The Little Haiti Optimist Club
is a non-profit organization established in 2010 by a group of business, community and civic leaders to provide assistance, guidance and programs to the youth of Little Haiti surrounding areas.
Our goal is to be the premier organization providing programs to prepare the youth of Little Haiti for academic and life excellence.
The organization is affiliated with the International Optimist www.optimist.org, an association of more than 3,000 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids”.
LHOC has served more than 12,000 kids and their families.
The Community We Serve
The Little Haiti community is one of the most impoverished communities in the City of Miami. In addition, the income level of the families has an overall poverty rate of 41.7% for families with children. Of those, 54% of the families are headed by single-parents with the female as head of the household. Poverty rates for families below the 150% poverty level is at 49.2%. Needless to say, the youth growing up in the Little Haiti community are living the legacy of generations of poverty. In addition to the above, the lack of economic progress stems from a number of contributing factors:
The current & anticipated successes of these programs & services will build and sustain achievements that will change our students and community forever. Our successes will attract additional future funding opportunities, which will allow us to:
Increase the scope and number of students/adults being served year to year.
Extend the programs & services to create a greater impact on students, parents and the community.
Increase the number of LHOC students meeting State promotional standards by supporting school efforts with the at home/after school component of learning through its wide array of programs & services to our students.
Help prevent the youth of Little Haiti and the surrounding areas from engaging in the negatives of juvenile delinquency, gun violence, performing poorly academically, teen pregnancy and gang affiliations.
Provide young scholars growing up in poverty with experiences that will broaden their horizons and magnify their vision of their own potential.
Inspire innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future.
December 2014 & 2015, Little Haiti Optimist Club in partnership with several other organizations, produced Art Beat Miami during Art Basel week. Art Beat Miami is an experience of art, cultural exchange, food & music inspired by Haiti and artists worldwide. The community was invited to discover multidisciplinary works of art by internationally and locally recognized artists. Attendees enjoyed live music, food, mural exhibitions, special events, and conversations with artists as well as a youth art educational workshop.
For Christmas, Little Haiti Optimist Club organizes and hosts an annual Holiday Celebration giving away toys. Kids in attendance enjoy bounce houses, a petting zoo, clowns, face painting, caricatures, musical performances and snacks. The highlight of the day is the distribution of hundreds of toys donated by LHOC members and supporters. Some of the toys collected are also distributed to orphans and children living in Haiti. LHOC & its partners have distributed over 6,000+ toys in the community and in Haiti.
Each Thanksgiving week, LHOC & its partners distribute turkeys to needy families, the elderly and churches. LHOC & its partners have distributed over 5,000+ turkeys in the community.
Each school year, LHOC together with its partners distribute book bags and schools supplies to students at the Little Haiti Soccer Park. The children and their families also enjoy food, games and live musical performances. LHOC has distributed over 6,500 book bags & school supplies.
Last summer, the Little Haiti Optimist Club’s (LHOC) held a Full S.T.E.A.M Ahead summer camp for 54 students ages 5-15 in grades kindergarten-8th at Soar Park. The students enjoyed a summer filled with learning about science, technology, arts, engineering and mathematics. The campers took field trips and were introduced, in a fun and interactive environment to coding, graphic arts, business/social entrepreneurship and much more. The students took part in activities in engineering design that prepared them for building, as part of a team, a 6 foot roller coaster, solar robots, as well as create a sustainable future city. Campers also participated in hands-on educational activities that taught them how to use the computer to create apps, coding and graphics arts. In addition, they planned, designed, maintained and sustained their own community garden. The community gardening project has a social and entrepreneurial component where the students are able to give some of the items planted to the community and their families resulting in reducing food budgets as well as encourage healthier choices. Campers were provided breakfast, snacks and lunch and participated in other activities such as field trips, physical education, tutoring and reading. The entire community was invited to join the Little Haiti Optimist Club Full S.T.E.A.M Ahead Graduation & Marketplace Showcase event. At the Graduation, students had an opportunity to showcase to their families and friends what they created and learned and sold their items at the Marketplace. The students sold bird houses, flower pots, clay sculptures, garden signs, DIY chalk, pinwheels, refrigerator magnets, artwork, jewelry, tote bags, button designs, t-shirts and more. As part of the camp’s business/social entrepreneurship initiative, part of the proceeds went to the students as well as to a charity in Haiti.
