Face Off Prepares College Students With Care Packages And Motivation
by James Coulter
Portia White never attended college, but she did enroll in the military. As such, she can empathize with the loneliness that college students feel when they move away from home and away from their friends and family.
To help them make it through the upcoming spring semester, she decided to offer many local college students support by sending them away with care packages and words of wisdom during an event hosted by her organization, Face-Off.
“I want to motivate you today and let you know that whatever it is that you want, that is coming,” she said. “I know how it feels not to be able to talk with your parents or go home when you want to, to be faced with a test and not have anyone to turn to but God. I know how that feels. So I want to be able to motivate you all and talk with you.”
Face-Off is a local non-profit organization started by White with the intent of providing assistance to young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, especially those who are college-bound and low income.
Such a demographic is often overlooked in favor of either young children or senior citizens. So to help them through their time of need, she started her organization earlier in September to offer them support and encouragement.
“We aim to motivate, uplift, transform, and empower you to do whatever it is you want to do, not to let your current situation dictate your future…[and] not to let that get in the way,” she said, addressing a handful of local students and their families in a small room within the Haines City Public Library on Saturday.
While her inagural event drew a small turnout, she felt confident that the impact she left on each and every individual that day was big and that it would only continue to grow within the future.
Each student (or their parent, for those who did not arrive in person) received a laundry basket filled with toiletries such as laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, toilet paper, bibles, and other amenities for the upcoming spring semester.
Cedric King, 19, was one such student, as he will be traveling several hundred miles away from Florida to attend a tribal community college in Minnesota.
He had been invited by one of his mother’s friends to attend the event, and he managed to walk away with not only a care package, but also a sense that people were looking after him and would offer them their support.
“A lot of kids my age are not being paid attention to, so when you get something like this, it is a blessing,” he said. “I have more people on my side [that] I can call to from my town who understand my situation.”
While other students may be focused on partying and having a good time away at college, King takes his studies with upmost importance, and he intends to strive to do his best.
“When I go to college, it is a business, it is a job, it ain’t a game,” he said. “I take it seriously when I leave here, so when I come back, I have fun.”
Aside from care packages, students also received a business card from White with her contact information, letting them know that they can call her if they ever need someone to talk to.
Also offering their support were many representatives from local organizations, each discussing their own services that they can provide to college students if they ever require it.
Sister Lisa May, a representative from Wounded Women Who Are Healed, told students that they should remain on track and to return where they need to be if they ever stray from that track in life.
She shared her own story about how she had hooked up with a man after receiving her associate degrees. She stayed with him for 13 years before learning that he had been seeing 10 other women who also had his children.
Upon leaving him, she decided to get her life straight and went on to obtain her bachelor and master degree. She knows from personal experience how easy it is for one’s life to go astray.
Referencing the recent shooting of a 17-year-old man in Lakeland, she mentioned how many young people are being left behind, but that it was never too late for them to set their life straight.
“It is time for us to bring our young people back together,” she said. “It is time for them to shoot for the moon and do what it is needed to be done. So I say to you all…put God first, let Him be number one, because if you put Him first, He will set you straight.”
Tronda Brown, a representative from Peace River Center Victim Services, mentioned how easy it is for college students to fall prey to peer pressure and abusive relationships by allowing the people they associate with cut their ties with their friends and family. She advised them not to fall into such a trap.
“Be aware with your relationships,” he said. “Keep positive relationships, but don’t let anything distract you.”
For more information about Face Off, visit their website at: https://www.faceoffinc.org/