Changing the lives of youth: Boys & Girls Club begins expansion in Jacksonville’s Arlington area

Changing the lives of youth: Boys & Girls Club begins expansion in Jacksonville’s Arlington area

An almost 50-year-old Jacksonville Boys & Girls Club is now named after founder Baxter E. Luther and an expansion has begun. Baxter Luther was one of those folks who saw a need and took action. Almost 50 years later and three years after his death, the Woodland Acres club serves about 80 youth ages 6 to 18 and an expansion that will nearly double capacity is about to get underway.

Myles Jack Inspires 120 Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida and Jax PAL youth

Myles Jack Inspires 120 Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida and Jax PAL youth

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Myles Jack may only be 23 years old, but he’s wise beyond what’s listed on his birth certificate.  

On Tuesday, the Jaguars linebacker held a back-to-school bowling event for 120 students from the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida and Police Athletic League of Jacksonville.

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“I wish somebody would’ve told me, 'Myles, you can be a lawyer or doctor,'” said Jack. “All I saw growing up on TV as a kid was watching sports. It’s worked out great for me. It’s been very positive in my life. But I feel like we need more lawyers and doctors. We need more positive influences, especially with most of these kids being minority children. To be able to be heard and tell them that they can accomplish those things is powerful. To give them a chance to feel like they can actually go to school and become something bigger than just a football player or basketball player, that was my goal for this event.”

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Boys & Girls Clubs' Duval Dynasty, represents Jaguars at NFL FLAG Championship

Pictured: Coach Soloman, Duval Dynasty team and Coach Simon

Pictured: Coach Soloman, Duval Dynasty team and Coach Simon

For the second consecutive year, the Jaguars selected Duval Dynasty, the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida’s NFL FLAG all-star team, to represent Jacksonville at the NFL FLAG Championships in Orlando. The championship tournament was held in late January in conjunction with the NFL’s Pro Bowl Week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Coaches Rickie Simon Jr. and Troy Soloman led the group of 13- to 14-year-olds to compete on the national stage in one of the highest levels of flag football. In addition to Duval Dynasty, more than 70 youth teams from 24 states across four divisions competed in the annual culmination for the country’s premier youth flag football program.

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CB Jalen Ramsey continued a Jaguars tradition when he and the Nike Jordan brand partnered to give each competitor a brand-new pair of Jordan football cleats to wear during the competition. Last season, RB Leonard Fournette surprised each member of the Duval Dynasty with a pair of Under Armour cleats prior to the championship. 

“Flag football gives young athletes an opportunity to develop physical skills, grow in confidence and play a sport they love,” said Boys & Girls Club CEO/President Paul Martinez. “NFL FLAG and USA Football provide the resources we need to deliver the fun and high-quality experience that our coaches, players and parents deserve.”

Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida noted that the partnership with the Jaguars and their implementation of NFL FLAG into their program has resulted in a tremendous jump in Clubs’ retention rate by keeping teens engaged through the power of sports.

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Former NASA engineer working to expose local minorities to STEM world through robots

Frank Robinson Jr., helped launch the STEM2 Hub program which helped developed THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club robotics program. [TRAVIS GIBSON/THE RECORD]

Frank Robinson Jr., helped launch the STEM2 Hub program which helped developed THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club robotics program. [TRAVIS GIBSON/THE RECORD]

By Travis Gibson - During his more than 30 years working as an engineer for NASA, Frank Robinson Jr. remembers meeting after meeting where he was the only person of color sitting at the table. In order to help facilitate the change, Robinson and others launched the STEM2 Hub program in Northeast Florida three years ago. One of the goals of the program is to get more female students and students of color interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.

Kailani Russ, THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club member, works with Club mates to build out mission course or competitions.

Kailani Russ, THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club member, works with Club mates to build out mission course or competitions.

Two years ago, STEM2 Hub helped launch the robotics program at the St. Augustine Boys and Girls Club. The club received two LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core sets, a robotic LEGO set with a CPU that helps students learn how to program and problem solve.

“We are just trying to get the kids to see there are other things to do than gossip, play on the phone, go in the gym,” said Quentin Forney, leader of the club that currently has about five members. “You can use your mind to figure out how to do stuff and create stuff.”

Once the students build it, they learn to program the Mars-rover-like robot to complete specific missions. Then they take the robot to participate in timed competitions against other robotics teams around the area.

“I love to build. It’s just fun,” said eighth-grader Kailani Russ, a member of the robotics team at the Boys and Girls club. Two weeks ago, Russ helped lead her team to a second-place finish in a Mars-themed competition. She hopes to eventually get a job at NASA, just like Robinson.

