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Mansfield Magazine

Today's Other Choices: Positively Influencing Today's At-Risk Youth

Nov 08, 2016 07:59PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Today's Other Choices, Inc. staff.

We recently featured J’s Tasty Kitchen's owner, Jennifer Terrell, in our articles, "Teacher, Restaurant Owner, Nonprofit Organizer & More: Local Resident Selflessly Serves the Community" and "J’s Tasty Kitchen Serves Up a Truly Home-Style Feel." To say that Jennifer is busy working for her community would be an understatement! 

One organization that Jennifer is proud to own and manage is her nonprofit organization, Today's Other Choices. This nonprofit focuses on the youth of the community and assisting those in need through tutoring, test prep, as well as providing other useful educational resources. They also assess and discuss various issues of society in their outreach program, such as resisting peer pressure, gang violence, alcoholism, and more.

In the past few years, Jennifer's son won a national award from the Kohl's for his tutoring in the areas of English, Algebra, and Chemistry for his service at Today's Other Choices, Inc. This is a direct result of his serving as a youth mentor with the organization.

We were able to get in touch with her to learn more about this inspiring nonprofit organization.

Tell us a little about the group. When and how did it get started?

In life, we have choices. 

You can choose to make a good choice or a bad choice. Either way, you will have to deal with the consequences. 

In 2004, Today’s Other Choices, Inc. was created to express this to as many young people as possible. Today’s Other Choices, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization geared toward positively influencing the youth of today, principally those of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. We do our best to cater to the needs of young people who are often overlooked in today’s society. 

Having been a teacher for many years, I began to notice a considerable lack of high educational performance in underprivileged youth. It was a key goal of mine to ensure that as many “at-risk” youth who I could touch would no longer be deemed “at-risk.” 

Through my efforts with Today’s Other Choices, Inc., I began to bring “at-risk” youth together with youth from families of high socioeconomic status. In doing so, I have helped a vast amount of today’s youth not to feel inferior to others because of their socioeconomic status, while also helping numerous others not to look down upon their fellow peers due to being from a higher socioeconomic status. From mentoring, outreach activities, college tours, public speakers, and tutoring, we do our best to ensure that we have a positive impact upon a countless number of today’s youth.

What are your goals for the group and where do you see it heading? What sort of activities will you focus on?

Our goals for Today’s Other Choices, Inc. are to guarantee that we are able to have a positive effect upon a high number of young people, particularly those who might otherwise end up in questionable environments as adults. Whether we are helping to produce future teachers, professors, principals, lawyers, doctors, business owners, or whatever the career path happens to be, we do our best to show young people that a successful career is waiting for them. 

A significant aspect of how we are able to reach out to the youth entails being able to provide tutoring services that their families would normally not be able to provide due to the high cost of tutoring. We do our best to bridge the gap between students of all socioeconomic statuses, and to place them on a successful path to adulthood. Also, we have hard work toward anti-bullying and drug resistance to ensure that they see that these are the wrong choices to make.

What's something people usually assume about the group? What do people usually assume that's incorrect?

People often incorrectly assume that a donation of any amount is not helpful when it comes to having a positive impact upon our youth. When we are able to take the young people on college tours, provide needed tutoring services, empower them with mentors, encourage them with motivational speakers, take the Step and Praise Team across the country to perform, or do anything of the sort, we know that our services are greatly being used to have an effective influence upon the young people. 

On the other hand, families often correctly assume that having their child in our program for even one day will have a positive impact on the child’s life. Recently, I had the opportunity to see a young man with whom we had an experience of that sort, and I was elated to learn that he is in his first year of college! Years ago, he noted to me that he would “never” go to college. However, after being one of the students we tutored and being a part of several college tours with Today’s Other Choices, Inc., he took a tremendous desire to go to college! It was a sincere pleasure to know that being a part of both the tutoring program and our college tours had that much of a positive impact on him!

What is your personal favorite aspect of Today's Other Choices and your mission?

My personal favorite aspect of the group is that we have helped to steer so many young people onto a positive track in life who otherwise may not have found one. Being able to attend high school and college graduations of students who are products of our program, and who once had a serious lack of focus when it came to education, is an amazement!

Our mission is to impact the youth of our society through motivational speaking, giving encouraging influences, offering tutoring services, and providing positive role models to young adults on the path to building good character.

What's one of your most memorable moments while working there?

Seeing the sincere delight in the eyes of the youth while being a part of our college tours has been one of the most memorable moments for me. Some of them had never visited a college before. However, thanks to those who donate to our organization, they were able to have that experience! 

It is a true amazement to know that Today’s Other Choices, Inc. is not only providing students with tutoring services to solidify their understanding of academics, but also creating a college interest within the youth. 

Are there any recent or upcoming changes that people should know about?

Our upcoming plans for the holiday season include providing meals for underprivileged families with the help of cooking services provided by J’s Tasty Kitchen. We also plan to supply tutoring services to ensure that students do not fall behind during their breaks from school. We simply ask for donations from kind sponsors to help make these things happen.

Anything else we should know about Today's Other Choices?

At Today’s Other Choices, Inc., we offer youth mentors, motivational speakers, tutoring services, a Step and Praise Team, and college tours. We are working at this time to bring forth upcoming events in which all of these services and activities will be available to as many young people as we are able to reach. Please feel free to involve your children in our organization, inform others about our organization, or make tax deductible donations to help make our efforts possible! 

Visit J’s Tasty Kitchen and Today's Other Choices to learn more about the wonderful things Jennifer Terrell is doing within the community. 

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