Every May 1st to May 31st, Little Haiti Optimist Club celebrates Haitian Heritage Cultural Month by recognizing the Haitian community for their many significant cultural, artistic and historic contributions.
Bilzin Sumberg Law Firm chose Little Haiti Optimist Club to present Bilzin Sumberg Cares Day of Service at Little Haiti Optimist Club @ Soar Park. Over 100 volunteers and Little Haiti Optimist Club members painted a mural, created a community garden and built park benches/picnic tables at Little Haiti Optimist Club @ Soar Park.
Sun Life Financial and the Miami Dolphins awarded LHOC a $50,000 Sun Life Rising Star Grant. With the grant, LHOC is preparing 40 Miami Edison Sr. High School Seniors for college through their Road Map to Success Program from October 2014 to June 2015. Through the help of the program, 95% of the students have applied and been accepted to college and 75% of the students were awarded some type of scholarship.
Summer 2014, The Little Haiti Optimist Club held a STEM Genius® summer camp for 45 students ages 5-15 in grades kindergarten-8th at Soar Park. The students participated in hands-on educational activities that taught them how to use the computer to create prosthetic limbs and program robots. Also, they took part in activities in engineering design that prepared them for building, as part of a team, a 6 foot ferris wheel, as well as simulated a rocket launch and flew drones. They also learned about careers in STEM.
April 2014, The Little Haiti Optimist Club (LHOC) in partnership with the Miami Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the City of Miami NET office hosted the inaugural Little Haiti Health & Fitness Fair. Medical and health professionals provided educational information as well as offered complimentary health screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, glucose, BMI, cholesterol, mammography, chiropractic, HIV/AIDS, STDs and more. In addition, there was fun activities for the kids in attendance including: a free soccer/fitness clinic, healthy food demonstrations and snacks, bike safety tips, bounce houses, face painting and live entertainment as well as giveaways including free bike helmets for the kids.
In August 2013, the Little Haiti Optimist Club & its partners remodeled the Soar Park building in order to provide residents and their children with computer training, educational enrichment classes, and recreational program opportunities. The new Little Haiti Optimist Club Tech Center features a reception/information desk; work stations with computers, printers and copiers; a bulletin board for posting job announcements; and other resource information. The facility serves as a one-stop technology center for residents seeking new careers and personal enrichment. It offers a wide range of classes and services that include: Internet Access; Basic Computer Training; Job Search/Resume Writing; and Tutoring/Homework Help. In addition, the new Little Haiti Optimist Club Youth Center functions as a youth club with after-school and summer camp programs for school-age children. The building contains a kids’ activity room with computer stations and work tables, and offers on-site homework help, tutoring, and a wide variety of after-school enrichment classes. The curriculum includes: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); Computer Technology; Multi-Media/Publishing; Arts and Crafts; Ceramics/Pottery; Music Appreciation; Business Entrepreneurship; Film; and Robotics. There will also be many outdoor programs, games, and sports activities for kids to enjoy, including a community garden program, yoga, self-defense, soccer, basketball and more.
In 2010, Little Haiti Optimist Club made history when they started the first youth football program in Little Haiti. Former NFL & University of Miami player Carlos Joseph gave back to his community by coaching the team and helping to shape the youths’ lives. LHOC has six teams and six cheer squads. In 2013 & 2014, the Little Haiti Patriots Jr. Bandits & Jr. Midgets made it to the Sean Taylor Football Classic and the Jr. Bandits were victorious. In addition to football & cheerleading, LHOC has a track & field, wrestling and other athletic programs. In 2014, San Diego Chargers Corey Liuget partnered with us on his annual football clinic. One of our track & field kids, placed in 2011 in the Junior Olympics. Last summer, LHOC youth were invited to participate in the Digicel Soccer Clinic coached by Chelsea FC players and coaches. Two of our kids that excelled in academics and sports, escorted the players out on the field at the Chelsea FC vs. AC Milan soccer match to applauses of 60,000 soccer fans. In 2014, 20 of our students participated in Soccer for Success. In addition, 25 middle school youth completed a Bike Safety training program with Urban Green Works were after the training, each student was surprised with a bicycle, a helmet, a lock, and a bicycle kit.
