ORLANDO, Fla. – The New Image Youth Center in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood is known as the “good in the hood.”
Dr. Shanta Barton-Stubbs founded the center when she was just 21 years old.
“My father moved this church from Winter Park to Parramore in 2004 and it was a group of four children that I just wanted to give the opportunity to play a game of Monopoly,” she said. “And during that game of Monopoly, more and more kids began to show up at the door and before you knew it, it was becoming this youth center.”
Barton-Stubbs says the center provides services to students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade at no cost.
She says when the pandemic began, their priority was to make sure their students were eating, even going so far as to deliver groceries to families. Barton-Stubbs said the center served 4,000 meals in four months. They also added resources so students could work on virtual learning from the center.
When the holidays rolled around, Barton-Stubbs says they turned a classroom into Santa’s workshop.
Students collected more than 300 toys and then families from the community came in and selected gifts for their children. She said this is part of the center’s motto: No matter how little you have, you always have something to give.
“They were actually so excited to be a part of the giving process that we are actually going to continue that on throughout the year not just through Christmas because we are seeing how important for our youth to understand the importance of giving,” she said.
Barton-Stubbs also wrote a book called “There is Good in My Hood,” which is the story of a young boy who finds support at a community center.
“It’s teaching our youth, the next generation the importance of what a group of support can do for you. How that can literally change your life -- and in return, that every child can be the good in their hood. They can be the representation the neighborhood needs to see,” she said.