Robinson’s inspiration was Dr. Julian Earls, a black man and NASA physicist, who eventually became the director of the NASA Glenn Research Center. Robinson first saw Earls speak at his brother’s graduation when he was 16 years old.

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Citi Teen Center coming to Springfield; leaders say it could reduce violence

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida Club members talk about their favorite features of the new Citi Teen Center.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida Club members talk about their favorite features of the new Citi Teen Center.

JACKSONVILLE, FL / January 07, 2019 - Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida is reopening its historic founding Club, the Laurence F. Lee Boys & Girls Club, as the Citi Teen Center. The Laurence F. Lee Boys & Girls Club was founded in April 1966 by Laurence F. Lee Jr., the son of Boys’ Club of Jacksonville founding board member, Laurence F. Lee.

The Citi Teen Center will be Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida’s first standalone teen center and will offer teens from across Jacksonville access to a mixed reality enabled computer lab, technology programing, barber shop, beauty salon, dance studio, gym, movie theater, print shop and bicycle shop.

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida President and CEO, Paul Martinez, gives Boys & Girls Club members a tour of the Citi Teen Center currently under construction.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida President and CEO, Paul Martinez, gives Boys & Girls Club members a tour of the Citi Teen Center currently under construction.

Jalen Ramsey Gives Away 50 Bicycles to Hyde Grove Boys & Girls Club Members

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Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguar corner back, shared holiday cheer with 50 Hyde Grove Early Learning Boys & Girls Clubs members on Monday afternoon, gifting each of the 50 children with a bicycle and a personally signed football at Southside’s Academy Sports + Outdoors.

Hyde Grove Early Learning’s principle and staff showed their full support, helping the children stay safe as they awaited their turn to meet Jalen and receive their autographed football. After the students talked with Jalen about what they wanted for Christmas, the students were greeted by Jacksonville ROAR members to receive their new bicycles.

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Jaguars' AJ Bouye Takes 50 Kids on Holiday Shopping Spree

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jaguars' A.J. Bouye, joined by some of his teammates, took 50 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida on a holiday shopping spree Monday night. 

The All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback hosted the Shop with a Jock event at the Walmart on Philips Highway in Jacksonville.

"I'm looking forward to it, especially since last year was a success," Bouye told News4Jax. "This is something that's very fun for me. You know, I have a daughter myself and just to have these kids around -- just make this night about them."

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Chimes Installed at City Park Commemorates St. Augustine's Role in Civil Rights

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death Wednesday, city leaders, community organizers, school children and residents celebrated the completion of a decade-long project designed to bring meaning to the Dr. Robert F. Hayling Freedom Park.

The green space set on a bluff overlooking the San Sebastian and Matanzas rivers was dedicated last year in honor of one of St. Augustine’s own leaders in the civil rights movement. Hayling, through his activism, was instrumental in bringing King to the city in 1964 — a visit many consider pivotal in pushing forward legislation that led to desegregation.

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida to Revamp Springfield Building Into 'Coolest Place Tor Teens'

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida want to breathe some life into the old languishing Laurence F. Lee club building in Springfield.

The facility at the corner of Liberty and 10th served the community for 50 years. But it has been vacant since the summer of 2015 after the recession and rising maintenance costs took their toll on the building, according to the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Committee.

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Students, Teachers Build Arlington School Playground

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Teachers, students and community volunteers are taking time out of their spring break to build a playground for a local school in Arlington.

More than 100 volunteers got to work Friday at Arlington Community Academy setting up picnic tables, benches and an outdoor classroom. Students and parents were involved with picking the equipment for the playground that will be shared with the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida.

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Project SOS Surpasses $200,000 Fundraising Goal at Annual Grand Anchor Gala

Project SOS, now a Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida program, surpassed its $200,000 fundraising goal at the New Orleans-themed Grand Anchor Gala held at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The annual fundraiser celebrated 25 years of serving First Coast teens and raised money for Project SOS programs and new Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida facilities designed to assist the community. The two organizations merged in the summer of 2017.

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THE PLAYERS Championship Donates Vans to Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida

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THE PLAYERS served as the presenting sponsor for the MOSAIC Group's Training U: Sports and Business Education Forum Feb. 16 at TPC Sawgrass – the event saw over 150 local area high school students in lower socioeconomic situations learn about job opportunities in the sports industry...

Additionally, THE PLAYERS' Executive Director Jared Rice announced the donation of three new vans to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida. Students and their teachers then posed for a photo in front of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse building to conclude the event.

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BGCNF Hosts High Five Winter Games For 350 Youth

When school is out, our Clubs are IN!! Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida celebrated President's Day on February 19 with The High Five Winter Games field day. About 350 kids and teens from our area Clubs all came together for a full day of fun, games, sports, food, dance, and so much more! Thanks to all of our incredible staff and volunteers who helped bring smiles to so many faces.

