Barbara King’s love for her community is overflowing. Even more so, is her humility when discussing her work in the Glades.
“I want to make people happy,” said Barbara King. “I want to keep a smile on the kids’ faces and not only serve the kids but also to our senior citizens.”
Born and raised in the South Ba, King founded KTM Youth and Community Network, Inc. after her own life experience.
“I was a single parent raising four kids,” explained King. “My son was a teenager at the time and was acting out.”
King dedicated her time outside of work to attend counseling with her son. Over time she saw a notable difference as he reached high school.
“When I saw his improvement, it motivated me to start a mentorship program for the youth. I saw other kids trying to navigate the same road that I experienced my son go down.”
At KTM, based in South Bay, King works with a team of coaches and volunteers to mentor children through different activities including recreational sports and a community garden program.
“Before KTM, there were no resources for parents or kids,” explained King. Her new organization carved out an opportunity to provide positivity in the community.
KTM partners with the local Glades bookmobile where kids can check out books to read. Reading is one of the requirements to participate in KTM’s recreational sports.
KTM hosts outdoor practices at the Cox Park Center where children aged 5-14 can participate in sports including soccer, football, basketball and baseball.
In addition to sports, children take part in a community garden where they learn how to plant and care for produce. They’ve grown collard greens, carrots, cabbages, onions, sweet potatoes and more.
KTM also offers other resources like a youth job fair with professional resources such as business and financial planning. The children undergo a week of training on how to run a business. Then KTM’s hosts a pop-up shop to invite community members to patronize their enterprises.
When KTM first opened, King started out with 45 kids. Most recently, over 300 kids participated in KTM’s program last season.
Through King’s dedication, she has touched the lives of over 1,200 kids and countless families. She humbly explains she is doing the calling of God’s work in her efforts.
When asked about her goals for the new year, King responded, “I am hoping we can come together with the city and work to take our program to the next level. With the support of the city, we can have a truly larger impact on the children.”