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.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County broke ground on the new DeSoto Club on June 1. Campaign donors, volunteers, staff, state and local officials, as well as members of the design-build team were on hand to witness the ceremony, which took place where the heart of the new Club will be located, adjacent to the current site at the corner of 34th Street West and 53rd Avenue West in Bradenton. The campaign goal of $7.5 million includes building the new Club and providing an endowment to sustain operations. To date, more than $7.1 million has been raised, giving the organization the necessary funds to begin construction of the 37,477 square foot facility.
“This is an exciting day, both as a former Club kid and the Chairman of the Invest in Kids Campaign,” said local attorney Caleb Grimes. “There is a real sense of pride knowing that everyone who passes by and every member who attends the current Club will see the progress of the new facility. It’s a symbol of the commitment that our community and Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County has to our youth.”
Construction will begin in two weeks, with completion slated for summer 2019, according to Dawn Stanhope, President & CEO of the organization. Plans include a teen center with a separate entrance, a sports/flex field, a commercial kitchen and other dedicated spaces that focus on academics, character & citizenship, and healthy lifestyles programming.
“Our members have been so excited,” said Stanhope, “but when they see the construction actually taking place and the daily progress, their anticipation level is going to sky rocket. They are finally getting the Club they deserve thanks to the generosity of so many.”
The new Club will have the capacity to serve 600 kids, more than double the amount served today. The 50 year old facility will continue to operate until the new Club is ready.
For more information about the Invest in Kids Campaign click here.

Selected among three outstanding youth, Kalista Khadaran has been named the Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. 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 71st year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. Kalista was awarded a $3,000 scholarship and will go on to vie for the Florida Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“Kalista has been an inspiring leader in the Clubs for many years,” said Dawn Stanhope, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “We are proud to have her represent us in our community and beyond.”

Kalista, a junior at Southeast High School, is in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which offers a rigorous course schedule and prepares students for college. Her future plans include going to college for journalism and mass communications and pursuing a career as a broadcast analyst or news anchor. Kalista, a Club member at the Boys & Girls Club at Southeast High School, started her Club journey eight years ago at the Palmetto Boys & Girls Club. She credits the Clubs for her commitment to academics, supporting and encouraging her through difficult times and being a place of refuge where she could be a kid.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County’s Youth of the Year program is made possible by a grant received from SunCoast Credit Union. In addition, the Youth of the Year Celebration Dinner and the scholarships awarded to Kalista and the two runner-ups ($1,500 each) were supported by sponsorships from NDC Construction Company, Regions Bank, Veteran Air, The Rehfeldt Group, Cavanaugh & Company, LLP and CenterState Bank. Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by Disney, who has supported the youth advocacy organization for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota, the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, is dedicated to inspiring the next generations of engineers, thinkers and leaders who will help drive the American economy.

If Kalista wins at the state competition, 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 2018, 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 and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.

With a desire to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of children and teens, a longtime supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County recently gave a $500,000 gift to Invest In Kids, the organization’s capital campaign to build a new DeSoto Boys & Girls Club. The donor, who asked to remain anonymous, made the gift in support of the new Club’s commercial kitchen/culinary arts area, which will be a vital component of the Club’s Healthy Lifestyles programming.

The new Club’s commercial kitchen will better accommodate the cooking and nutritional programs that are offered. The current Club’s kitchen has limited space, which forces larger groups to use a multi-purpose room and tabletop cooking equipment. The new Club’s state-of-the-art culinary kitchen will provide future chefs of all ages with hands-on experience and lessons in nutrition, healthy eating, kitchen safety and proper food preparation. The new kitchen and its future programs will also serve as a way for members to explore career paths in the culinary arts. Plans include visits by local chefs who will share their expertise.

“The new Club’s increased member capacity from 240 to 600 kids daily, combined with the commercial kitchen and garden, will allow us to provide more of our community’s youth with valuable garden-to-table life skills that encourage healthy living,” said Dawn Stanhope, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “This is just one example of how the thoughtful generosity of our campaign donors will transform more young lives.”

To date, the Invest In Kids capital campaign has raised $5.7 million for the new Club (total campaign goal is $7.5 million). Recent gifts to the campaign have helped the organization reach the funding needed in order to begin construction in the spring of 2018. The new Club will replace the existing DeSoto Club, located at 5231 34th Street West in Bradenton. The current DeSoto Club, built five decades ago, will continue to operate while the new Club is being built on the east end of the property, located at the intersection of 53rd Avenue West and 30th Street West.

More information about the campaign and ways to give, contact Francine Diemer, Chief Development Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County at 941-761-2582 or via email to