CSC tackling poverty and hunger, yet some call it a slush fund?

Poverty. Mental health. Childhood hunger.

These issues have been mentioned a lot in the past few months. Everybody says they have a plan.

But there is already a plan to address these issues. There is already desperately needed funding flowing to highly respected non-profits in our community.

It comes from the Children’s Services Council which was approved by almost 2 out of 3 Leon County voters in the last election. The CSC has already distributed millions of dollars to a who’s who list of local helping agencies. Groups like Oasis Center for Women and Girls, Second Harvest, the Boys & Girls Club and many more.

Almost all leaders in our community supported the CSC. A notable exception is Commissioner Jeremy Matlow.

Listen to what Matlow’s most fervent supporters recently wrote in an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat, regarding the CSC: “The reality is he [Matlow] opposed the creation of a slush fund that would be diverted away from serving poor children.”

Slush fund? Diverted away from serving poor children? We’re going to tell you about how the CSC distributed millions of dollars to our community’s most vital concerns and you can decide for yourself.

For the next week, 4TLH is going to feature 5 programs supported by the first round of funding from the Leon County CSC. All these programs are well-known to many in the community.

Our first program is Second Harvest of the Big Bend

Second Harvest addresses food insecurity in our area.

In 2021 Second Harvest distributed a staggering 1.5 million pounds of food. And we all know that children are often the hungriest family members in high-poverty areas.

Second Harvest also has a special School Pantry with 9 current sites and two more planned. Thanks to the new CSC funding, these pantries will enable Second Harvest to serve 3,600 children over the summer.

It’s hard to believe any commissioner who claims to be interested in addressing poverty could oppose something like this, but Matlow did.

The problem with being against everything is that eventually you run across something that is truly good, like the work of Second Harvest in taking care of our most vulnerable, hungry children.

Our next program is Oasis Center for Women & Girls

Oasis will be expanding its successful Single Mothers program with a “Soul Sisters” program which helps connect women who are raising children and grandchildren by themselves. As PACE said in its application: “The women build bonds, and lean on each other as resources for strength, consistency, and advancement of personal goals.”

This expansion of the program will allow Oasis to facilitate the delivery of mental health, parenting and legal services to their clients. Oasis is synergizing with a wide array of group, including the Tallahassee Housing Authority, South City Foundation, Whole Child Leon and many others, to help provide holistic support to their clients.  

Our third program is Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Bend

CSC funding means the Boys & Girls Clubs can serve a whopping 40 additional at-risk young people during the summertime when structure and attention can be the most important. There are four sites – all on the south side of town – where children can take advantage of these vital services.

Data shared by the Boys & Girls Clubs shows that crime increase when children are out of school – these programs help keep young people learning and playing and out of trouble. The Boys & Girls Clubs specifically targets at-risk youth in Tallahassee’s most distressed communities.

Perhaps Commissioner Matlow could visit these young people and ask them why he voted against them getting this extra funding.

Fourth in our program is Achieve Academy

It’s hard to believe anyone could oppose funding for special needs students, but when Jeremy Matlow campaigned against the CSC, he was working against funding for Achieve Academy, which helps children with special needs and learning challenges reach full potential.

CSC funding will help Achieve to provide scholarships for an additional 20 students, ages 6-16. These special needs students will get an array of support to help close learning gaps brought on by the COVID pandemic.

Nutritional services will be enhanced – healthy snacks and meals. There will be opportunities for these children to work in the arts and music and behavior specialist will work with students regularly.

Our fifth and final program is Divine Healthcare Consulting

When Jeremy Matlow’s allies call the CSC a “slush fund” that “would be diverted away from serving poor children,” he evidently wasn’t familiar with Divine Healthcare Consulting which specifically targets its CSC funds to underserved communities.

Providing mental health counseling for young people is Divine’s overall mission. CSC dollars will go specifically toward tripling the number of children who can participate in Divine’s summer programs. As a part of those programs, Divine offers: psychotherapy, social media awareness, wellness check-ins, a DCF partnership/synergy, peer group meetings and much more.

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