Industry West: Tell us about your organization. Who do you serve here in Northeast Florida?
Jami Puentes: Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida has been serving young people in the Jacksonville community for more than 50 years. Today, the organization has expanded to 38 Boys & Girls Clubs across Northeast Florida, serving nearly 3,000 Club members every weekday in Duval, St. Johns, and Alachua counties.
The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Clubs provide a safe place for young people, ages 6-18, to receive academic tutoring, enrichment programs, healthy meals, mentoring, and more after school and during the summer.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida is a proud affiliate of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the nation's most effective youth development organization in the United States.
IW: As you've worked with the people of Northeast Florida through the years, what kinds of needs have you found are specific to Northeast Florida compared to other areas of the country? In what ways does your work help to meet those needs?
JP: Young people throughout our country and the world have similar needs, and the Northeast Florida community is no different. Our young people need to feel safe, know they belong, enjoy mentorship from caring people, and discover hope for their great futures. We provide all of these intangible benefits for our Club members.
We also intentionally provide the tangible benefits our Club families need, such as providing a healthy product at discounted pricing within food deserts where our Ready 4 Veggies Bus is stationed on a rotating schedule. We provide safe access to computers and the internet for young people who may not have this at home.