The nonprofit is focused on community development and offers mentoring, counseling, career prep, college assistance and more.
A non-profit in Plant City is focused on community development and, despite the setbacks of COVID-19, is steadily making waves in local children’s lives.
Generations Renewed began in 2017 after Kimberly Kitchen and her family realized they shared a passion for pouring back into their community. Kitchen said Generations Renewed became the outlet the family could use to share its testimony, along with its professional training, to help at-risk children and their families end generational poverty. The family has dealt firsthand with domestic violence, homelessness, suicide, divorce, poverty, depression and a variety of other issues. Through it all, it’s come out the other side stronger than ever and eager to help those dealing with similar issues find their own means of freedom.
“How do we change this generation of younger people to let them know that there is something beyond poverty and drugs?” Kitchen asked. “Well, for years we have been talking about that as a family and my sons, they really wanted to be able to say, ‘Hey we went through all of that, now it’s time to give back and share what we’ve learned.’”
The group is comprised of Kitchen, executive director, her husband Willie, director, Rashard Sureller, director, Dontrey Sureller, director, Aysa Sureller, COO, and Mike Johnson, director. Before COVID they were in a partnership with Trapnell Elementary School and would come out to spend some time with 10 at-risk kids. They mentored the youth, went to awards ceremonies and events, hosted a special party for the staff and teachers and reminded those kids that they had someone in their corner.
Kitchen said one thing that sets Generations Renewed apart from similar groups is the simple fact that they have been in these families’ shoes. Rashard Sureller agreed and said when they would mentor youth they’d often have a kid say, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through.” He’d smile and reply, “Try me.”
Though one of their top priorities is working with elementary students, the group works with anyone age 9 to 26 and splits them into two age groups with two different focuses. The younger students are heavily poured into with mentoring and their families are invited to come in to the office. The older teens and young adults are mentored as well, but the group also helps them find work, interview for jobs, learn a trade and prepare for college.
If the teens don’t see college in their futures, Generations Renewed helps them identify why. If it’s finances, they do what they can to eliminate that obstacle. If it’s because the teen isn’t interested in pursuing that route, then the group helps prepare them for the workforce. Rashard Sureller owns Mount Man, LLC, a construction and handyman company. He will use his business to teach interested youth life skills they can use to seek full-time employment. Dontrey Sureller owns 5 Kings Barbering Co. and has a shop directly attached to the Generations Renewed office. If someone wants to learn how to be a barber, he will start that training process and use the time to continue mentoring the youth. Generations Renewed is also partnering with other businesses and companies to help further expand what they can offer as learning opportunities to those who come in the door.
“We have literally, in some way shape or form, been in a position that a lot of kids that are in those low-income communities are in,” Dontrey Sureller said. “It put us in a better spot for us to be able to talk with these kids. We understand the look on their face where they just don’t feel it today and they’re acting out. We are able to step in at those times when you feel you can’t talk to your family or your teachers or your friends.”
The goal is to help the teens and young adults discover their passions and then teach them how to put the work in, get certified and learn all the skills they need so they can one day open businesses of their own and give back to the community. They help with mock interviews, resume building and certification courses, and they also help with completing applications, financial aid, scholarship grants and more.
Every year, the members of Generations Renewed take two weeks off work to run Kitchen’s Falling From the Bone Bar B Que between Walgreens and Dollar General across from Tomlin Middle School during the Florida Strawberry Festival. The money they raise is used to help with financial assistance for their youth that are heading to college.
The group operates under five key building blocks: education, employment, engagement, encouragement and entrepreneurship. Though it is still relatively new in the community, the impact has already rippled through local families and the group continues to grow at an exponential rate. Soon they hope to be able to take the organization and plant it again in another community, using the same philosophies to make changes in the lives of a whole new set of families.
“We are coming to this city and coming to set this city on fire,” Kitchen said. “There is not one person that can tell us that if you start poor, you have to end poor. I just hope that the community sees this and recognizes what we are doing and comes in and supports us. But regardless, this is what God has called us to do.”
The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting at Generations Renewed, 702 E. Alsobrook St., at 4 p.m. today. Kitchen said their doors are also open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also contact her at 813-562-4495.