Quiet Storm is making a difference for the youth of Las Vegas by supporting their education, teaching them about health and wellness, and encouraging them to be leaders in the community. And Quiet Storm is getting results. The youth who participate in Quiet Storm programs are staying in school and finishing school.
That’s why we knew we had to support them with a Kars4Kids small grant. Besides, we love the name of this organization. They’re just doing their thing in a quiet way, while really shaking things up in their community and making positive change! We spoke with Quiet Storm Foundation Chairman Cathy Watson to find out more about this work.
Kars4Kids: Tell us about the name of your organization. Why “Quiet Storm?”
Cathy Watson: The Quiet Storm name came from a Watson family member (Vonyetta Watson Brooks) who wanted to rename C.J. Watson (Charles Watson Jr.) Quiet Storm due to his overall personality, with his main characteristic being his still, quiet nature. Vonyetta and C.J. thought the nickname would also make a great name for a youth organization.
Watson family members Cathy, Charles Sr., Charles Jr. and Kashif Watson, cofounded Quiet Storm with support from community leaders. The overall mission of the foundation was to assist youth in making positive change in their academic and life goals. We wanted to make sure youth received opportunities and resources to realize their maximum potential. The Watson family values of education, encouragement, and hard work, would serve as the basis for a community leadership program for children and their families.
Kars4Kids: Tell us about your family. What drove the Watsons to found Quiet Storm?
Cathy Watson: The Watsons come from a service and community leadership family. Our grandmother, Mary Louise Watson, was a woman with a passion for community development and for spending time working with people to help them grow and develop to be strong positive leaders. After examining the academic needs of many underrepresented families in the Las Vegas area, the Watson family began working with parents, community clubs, and community leaders to find ways to best assist with the development of a nonprofit organization involving parents and children. The Watsons knew giving back to others would provide them the opportunity to be who they were as positive role models for their community. They hoped to collaborate with community partners to assist in motivating youth toward higher education.
Kars4Kids: Tell us about your Out of School program. What makes a child eligible for this program?
Cathy Watson: Quiet Storm’s Out of School program was established to assist students in 4th through 8th grade. The purpose of this program is to increase aptitude and proficiency levels in reading and math as integrated through the areas of fitness, nutrition and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities. The goal is for students to reach their highest potential, excel in the next grade level, and establish habits of excellence to ensure success in college and future careers.
Kars4Kids: What type of civic engagement activities are included in the S.T.O.R.M. program? What does it take to become a coach?
Cathy Watson: S.T.O.R.M. activities include our annual community poetry slam (Young Out Spoken Voices), a community-based poetry slam competition for young adults ages 16 – 24, and our Community Youth Impact Leadership Outreach, which involves various activities and assignments involving community engagement as well as working with the Out of School program students in hands-on leadership training, team-building, and character-development exercises throughout the school year.
In order to become a coach for S.T.O.R.M. you have to be 21 years of age, pass a background check, and have a minimum of five years of youth development and youth programming experience.
Kars4Kids: Do participants in your programs experience food insecurity? How do classes on nutrition address this issue?
Cathy Watson: Yes, they do. Our classes on nutrition educate such students through hands-on demonstrations that help kids from underserved communities learn how to make nutritious meals with affordable foods. All the foods used in the classes can be found in local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and community food pantries. Because most of our students are from Title 1 schools, they are eligible for using SNAP benefits. SNAP benefits can be used at farmers’ markets.
Kars4Kids: What life lessons do children learn from basketball in Hoops for Hope?
Cathy Watson: The student athletes learn the value of teamwork—how to work with each other regardless of the outcome of a win or lose situation. Fitness and physical health play a major role in this camp as well. The component of the program known as Stepping into Health, is coordinated by a professional Nutrition and Health educator. Campers receive hands-on education in proper eating and the importance of staying physically active. Patience, hard work and determination, and acquiring mental and emotional stability are life lessons learned by student athletes while attending the Hoops for Hope Basketball Camp each year.
Kars4Kids: Can you tell us about some of your success stories?
Cathy Watson: Over the last nine years over 90 percent of students enrolled in our leadership program have completed high school and enrolled in a four-year institution or trade school of their choice. A large percentage of these students returns in the summer months or during the college semester, if they are local students. They volunteer for Hoops for Hope Basketball Camp, our parent workshops, the Out of School program, and the Annual Student Black History Essay Contest. Quiet Storm Foundation proves its success through Quiet Storm program graduates who return to work with the students on a volunteer basis. That’s our real success story. As Maya Angelou says, “You get, you give.”
Kars4Kids: Tell us about your scholarship program? How long has it been in operation? How many scholarships have been awarded?
Cathy Watson: The scholarship program works to build the next generation of leaders by advancing its mission: “To enable young people to secure economic self–reliance, power, and education as part of their daily lives.” The scholarship program has been a major accomplishment for over 40 students in the last nine years. Quiet Storm considers high school graduates from all over the world during its scholarship selection process.
Kars4Kids: What sort of leadership training do you provide?
Cathy Watson: The organization provides training throughout the year. There are training sessions for our volunteers from each of our programs. We also provide special orientation training for all incoming university students and community volunteers as needed, throughout the school year.
Kars4Kids: What’s next for the Quiet Storm Foundation?
Cathy Watson: Quiet Storm Foundation will be focusing on building partnerships with corporate sponsors to enhance opportunities for expansion of program sites. We’ll also be adding staff positions to keep up with the demands of our growing organization and its programs.