The organization is called Our Kid’s First (OKF), and it truly lives up to that title. In 1987 after seeing a need in the community, Fareedah Simon founded this program. Now, after 20 years of hard work and tenacity, Simon’s organization continues and thrives under the watchful eye of director Nancy Bell.
I visited OKF to see first hand how this program is enriching the community and to uncover some of the secrets to their success. I arrived early in the morning, with my brain not fully awakened. But although I was not up, the program was both up and running.
As I entered the building, I heard the faintest sounds coming from the kitchen. I looked over and three women were preparing meals for the day. A few more steps, and I could hear children being told to settle down. I smiled because the sweet, monotone voice being used to instruct the children was clearly no match for the sugar induced high many of the students were enjoying. Off to the side, I could see an array of backpacks, in every color of the rainbow, lying neatly on a table. It was early, but Our Kids First was already headed for a very productive day.
I spent several hours that day talking to the children, the teachers and the program’s director. I came away in awe of the task that these individuals bravely face and was impressed by what I saw and learned. Our Kids First is a multi-cultural program serving the children of a diverse community. Its offices are centered directly on the borders of
Over the past 20 years, Our Kids First has served over 4,000 children and youth in its after-school and summer programs. According to the program director, Our Kid’s First’s mission statement says: We are committed to educating and preparing young people to be successful, independent responsible members of society by providing academic, social and cultural enrichment. From its very inception, a priority for the program has been to focus on and address the needs of the students through academics and cultural enrichment. In interviewing Ms. Bell, it seems as if the program is living up to its promise of excellence, because they boast a 99% graduation rate from college.