LHOC continues to deliver academic programs. In the past three years, the organization has awarded six academic scholarships (Michael “Doo” Wright Scholarship) for students to attend college. Also, LHOC provided 30 computers to the community where students can be tutored and use the computers to complete school assignments. The organization has a reading program initiative entitled: “LHOC Reads”.
In 2012, 15 LHOC future engineers & scientists graduated from the Bright & Smart Robotics Program. Students were provided the opportunity to learn, discover and be amazed by programming computers and building robots as well as building teamwork, their critical & creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
During the past two years, more than 50 speakers have participated in LHOC Career Day/Stay in School at Miami Edison Senior High School.
The KAPPA ALPHA PSI FRATERNITY (KAPPA) are mentoring LHOC teenage boys. Elite Achievers of Little Haiti is a mentoring initiative in partnership with the Little Haiti Optimist Club and the National Kappa Fraternity of Miami. This mentoring program is designed to help pair teenage boys with successful and career minded men whose goals are simply to encourage and support.
From 2010-2012, LHOC produced Little Haiti Keeping it Clean & Green, an event dedicated to cleaning and beautifying the Little Haiti neighborhood. Over 100 volunteers participate including LHOC members, Elected/Public officials, junior and high school students and volunteers from the community as well as from around the country. More than five hundred energy efficient light bulbs were distributed to homeowners; three homes were beautified with paint, flowers, grass, new mailboxes and even with new house numbers.
In January 2011, Little Haiti Optimist Club presented the Haiti Earthquake Remembrance Candlelight Ceremony & Mural Unveiling. The purpose of the event was to commemorate the victims and survivors of the earthquake that devastated the island nation of Haiti one year prior. Established Haitian and American artists, as well as students from Little Haiti Optimist Club and Youth Expressions painted the mural, depicting Haiti’s past, present and future, located at 7901 NE 2nd Avenue and brought the vision to life. We achieved our goal by not only honoring the victims and survivors of the devastating earthquake through a candlelight ceremony but by raising awareness and funds for families devastated by the tragedy.
In 2011, the students participated in the Fashion 101 Program. Fifty of our students learned about fashion/modeling industry and produced their own fashion show to culminate the summer of learning.
In the summer of 2010, the Little Haiti Optimist Club students wrote, produced, hosted and edited their 30 minute entertainment magazine style TV show entitled “From Reel2Real” with the guidance of the Sports, Film & Entertainment Committee (SFEC) instructors. Family, friends and special guests were invited to cheer the youth as they walked the red carpet, premiered their TV show and graduated from the Reel Opportunities Film & TV Summer Program. The premiere garnered media attention and in January, the students attended the National Association of Television Program Executives Conference (NATPE) where they pitched the concept of their TV show. Several program executives have expressed an interest in airing the students’ TV show. To view the show, please click on the following links at littlehaitioptimist.org or http://vimeo.com/15746271.
November 2010, LHOC took 25 Miami Edison Senior High School students to the Miami Book Fair and began a reading campaign.
LITTLE HAITI OPTIMIST CLUB ARTICLES & VIDEOS:
Transformation of Little Haiti Optimist Club Community Tech & Youth Center video
Bilzin Sumberg Cares Day of Service video
Rafael Marrero & Company and Business Escalation computer donation video
Full STEAM Ahead Summer Camp graduation video
HIGH TECH AT SOAR PARK
Miami-Dade County Parks announces the opening of the new Little Haiti Optimist Club Community Tech and Youth Center at Soar Park
Grand Opening: Little Haiti Optimist Club Community Tech & Youth Center
TECH CENTER SET TO ‘SOAR’ IN LITTLE HAITI
The Haiti Earthquake Remembrance is featured in the Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/10/2009879/artists-gather-to-paint-mural.html
Optimist Club is Launching Clean-up, Beautification Drive
The LHOC Film and the Super Pee Wee Football Programs are featured in the Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/11/1868728/new-optimist-club-in-littel-haiti.html
NFL Player bringing hope to Little Haiti
LITTLE HAITI OPTIMIST CLUB ARTICLES & VIDEOS (CONT’D.)
