learn to snorkel and see a variety of marine life.

For Christmas, my wish would be to get a virtual reality headset. I think that would be cool! And, my biggest wish would be to give money to all the poor people.

I know it's going to be very hard to do, but when I grow up I want to be a Supreme Court judge.

For Christmas, my wish would be to get a virtual reality headset. And, my biggest wish would be to give money to all the poor people. 


Oscar Arroyo - New Smyrna Beach High School TeenZone

December 18, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides afterschool programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

My name is Oscar Arroyo. I'm 16 years old and in 11th grade at New Smyrna Beach High School.

In school, my favorite subject is science, specifically biology and anatomy. I hope to go to college and study to be a registered nurse.

I love TeenZone partially because I get to help run it! I'm treasurer of the club so it gives me a creative and managerial outlet.

TeenZone has really given me a few new friends, too; everyone is so nice and easy to get along with.

This is my first year with TeenZone, but I really hope to continue in it. Teen-Zone has given me the ability to learn about management and given me resources to find success. One of my favorite parts of TeenZone is the food bags provided to everyone. It really makes everyone's week!

I look forward to having Christmas dinner with my mom and dad. I have an older brother, Noel, who is 26 years old. My most fervent wish is a better year for all; 2020 was incredibly difficult for many. I desire everyone peace from the current medical unrest due to COVID- 19. I'd love to be able to bake a cake for my mom for Christmas.


Javier Solis-Garcia - New Smyrna Beach High School TeenZone

December 19, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides afterschool programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

My name is Javier Solis-Garcia. I am 14 years old and in the ninth grade and attend school at New Smyrna Beach High School. I have one sister; her name is Emily. I am hoping to have a nice dinner with my family this holiday since the coronavirus limits travel and the ability to see other family members.

My wish for Christmas is for the United States to learn some critical thinking skills.

My favorite subject is art because you can express yourself any way you want, in any form. When I grow up, I would like to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.

TeenZone helps me do better in school because they provide tutors and people that really care about the students' well-being, like Ms. Luff. I have not been on any field trips during my time in the club, but the parties and dinners that TeenZone provides are welcoming and warm. I have not yet made new friends, but am making acquaintances along the way.

For Christmas I would like food as a special gift, but anything would suffice. It would make me so happy if I could get my mom tickets to Mexico so that she could see her family during Christmas. TeenZone means a lot to me and the other members. It's a place to learn and be helped, hang out, or even a place to just get away from the noise. It's anything you would like it to be and make it.


Naleah Jensen - Longstreet Elementary School KidsZone

December 20, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal 

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides afterschool programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

My name is Naleah Jensen, and I am in first grade at Longstreet Elementary. For Christmas, it would be great if I could decorate the house with my Grandpa. That would be very special. Art is one of my favorite subjects, so I would enjoy getting a paint board for a gift at Christmas or a Jurassic Park tent would be just fine. Grandma would like a special present too, and I wish I could buy her something.

Science is probably my favorite subject, and I do like animals. It would be neat to be a veterinarian when I grow up.

We have not been able to go on any field trips in KidsZone this year because of COVID, but I made a lot of friends.

The best thing about Food Brings Hope is they give us food so we don't ever go hungry, and they make sure we get food every week!


Caitlyn Zacharko - New Smyrna Beach High School TeenZone

December 21, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides after- school programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide atrisk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

My name is Caitlyn Zacharko. I'm 15 years old and in ninth grade at New Smyrna Beach High School. My favorite subject is physical education and I enjoy attending school. Mrs. Luff is our Food Brings Hope TeenZone sponsor and is a chef. She shares many culinary lessons with us which I thoroughly enjoy. She has inspired me so much so that when I graduate from high school, I would like to attend culinary school and also become a chef.

During the holiday season, I am looking forward to spending time with my family. I have two brothers, Connor and Kyle. I hope I receive clothes from H& M or American Eagle, food and a Lego set for Christmas. I would also like to give my mom some nice clothing or a gift card to her favorite store.

I worry about my family a lot and the food I receive each week from Food Brings Hope really helps us. Now, I don't have to worry as much as before I joined TeenZone.

Although this is my first year in TeenZone, I am really enjoying it. I have already met new friends through the program. We haven't been able to go on field trips yet, but the Christmas party we just had was lots of fun. We got to hang out and enjoy each other's company.

At Christmas, I want to thank Food Brings Hope for providing the food we receive each week. It's very helpful to my family and others. 


Malana Jackson - Mainland High School FBHonors

December 22, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides afterschool programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope.org.

 

It is hard to believe I have been in FBHonors since I was in fourth grade at Westside Elementary. My name Is Malana Jackson, and I am a senior at Mainland High School. My sister is older than I am, but was also in the Food Brings Hope FBHonors program. Since I first started in the program, I have made a lot of friends and many of my closest ones are also in the program.

FBHonors gives us the opportunity to attend amazing field trips. My favorite was when we went to see “The Lion King” musical. “Lion King” is my favorite Disney movie, and it was fascinating to watch it live.

Math and science have always been my favorite subjects in school. Being in FBHonors has helped me in both those areas since STEM curriculum is used and specific skills are taught in the FBHonors program throughout elementary, middle school and high school.

The sponsor of FBHonors at Mainland is the science department chair, Ms. Kristie Long. Sponsors have helped me stay focused and motivated in school. My career goal is to be a pediatrician.

