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Baptiste partners with Re-Imagine Communities, adding another reason for giving thanks

Who are you thankful for?

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As a fairly new member to Apopka, Baptiste Orthodontics & Dentistry for Kids (Baptiste) have been eager to continue their tradition of working closely in and with the community they serve. Once planted here, they dove in straight away partnering with local schools and YMCAs, participating in Apopka’s Christmas Parade, and helping wherever there was a place to serve.

All was feeling right and good, and in-step with the way they usually engage, hand-in-hand with their community… when something unexpected happened.

“We struck gold”, said Cynthia Schweitzer, Practice Director for Baptiste.

A little background

Shaunté Jamison, founder and CEO of the Apopka-focused Re-Imagine Communities, had heard about Baptiste’s heart for the community when she learned of their ongoing involvement with Wekiva High School. She saw an overlap of heart and priorities for empowering youth, and reached out to see if they were, fingers-crossed, interested in something similar in partnership with her.

Her passion and initiative paid off.

After hearing Jamison’s mission, Baptiste said a definite YES! and the golden glow of shared vision for making a difference - right here, right now, for youth in our community -  shone even stronger from this mine of caring hearts.

Striking gold indeed. The gold of shared compassion and action.

The beginnings

Baptiste first partnered with Re-Imagine Communities when they joined them in their inaugural reading initiative last Spring, Read around our City Reading Initiative.  Baptiste’s office was one of the stops in the “Reading Monopoly” game.

Shaunte Jamison, Founder and CEO of Re-Imagine Communities, partners with Baptiste Dentistry for Kids on the reading initiative 2021
Shaunte Jamison, Founder and CEO of Re-Imagine Communities, partners with Baptiste Dentistry for Kids on the reading initiative 2021

“We had so much fun meeting all of the awesome readers and handing out dental health goodie bags to all of them,” said Schweitzer. And that started it all! They are now one of Re-Imagine Communities’ key sponsors for their Thanksgiving Food Drive, and hope to keep partnering with them in upcoming events.

Recently, Schweitzer put on her reporter's hat and interviewed Jamison in hopes of giving a peek into the heart of their mission and the vital need for this nonprofit. And, too, perhaps it will inspire readers - like you - who are maybe looking to make a difference to get involved as well. Maybe you, too, will find another "reason for giving thanks"  when serving in, with, and for our community.

The interview

CYNTHIA SCHWEITZER: What is the mission of Re-Imagine Communities?

SHAUNTÉ JAMISON: The mission is to advance equity by advancing and empowering at-risk and under-served youth of Central Florida. through mentoring and coaching, education, life skills training, and collaborations. We are committed to reshaping and redefining our communities, one idea and one child at a time. 

SCHWEITZER: How long has your organization been operating?

JAMISON: We have been incorporated for 1 year and 7 months… and have successfully touched over 3000 families over the past year. 

SCHWEITZER: Who is on the Re-Imagine Communities team?

JAMISON: The team consists of me, volunteer board members, community and student volunteers. Fun Fact: We started by encouraging and employing students. We wanted students to learn how to use their God-given abilities to create wealth, [so we] paid students to help build the website, create our social media platforms, post content and create program agendas and events. 

SCHWEITZER: What type of support do you need, and how do you get your funding?

JAMISON: As a nonprofit we rely heavily on community support. We are in need of financial support, sponsors, and partners to help us continue the work. We also welcome volunteers and collaborations. All of our funding has come from private donations, businesses, banks, private individuals and religious groups have seen the work and donated to the cause. 

SCHWEITZER: What events and programs are you most proud of?  

JAMISON: I am most proud of the mentoring and coaching, teaching students to use their talents, how to network and promote themselves, and start their own businesses. I also am proud of the Read Around Our City Reading Initiative. It was the first ever in Central Florida, created to assist schools with reading test scores. Students successfully read over 1100 books in 3 weeks!! The scholarship program encourages students to give back to their community. 

SCHWEITZER: What are some of your upcoming endeavors?

JAMISON: We will definitely continue the Read Around Our City Reading Initiative. Other endeavors include:

  • Holiday Give Back Initiative, which allows businesses to give back to the community they serve;
  • I Promise Diversity and Inclusion, an anti-bullying initiative; and
  • Planting Seeds of Positivity, where students will learn the importance of healthy eating, recycling, character building, teamwork, positive thinking, and creativity. This event is currently in the works, and we are currently seeking partners.

If you're looking for a way to make a difference...

Baptiste Orthodontics and Dentistry for Kids shared with The Apopka Voice that, “During this season of counting our blessing and recognizing those we are grateful for, we would like to showcase Re-Imagine Communities and Shaunté Jamison. We are better partners with the Apopka community because of our relationship with them.”

We all have a lot to be thankful for this season, and are reminded here that - when we work together in and with our community - we all walk away with more than we give.

It certainly has been the case for Baptiste, and perhaps why they are eager to share:

“We are a proud sponsor of Re-Imagine Communities and are grateful for all they do in making the lives of those they impact better. And if you are looking for a way to make a difference in the Apopka community, too, we encourage you to reach out to them and see how you can also be a part of this great new jewel in Apopka.”

For more information on Shaunté Jamison and Re-Imagine Communities, call 407-228-3647 or visit their website:  https://www.re-imaginecommunities.org/.

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