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Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center opens, recognized as national model

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Today, the facility stands as a new opportunity for Club members across Sarasota County to receive workforce development training.

On September 29, our organization celebrated a revolutionary milestone as Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) President/CEO Jim Clark joined visionaries and Club members to officially cut the ribbon and dedicate our new Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center.

“This is an incredible moment in our organization’s history,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties (BGCSC) President/CEO Bill Sadlo. “This dedication, as well as lead support from Tom and Debbie Shapiro, opens a new door for thousands of Club members across Sarasota County to discover their passions, develop employable skill sets and pave their pathways out of poverty and into a great future.”

Since 1970, BGCSC has served the children in our community who need high-quality programs the most with focus on enhancing their academic success, building their character and leadership skills and encouraging them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center now allows us to take our commitment to our Club members’ futures to a higher level.

Our organization serves more than 5,000 youth each year, and a staggering number of those children are living in impoverished conditions with families whose annual household income is at or below poverty. As history will suggest, these children are more likely to stay trapped within poverty due to a lack of or limited access to critical resources. After identifying a significant gap in Sarasota County between available job openings in the trades and qualified candidates for hire in the spring of 2015, BGCSC began envisioning a place where Club members could overcome poverty through real-world training experiences and collegiate resources for workforce development.

“This new space shows our Club members that a greater future for them and their families is in reach,” said Sadlo.  “The Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center is the place to start exploring the possibilities.”

Thanks to the instrumental leadership of the Board of Directors, as well as the contributors and construction workers who helped make this dream a reality, the Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center now houses classes and training programs for teen Club members, ultimately preparing them for and encouraging them to secure competitive community employment in Sarasota County or continue their academic career at the collegiate level after high school graduation.

“I loved showing our guests our multimedia room during the Dedication,” said Kat, 16, Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club member. “I can’t wait to use my photography skills and the new technology to showcase our special projects.”

The facility is divided into three rooms, all of which have state-of-the-art technology installed for full, comprehensive trainings, such as a virtual reality suite that offers a new method for hands-on learning, as well as, a soundproof multimedia studio equipped with the latest technology for Club members to edit videos and record podcasts.

Frontline representatives from industrial partners will also be invited to lead trainings, and share their own personal journeys to success with our Club members. Additionally, youth will develop their core skills including their communication, time management and interview abilities.

“From a national perspective, this is a model,” said Clark. “The Tom & Debbie Shapiro Career Resource Center is an example we hope more Boys & Girls Clubs across the country take on and adopt so teens can go on to be responsible citizens and contribute in building a country we all want to live in."

Here is what the media had to say about our new CRC.

Observer Newspapers

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