CRESTVIEW — The Belief Foundation, a local nonprofit, is requesting donations to pay its September rent after a funding provider postponed payment.
Rosa Rivera, a founder of the Belief Foundation, said Stars in the Sky sent notice they would not be able to pay the foundation's $750 rent until sometime in October, after they assess their losses from Hurricane Harvey. The Texas company prepares youths for entertainment industry work.
"This puts the foundation at a very bad position in not having the funds to pay our rent for September 2017," Rivera said.
Because the rent funds are not normally on hold, the foundation paid a total of $450 earlier this month for the 15 students in its GED program to take initial placement tests, leaving them short on money that could otherwise be used toward rent.
Rivera said she is asking for monetary donations to help pay this month's rent.
All donations are tax deductible as the foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
Payments may be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 2313, Crestview, FL 32536; made via the website, www.belieffoundation.org; or taken to their office at 176 Industrial Drive, Crestview.
Reorganization and current activities
The nonprofit, which aids at-risk youths ages 4-17, was reorganized this past January when its co-founder, Jeremias Rodriguez, died.
Bob Sikes Elementary's assistant principal, Nathaniel Chatman joined the foundation at that point, which is staffed completely by volunteers. They include Elsa Martinez, lead secretary; AJ Antez, mentor and music coordinator — "AJ comes all the way from Alabama to make sure the center is open daily," Rivera said — treasurer, Merrita Bistow; and assistant director Kenny Lee, who teaches life skills.
"Our staff of volunteers come with great love and are full of patience and the same vision, saving our children from the streets," Rivera said.
The foundation, started in June of 2016 by Rivera and Rodriguez, her son, has expanded what it offers with the assistance of Chatman. She credits Chatman with providing vast knowledge on how to run the educational program to best benefit at-risk children and adults.
"We have joined forces successfully assisted us in getting a certified teacher from Northwest Florida State College … we work with families that are dysfunctional and help with their needs," Rivera said.
Chatman also assisted the Belief Foundation in locating a van to transport the kids from the foundation to their homes.
The volunteers have been working with 36 youths in the juvenile probation system. "These children complete their hours for community service by taking the time to enhance their education; dress for success; and (have) groups with different speakers. Once that is completed, they still come to the center for other avenues such as (providing them) with a personalized mentor," Rivera said.
Among the 30 children the group is currently working with are six who have transitioned out of the BF program and back into regular classes, who are still being monitored. There are another two high school students who have graduated.
"One has joined the military and the other is going to Nursing school. Both kids were homeless and living in the streets," Rivera said.
The organization also teaches youths to serve their elders by doing such activities as cleaning homes and cutting yards and make sure the elderly are well taken care of.
Call 423-1392 or visit the website for more about the Belief Foundation.