March 2013 Newsletter

There’s an old, amusing proverb that goes something like: “If you see a turtle on a fencepost, you know it didn’t get there by itself…”

Now, we could debate about all the philosophical implications of such a statement (e.g. Why is he up there? What does he do now? How does he get down?), but let’s not lose sight of the simple truth—we need each other. No man is an island, and no man is an independent, fence-sitting turtle. We all live on the success and shoulders of those who have gone before us. Now this is not to say that we cannot choose to rise above circumstances and create our own legacy. It just means that we all started somewhere, and we’ve all needed guidance from life veterans along the way.

At Firewall, we may not specialize in reptile habitation, but we do work hard to better the lives of youth, families, and their community. The key of Firewall’s success lies with the personalized touch and mentorship that we provide for  students. We walk beside these students throughout their school years and help live life with them. The legacy of Firewall testifies to lives which have risen beyond the stationary fencepost of circumstances and found success beyond their wildest dreams. One of our recent Servant Leaders expressed his appreciation of the Firewall mentorship program:


“Firewall has been an amazing help to my life! The mentors have helped me with all of my schoolwork and my home problems. Ever since I started Firewall, my grades and attendance have improved.”

– Brandon Esposito, Senior, Western High School



A turtle may not need to be on fencepost, but we all certainly need community. We need people to speak into our lives. We need mentors—people who have been there, done that, and can now help us to do better. And we strive to do just that. Here at Firewall, we are not just changing academic scores. We are changing destinies!


February 2013 Newsletter

As our partners and supporters know, the vision of Firewall Centers is to transform students into servant leaders. As the 3rd Quarter of the school year begins, staff has had the privilege to see this vision being realized once again. Every year, students grow and learn to be servant leaders. Those students who go above and beyond are recognized as Servant Leaders of the Quarter. Here is what some of them are saying in appreciation of the Firewall program:

 Servant Leader: Arnold

“Firewall has helped me become a better student because it has given me the foundation to strive in my academic world. Firewall helps by assisting me when I need mentoring. Firewall even offers the supplies that I need to achieve my goals. Firewall pushed me to achieve my goal of receiving straight A’s. Firewall is like my guardian angel—because Firewall has taught me the four keys of success: Faith, Integrity, Relationships, and Excellence.”

– Arnold Fuentes, 6th grade, Indian Ridge Middle School



Servant Leader: Rony-Son

“Firewall has helped me to become a better person because I used to just go home and forget about my schoolwork. Now I come to Firewall every day and participate in the program. The mentors push me to do all my homework, and now I am doing better at school and I am getting good grades.”

– Rony-Son Aristilde, 6th grade, Attucks Middle School


Students like Arnold and Rony-Son had no idea what they were capable of. But Firewall recognizes the potential inside of every youth, and we provide the lasting impact in their lives to make it happen. Now, they too see that they truly can succeed. And they now know that being a leader is not just about being first—it is about serving others.

Thank you for being a part of the Firewall Family. You are vital to the mission of equipping and supporting students as they strive toward their greatest potential. You are helping to transform students into servant leaders—those who change the world!


January 2013 Newsletter

In just three years, Firewall has more than tripled its numbers. But Firewall is much more than measurable data. It is about the individual student and their story of success. Recently, we were handed a letter by one of our Honor Roll students at the Pompano Center, Melina, which truly touched our hearts. This is what she had to say:

 Dear Firewall,

 You guys have helped me through everything. You are always there for me. You have helped me from homework to social problems. I am so glad that I have you guys. I have been in Firewall since seventh grade. You push me to do my homework. You’re the reason why everything is better. Other people think it’s lame that I go to an after-school program, but I’m glad I have you. You guys are like family to me. You always help me through anything. Without you, I would be a C student no doubt about it. Yes, I know we have our disagreements, but in the end we all love each other. So what I’m trying to say is thank for everything.

Love always, Melina

Melina’s story is why we do what we do. Firewall exists for her. Firewall exists for the at-risk and under-served; for those who havebeen told, “You’re just not good enough.” Firewall is for every student that seeks to become more than a statistic.

