Corks for a Cause: Nellie's Youth Village
Editor’s Note: Each month the Destin Log will share a story from one of the charity partners benefiting from the support of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
Each weekday afternoon, at least eight million “latchkey” children are left alone and unsupervised. While there are many youth programs available, many are inaccessible to the high-risk demographic. Children spend an average of five hours a week before school and nine hours a week after school either alone or in after school care, not to mention summer and holiday breaks.
With rising cost of child care and a large amount of time students spend outside of school, the need for a safe and encouraging educational environment is critical to build character, support academics, and instill responsible, positive behavior. In Fort Walton Beach, high-risk youth receive supportive, nurturing care at Nellie’s Youth Village. Youth Village serves as an after school program, spring break holiday camp, and summer camp for the children ages five to 16.
Founded in 1999 by Nellie Bogar, Youth Village started out as a place to provide mentorship and a safe place for students to study and finish their homework. Today, the program has grown to offer fine arts, fitness classes, nutrition, reading circles, group talk, computer assistance, anti-bullying techniques, a parental assistance team, career presentations, and so much more. The Youth Village mission is to provide a safe place, a fun place, a learning place, a place for kids where people care.
Youth Village became a Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) partner in 2008. Since that time Youth Village has been awarded over $500,000. In addition to funding scholarships for children to attend the 40-week after-school program, the monies allow more children to attend the summer camps and provide nutritional snacks. Funds have also allowed Nellie and her staff to purchase a van to pick children up from school and take them on educational trips. Booster seats were purchased for the smaller children to ensure safety during rides. In addition, DCWAF assistance has allowed Nellie to purchase educational and art supplies.
“Over the years, we have watched the children in this program thrive under the care of the incredible staff of this grass roots organization,” said DCWAF President John Russell. “Nellie Bogar leads a truly dedicated team to the mission of providing a safe, fun, learning environment. It is obvious they truly care about these kids. The results are seen in the smiling faces and great report cards! It is an honor to be included in the extended family of Youth Village.”
Since inception, Youth Village has served more than 2,000 children. Ninety percent of the students at Youth Village are able to attend at no cost to their families.
Ms. Nellie and the staff work daily to help each child discover opportunities for their future. By performing full theater productions such as “Aladdin Kids” and participating in the Youth Village Council Program, the students learn responsibility and the rewards of hard work.
Another positive program is the Youth Village television series, INSIGHT, which allows the children to speak up on subjects such as family, anti-bullying, healthy eating, team sports and more. Each student plays a role in building programs, websites, costumes, set design and more. They learn what it means to work together as a team and set the stage to begin pursuing long-term goals.
To learn more or to provide support to Nellie’s Youth Village, visit nelliesyouthvillage.org. To learn more about DCWAF and its charity partners, visit dcwaf.org.
To see all charitable partnerships and donations for the year, view the DCWAF annual report.