Last month, when Lotus House opened its state-of-the-art $25 million Lotus Village shelter for homeless women and children, our United Way was proud to be part of this milestone event. That’s because as part of this new complex, our United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education will be providing high-quality early care and education to the children that are currently living in Lotus Village and in the surrounding Overtown neighborhood.

Housed within Lotus Village’s Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation Children’s Wellness Center, United Way will operate six classrooms serving children from birth to four years old. This program is funded through a United Way Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant.

“Every child should have the opportunity to have a promising future,” Gladys Montes, vice president, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, said. “By bringing early care programs designed to meet the unique needs of the children and families living at Lotus Village, we are nurturing healing and learning to ensure their optimal growth and development at every level.”

This is not the first time our United Way has partnered with Lotus House. In 2010, as a delegate of Miami-Dade County Early Head Start Program, we began providing weekly home visits to Lotus House residents, helping the moms improve their parenting skills, prepare for job interviews and participate in monthly socialization events. At the same time, this allowed their children the opportunity to engage with other children at our Demonstration School. From there, our collaboration continued to grow, culminating in the opening of six early learning classrooms in the Lotus Village Children’s Wellness Center. Since 2006, Lotus House has grown from a 34 homeless women’s shelter housed in an aging Overtown apartment building to its new Lotus Village campus with the capacity to serve up to 500 women and children on a daily basis. This safe haven not only helps the healing process and allows hope to blossom, but also grants women and their children a new lease on life.

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