Little Haiti Optimist Club students wrote, produced, hosted and edited their TV show entitled From Reel2Real. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Haiti-Optimist-Club or at www.littlehaitioptimist.org or http://vimeo.com/15746271
Giant Mural in Little Haiti Pays Tribute To Earthquake Victims
Little Haiti Optimist Club forms to serve the youth of Little Haiti
Little Haiti Optimist Club goes beyond sports
Little Haiti Optimist Club donates 500 turkeys
Miami’s ‘Little Haiti’ marks quake anniversary
Haiti Earthquake Remembrance Candlelight Ceremony & Mural Unveiling in Miami
WSVN Ch. 7 News
WPLG Ch. 10 News
CELEBRITIES Support Little Haiti Optimist Club and so should YOU!
HISTORY: The Little Haiti Optimist Club (LHOC) is a non-profit organization established in 2010 by a group of business, community and civic leaders to provide programs to the youth of Little Haiti. The organization is affiliated with Optimist International, an association of more than 3,000 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids.”
MISSION: The mission of the Little Haiti Optimist is to make a difference in the lives of youth by providing education, mentorship, athletics, arts and cultural programming.
VISION: The Little Haiti Optimist Club’s goal is to be the premier organization providing programs to prepare the youth of Little Haiti for academic and life excellence.
WHO WE SERVE: The Little Haiti Optimist Club serves the youth of Little Haiti. Since 2010, LHOC served more than 12,000 children and their families.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: The board of directors of the Little Haiti Optimist Club is made up of business owners, community and civic leaders that are committed to helping the youth of Little Haiti. Board members have a wide range of experience in fundraising, organizational development, marketing and youth programming.
MEMBERSHIP: Membership in the Little Haiti Optimist Club is open to all who want to support the youth of Little Haiti.
FUNDING: The Little Haiti Optimist Club’s funding comes from individuals, corporations, foundations, agencies and fundraising activities.
PROPOSED PROGRAMS & ACTIVITIES 2016
• January 2016-June 2016 – After School Camp continues
• January 2016 – Tutoring continues
• January 12, 2016 – Haiti Earthquake Remembrance
• February 27-28, 2016 – Fun & Fit as a Family @Jungle Island
• March 2016 – Community Garden Program begins
• March 2016 – Fashion Week
• March 2016 – Soccer Clinics begin
• March-June 2016 – Tennis Clinics & Miami Open
• March 2016 – LHOC’s Community Tech Center workshops
• April 1, 2016 – LHOC 6th Year Anniversary
• April 2016 – Basketball
• April 2016 – Flag Football
• April 2016 – Health & Fitness Awareness Month
• April-September 2016 – Wrestling
• April-May 2016 – Track & Field
• May 1-May 31, 2016 – Haitian Heritage Month
• May 6, 2016 – Family Fun Day @ Soar Park
• May 9-May 23, 2016 – Bike Safety Program
• June –July, 2016 – Youth Summer Camp Program begins
• June 4, 2016-San Diego Chargers Corey Liuget & NFL Friends Football Clinic
• June-August 2016-“REEL” Opportunities Film/TV Program
• June 2016 – Michael “Doo” Wright Scholarship
• June 2016 – KAPPA Mentorship Program begins
• August 2016 – Little Haiti Youth Choir/Band
• August -November 2016 – Football
• August -November 2016 – Cheerleading & Dance
• August 5, 2016 – Book Bag & School Supplies Giveaway
• September 2016 – Roadmap to Success Mini-College Readiness Fair
• October 2016 – Little Haiti Keeping It Clean & Green initiative
• November 1-December 14, 2016 – Toy Drive begins
• November 2016 – LHOC Career / Stay in School Day @ Miami Edison Sr. High School
• November 18, 2016 – LHOC & Partners Turkey Giveaway
• November 21, 2016 – LHOC Reads
• December 2016 – Brush Strokes “ART” Program during Art Basel
• December 17, 2016 – Toy Giveaway/Holiday Celebration