Gloria Howard was honored to be invited to serve as a presenter at the National HIV Prevention Conference recently held in Atlanta. Gloria gave an enthusiastic talk about Aletheia House's Getting Stronger program where she shared valuable information that was appreciated by all in attendance.
Aletheia House receives $300,000 grant to train formerly incarcerated veterans at risk of homelessness
Aletheia House is pleased to announce it has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for its Jobs for Vets program.
Jobs for Vets is an employment, training and supportive service program designed to assist veterans who are at risk of homelessness with obtaining life skills training and employment. The program primarily serves veterans who have been recently released to the community from jail or prison and/or who are currently incarcerated and preparing for release and transition to the community.
Aletheia House’s Jobs for Vets program reaches approximately 120 veterans annually. Program participants are assessed to review their needs and then receive services to help them get their lives back on track including substance abuse treatment, job readiness and basic living skills training and specific job training that will prepare them for employment.
“Men and women who have served this country shouldn’t being sleeping on our streets. This program gives them the support they need to get a job, get back on their feet and stay out of jail,” said Chris Retan, the agency’s Executive Director.
Aletheia House received the Community Service Award for its work promoting social justice and human rights at the 79th Southeastern Regional Conference of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. More than 2,000 women from Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee attended the conference.
BIRMINGHAM NEWS 7.29.10-Aletheia House has run a free summer day camp for children from low-income families for more than 20 years. Its curriculum is aimed at healthful ways to live, with a goal of reducing future drug use or violence.
But until this year, Executive Director Chris Retan had never thought about one part of the daily camp experience.
"We've never even thought about healthy snacks," Retan said. "In the past, frankly, we've gotten what was cheap."
But Retan had an epiphany after talking to Amanda Storey, project coordinator of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities at United Way of Central Alabama.
His "Kids Who Care" summer day camp has gotten more intentional about fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit or a fresh vegetable is now the morning snack, an event which is sometimes an adventure for the children.
"It's really amazing," Retan said. "Some children say they've never had some of the fresh fruits -- some have never eaten a plum, for example."
This change is a small start to a Jefferson County-wide effort to improve healthful eating and activity, reduce adult and child obesity and reduce tobacco use. A coalition of 20 nonprofit groups from the Health Action partnership won $13 million in federal money last March to fund changes in public policies to promote those goals.
Many of the efforts -- such as countywide elimination of smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars and clubs; smart growth policies that encourage walking trails; better access to fresh produce; elimination of "food deserts" in urban areas; and more healthful foods and activities at day cares, schools and after-school programs -- will get fully started this fall.
But the small changes for the children in day camp at East Lake United Methodist Church this summer give a glimpse of how county residents can move toward a healthier future.
At first they said ewww!
Last Thursday, the 70 to 80 children at the Aletheia House camp lined up for morning snack, choosing either a crunchy green apple or a velvet-skinned peach.
"We have fresh fruit, because we're been working on eating healthy," said Nyanna Watkins, 8. She chose the peach.
Nyanna says she's eaten zucchini for the first time this summer. And on a field trip to the three-acre Jones Valley Urban Farm in downtown Birmingham, she got to grab the green top of a carrot, give it a twist and pull the fresh orange vegetable out of the ground. She washed it and ate it.
Ezekiel Collins, 10, also said he had zucchini for the first time.
"I want to try squash," he said.
Elise Webster, one of the college students who serve as camp directors, said the children also tried cantaloupe this summer.
"It was the sweetest cantaloupe I've ever eaten," she said. "The ones who loved it ate tons; the ones who didn't at least tried it."
After gathering fresh vegetables at Jones Valley Urban Farm, the children also made pizza with basil, zucchini, tomatoes, squash and eggplant. They've also made fruit smoothies.
"Most of the time it's new," Webster said. "Most of the kids don't have a grocery store within walking distance. We encourage them to talk to their parents about the food."
Whole Foods has also donated mini-packs that contain washed, ready-to-eat cherry tomatoes.
"At first they said, 'ewww!'" said Webster. "Then they ate them up."
This is the first year Aletheia House has run one of its summer camps at East Lake UMC. Adding fresh produce and fruit to the summer camp experience was a natural step, because the church is a community leader at bringing farmers to that part of Birmingham, helped by a United Way grant.
"Five years ago we started a farmers' market every Saturday," said the Rev. Sally Allocca. "Four weeks ago we started another market on Tuesday afternoons."
Allocca said that "the farmers love the mission aspect of what we do. They can see the difference they are making in the community."
So when Allocca learned that the Aletheia House curriculum was called "The Great Body Shop," she said, "It seemed a perfect fit to combine that with fresh food."
Every year, thousand of students in the Birmingham area drop out of high school. Which means they are more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty.
Birmingham Youthbuild gives them a second chance. The program, located in a renovated church in Ensley, provides free GED classes, construction skills training, life skills classes and employment readiness training to students ages 19-24. They also receive free transportation, lunch and an attendance stipend of $120 per week. More than 65% of participants complete the program.
The program is funded by a competitive grant the U.S. Department of Labor. Less than half of the programs that apply are funded. Last week, The Secretary of Labor announced that Aletheia House has been selected to receive funding.
"We have more than 350 applicants who are waiting to see if we will continue the program", says Rolanda Warren, Program Manager. "This is such exciting news."
Individuals interested in learning more about the program can call 788-5122.
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