Over 300 business professionals, community leaders, and philanthropists attended Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties’ 17th Annual Intertape Polymer Group 2023 Leadership Breakfast on Friday, September 8th. Initiated by Community Youth Development in 2006, the Leadership Breakfast was adopted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties in 2016, and honors local trailblazers each year for their commitment to empowering teens as tomorrow's leaders.
This year's event recognized the dedication of Carol Butera, Non-Profit Executive, Richard Perlman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of ExamWorks Group, Inc, and James (Jim) K. Price, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of ExamWorks Group, Inc. Proceeds from the event support the organization's award-winning Teen Programs, which include leadership training, service opportunities, entrepreneurial education, workforce development, and college and career prep.
The event opened with a warm welcome from Meghan O. Serrano, Esq. Chair of the Board, who acknowledged board members and greeted guests. Following her introduction, Former Senator Lisa Carlton took the stage as the morning's Master of Ceremonies (MC). Lisa extended her welcome to guests and introduced Imani B., a Junior at Booker High School and Club member, who led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. While Chef Paul and Mattison's Catering served breakfast, Senator Carlton introduced Samantha L., a Club member and Senior at Riverview High School, as the event's co-MC.
Samantha thanked everyone for gathering “to celebrate three local heroes who make a tremendous impact in our local communities.” She went on to say that “their support and leadership directly benefits the programs that empower and inspire teens like me to achieve success.”
Senator Carlton proceeded to acknowledge the sponsors who made the event possible including Presenting Sponsor, Intertape Polymer Group; Signature Sponsor, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation; Champion Sponsors - Gulf Coast Community Foundation, FCCI Insurance Group, and Caldwell Trust Company. Visionary Sponsors - Cool Today, Mabry Carlton Ranch, The DeLieto Team @MS&C, Ringling College of Art and Design, Blistex, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Neal Communities, Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay, Synovus, Meghan O. Serrano, Esq., Ric Smalley, Martella Family Foundation, Ken and Trish Freeman, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Print and Media Sponsors - Captivation and Palm Printing.
Prior to Suncoast Polytechnical High School freshman Gabriel C. presenting the 2023 Leadership Award to Carol Butera, he discussed the opportunities he has received through the Club, such as the STAR Leadership Training program, the Superintendent's Advisory Council, and the On-Track program.
Prior to accepting her award, Ms. Butera’s honoree video was played during which she expressed her views on the significance of education; “opportunity is the key, not all children have opportunity but yet I think it’s a responsibility of all of us as adults to provide opportunity for youth. Education is an equalizer and with education hopefully, those who are disenfranchised can become more empowered as a part of the community. I think the Boys & Girls Clubs is one of the places that is doing that.”
Sierra M., a Senior at Riverview High School then presented Richard Perlman and Jim Price with the second honoree award. Before the award presentation, Sierra shared that she has been a Club member for a year and a half and has been involved with almost every opportunity the Club offers including; the STAR Leadership Training Program, Cultural Immersion, Youth Advocacy, and PYE, just to name a few.
In a video preceding their acceptance of the award, Mr. Perlman and Mr. Price, after whom the Perlman Price Entrepreneur Program is named, expressed their reasons for their relationship with BGCSDC, stating, "We think it’s an absolutely perfect match…it’s so much fun to see these young people grow and mature and actually embrace a vision that we’ve been a part of. Teens are the future of our community and country. We need to give them the tools and assistance in a safe environment where they can learn and grow. They all deserve a chance.”
Following the award presentations, Senator Carlton invited Samantha back to the stage to speak briefly about how the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties has made an impact in her life.
“When I joined the Club four years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My decision to join was largely influenced by my school’s requirement that students must earn volunteer hours. Having come from Venezuela, where community service was often mandated as a disciplinary consequence rather than a choice, the concept of volunteering was foreign to me. So, it was with a mix of hesitancy and curiosity, that I signed up for The Club’s SRQVolunteen Program. Through SRQVolunteen, I quickly learned the meaning of making a difference through service. The unexpected bonus was discovering kindred spirits among my peers. In the Club, I found more than a place to volunteer; I discovered community” said Samantha.
In sharing her reflections on the path she’s traveled since that first step through the Club's doors, she said; “having the confidence to speak to ALL of you on this stage is undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my journey. It was not without its challenges, but the knowledge that I have an entire community supporting me...well…it’s what continues to make the difference for me and for so many others like me.”
In closing, she offered a piece of advice to her peers, “embrace the unexpected, let your passion drive your purpose, and always remember that true fulfillment comes from not only finding your community but actively nurturing and expanding it.”
Congratulations to the 2023 Leadership Honorees Carol Butera, Richard Perlman, and Jim Price, and a special thank-you to our MC, Senator Lisa Carlton.