As a Firewall family, we have watched Melina grow over the past couple of years. Her life is now an inspiration to other students, and an encouragement to our program. When Melina first walked through our doors she had no idea of her own potential to succeed. Firewall is not about making students into something they are not. It is about helping students realize their own excellence. As time has gone by, friendships have formed and grades have risen. Now Melina, like so many others, has the confidence to pursue success. Firewall believes in its students. We believe in Melina. But more important, Melina now believes in herself.

For all of our readers and supporters, thank you. You are a vital part of what we do. You are essential to Melina’s story. You are essential to the continuing story of Firewall. So, in the words of Melina, what we’re “trying to say is thank you for everything!”

To read more about the growing impact of Firewall Centers please check out a recent article review from South Florida’s Good News:



December 2012 Newsletter

It’s that time of the year again: the most Wonderful time!

For most, the holidays are a time to give. Many search for the “perfect gift” to give to their loves ones. Others take this time to give to those who may be less fortunate than they are.

At Firewall Centers, we not only give during the holiday season, but every day throughout the year. We have been called to give the gift of hope to almost 150 students across South Florida. Each student that walks through Firewall’s doors is given an opportunity for academic success while building their character. And this is the recipe that ultimately results in their life transformation.

Please consider Firewall Centers as you search for an organization or cause to give to this Christmas season. Right now, your investment will be doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 by some of Firewall’s most faithful friends. Your support is vital to our continued expansion and the furthering our mission of transforming students into servant leaders.

With this thought in mind, we would like to share with you the stories of three more of our Servant Leaders. Thank you for all that you do for Firewall Centers and its students. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 Servant Leader Stories

Davie Middle School Center: First quarter Servant Leader Kyle, a 7th grade Firewall student, says:

“I had wanted to come to Firewall since my brother Kirk started to come when I was still in elementary. I have goals, and each quarter I set them. At Firewall, there are great people that push me to reach them.

Davie High School CenterKenneth is another one of Firewall’s Servant Leaders for this school year’s first quarter. His words:

“Firewall helped me to be a better student and a better person by helping me solve problems and realize that I can make a better future for myself.”

Hollywood Middle School Center: First quarter’s Servant Leader, Kaylianna, has this to say about her Firewall Center:

Firewall has helped me get better grades and learn self-control. They help me understand who I am. When I come after school, I think about how all of the students and staff light up my day and make me feel welcome. If I have a question and I might feel uncomfortable asking, the staff will talk to me privately and not make fun of me. Even when I am not around or late, the staff won’t get mad. Everyone is polite. Firewall has also helped me learn the 4 things that are important and part of the word FIRE: Faith, Integrity, Relationship, and Excellence, which I will always remember.”



November 2012 Newsletter

What an unbelievable crowd we had for our annual Student-to-Leader Luncheon! There was literally standing room ONLY as Firewall’s friends, its students, and staff gathered at the Signature Grand on Thursday, November 8th. The program featured powerful stories of transformation from students and staff as well as an inspiring testimony from AT&T Area Manager, John Merlino.

Firewall Mentor, Ariel Cabrera, spoke about how his job as a positive role model and tutor at Firewall has helped him to discover that he wants to move towards school counseling and how it is even preparing him to be a better father in the future.

Another highlight of the afternoon was hearing from our four interns. Last year, Firewall began an internship program in which high school students from the Davie T.H.I.N.K. Leadership High School Center go to the Middle School Center to assist the younger students with their homework and to supervise the recreational activities. At our luncheon, these young leaders spoke about how Firewall has changed their lives not only academically, but in developing the right values and life perspective. It is truly impacting to hear that most of them are gearing their career choices towards touching the lives of others in the community as they desire to go into the fields of psychology and teaching.
AT&T Area Director John Merlino expressed to the crowd that the reason why Firewall received the $100,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation is because of our ability to show results and life change. AT&T’s focus is on increasing graduation rates, and Firewall was chosen as 1 out of 47 organizations nationwide whose mission and measurable results align with this focus.

