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Mentors Matter: Replay Outreach Offers Game-Changing Opportunities

Nonprofit teams up with local business leaders to help teens excel in the game of life.

Presented by Replay Outreach November 6, 2020

Manatee High teens Chris Heredia and Clinton Matthews meet with Victor Young, accompanied by Replay Outreach Training Director Vernon Kearney.

Replay Outreach is on a mission to help local youth find their potential, passion, and purpose in life through partnerships with individuals, churches, and area businesses. The youth they serve get the opportunity to find out firsthand how powerful these partnerships can be.

Over the past few months in their Success4Life training program, nonprofit Director Vernon Kearney brought the teens to visit a theatre, a luxury car dealership, the golf course, and an executive airport—all places they had never been. And in all cases, they were able to interact directly with the owners and senior leadership. These experiences opened the young men’s eyes to new possibilities and career avenues they could pursue after graduation.

Meeting Victor Young, president of Sarasota’s BMW dealership, inspired one student in particular. Clinton Matthews wants to be a businessman himself, and he took encouragement in seeing a successful, polished Black man in the position of leadership. Victor is well known in the community for giving back in big ways, like bringing The Metropolis soccer team to Sarasota—offering opportunity and unity through sport—but it’s the smaller, day-to-day forms of outreach that can sometimes be most impactful.

Upon their departure, Victor gave the young men a challenge of sorts. As part of GMI Lab Creative, which encourages youth to enter STEM fields, he gifted them with a robot to build as a team. This small act bolstered the training and guidance the young men have already been receiving at Replay: repairing technology for resale as a tangible job skill. It also reinforced the act of process, getting from point A to point B, achieving a tangible goal, and working as a team.

Replay students Chris Heredia and Josh Bundrage enjoy their first cockpit experience.

Vernon Kearney said, “These boys are brought up in a microwave society where they think everything happens immediately.” Having played in the NFL, Vernon knows good things don’t come easy, but exposing the youth to other professionals across different industries who’ve dedicated themselves to their respective fields gives them a more realistic vision of success.

Visiting the Dolphin Aviation site was another eye-opener. Being a pilot was not in the game plan of prospects for the group. But after owner Ron Ciaravella talked about the training process to become a pilot, it no longer felt unachievable, because they were given a guide map with a clear finish line in sight.

Replay students get a guided tour through Dolphin Aviation.

They enjoyed a similar experience when they visited West Coast Black Theatre, where Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs took them through the expansion site of the theatre. Again, they were exposed to a successful Black man in a leadership role who took time to educate them on his journey, struggles, and successes. When performances resume, Nate invited the group back to experience live theatre as his guests.

Through these mentorship moments, the students gained perspective. They now had new possibilities to consider and work opportunities they never thought were accessible to them.

Chris Heredia was so motivated he took it upon himself to write a Replay Outreach Playbook – highlighting the “4 P’s to Success”: Potential, Passion, Purpose, Persistence. He planned, wrote, designed, and produced all 31 pages, covering the gamut from Self Care to Working as a Team to The Cultural Divide. Thanks to another local business partnership, SaraMana Business Solutions, the organization can now print these at no cost from a donated printer and give them to all the youth they serve.

Business leaders who understand the power of opportunity, collaboration, and access are key to filling in the gaps for youth in our community. Replay Outreach is looking for more partners to help them keep kids from falling through the cracks of society by providing educational, real-world experiences and mentorship. To learn more and get in the game, contact Vernon Kearney.

If you’d like to make a donation to Replay’s outreach efforts, click here.

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410 4th Ave E
Bradenton, FL 34208

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