Living Democracy

BAMA Kid stays involved as adult leader

Samantha Gomez moved to Wilcox County from Queens, New York, when she was only two weeks old. She grew up in Alabama’s Black Belt and works today in programs focused on youth development and eliminating inequalities rooted in socioeconomic disparities.

Better Activities Make All-around Kids (BAMA Kids) is an organization created in Wilcox County centered around youth development through a task-based approach.

“They exist to improve the physical and spiritual well-being of youth. They try their best to make sure they have recreation throughout the year,” Gomez said. “They work hard to provide social skills, life skills, and educational activities.”

Gomez said her journey with BAMA Kids began when she when she joined the group as an elementary school student and continued until she graduated from high school. BAMA Kids was such an important part of her life that she stayed involved, working the organization during the summers and when she came home to visit from college.

Today, Gomez serves on the board of directors for BAMA Kids and volunteers when the organization needs her assistance. “BAMA Kids has always been a part of my life. I would say I’ve always worked for BAMA Kids,” Gomez said.

She said the organization works to involves the entire family unit. Gomez explained that BAMA Kids reaches out to struggling families to provide resources families need in addition to providing year-round educational and recreational opportunities for children.

BAMA Kids holds parent meetings that update members’ parents on how they can help, resources and the community as a whole. Older students in the program are able to assist the younger students by tutoring and volunteering. Gomez said this provides older students opportunities to gain experience and explore career opportunities.

Today, Gomez is also passionate about another organization, Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice (SRBWI). This group’s mission is to eliminate racial, economic, cultural and gender barriers that southern black women experience, especially in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

“We want to provide women of color with resources and tools to advocate for themselves,” Gomez said. “We focus on all black women but, as of right now, what I do is focus on young black women.”

Southern Journeys is a component of the SRBWI that is a worker-owned social enterprise that helps black women make their own revenue through sewing and making clothes. Women already experienced in the craft teach younger women and increase their skill set.

According to the Southern Journey’s web site, this initiative “draws its inspiration from the West African traditions of piece sewing and quilting”.  Participants come from rural communities in Alabama and Georgia’s Black Belt region and the Mississippi Delta.

As SRBWI’s youth organizer, Gomez also helps plan, coordinate and facilitate meetings for the Young Women’s Leadership Institute.  “I do a lot of engagement and advocacy efforts with BAMA Kids and SRBWI. We do a lot of civic engagement, so I coordinate that as well,” Gomez said.

Before COVID-19, the SRBWI held meetings across the South. Transportation is always arranged by the organization and expenses are paid for everyone.

“If we have a meeting where we need to get together and brainstorm, we make sure that everybody is there, participating and engaged,” Gomez said. Participation is still important, despite COVID-19 restrictions preventing in-person meetings and travel.

Currently, Southern Journeys is creating an online sewing class for young black women in Alabama. Gomez is looking for donations of sewing machines to send to the class participants. If you or someone you know is able to donate or loan a sewing machine, please contact her at (334)-327-6049 or Gomez.samantha1@gmail.com.  

 

http://srbwi.org

http://srbwi.org/index.php?/site/initiative/southern-journeys-collective

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Nonprofit-Organization/BAMA-Kids-271546586989/

https://cla.auburn.edu/livingdemocracy/blog/bama-kids-inc-builds-wilcox-county-success-story/

 

By Amy Clark
Last Updated: July 22, 2020