Servant Leader Stories

Davie High School Center: Servant Leader of the school’s year’s first quarter, Sara, an 11th grader, is a part of Firewall’s internship program. Her words:

“Firewall has completely changed my perspective on life. They have showed me that life is more than just what you wear and who you hang out with. It’s about who you are as a person.”


Pompano Beach Middle School Center: First quarter Servant Leader Ryan, a 7th grade Firewall student, says this about Firewall:

“To begin with, Firewall has helped me a lot. Firewall has helped me reach my goals of getting A’s when I have never been able to do it before. Firewall has helped me be a better person by helping me so that I can help others and they can pass it on so that they will be great and achieve goals with a lot of hard work and a lot of practice. They have taught me that no matter what comes my way, I can do it and be a great achiever and a person with high expectations. At Firewall, I have learned that I need to be a servant leader at home, at school and with my siblings.”


October 2012 Newsletter

It really is a beautiful thing to see how much students love to be a part of the “Firewall Family.” No matter what they go through in their personal lives, they know that at Firewall, they have a safe place to go to, loving and caring mentors, and practical academic assistance that ultimately helps them to succeed.

We have rapidly growing centers and waiting lists to go along with them. The needs are so numerous, but we are just not expanding fast enough to meet every single one of them! Our ultimate goal at Firewall is to be able to change the futures of every student in Broward County’s middle schools and high schools!

Now, we want to share with you an update on all that is happening across our centers!

Around Our Centers

Davie High School Center: Kenneth, an 11th grader in the program, says that “coming to Firewall has helped me in so many ways. I do better in exams and they [Firewall staff] check my homework and grades every day.”

The year began with 32 registered students. Now, we have 43, which exceeds our capacity of 40. We have set high standards for these students, making it clear to them that high school is a critical time in their education and every grade counts towards their future.

Davie Middle School Center: Sixth grader Michelle told us that “Firewall has helped me with my homework and projects and I made new friends!”

We have 50 students, with daily attendance there being 88%! Unfortunately, the waiting list at this center is very long, as new parents are literally coming by the center week  after week, trying to sign up their student for the program.

Pompano Beach Middle School Center:Catherine, an 8th grade Firewall student, says this about Firewall: “Firewall has helped me learn more about God, helped me do my homework and helped me with my grades. I love the staff and I enjoy the relationships I’ve made with friends.”
Firewall’s center at Pompano Beach Middle School is running incredibly efficiently. Beginning this year with 16 returning students, we now have 30 with the daily attendance rate there being over 90%! Now that we are settled in at the school and the first quarter is over, we will be reaching out to increase center attendance to 40.

Hollywood Middle School Center: Keandre, a 6th grader, says that “Firewall keeps me from being home by myself and helps me do my homework because my mom works and doesn’t have the time to help me.”

The Hollywood Center began this year with only 6 students. We are excited to say that we now have 15. Students have been spreading the word to their friends around the neighborhood and we expect to be at our capacity in the next few weeks.


September 2012 Newsletter

Why is Firewall Centers growing? Because it works!

Each day, more and more people are grabbing a hold of the Firewall vision as they witness transformation in the lives of its students.

One of the world’s largest corporations, AT&T, has caught on to the vision and established a partnership with Firewall, choosing the organization as 1 out of only 47 recipients of its Aspire grant. Recipients like Firewall stood out from thousands of other community-based organizations across the nation when it came to using data to demonstrate the effectiveness and real results of its programs. Firewall has proven that it effectively keeps students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school on a path to receiving their diploma, entering college or vocational school, and heading towards a successful career.

AT&T’s Aspire grant is 2-year grant of $100,000 that will support Firewall’s T.H.I.N.K. Leadership high school program in Davie. AT&T is confident that with its support, Firewall will be able to scale up and reach more students in the community.

Marshall Criser, President of AT&T in Florida, said that “family circumstances, challenges learning and dealing with their peers create issues that obstruct opportunities for up to 50,000 kids in South Florida. At AT&T, we make communities stronger by supporting programs like Firewall Centers that provide opportunities for middle and high school students to reach their greatest potential.”

