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In an effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County will be opening the Palmetto and DeSoto Club locations to provide childcare for children ages 6-12 for essential healthcare workers and first responders. Thanks to the generosity of several supporters including United Way Suncoast and Manatee Community Foundation, these services will be provided at no cost to the family. While the Clubs remain closed for regular operations for members, this effort has been established to ensure that our community can respond to critical childcare needs during this crisis.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County will be strictly following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Department of Health’s guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all participants as much as possible. Daily temperature checks and screening will be conducted upon arrival, programming will be administered in groups of 10 or less, social distancing and hand washing will be practiced regularly, materials will be designated to individual children rather than shared, and all spaces will be sanitized and disinfected throughout the day.

Existing Club member families who do not qualify for this program will still be able to stay connected to their Club staff during the school shutdown via programming being offered online. “During this challenging time, it’s vital that our youth feel supported and encouraged even if their regular routines have been shifted. We understand that the needs of families are greater now more than ever and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to keep everyone safe while providing service to our community,” stated Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County’s President & CEO, Dawn Stanhope.

Sandra C. 2020 Youth of the Year

Selected among two outstanding youth, Sandra Charles-Crowl was named the Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County at the 2020 Youth of the Year Celebration Dinner held at the IMG Academy Golf Club on Tuesday, February 25. The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 73rd year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures. Sandra received a $1,000 college scholarship and laptop, and will now contend for the Florida Youth of the Year title and a $2,500 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“We wish Sandy all of the best during her next step in vying for the Florida Youth of the Year in St. Petersburg in April,” said Dawn Stanhope, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County.

Sandra has been a Club member for eleven years. She credits her Club with helping her improve her academics and encouraging her to step outside of her comfort zone. During her Club Experience, she has participated in Torch Club and Keystone Club, programs that focus on giving back and volunteering in the community. Sandra, now president of Keystone Club, has helped build bikes for foster children, pack hundreds of meals for the hungry and feed the homeless.

“When I first met her, she had some challenges in middle school just like any other middle school student,” recalls Leann Frink, Club Director. “Today, I see a totally different person. She has grown. She has matured. She doesn’t meet a stranger in the room. She has become someone that is looked up to by the other members of her Club. I am so proud of Sandy”

Charles-Crowl, a junior at Bayshore High School, has a 3.4 GPA and participates in varsity basketball and girls flag football. Her future plans include attending college and graduating with a degree that will allow her to become a surgical technician or pharmacist.

If Sandra is named the Florida Youth of the Year, she will contend for the title of Southeast Youth of the Year, which includes an additional $20,000 college scholarship. Six finalists will advance to Washington, D.C. in September 2020, to vie for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $50,000.

On February 26, Aries Cooper was announced as the 2019 Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. The announcement came at the organization’s Youth of the Year celebration dinner held at Grove restaurant in Lakewood Ranch. The Youth of the Year title is awarded to an outstanding young person in recognition of their leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. For 72 years, the Youth of the Year program has honored our nation’s most outstanding young people on their path to great futures. Aries was awarded a $2,500 scholarship and will compete for the Florida Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“Aries has evolved into a confident, caring, encouraging and dependable leader,” said Dawn Stanhope, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “We’re delighted to have her representing our organization.”

Cooper, a senior at Bayshore High School, has a 3.5 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. Her future plans include attending the University of South Florida or Lynn University for psychology and, one day, becoming a clinical psychologist. Aries, a member of the DeSoto Boys & Girls Club, began her Club experience 6 years ago as a middle school student. She credits the Club for building her confidence, encouraging her to grow and igniting her passion to serve others through volunteering.

The Youth of the Year celebration dinner and the scholarships awarded to Aries and the two runner-ups ($1,000 each) were supported by sponsorships from NDC Construction Company, the Pittsburgh Pirates, BDE Florida-Taco Bell, Manasota Flooring Inc., Manson Roofing Inc., Refheldt Group CPAs and LECOM.

If Aries wins the state competition taking place in April in Fort Walton Beach, she will compete for the title of Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C. in September 2019, to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000.

Bradenton Kiwanis Club and five Manatee County Children’s Service’s agencies including: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast; Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County; Parenting Matters; United Way Suncoast; and Manatee YMCA have joined forces to provide volunteer tutors and staff to assist students at Rogers Garden Bullock and Daughtrey Elementary Schools all under the direction of the Manatee County School District Superintendent of Schools, Cynthia Saunders.
According to Sharon Barhorst, Chairperson of the Bradenton Kiwanis Youth Services Committee, “This initiative came together quickly when it was brought to our attention that the District had schools that were of special concern to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). Daughtrey and Rogers Elementary Schools are both in the third year of a district-managed improvement plan and must earn at least a C grade this year.” She continued, “We want to prevent the schools from being closed, converted to a charter school or placed under the control of an external operator – every school in Manatee County is important and if they are in need of help, we have the ability to rally the troops to do that.”
“Students can always benefit from before and after school programs to complement what they are learning during the day. Adding individual mentors into the mix is a great way to deepen the impact and build positive and meaningful relationships,” said Dawn Stanhope, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “By bringing our talents together, Bradenton Kiwanis members felt that was the best way we could help our School District. We are rich with former educators and retired and working professionals that have the time and desire to work with the children. Our goal is to recruit 100 volunteers to donate an hour a week either in the morning or afternoon program. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast will provide training and assistance to ensure that each volunteer is matched with a child who can benefit from their expertise. Reading and math are the biggest hurdles, with English as a second language impacting many of our young people as well.”

For more information, view and/or download the program flyer.

When Tony Milen, along with his wife Terri and brother Bruce, acquired Clear Sunset Car Wash located in Bradenton in 2008, a decision was made to temporarily keep the business name. Now, a decade later, they have decided to change the name to Jax Kar Wash, a name that has been in Tony and Bruce’s family since their father, Jack, started Jax in 1953 in Michigan. To help celebrate the name change, Jax Kar Wash, located at 6415 SR-64 East in Bradenton, will be donating a portion of all car wash proceeds to Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County starting Thursday, September 27, 2018.

The fundraiser will run through Saturday, September 29th, ending with an event featuring a concert by soul blues legend Johnny Rawls and his band, BBQ, drinks, auctions and raffles. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Passes to the event are available at Jax Kar Wash.

“Being in the car wash industry for many years in Michigan and Florida, I’ve employed many young men and women. What is evident to me is the difference between those who had a parent, mentor or organization direct them down the right path versus those who lacked guidance from positive role models and ended up going down the wrong path,” said Tony Milen, President of Jax Kar Wash. “For that, I truly believe our country will be a better place, with more kids going in the right direction, as a result of the Boys & Girls Clubs.”