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Teens and Chefs Cook Up Great Food and Great Futures

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It’s been a successful start to a new season of welcoming guests to the Opening Doors to Great Futures Dinner Series at Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties after a 2-year hiatus.

The Opening Doors to Great Futures Dinner Series originated as a way for community members to learn about the Boys & Girls Clubs mission, programs, and impact. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by Club members during the reception and are taken for a tour of the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club. A delicious three-course meal is prepared and served by Club members who participate in the organization’s Culinary Arts Program under the guidance of a professional guest chef. These dinners provide an opportunity for Club members to engage with the guests and share their Club stories. “It’s incredible to watch our Club members sit at a table, enjoy a three-course meal, and share about their Club with community partners, sponsors, and supporters,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO. “The hope and opportunity inside our doors shows success is within reach of every young person who comes inside.” Each dinner highlights BGCSDC’s award-winning youth development programs as an outstanding teen shares their Club experience during the event. These young leaders share how the Club has impacted their life and what plans they have for after high school graduation.

Executive Chef Trae Peavey with Tripletail Seafood & Spirits and our Culinary Arts Club Members

The two spring dinners took place in April and May, with a break for the summer before resuming a full season in the fall. In April, young entrepreneur and Club member, Jacob S. spoke about his new business Dollar Donations. Jacob is the recipient of the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award and he used his business model to address donor inequity by empowering anyone to be a changemaker, not just the wealthy. Executive Chef Trae Peavey, Tripletail Seafood & Spirits, the newest sibling of the Gecko’s Hospitality Group, along with the teens in our Culinary Arts Program created an incredible meal that started with a classic house salad, a cheese and charcuterie board provided by Boar’s Head, then chicken parmesan as the main course, and the night ended with a delicate chocolate cake layered with white chocolate mousse.

The Opening Doors Dinner in May featured a check presentation from Bank of America with Jamie Kahns, Market Executive for Sarasota-Manatee. Through their community investment efforts, Bank of America awarded Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties a grant for Teen Programming. The initiative’s goal is to provide local teens with the enrichment, resources, and opportunities to create and successfully navigate a plan for success after high school graduation. Bank of America’s investment will expand Teen Programming’s reach so more teens have the opportunity to further develop their skills, resumes, and their on-the-job training. The grant also supports Youth Employment of part-time staff during our Summer Program.

“Bank of America is partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties because we share their belief that the journey to financial success begins at an early age,” said Mike McCoy, President, Bank of America Sarasota-Manatee. “Our support of this Club’s Teen Programming is an investment in the youth of Sarasota County that helps remove barriers to critical employment and educational opportunities.”

Jamie Kahns, Market Executive for Bank of America Sarasota-Manatee; Juna H., Club member; Ke'Shawn G., Club member; Bill Sadlo, President/CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties

Quinn O., a senior at Sarasota High School, shared her journey at The Club and how her experiences in STAR Leadership Program, Perlman Price Young Entrepreneurs Program, and Advocacy 101 shaped the person she is today. Quinn said, “I would never be as confident or as passionate as I am today if it were not for the contagious altruism and ambition that is ever-present within these walls.” Quinn was accepted into Barnard College of Columbia University and will be starting her Freshman year in the Fall. The evening featured a special meal by Executive Chef James Pampinella and Hugo Gordan with The Oaks Club and our teens in The Club’s Culinary Arts Program. Appetizers included a shrimp cocktail with a spring butter lettuce cup. Sauteed chicken Mediterranean with wild mushroom risotto was served as the main course, and New York style cheesecake with Plant City strawberry sauce, chantilly cream and caramel drizzle was presented as the final touch for dessert.

Executive Chef James Pampinella with The Oaks Club our Culinary Arts Club members

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties plan to continue showing the community through the Open Doors Dinner Series, a behind-the-scenes look into the many programs offered at The Club that empower and equip members to achieve great futures. Thank you to Executive Chef Trae Peavey with Tripletail Seafood & Spirits and Executive Chef James Pampinella with The Oaks Club for your partnership and for teaching our teens the skills they need to excel in culinary arts and the hospitality industry.

Club member, Jacob S., International Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Recipient
Richard Perlman, Christina and James Price, and Club members


Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties have played an integral role in the lives of local youth for more than 50 years, providing daily programs and services to thousands of young people. The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The vision is to provide a world-class Club experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who walks through our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit or call 941-366-3911.

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