On September 27th, AT&T representatives Maria Johnston and John Merlino, Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul and Davie councilmembers, Firewall’s board of directors, the Vice Chairman of the Broward County School Board Laurie Rich Levinson, friends from local schools, churches, businesses and many others gathered as AT&T presented the check to Firewall.

On this day, Firewall Centers presented a plaque to the Town of Davie to recognize their assistance in making the building that houses the T.H.I.N.K. Leadership program a possibility for students. Present were Mayor Judy Paul, Vice Mayor Marlon Luis, Councilmembers Susan Starkey and Caryl Hattan, Housing & Community Development Director Giovanni Moss, and Neighborhood Resource Specialists Jeremiah Chapman and Melanie Lerch.

Firewall also presented plaques to Ed Zymroz of Zymroz Energy, Rosana Cordova of Cordova Rodriguez & Associates, Pastor Chris Baselice of Calvary Chapel Plantation, and John Dellicarpini of JDC Construction for their dedication to Firewall and for the services they provided to get the building up and running.

Following the presentation of the plaques and a brief testimonial from Maria Aguerre, a former Firewall student who is now the Middle School Director of the Davie Center, Mayor Judy Paul cut the ribbon to inaugurate the building.

September 27th was an incredibly special and important day for Firewall, its staff, and the students that it serves. Thank you to all who attended. Your gifts and support make all of the difference and allow Firewall to do what it has been called to do. Your support is changing student’s lives.

August 2012 Newsletter

Words cannot express how truly blessed we are this year!

With our expansion, it has become absolutely essential to have the right people in place at each of our four centers. Our leadership team is dedicated and passionate about working to transform the lives of students across South Florida.

Center Director of Davie High School: Travis

My first week I found myself standing In a room full of passionate, talented, bright, gifted and unique high schoolers getting ready to leap into limitless directions of the real world. I am so excited to have the opportunity to help them on their journey to pursue the exciting purpose that God has for their life. In my opinion, this young generation Is the most underused and undervalued resource on this planet.  It’s time we recognize their potential and empower them to make this world a better place; I see this happening everyday at Firewall and I am thrilled to be a part of this awesome team!


Center Director of Davie Middle School: Maria

Firewall Centers has been a part of my life since I moved here from my country of birth, helping me through the good times and the bad. As I settled down and learned the English language, I began practicing the values that I was taught by my parents and the Firewall center. I started giving back and developed a passion for working with kids from low-income families. I have gotten to know many students and the hardships that they go through on an everyday basis. They are kids with many talents that just need a little push to succeed and that is what I am here to do. I really enjoy what I do because I know I am making a difference in their lives, and I hope to one day see them in their successful careers.

Center Director of Hollywood: Finley

Last summer I heard about this after-school program called Firewall Centers. My initial thought was, “What kind of name is Firewall?” It wouldn’t take long for me to find out just what Firewall was all about. Zechariah 2:5 says, “‘For I,’ declares the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her [Jerusalem], and I will be the glory in her midst.’”  Just like the firewall on your computer is a protection from harmful intruders and downloads, Firewall Centers is a protection for youth from the harmful and  destructive influences of the world. Firewall offers a place of safety and security. Kids are free to be kids as they are challenged to grow into mature adults. Firewall is a place of opportunity. Students are shown that they can choose a better life than they have known.  And Firewall is a place of life change. Students’ lives are impacted for all eternity as they are taught to be servant leaders. As I begin my second year working with Firewall, I am super excited for all that is to come. I know Firewall is onto something big here—because it works! Firewall changes lives!

Center Director of Pompano Beach: Megan

I’ve had the privilege of working at Firewall for the past couple of weeks and I can honestly say that being a part of this ministry has already given me the opportunity to observe a change in my own life.  I get to witness the beautiful transformation of a change in attitude, action, relationship and values in the lives of these students. These students come to the center to seek academic help from our staff and mentors, but leave with a new outlook that allows them to see that there is a purpose and a meaning for their lives. I am excited to be a part of a team that is not only passionate about helping students reach their best potential, but focused on guiding the student towards a life changing experience that administers an internal transformation.

