I hope you are safe and well after last week’s hurricane. We appreciate everyone’s concern for our children, families and staff, so I am providing this update. I also wanted you to hear one of our 5th grade scholars at Wimauma Community Academy, so please read his firsthand account below.
As soon as it was safe to do so, our committed staff went to our child development centers and charter schools in 21 Florida counties to assess damage. I thank them for working over the weekend to remove debris and make minor repairs.
I’m happy to say that our Miami-Dade centers opened on Friday, Wimauma Community Academy opened today, 52 of our 66 centers will be open Tuesday, and Immokalee Community Academy will open on Wednesday.
Our 5 centers in DeSoto and Hardee counties were the hardest hit. They all have building and playground damage that will take some time to repair, and most do not have power or water. The public schools there remain closed as well. While these communities are so flooded that it is difficult for some staff to leave their own homes, we visited our families today to assess their needs. We know of one family with a newborn who lost their home and two staff members who did as well. Food, water and gas remain desperately scarce in these rural areas.
RCMA is a safe haven for children, especially after a disaster like Hurricane Ian, where there may be hazards or no food, power or running water at home. We will continue to do all we can for the 5,500 children and their families who we serve annually.
Many thanks to community leaders and partners that are providing monetary support as well as water, food, diapers, baby formula, cleaning supplies and other support, including Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Department of Agriculture, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Farmworker Association, HERS Construction and many more.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Financial support helps us clean up and repair facilities and provide children and families with exactly what they need, which may include housing and utility payments, replacement of home items such as bedding or furniture, clothing, and more. We go beyond education and to help our families and communities survive and thrive.
Please consider making a contribution at rcma.org/donate or sending a check to: Hurricane Ian Relief, RCMA, 402 W. Main Street, Immokalee, FL 34142.
With gratitude on behalf of our children and families,
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