BY JAMES HARPER
Like most people, Sandra Felecia suffered loss and pain.
She is the mother of four biological sons, which she says has made her very empathetic to the plight of the Black male.
“I have taken my experiences in life and taught my sons to love themselves, God and mankind,” said Felecia, who is the co-founder of Abundant Life Ministries-Hope House, Inc. located in Palm Coast. Hope House is a residential group home for teen boys who have been abandoned, abused, orphaned or neglected.
Her current role as executive director and chief financial officer has empowered her to develop a ministry with a goal of “nurturing today’s boys to become tomorrow’s men.’’
“There are numerous Black men and boys who have achieved great success beyond sports and this success was achieved as a result of self-determination, self-discipline, self-accountability and more important belief in themselves,” remarked Felecia.
“In my opinion, we must empower our Black men and boys by teaching them to look inside of self first. We must emphasize the power that lies within and reduce the opportunity for excuses to fail due to external circumstances,” said Felecia, who this year published a book titled “The Affirmation of Me.’’
Felecia says the book is a testimony to one’s ability to overcome life’s most challenging situations and to embrace them as orchestrated situations designed by God to bring Him glory.
‘Catharsis for healing’
Felecia shares a story of her journey to self-love. She wrote the book to help others to forgive themself and others from the strongholds that have hindered them from loving themselves.
She says “The Affirmation of Me’’ gives readers reasons to have hope in the face of death and pain.
Felecia says it is her goal to teach readers how to appreciate the good that can come as a result of tragedies.
“Being able to identify the benefits of a negative event is a catharsis for healing,” Felecia noted.
Felecia considers herself an anointed woman of God whose ministry mission is to motivate, encourage and provoke others to fulfill their God ordained purpose.
She began her ministry training at Hope Fellowship Church in Daytona Beach under the tutelage of Bishop Derek Triplett.
She was licensed as a minister of the gospel in 2005 and in 2007 she accepted the elevation to elder under the ministry of Triplett. She currently serves at Grace Tabernacle Ministries under the leadership of Pastor Charles Silano.
She is a graduate of Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a master’s in Urban Education.
As a former classroom teacher and assistant school administrator in the Miami-Dade County Public School system, she has touched the lives of many young people.
Worked with at-risk kids
Felecia says education is not an option, but a privilege that should be taken full advantage of.
She relocated to Palm Coast in 2001 from Miami. She also worked as a classroom teacher for five years and was the assistant site administrator at Gladeview Academy in Miami.
Gladeview Academy was unique in its design concept; all of the students had open cases in the Department of Juvenile Justice and were direct referrals through the courts.
“This was an extremely rewarding job as one of my passions has always been to work with at-risk youth,” Felecia stated.
Helped to start Y.O.U.R.S.
At age 14, along with her father, Sandy Hall, and the support of then-State Attorney Janet Reno, she helped to start Y.O.U.R.S., a youth group in response to the 1982 riot that was ignited by the killing of Nevell Johnson by Miami police officer Luis Alvarez.
Felecia said the purpose of Y.O.U.R.S. was to address the tension between the Miami Police Department and the residents of Overtown.
She said they were successful at bringing the two groups together to improve community relations and the opening of a substation in the Overtown neighborhood.
Great role models
Felecia, a product of the Miami-Dade public school system, said she was inspired to become a classroom teacher “because I was blessed to have teachers who cared.”
“During my formative years, I had teachers who motivated me to do my best. They recognized my potential and would often allow me to present subject matter on the chalkboard in front of my peers. This fostered in me the ability to present and explain topics before an audience,” she said.
Felecia says Freddie Pittman Sr., an African-American principal, was very instrumental in her education while she was attending North Miami Jr. High.
“He ensured that I was challenged at the highest level. When the typing teacher tried to make life difficult for me because I was the only African-American in that class, he stood firm and said I would remain in her class,” she said.
Hundreds of boys helped
Felecia said she overcame many challenges as an African-American student in a school that was slowly experiencing cultural change.
Shortly after moving to Palm Coast, Felecia became a member of Hope Fellowship Church.
One day while visiting the church, Felecia said that God had laid it on her heart to open a home for boys.
Thus began the birthing of what has become to be known as “Hope House.’’
In 2003, Abundant Life Ministries-Hope House, Inc., was opened.
Felecia said more than 200 boys have been helped in the past 10 years.
For more information on Hope House, call 386-931-1420.