Richmond Heights ‘village'

From left, Lashunda Martin, Frantasia's mother; Frantasia Phipps; Angela Roberts, Frantasia's after-school counselor; and Sharmaine Martin, Frantasia's grandmother.

Parent Lashunda Martin knows firsthand that it takes a village to raise children. For Martin and her daughter Frantasia Phipps that village comprises the Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club’s after-school program, the Goulds Youth Development Program and The Children’s Trust. For without them, 13-year-old Frantasia would have lost her way, her mother shares.

Frantasia is a participant in the Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club's After School Program- Goulds Youth Development Program, a program funded through The Children's Trust. She has been involved in the program since she was 5.

Frantasia's mother was a volunteer with the Optimist's Goulds Youth Development Program.

At the time when her mother enrolled her, Frantasia displayed behavioral problems and resisted participating and interacting with the other kids in the after-school program.

The Optimists started the Goulds Youth Development Program to work with delinquent and pre-delinquent youth in the area. All of the youth admitted into this program are either referred by the police, the courts, juvenile authorities, schools, parents or others. Through this program, they provide youth individual and group counseling, work experience, basic education, homework assistance and employable skills training.

Frantasia’s mother is grateful for the support, guidance and insight provided by Angela Roberts, an after-school counselor at the Goulds program, aide Sheldon Smith and teacher Lillian Smith. They kept Frantasia focused on doing her best, overcoming many challenges and difficulties, including being bullied and securing control over her behavior.

“These individuals have remained closely involved in her life, continuing to coach her and monitor her progression in school,” said Frantasia’s mother, Martin. “As Frantasia continued her educational journey from elementary school through her last year of middle school, she embraced a philosophy of dedication and commitment to hard work.”

Along the way, Frantasia has received several awards, including high honor roll (3.4 GPA), honor roll, and an award for academic excellence, while competing with students in all of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in District 7. District 7 School Board member Lubby Navarro hosted an award ceremony at Miami Killian Senior High School. Frantasia is currently a student at Leewood K-8 Center in Kendall.

“Thanks to the entire Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club family, Frantasia is now well on her way to achieving success and prosperity!” said Martin.

The Richmond Perrine Optimist Club is a non-profit that provides social service programs, alternative education for MDCPS students and sports programs. Since 2004, the club has received financial support from The Children’s Trust, a voter-approved tax-funded initiative to support Miami-Dade County children.

Leronardo Stringer, the executive director, of the Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club, said it has programs that uplift youth, especially in the summer months “to keep youth positively focused and to help them channel their abilities toward achieving success.

“I am a staunch believer that early intervention utilizing a holistic approach in the forms of tutoring, homework assistance, daily reading, and physical activities, as well as monthly field trips, is key to helping children to achieve a good successful education.”

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