To celebrate Christmas, I hope to spend time with my family and visit my grandparents. My dad's bait caster got stolen, so I would like to give him a new one to brighten his Christmas. A nice gift for me would be a candle because I really have begun to like the smell of them. Most of all, I wish for the world to become a little more normal and the virus to be controlled.

Food Brings Hope has really been one of my foundations through school and in my personal life. When it comes to school, Food Brings Hope leaders offer encouragement, motivate me to do my best, gain confidence in reaching my future goals, and to be successful in my future. They helped me grow as a student and young adult.

Note: The Food Brings Hope Team also wanted to express their pride in Malana and her current class rank of No. 2 at Mainland High School.


Dentonae Gordon - Campbell Middle School TeenZone

My name is Dentonae Gordon. I am 13 years old and an eighth-grade student at Campbell Middle School. My favorite school subject is math. When I graduate high school, I want to attend college and study psychiatry. I have only participated in the TeenZone program for a few months, but what I like best is that it's really fun and just takes your mind away from school. We haven't been able to go on physical field trips yet, but we did a virtual field trip which was cool. I also like the Homework Helpline. If I need help with schoolwork, the teachers on the FBH Helpline are there to answer questions any night I call. I have met several friends through TeenZone because everyone is very friendly.

I have three brothers — Denny, Denty and Dentonie. At Christmas, I really hope to just hang out with my family and have a good time.

If I could get anything I wish for Christmas, I would like to get my parents special gifts that would make them happy. I have some time to decide what those gifts will be.

The thing I like best about Food Brings Hope is that they strive to make families happy.


Nina Samuels - Mainland High School FBHonors

My name is Nina Samuels, and I am a senior at Mainland High School. This year has been a long, hard one, so at Christmas, I just want to spend time with my family and cherish good times with them. I want to give my mom a Christmas that she'll remember despite the hard times we have gone through this year.

In fourth grade at Westside Elementary in Daytona Beach, I was chosen to become a member of FBHonors and continued in it through Campbell Middle School and at Mainland. I have developed great relationships with others in the program. We attend field trips together such as Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. That was a wonderful field trip and was quite educational, but also a fun experience.

Math and science are my favorite subjects. For a career, I am hoping to become a pediatric surgeon or a pediatric oncologist.

Food Brings Hope means everything to me. Being in this program for nine years, working hard every year to stay in it, has put a different drive in me. It has taught me strengths about myself I never knew about and it also taught me how to be a young adult and come out of my shell. However, what I like the most is that I am in a program with fellow peers who are high achieving like myself, and have goals in life that they want to reach.

Food Brings Help helped me to exceed in school because it taught me to always stay on top of my work, and don't let a minor hiccup ruin your day. You brush it off and work harder towards your goal.  


Agustina Lopez - Pierson Adult Literacy Program

Agustina Lopez learned to speak English at a small Catholic church in Pierson.

The 48-year-old mother of five is among the hundreds of migrants who work in the fern fields that surround the rural town in northwest Volusia County.

The ferns she and others pick become part of the bouquets of roses and other flowers that are sold across the country at florists and grocery stores.

Lopez sometimes arrived late to class because several bundles of ferns had yet to be counted at the farm where she works. Still, she always made time to grab a seat at the church beside other working parents who are learning English as a way to improve their work mobility and immerse themselves into American society.

Over the past five years, Lopez has attended the English literacy program at the San Jose Mission, which is offered through the nonprofit Food Brings Hope.

In that time, she has grown more comfortable with the English language – a skill that has allowed her to move into higher position at work, one where she supervises other farmworkers in the fields.

“I'm not ashamed to speak it anymore” Lopez said in Spanish about the English she has learned. “I sometimes felt bad because I thought that maybe I was going to say something wrong. But I don't think like that anymore. If I say something wrong, then I know I have to speak it to correct it.”

Lopez is originally from Mexico. She came to the Pierson area at age of 16, and has lived and worked in the area since. She also has five children, the youngest of whom also studies at the church after school at Pierson Elementary.

While Lopez studies the pages of a workbook in her class, her youngest daughter, Gabriela, 7, meets with a small group of children for another Food Brings Hope program called Kid Zone.

There, the elementary school-age children have the chance to work on math and science activities, among other things. The children also take field trips — although that activity has been somewhat curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“She loves to come here,” Lopez said of Gabriela. “The girls are all good friends.”

And as her daughter has progressed, so has Lopez. Her English skills have advanced to the point that she can fill out forms at a doctor's office without the help of an interpreter.

Daytona State College staff teach the English classes as part of an agreement with Food Brings Hope.

Food Brings Hope Executive Director Judi Winch said the programs at San Jose Mission began in 2015 with 10 adults in English classes, and that number has now grown to 25 adults this year. Initially, the Kid Zone program had about 20 students; now, 30 students are part of the program.

“It's been extremely successful since we started in 2015,” Winch said.

The church's food pantry program has also grown — especially this year, as the coronavirus has impacted employment for many families. In past years, the pantry has provided food for an average of 75 families a week. This year, up to 350 families have received food each week.

“We are an organization that has built trust over the years,” Winch said. “We are glad to oblige, and we have such a good relationship with Pierson.”

Lopez plans to return to her classroom in January when the next semester is set to begin. She wants to continue to improve her English skills and has her sights set on another program that would help her earn her general educational development certificate, also known as a GED.

While she admits the GED program seems much more difficult, Lopez is set on succeeding.

“It's my dream,” Lopez said this week with tears in her eyes. “I always say that I can do it.”


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