“Our nation has a dropout epidemic. About 1.3 million students drop out every year. That’s 7,000 a day! At Firewall, we challenge the statistics and prove that with the right academic help and involvement, these at-risk students can not only survive, but thrive,” according to firewallcenters.org.
Firewall Centers operates daily after-school tutoring and mentoring programs for at-risk students that instill and promote holistic success—academic, professional, social, family, and self. This past year, Firewall offered six centers serving almost 250 Broward County students, and next year the non-profit organization looks to open up even more centers. In furthering Firewall’s mission to combat the demoting statistics, a recent endeavor was pursued.
Service that transforms
On Saturday, May 3, South Florida students showcased a phenomenal effort of spirit and determination to make a difference in their community. Firewall Centers, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program, hosted its first annual Serve-A-Thon as a practical way for students to learn the value of servant leadership and give back to their neighborhoods.
The Serve-A-Thon consisted of some 250 students, Firewall mentors, headline sponsor Regent Bank volunteers and other community leaders, who all partnered together in investing over 760 community service hours and raising over $50,000 to expand services to at-risk youth.
The Serve-A-Thoners were seen all across Broward County as they served at the Davie Fire Station, planted trees at the Davie Police Station, landscaped public spaces, painted at the Davie Rodeo Grounds, cleaned up and beautified Pompano Beach Middle School by mulching and planting trees and flowers, and served food to the homeless in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.
Executive Director Andy Fernandez expressed that “it was powerful to see students that come from poverty and difficult circumstances not only enthusiastically give of themselves, but also raise money to support Firewall. This event truly taught them what servant leadership is all about.”
Students like Astrel from Pompano Beach Middle School echoed the philosophy stating that “serving made me feel like a true leader.”
Many sponsors came together to help make Firewall’s Serve-A-Thon an incredible success including: Regent Bank, the Town of Davie, Pompano Beach Middle School, Whole Foods Coral Springs and Plantation, McDonald’s on Hiatus Road, Enova Transportation Network and Hope South Florida.
Making something beautiful
The Serve-A-Thon was truly a cooperation of the South Florida community at large. It was not just a service to the community, but it was something even better—it was a service of the community.
Indian Ridge Middle School student Nate, who planted trees and bushes at the Davie Town Hall, says that his favorite part about serving “was the feeling I got after having a part in making something beautiful. I take for granted all of the hard work that goes into all the things around me.”
You can learn more about Firewall Centers at firewallcenters.org or follow them at facebook.com/firewallcenters To watch a trailer for the recent Serve-A-Thon visit firewallcenters.org/serve-a-thon/.
Finley Walker, a student at Liberty University, can be reached at [email protected]