Donation from Villagers makes huge difference for Sumter Youth Center

The $505 donation from the Dunedin Social Club, Fernandina & Friends and the band Missing Links will help the Sumter Youth Center’s Wildwood location replace its HVAC system.

“Their gift comes at a perfect time. Our 13-year-old system had operated well-past its life expectancy,” said Delia Boushley, the center’s executive director. “But an unexpected mechanical problem required us to immediately spend $10,000 for a new 15-ton unit. Those funds had been allocated to our programs directly serving our youngsters.”

Villager Jerry Joyce presents a check for $505 to Sumter Youth Center Director Jamie Kulins.

The timely check was presented by band member Jerry Joyce, of the Village of Dunedin, to Wildwood Director Jamie Kulins.

“Our club decided not to have a social event on July 12, due to traditionally low summer attendance,” Joyce said. “So, we offered to donate the services of The Missing Links for a fundraiser. Approximately 120 people attended.

Maddy, Julian, Caleb and Cobe work together to build a Lego masterpiece at the Sumter Youth Center recently.

“My wife has helped out at the Sumter Youth Center. So, we were well aware of the wonderful things they’re doing for the kids – and the great reasons to give,” Joyce added.

Sumter Youth Center is a non-profit organization that operates two locations. Its main campus in Bushnell began in 2001 and was followed by the Wildwood facility that opened the following year. They serve as nurturing environments and safe alternatives for 250 students who mostly come from economically disadvantaged families throughout the county.

Mikaela and Erik complete their school assignments in the designated homework room at the Sumter Youth Center. When finished, center staff members will check their work.

“We offer a variety of after-school activities, as well as full-time programs during the summer and school breaks,” Kulins said. “During the school year, the kids are required to complete their homework before taking advantage of our computer lab, participate in supervised activities, use our indoor and outdoor playgrounds, or play on the adjacent fields.”

The center largely relies on the generosity of Villagers to help meet its expenses.

“Twice a week, our thrift shop trucks are in The Villages picking up donations of furniture, clothing and all types of miscellaneous items,” Boushley said, adding that residents can arrange a convenient time by calling (352) 568-8722 or (352) 569-9393.

Kernel, Astin and Kianna keep busy having a good time together in the Sumter Youth Center’s activity area.

Boushley said a tax-deductible contribution always is welcomed. Checks can be mailed to Sumter Youth Centers at P.O. Box 2092, Bushnell, FL 33513.

“Also, we always are looking for afternoon volunteers at the two centers,” she added. “Anyone wanting to make a difference in a kid’s life should call me for more information.”

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