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  • Helena Kyle

Help for At-Risk-Teens: Project LIFT

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

Help for At-Risk-Teens

Featuring Project LIFT

Previously published in the Pineapple Post

By Helena Kyle

Freelance Writer

Dedicated to my father, Francisco, a retired professional mental health counselor, and military veteran who devoted his career to counseling Vietnam Veterans.

Volunteering for ministries or organizations that serve to improve the lives of others, is an investment in healthy, safe communities for all citizens.  Recent public shootings clearly highlight the need to address possible root causes of dangerous behavior.  Ignoring root causes of destructive behavior is as ignorant as putting a Band-Aid on someone with the flu and expecting healing.  Dangerous behavior may be attributed to a myriad of factors, but whatever the reason, people who display such behaviors need intervention.  Teens living in a dysfunctional environment are at risk to lash out in the most self-destructive ways:  Drugs; alcohol; truancy; sexual promiscuity; commit crimes – a downhill spiral of dangerous behavior, leaving teens vulnerable to gang recruitment, sexual predators, and suicide.  The professional mental health counselors at Project LIFT offer at-risk teens hope for a positive future by providing counseling, mentorship, and vocational training, at no cost.

Project LIFT, (Life Initiatives for Teens) a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, was founded in 2010 by Executive Director, Bob Zaccheo.  Bob, a licensed psychotherapist and substance abuse expert, recognized the need to motivate teens ages 14 – 19, to change negative behavior through a positive environment.  His 14-week program runs year-round.  Transportation is provided for the students, and during the school year, they attend after school from 3:30 P.M. – 6:30 P.M.  Before returning home each day, the teens and their mentors enjoy a family-style meal together, typically provided by volunteers.

Teens learn vocational skills, the value of a good work ethic, and earned income, as they work alongside mentors and volunteers.  Equally as important, the students learn the value of their personal dignity and become confident in their ability to be positively productive.

Touring the facility, afforded me the opportunity to see that the students work diligently as they learn vocational skills in the following areas: Auto Repair, boat building, carpentry, textile printing, welding, plumbing, agriculture, bicycle repair, sewing, and upholstery.  The students are well prepared for apprenticeships and employment.  If you are a business owner, consider offering an apprenticeship/employment to the Project LIFT students.

Project LIFT’s success data: By 2016:  82% of participants have stayed sober, out of the juvenile justice system, graduate from high school, and remain on a positive path.

Volunteers are needed in the following areas:  Vocational instructors for agriculture; carpentry; screen-printing and bicycle repair; female mentors for the girls program; providing meals serving up to 25 people – casseroles or dishes that can be heated in a microwave.  Also, the following pantry items would be appreciated:  Food, toiletries, school supplies.

Mark your calendar for the annual Michael Shields Memorial Fishing Tournament, which raises critically-needed funds for Project LIFT.  You can sign up until Friday of the tournament, September 28, 2018.

For more information:

Call Lois at 772-221-2244, Monday – Wednesday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

1330 S.W. 34th St, Palm City, FL 34990


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