Youth Guidance News

Youth Guidance Open House

Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy had a successful Open House on Wednesday, October 2.  Parents, family members and friends of Youth Guidance stopped by to see the wonderful projects and creations made by our students and to meet our mentors, presenters and Youth Guidance Team.

Members of the Exchange Club of Sebastian attended the Open House.  Pictured from left to right: Eva Chapman; Margie Duffell; Felix Cruz, Executive Director of Youth Guidance; Holly Forde, YG Program Specialist; Diane Best; and Karen McElveen.

Youth Guidance Pathfinders

Youth Guidance students assist Honor Flight veterans.

Day of Caring

We are so grateful to our Volunteers from Publix, who helped us on Saturday, October 5, the United Way of Indian River County’s Day of Caring! A wonderful group of people from Publix, Miracle Mile, Vero Beach spent their morning working on indoor and outdoor projects at Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy .  Thank you so much for your help!

Youth Guidance Young Scientists Program

The Youth Guidance “Young Scientists Program” provides new and exciting hands on experiments each week! Our children learn and use scientific skills.  In addition, they are expanding their minds to include the goals of the S.T.E.A.M. Magnet Mentoring Program!”

Equestrian Program


It's off to Sherwood Farms in Vero Beach for the Equestrian Program on Tuesday Nights from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Our children are learning about the responsibilities and joys of living on a Farm!  They are also enjoying horseback riding. Funding for this program is provided by the Mardy Fish Children's Foundation!


Recently, members of the Youth Guidance (YG) Pathfinders Excel Club volunteered to help  “For the Love of Paws”, a not-for-profit organization in Fellsmere. Dog and cat food are donated to the organization for the pets of low-income families in our community.  The YG Pathfinders Club took the donations for the dogs and cats and put them in individual bags for distribution.

“The group loved helping out and had a wonderful time,” said Kim Prado, Youth Guidance Chair and Mentor.  “This is just one of the many community service projects that our Youth Guidance Excel Club has done this year.”  

The Youth Guidance Pathfinders Excel Club is designed for High School students to help to develop: leadership skills, civic engagement (by learning about public policy and taking on leadership roles), how to run a small business, how to save and invest money, and how to help fundraise for the community.  In addition, the group is involved with child abuse prevention and volunteers throughout the community to assist those in need, which helps them develop skills to be an adult who contributes to the Indian River County community.

The “For the Love of Paws” Pet Sanctuary provides peace of mind to Senior Citizens when they can no longer care for their pets, due to being placed into Hospice, Memory Care, Nursing Homes,  Assisted Living or a Medical Procedure where they are placed into extended Rehabilitation. Additionally, the “The Paws Meals on Wheels” program provides pet food to those in need who are having difficulty feeding their beloved Pets. The Pet Food Bank provides in excess of 6,000 pounds of Pet Food Monthly.



The Exchange Club of Indian River honored two Youth Guidance students, Jatalia Hammond and John Quigley, with their “Accepting the Challenge of Excellence” (ACE) Award. The ACE Award recognizes high school students who have had to overcome great physical, emotional, or social obstacles to succeed in school.Its purpose is to encourage them to graduate from high school and applauds and recognizes those students who might otherwise be overlooked for their achievements.


At a recent celebratory breakfast, members of the Grand Harbor Community Outreach Program (GHCOP) awarded a grant to Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy. 

According to Felix Cruz, Youth GuidanceExecutive Director, “We are delighted to be one of the recipients receiving a grant.  It will enable us to fulfill our commitment to enhance our Mentoring Academy concept with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math based programs, which maintain the core academy elements of mentoring and social skills development.”

At the breakfast, the GHCOP Board awarded grants to 34 non-profit agencies serving residents of Indian River County, totaling $410,150. GHCOP’s theme continues to be, “providing hope and help to our neighbors in need so they can lift themselves out of poverty.” 

