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!”



The Exchange Club of Indian River honored two Youth Guidance students, Marlaja Stinson and Mario Martinez at a May 1st lunch meeting at C.J. Cannon's. Scott Wallace, chair of the Exchange Club’s ACE Awards (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) committee, presented the final awards of this academic year to Marlaja and Mario.  Each student received a check, and their names were placed on the award plaque that hangs in the lobby of Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy. 

The ACE Award recognizes students who have overcome 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.

Marlaja was honored for volunteering,participating in the Pathfinders Excel Club and improving her grades. She attends theFreshman Learning Center and has been part of Youth Guidance for nine years. She lovesbasketball and wants to attend Florida State University.

Mario has participated in the Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy program for two years. He is presently a student at Gifford Middle School. He loves music and is known for always being around to help when he is needed.

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.



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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.”


Henner Lenhardt Winner of the 50’s Division Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy King of the Hill Tennis Tournament
Tuesday night, February 19, was a balmy, breezy Florida night, perfect for the finals of the 50’s Division for the Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy King of the Hill Tennis Tournament. The 50’s Division was one of the most exciting rivalries in years!  More than 200 spectators cheered on their favorite finalist until the last point of the evening. The finalists vying for the 50's Division King of the Hill title were: Joe Biedenharn (John's Island), Michael Phelipa (Suntree Country Club), Henner Lenhardt (Sea Oaks) and Tim Brueggeman (Vero Beach Country Club).  After an intense competition, Henner Lenhardt won, becoming “The King” of the 50’s Division.

Lennart Jonason Wins the Youth Guidance 2019 King of the Hill 40's Division Tennis Tournament

The 2019 King of the Hill (KOTH) 40's Division final took place last Thursday night at The Boulevard Tennis Club, in front of very enthusiastic crowd. Around 150 spectators came to support the Youth Guidance event and to encourage their favorite player. 

Cullen DeWindt (Pipers Landing), Lennart Jonason (John's Island), Jason Wilks (Buttonwood) and Michael Phelipa (Suntree CC) kept the crowd very entertained throughout the entire competition. 

Lennart Jonason played extremely well, serving and returning with no errors during the entire event. He won every round and became "The King" of the 40's Division, for the second time. Cullen and Jason finished in a tie for the second position and Michael finished third. Congratulations to Lennart Jonason for winning the title this season.

Chase Perez-Blanco Crowned 2019 KIng of the Hill for the Youth Guidance Tennis Tournament

After weeks of local pros vying to be named King of the Hill, Chase Perez-Blanco, of Quail Valley, won the title of King of Hill for the 2019 Youth Guidance Tennis Tournament. More than 250 spectators enjoyed a great night of tennis at The Moorings Club, where the final competition was held. 

The four finalists for the Open Division, Nandor Solymosi (Quail Valley), Chase Perez-Blanco (Quail Valley), Adam Lefkandinos (The Moorings) and Lennart Jonason (John's Island) played highly competitive tennis, keeping the crowd excited and entertained the entire night.  The first two rounds were very close, and the winner of the 2019 King of the Hill title was decided in the third round. Playing very well together in the third round, Chase and Nandor won the set, giving Chase Perez-Blanco enough points to win the title.

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.



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Grants Update

On, April 18th, the membership of Impact 100 voted at the Tenth Grant Awards and Annual Meeting to select the winners of this year’s awards. Since this year’s membership consists of 466 members, four $100,000 Impact Grants were awarded, with the remaining $66,000 divided evenly among the three Merit Grant winners.

Youth Guidance was amoung the 4 recipients of the 2018 Impact Grants!
"We are very proud and excited to have developed a partnership with Impact 100 and look forward to a productive collaboration in the healthy development of the children and families of Indian River County." - Felix Cruz, Executive Director, Youth Guidance

 Find out more about Impact 100 by visiting