TRANSFORMING TROUBLED TEENS INTO RESPONSIBLE ADULTS FOR 40 YEARS
AMIkids will soon mark 40 years of changing lives in Miami-Dade County, one child at a time. To mark its anniversary, and to help raise much needed funds, AMIkids Miami-Dade is hosting a bingo fundraising event on Saturday January 11, 2014 on Virginia Key.
AMIkids is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that has successfully provided more than 115,000 young people with pathways out of troubled pasts. Working in partnership with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Miami-Dade County Schools, AMIkids Miami-Dade has two local campuses where it works to improve the lives of teens through positive and motivating programs that inspire learning, leadership and personal growth.
|Terrance Lovell, AMIKids Miami-Dade ; Laise Lowachee, Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A.; Jorge Alvarez, Sun Trust Investment Services; Lyndall Lambert, Holland & Knight LLP; V.T. Williams|
“When every decision that you make is based on what is best for kids, those kids will achieve success. That philosophy is at the heart of AMIkids and guides our work,” says AMIkids Vice President of Operations Heyward Golden, who has worked for the organization for more than 25 years. “What sets AMIkids apart is our family culture. Our kids become family and they know that someone cares about them and is invested in their success.”
While in the program, AMIkids students routinely improve their academic performance by at least one grade level, many successfully returning to local public schools or earning their GED, and some take online college courses. And most importantly, 85 to 90 percent of the youth who complete the program stay on the law-abiding path to productive citizenship.
The AMIkids Miami-Dade Board Chair, Jorge Alvarez, of SunTrust Investment Services, says, “Our approach of combining education, counseling and behavior services not only benefits our kids and their families, it impacts the local community as well. Kids are taught about both giving back through community service, and the importance of meaningful work. The ties our kids are building with local communities ensure that they understand and embrace the idea of good citizenship at home.”
AMIkids was founded in 1969 in Florida as the initiative of a Broward juvenile court judge, Judge Frank Orlando. Judge Orlando became frustrated with seeing the same teenagers in his courtroom time and again. He joined forces with Bob Rosof, who operated a marine research vessel for Florida Atlantic University. The judge sent a small group of boys to work with Rosof and his staff, who acted as role models for the boys and helped them see a different future for themselves.
That original program transitioned into the first AMIkids facility. Legislators in Florida began to demand the same “day treatment” programming in their communities. The concept quickly expanded in Florida and other states. In 1978, the first residential program opened its doors to boys. These programs evolved from marine-based experiential activities to include wilderness and environmental experiences, such as kayaking, rock-climbing, and camping.
Today, AMIkids operates 41 programs in seven states in the southwestern and southeastern United States, serving more than 5,000 kids each year.
The Board of Directors of AMIkids Miami-Dade includes Jorge Alvarez, Sun Trust Investment Services; Luis de Armas, Shutts & Bowen; Lyndall Lambert, Holland & Knight LLP; Corey A. Lee, Hunton & Williams LLP; Laise Lowachee, Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A.; Craig Milan; William Myers, Barnett Bank; Scott Perdigon, Dearr Perdigon Law Firm; Riley Smith, Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell; Juan Valdez, Bacardi; Ricardo Valdivia, Banco Santander International; and V.T. Williams. The schools employ 27 members of our community, including Executive Directors Terrance Levell and Enrique Garcia.
Although there is some funding from the State for the teens, AMIkids Miami-Dade must also rely on the generosity of the community to support all of the services needed to transform its students into responsible and productive citizens. For more information about AMIkids please visit the website at www.amikidsmiamidade.org or call AMIkids Miami-Dade North (305) 944-1960 and AMIkids Miami-Dade South (305) 361-7934.