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Liberty City after-school activity center changes lives of those they serve

Liberty City's MEYGA Learning Center changes lives of those they serve
Liberty City's MEYGA Learning Center changes lives of those they serve 02:50

MIAMI — What started as an after-school activity center is now much more to the families it serves. The Multi-Ethnic Youth Group Association, or MEYGA, Learning Center in Liberty City is evolving with the area around it and making Miami Proud

"This is a mission from the very beginning, I felt like this is something that I was chosen for," said MEYGA Learning Center founder Samantha Quarterman. 

Quarterman, who also serves as principal of MEYGA, said she grew up in the same community that the learning center serves: Liberty City. Things she witnessed and went through in her community inspired her to do more. 

"To have a person, a mentor, that looks like you, that comes from the community and knows the struggle, it makes everything a little bit different," she said. 

Quarterman first established MEYGA as a mentoring and after-school program, giving kids who lived in Liberty Square a safe space to go. That now has evolved into schooling for kids and help for their families. 

"We're paying rent, we're coming up to pay light bills, we're helping out with food vouchers, we do not have a line of funding for that," she said. "But, this is the need."

Parents say MEYGA has been life-changing for their kids who primarily struggled in a public school. 

"So MEYGA will bring his work to him and make sure he gets his things done," said Samantha Kenley, whose kids attend MEYGA. 

"I've learned since they've been here, there haven't been any issues," added Travis Davis, whose foster kids also attend the learning center. "You know, I always have a conversation with them when I pick them up and they seem to enjoy it." 

For some, the MEYGA team and Quarterman have given them their first taste of community in the United States.  

"It is a program that is very attentive to the children, they are always attentive to them. The kids say I want the teachers to be cool and understand them," said Fani Pullido, whose kid also attends MEYGA. "They do not discriminate against us for being immigrants from another country."

Then, there are the parents who say Meyga has changed not only their kids' lives but theirs, too. 

"It was just me and my children. So now with MEYGA, I get that support system. I get that understanding and that patience," said Raquial Ransom, whose kid attends MEYGA. 

"I started being around and just coming around. I volunteer every now and again," said Milton Smith, whose kids also attend MEYGA. "But just to be here is just amazing." 

"I feel like staff here treat your children how you would treat your children," said Jesenia Smith, who also has kids that attend the learning center. 

MEYGA is split into two locations: The main location sits off of Northwest 62nd Street and the other location, which is for older kids, sits directly in the middle of Liberty Square. 

Quarterman's goal is to have one location big enough for everyone. 

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