“The club is like an extended family,” said Grace Thrift of the Boys and Girls Club of the Keys Area. Her son, Cuyler, who has ADHD, has sprouted since he started at the club. “The club allows him to be himself and the friends he has made there are amazing.”
She praises the club for the school-based skills her son has learned, and for the kind, supportive staff. “It’s done wonders for his self-esteem and confidence,” she said. The program provides after-school, holiday, and summer vacation care for more than 450 children ages 5 to 18 in Key West and Big Pine Key.
Thrift, who is a fleet foreman for the City of Key West, also noted the post-Hurricane Irma help the club provided to members, including the break in fees since the storm.
“We wanted to be a part of the long-term recovery in the Keys,” said Executive Director Dan Dombroski. The Big Pine Key location was destroyed and the club has been operating out of the Methodist Church on Key Deer Boulevard since the storm. More than $80,000 worth of products, from washers and dryers to microwaves and cell phones, were given to those who were in need. With other organizations, the club also helped clean yards and distributed non-perishable items to the community.
“The club means something different to every child who comes through our doors,” said Dombroski. “We are a helping hand, a trusted mentor, a place to finish your homework, learn new skills and play. We do this by providing a safe environment for our island’s children.”
On Sunday, May 6 from 5 to 8 p.m., Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville will host the 16th Annual Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band’s “One Particular Harbour” fundraiser to benefit the youth development program.
The annual Margaritaville fundraiser was initiated in 2003 by Kevin Boucher, a business partner of Margaritaville Café and supporter of the program. The event has since raised more than $255,000 to support their many programs, which include tutoring, literacy support, STEM initiatives, computers, sports and recreation, Spanish, dance, drama and photography lessons, health and wellness life skills, and field trips. This year’s funds will be allocated to the Bayview Park capital campaign that supports renovations needed to make the building their permanent home.
“This year’s event is more special than ever,” said Howard Livingston. “We have personally seen the incredible work they do with our grandkids; they are not just watching kids, they are changing lives.”
While the Big Pine Key location is in talks of being rebuilt with the help of Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent, Dombroski also hopes for a safe, permanent environment at Bayview Park in Key West. The kids have been moved five times in the past 15 years. They have been at Reynolds School since 2014, but will have to move out by August 2019.
“Living on an island can be challenging, especially for the young people of our community,” said Dombroski. “For many of our club members, we are the first responders in their lives, providing them a safe place to be while their parents or guardians are at work.”
The event will feature appetizers, libations, a buffet dinner, silent and live auctions, a giving tree, and a 50/50 raffle. Auction items include a Captain Outrageous bicycle, trips including NYC with tickets to Hamilton, Tuscany, Los Cabos, Mexico, Miami, artwork, gift certificates from local restaurants, attractions, businesses, and more. Tickets are $50 at keystix.com or by calling 305-296-2258 ahead of time, or $60 at the door.
“With the support of the Keys community, we can achieve our goal of providing a permanent, safe, and stable environment for the children of the Keys,” says Dombroski.
A link – bit.ly/BGCKeyWest – has been created by Amy Bradshaw, an instructor at Stay Fit Studio for those wishing to donate but can’t make the event on Sunday. She is grateful her daughter, Emma, 6, has a place to go everyday so she can work. “The club has been God-sent to us,” she said. “We really need a forever home.”
As for Cuyler, he will be enjoying summer camp at the club and is looking forward to all the fun field trips they have planned. “It’s truly a special place for us,” said mom.
ONE PARTICULAR CONCERT
Sunday, May 6 • 5 to 8 p.m.
Margaritaville, Key West
$50 • Benefits Boys & Girls Club