Wesley Family Services, which supports kids and families in the Florida Keys, is the beneficiary of this year’s Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards. CONTRIBUTED

Each year since they started in 2014, ticket sales and sponsorships from The Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards have benefitted a local children’s charity. This year’s recipient is Wesley House Family Services.

But what is Wesley House Family Services and what does it do? While plenty of people in town (mostly parents) are intimately familiar with its helpful program for Florida Keys kids and families, others still wonder what happens in their building on Truman Avenue, next to the tennis courts at Bayview Park.

The nonprofit organization’s description of itself sounds simple enough: “Wesley House Family Services is … dedicated to protecting and nurturing children and strengthening families with services spanning Monroe County, Florida.”

But what does that mean? What are the “family services” in the second half of the agency’s name?

To oversimplify things, Wesley House: 

— Manages adoptions of children from the foster care system.

— Recruits and trains foster parents.

— Offers support and prevention services for troubled families as well as case management in situations involving child abuse, neglect or abandonment.

— Offers parenting support and home visits for new moms and dads through the Healthy Families program. 

— Operates a day care and pre-school at the Inez Martin Child Development Center on Varela Street.

As societies and families evolve and new challenges emerge, Wesley House adapts to ensure every parent, child and family in the Florida Keys has the support they need.

The organization was started in the early 1900s by the Methodist Church as a settlement program for Key West’s Cuban community. 

“This included a kindergarten to teach English to children who had immigrated with their families from Cuba to ease their transition into public school,” the organization’s website states. “Over the years, our organization has continued to grow geographically and in responsibility to meet the multitude of needs in the community.”

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.