July 2012 Newsletter

Firewall Kicks Off A Brand New Center!

We feel blessed to be able to announce the opening of yet another Firewall Center! The City of Hollywood contacted us in February asking us to provide our services to students in a very at-risk neighborhood near Attucks Middle School. Since then, we have met with the school’s

principal and the program directors at the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. They are all excited about partnering with us and the City of Hollywood is even letting us use this excellent facility free of charge! This new partnership will allow us to provide our much needed services to another 25 middle school students.

It is truly amazing how doors have opened wide for Firewall yet again, and we are certainly looking forward to what the future holds in store for us as we continue to fulfill our mission each and every day. Between our four centers this coming school year, we will be able to touch the lives of over 150 students every day! But we know that the need is great and we cannot get the job done without your prayers and support!

“Anyone wanting to be a leader must first be the servant.”
– Jesus Christ

Servant Leadership is at the core of everything that we do and teach at Firewall. Our staff models it, our students are encouraged and rewarded as they display it, and our friends and partners share our passion for it. That is why we had such an awesome day on June 30 when a group of 15 servant leaders from Calvary Chapel Plantation enthusiastically helped us to greatly improve our high school center in Davie.

These men took time out of their Saturday to do everything from electrical repairs, to carpentry, to pressure cleaning, and even hung our new Firewall sign on the building. Their work also included staining the access ramp and stairs as well as repainting the outside trim of the building a beautiful shade of “Mountain Blueberry.”

So we just want to take this opportunity to thank the MANY people who bless us with their time, treasure, and talents. You always come through for us and we want to thank you for supporting Firewall as we endeavor to impact the lives of students in neighborhoods throughout South Florida!


June 2012 Newsletter

This month, we want to recognize and thank all of our dedicated staff members and volunteers who week after week, day after day, give of themselves to model servant leadership in the lives of each of our students.

“The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have,but in giving of who you are.”

Staff Member: Diana Reyes

I’ve had the privilege of working at Firewall as a mentor for the past year and a half. I can say that it has truly been a life changing experience to observe life change itself happen in the lives of the students that attend Firewall. Students from so many different backgrounds and with so many different stories come to us for help and in the process of helping them improve their grades and walking alongside them, something beautiful happens: transformation.  Sometimes it’s slower than others, but the change in outlook and attitude is almost always  present. Students come to truly believe in themselves and learn to never quit.

I will be pursuing a Master’s degree in the fall and sadly will have to leave Firewall. But the nice thing about working and being a part of Firewall is that Firewall never leaves you. I will miss my students very much but the relationships I formed with them have helped changed them and have changed me in the process. What an amazing blessing!

Volunteer: Thomas Chen

I began volunteering at Firewall in the fall of 2010 in order to fulfill a community service requirement for medical school at Nova Southeastern University. However, working with the  students at Firewall quickly turned from an obligation to a personal passion. Even before I completed the community service requirement, I knew that teaching and mentoring students who were eager to learn was an opportunity that I would strive to maintain week after week.

Firewall is a unique organization. Firewall combines a fundamental faith in Christ and spirit of service with dedicated leaders and a talented staff. I truly believe that without all these components Firewall would not be an effective ministry. As a Christian myself, my desire is to invest my time and energy where God can bless. And the Lord certainly has blessed, helping young adults to succeed in class as students and to make good decisions as servant leadership.

While the most apparent victories have occurred in the lives of the students, I would like to point out that students have been an encouragement to me, and afforded me an opportunity to serve the Lord. Studying medicine can be wearying and even stressful at times, but I’m   thankful for the refreshment that I’ve received from teaching and counseling students, and even playing games with them. Indeed, I believe that this mutual interaction is how community    service was intended to operate.

Job Opportunity

Firewall is growing fast because of the urgent need that young people have for academic assistance and positive role models in their lives. As part of our expansion, we seek to hire part-time individuals who are looking to change the lives of middle and high school students during the critical after-school hours. If you are interested in making a difference and serving others, contact us at 954-252-0838 or Please check out our website for more information.