I would sometimes go by the offices of AWOL with my son and would see first-hand the impact that they made on the youth that were there. AWOL is a very important part of the city of Savannah. Because of their work with at-risk youth, the "at-risk" is removed and "productive" replaces it. Tony and DaVena have a passion to help the youth of this city reach their full potential. I have known both of them for years and have no doubt that, with the right support, they will take AWOL across this country. Changing the "at-risk" to the "productive".
I have been involved with AWOL on and off since its inception and the work they have done with the kids in our community has been nothing short of stellar. Their presence in the Savannah area has been a blessing within itself. Their innovative as well as cultural approach has drawn in youth from all over the city who maybe could have easily succumbed to the many pitfalls that the city has to offer if otherwise. They have also been instrumental in family involvement and giving back to the community as well as evidenced by their "Goon Squad" program in which they teach city youth how to rebuild computers to donate back into the community. All in all AWOL is the most progressive organization that this city will ever see and to see a program like this die out will be a travesty to the community as a whole.
I've worked with AWOL since July of 2010, when I moved back to Savannah, GA. Tony, DaVena and LaKesha opened up their arms and their hearts for me, even though they didn't know me entirely. The beautiful thing about the group is that everyone that is in their aura is touched with immense love. It's potent and infectious and this translates to the dozens of children that they work with one a day-to-day basis. To be with these phenomenal people is an honor to say the least and will be considered a highlight of my career and personal life.
The effect that they have on the children is immediate and obvious: the kids are encouraged to create and, if not in performing arts, they are told that they are more than they think they are. The most important thing that the children are taught is not just to perform and create but personal responsibility. They learn skills that can be applied to any "walk of life" and any career that they choose to pursue.
I've been working with AWOL since its inception. If you want to support an organization that truly exhibits a grassroots effort with the purpose and drive like any major 501(c)3 organization, then this is the place for you. AWOL has always been a place for our children in the city of Savannah and surounding areas to have a safe, endearing, encouraging, and energized environment to allow them to ornately discover their love and passion for the arts. My only specification and criticism for this organization is that without financial support and residual income, they CANNOT support the number of children they would like to help. I love this organization and everything that it represents. I hope more people have the same love as I have.
AWOL Inc. is an amazing organization! The reach out to at risk children and give them an outlet to express themselves through arts and technology! Tony and DaVena Jordon are teaching kids that if you work hard and have a dream it can come true! It is truely a blessing to have this wonderful organization here in Savannah!
AWOL Inc is absolutely wonderful! They reach out to at risk youth in the Savannah area in the form of Arts and Technology Education. This gives the children and outlet or voice to express themselves in music, poetry and plays. Since the children have AWOL Inc, Tony and DaVenna Jordan and the AWOL staff, it gives them a hope. They have a hopeful outlook on life and it encourages them to become a productive member of society and give back to the community.
AWOL is an outstanding organization that gives young people a platform to use their talents and skills in a positive manner. It provides exposure to various artforms and serves as a resource for different community organizations. The young people create and study poetry, music, dance, and dramatic arts. The organizers mentor and promote positive activities for youth. Without this outlet, many of the participants would fall prey to illegal activity, teenage pregnancy, and many would drop out of school, but AWOL gives them the freedom of expression and the impetus to empower themselves with positive growth.
After relocating to Savannah, our daughter, Zoe, began rebelling and acting out in school. As part of her rebellion, Zoe worked very hard to maintain her 14% average in school. Every interaction with Zoe was a fight. It was non-stop stress, to say the least. When Zoe pushed us to the point where we didn't know what to do, we sat down with DaVena and discussed Zoe's problems. DaVena gave us some pointers and suggested that we enroll Zoe in one of their programs.
For the next 3 months, I drove Zoe to her AWOL classes 3 days a week. She sobbed and yelled the whole way there about how she didn't want to go. Every trip was the same. "I don't want to go! I don't like these people! I don't fit in here!" When I picked her up from class, she was all smiles and talking about all the things she got to do. During those 3 months, we watched her grades improve and her attitude got a bit better.
One day, something in Zoe's head clicked and her attitude went through the roof. She started talking about her "responsibilities" and her aspirations. As the class progressed, Zoe was pulled more into the spotlight as her class began to perform on stage to support the album that they put together. She learned that she has one heck of a stage presence and that she's very good at performing.
Zoe completed that program successfully and begged us to let her participate in a program that AWOL ran over the summer. Given the change that we saw in Zoe, due to her participation in the last class, there wasn't even a choice to be made. That class completed and Zoe begged us to let her try out for AWOL's "Act Up" program. She tried out, she made the cut, and she's having a great time.
Today, Zoe doesn't cry before her AWOL classes but she does yell from time to time. Class starts at 6:00 and Zoe yells at us around 5:30 to get moving because she wants to be early. Her class is only a mile and a half down the road but she really wants to make sure that she gets there early! We don't see problems in school anymore either. In fact, Zoe has mostly A's and she's in two advanced level classes for the next grade level. She's also determined to get into a prestigious arts academy next year.
The changes in Zoe's attitude and outlook on life are directly related to her participation in AWOL. Her life has been changed by this program and so has ours.
I have observed AWOL Inc for 3 years. What I have seen consistently is compassion. Compassion believes it takes more than money to make a difference in the life of a child. AWOL Inc. has provided education, a safe haven, and positive influence in the world of children who might not have received any of it elsewhere.
AWOL Inc. provides youth with a positive alternative to crime, recidivism and substance abuse by giving exposure to, instruction in and experience with multi-media arts for personal, cultural and vocational development. . AWOL Inc. helps children develop positive interests in the arts and express their creativity through an artistic media. They have provided an artistic atmosphere for strengthening self-esteem, respect and overall personal development.
I have volunteered for A.W.O.L. but my main understanding of the organization comes frombeing a professional that has encourntered their programs and utilized them with clients. I am an Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I work with teens that have experienced the death of a loved one. I have been able to refer my clients to A.W.O.L. where in a caring and supportive environment they were able to learn how to channel their emotions into something creative and positive. Whether it is being in the Hip-Hop play, working behind the scenes or learning a skill with working with sound, photography or computers all of my clients have reported having transformative experiences. I know as a professional I appreciate so much having A.W.O.L. as a resource. As a human being and memebr of this communtiy, I can not recoommend more highly the work they do with kids that may otherwise have been lost and that is as high of a calling as anyone can have. Please endorese A.W.O.L. and help them continue to change the world one youth at a time.