Boxing is a Big Hit This Semester

Every Wednesday night, a Youth Guidance Mentor, brings twelve children to Sweet Science in Vero Beach.  At Sweet Science, the children from Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy, are taught how to strengthen their bodies, as well as their minds. Sweet Science owners and instructors, Chris and Lucina Gray, put the children, ages 11-14, through a vigorous one-hour,  full body workout.



Members of the Head, Heart and Hands (HHH) Community Outreach Program of Indian River Club, awarded 17 grants,totaling $146,500 to the non-profit organizations of Indian River County. The grants were presented at an Award Ceremony at Indian River Club on March 29, 2019. Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy (YGMA) was one of the fortunate recipients. 

“As one of organizations receiving a grant from HHH, we are honored to be amongst a select group of non-profits that are devoted to improving the lives of residents in Indian River County,” said Felix Cruz, Executive Director of Youth Guidance.  “This grant enables us to help at risk and underprivileged children break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members to the economy of Indian River County.”

“Specifically, the grant will be used for our “Game Changers Program” at Youth Guidance.  This program is designed to integrate sports and science so that students can practice creating technologies and solutions for real-world problems,” added Cruz. “The program also focuses on preparing students to be successful in our increasingly technical S.T.E.M. based society.”

Youth Guidance Students Honored By IR Exchange Club

Pictured: Youth Guidance board member Jim Boggs, ACE Award winners Kayla Moore and Cami Sands, Cami's mother Karen, and mentor Kevin Moree
The Exchange Club of Indian River honored two Youth Guidance students, Kayla Moore and Cami Sands, with its Accepting the Challenge of Excellence (ACE) Award. The ACE Award recognizes high school students who have had to overcome great physical, emotional, or social obstacles to succeed in school. Its purpose is to encourage them to graduate from high school and applauds and recognizes those students who are might otherwise be overlooked for their achievements.
Kayla is a junior at VBHS and a member of the Youth Guidance Pathfinders Excel Club. Through the club, she has gained confidence and leadership skills. She enjoys working year-round at the Environmental Learning Center.
Cami Sands has been member of the Pathfinders Excel Club for two years and serves as its secretary. She participates in all the club's volunteer projects and attended the Florida District Exchange Clubs convention last spring. She is independent and has a get-it-done attitude that makes her highly respected by the club's members and mentors.
Excel Clubs are National Exchange Club's high school chapters made up of students who are dedicated to improving their schools, communities, and country through volunteerism.
As seen in this Week's Vero Beach FLASH Newsletter.

Impact 100 IMPACT 100 Recognizes Youth Guidance S.T.E.A.M. Magnet Program

At a well- attended open house at Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy, members of Impact 100, Indian River presented a plaque to Felix Cruz, Executive Director in recognition of the agency’s partnership with Impact 100.  Over thirty two women from Impact toured the facility and attended a presentation defining the impact of grant funds awarded to Youth Guidance.  According to Felix Cruz, “As one of only four recipients receiving this award we are honored to march alongside Impact 100 philanthropist toward the healthy development of the children and families of Indian River County.”

Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!

As part of our Learn, Grow, Eat and Go (gardening), students are learning how to build their own garden box.  In this program, the children are learning the importance of growing their own food, while doing hands-on activities that teach them the skills they need to live a healthy lifestyle. The mentor is Darren Cole who is partnering with us from 4H.  Would you like to be a Mentor?  Contact Josh Sutterfield at 

Susie Beale Outstanding Volunteer

Pictured:  Susie Beale and Felix Cruz, Executive Director Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy
Youth Guidance recognizes Susie Beale for Outstanding Volunteer working and cooking for our children. Thank you for all the years serving our youth.
Link to video

Coronavirus - Update for March 16




As most of you know, Youth Guidance has a scheduled closing for the next two weeks. Our interns from Indian River State College are taking advantage of this time to deep clean and disinfect our building. Everyone remember to wash your hands and stay home if you are feeling unwell. If everything goes as planned, our new Spring Semester is set to begin on Tuesday, March 31st. If the school board finds the need to extend school closures, Youth Guidance will also remain closed. Stay connected through our website and social media pages for any updates on the status of when we will re-open. Please stay healthy and remember to wash your hands!!