Organization continues to serve youth, elderly and families

caines | 7/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Ayuda helping improve the lives of the underserved Ayuda means help and assistance in Spanish. And in the past 36 years, the Miami non-profit organization that carries the name, has fulfilled its meaning by helping improve the lives of underserved or at-risk children and families in South Florida through education and life skills training programs that support self-sufficiency. Its services includes, providing: food, shelter, domestic violence interventions, drug testing, child neglect prevention, family empowerment and teen success. Our services are often the only assistance a family receives, said DeAnne Connolly Graham, chair of the executive board. Many local agencies turn to us for help with their cases because of the broad range of services we provide [and] our consistent quality of service . . . AYUDA provides several yearlong programs to serve families. Early educational scholarships is a program that provides infants and toddlers early stimulation through progressive preschool instruction, early technology education, developmental screenings and inclusion programs for special needs children. Teens Are Lifelong Learners [TALL] is a program aimed at youth grades 6th through 11th, seeking to empower and educate them with life skills trainings. Youths understand that in AYUDAthey have a home away from home and that they can reach out to any counselor at any time and come back for support, no questions asked, Diana Susi, CEO of AYUDA, said. Other programs include: Parents Now, Family Empowerment and Here For You an elderly services program. Graham said one of the things she enjoys most about the program is the TALL program. Teenage years are already a challenging time, but for teenagers dealing with drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty, these challenges are much more difficult, Graham said. T.A.L.L. helps our teens understand the importance of self-respect, fairness, empathy, peaceful conflict resolution and critical thinking skills. Our teens have responded remarkably well to this program.We see a marked difference in their behavior, and we are getting very positive feedback from parents as well. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com