Grand Anchor Gala to Celebrate 25 Years of Serving Local Teens

Pam Mullarkey Robbins, Ben Wuerffel, Nicole Ferreira with Jack, Paul Price and Kimberly Deas gather at the 2017 Grand Anchor Gala.

Pam Mullarkey Robbins, Ben Wuerffel, Nicole Ferreira with Jack, Paul Price and Kimberly Deas gather at the 2017 Grand Anchor Gala.

The annual Grand Anchor Gala benefitting Project SOS is set for Saturday, Feb. 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, where event attendees will celebrate 25 years of the nonprofit organization’s efforts in serving First Coast teens.

“It’s going to be a wonderful, high energy, fun party,” said Pam Mullarkey Robbins, founder and CEO of Project SOS, who is retiring at the end of June. “We’re celebrating the great things the kids have done, the great decisions they’ve made.”

Robbins founded Project SOS 25 years ago when she felt compelled to help teenagers with goal setting, decision making, boundaries, bullying, avoiding drugs/alcohol and more. Since its inception, the organization has impacted the lives of 475,000 local teenagers across Northeast Florida through its in-school programming that focuses on healthy and unhealthy relationship skills, substance abuse, refusal skills for sexual risk avoidance, depression and suicide, social media and more.

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Project SOS Gala & Partnership With Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida

Pam Mullarkey Robbins, founder and CEO of Project SOS, and Kevin Carrico, Vice President of Operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, announce the upcoming Project SOS Grand Anchor Gala on Feb. 24. Proceeds from the event help fund the ongoing efforts of this combined organization as Boys & Girls Clubs utilizes Project SOS programming to influence and impact local teens. Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida is also building new teen centers in Springfield and Arlington, expected to open fall of 2018 and fall of 2019 respectively.

Boys & Girls Clubs Youth Football Coaches on Free Trip to Super Bowl

Two area youth football coaches are boarding a plane for a free trip to Minnesota for the Super Bowl.

Just before the start of the playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Jaguars, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell presented coaches Rickie Simon Jr. and Tim Terry with tickets to the Super Bowl.

This gift is a thank you for the men work hard to be a positive influence for local kids. Simon and Terry make a difference in the lives of children every day with the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida.

When they were led onto the field that day, Simon thought they might get something like a T-shirt. They never thought they would be given the gift of going to the Super Bowl. So they are layering up to prepare for the cold Minnesota temperatures.

The surprise was nothing short of incredible. Two life-size tickets now decorate Simon's office.

MOD Pizza Celebrates First Location in Jacksonville

Terry Frank, Director of Marketing and Strategic Projects for BBX Capital; Angie Kenyon, Vice President of Real Estate Retail Brands for BBX Capital; Brick Kerge, Vice President of Operations for MOD Pizza Florida; Paul Martinez, President/CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida; Jason Gilmartin, General Manager MOD Pizza Jacksonville; Kirk Wendland, Jacksonville Director of Economic Development and Lois Marino, Director of Community Engagement for MOD Pizza Florida. PHOTO BY DUSTIN HEGEDUS

Terry Frank, Director of Marketing and Strategic Projects for BBX Capital; Angie Kenyon, Vice President of Real Estate Retail Brands for BBX Capital; Brick Kerge, Vice President of Operations for MOD Pizza Florida; Paul Martinez, President/CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida; Jason Gilmartin, General Manager MOD Pizza Jacksonville; Kirk Wendland, Jacksonville Director of Economic Development and Lois Marino, Director of Community Engagement for MOD Pizza Florida.
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MOD Pizza celebrated its first location in Jacksonville with a grand opening event Dec. 19.

100 percent of all pizza sales on opening day were donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida. The first 52 attendees were treated to one free artisan-style pizza.

MOD serves individual, artisan-style pizzas that are made on-demand in minutes using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces. Customers can create their own pizzas and salads, using any combination of over 30 featured toppings, or they can choose from a menu of MOD classics for a fixed price of $8.17. The restaurant is located at 12547 Bartram Park Blvd in Suite 201.

79 First Coast Kids Surprised With New Bikes For Christmas

79 First Coast children will have a brighter Christmas thanks to the kindness of others.

Parents and their children streamed into the WJCT studios Monday evening as The Harvey Bernhardt Foundation celebrated its seasonal tradition of Random Acts of Kindness.

The foundation, along with The Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Brothers, Big Sisters had quite the surprise waiting for the kids: brand new bikes for each of them from Academy Sports.

Foundation Chairman Westley Bernhardt said donors – many of them anonymous – made it all possible.