June 2018 Newsletter

We had an incredible 2017-2018 school year!

To finish the year, we had our Servant Leader Celebration, where we honored our Seniors, 8th graders, and heard from Broward County School Board Member Dr. Rosalind Osgood.

She inspired our students to keep going, despite any obstacles they may face. Dr. Osgood shared how she overcame her own personal struggles and encouraged the students to ‘pray, plan, and persevere.’

Our 12 graduating High School Seniors were each honored with a Firewall scholarship based on their attendance, academic performance, and how they lived out servant leadership during their time at Firewall Centers. In addition, they received a special gift sponsored by Macy’s! Congratulations Seniors!

One of these Seniors, Kenny Bazile, has been with Firewall since 6th grade.

Like many of our students, Kenny struggled with his academics because he lacked the resources to complete his homework at home.

When he joined Firewall, he said “it was the start of a new chapter for me.” He was shy and had difficulty with his schoolwork, but now he had a Firewall Mentor to help him create an academic plan that led to his success.

Kenny received all A’s and B’s throughout High School. He not only stayed focused in his academics but always encouraged his classmates to do their best.

Kenny graduated on Friday, June 1st, and our Chief Program Director, Janeth Fernandez, and High School Director, Tera Hill, attended the ceremony. He has enrolled at Broward College for the fall and will be studying Business.

“Firewall Centers has changed my character, mindset, and work ethic inside and outside of school,” said Kenny.

May 2018 Newsletter

Our Fifth Annual Serve-A-Thon was a great success! Our students participated in seven service projects across Broward County, including feeding the homeless, packaging food for hungry families, restoring Snyder Park, and visiting nursing homes.

Our Western High School students visited the Alexander Nininger State Veterans Home and enjoyed every minute of their experience!

One great story from their visit is about a resident who although cannot hear, was still able to connect in a meaningful way with Firewall students Katherine and Daniel.

The Veteran shared many stories with the students, like where he was stationed and all about his children. Katherine and Daniel were able to respond and asked lots of questions by writing them down on a whiteboard.

Daniel was especially impacted by the time spent with the veterans, as he is thinking about joining the Coast Guard after he graduates from High School.

Katherine was also touched and said “This guy was full of stories and enjoyed talking to us so much that he didn’t want us to leave! He was my favorite! He’s such a sweetheart and I hope I can come back and visit him again and hangout! Without Firewall, I think I’d be lost. I’m beyond blessed to have this opportunity. Thank you Firewall Centers!

Stories likes this are what Serve-A-Thon is all about!

Serving is at the core of what we do at Firewall. So when our students serve the elderly, feed the homeless, and give back to the community at large, they are living out what it means to be a servant leader,” said Andy Fernandez, Firewall Centers’ Executive Director.

Click for more Serve-A-Thon photos on Firewall’s Facebook page

If you have any extra books or know someone who might, please consider donating them!

Book drop-off information:

Firewall Headquarters building
13451 SW 7th Pl, Davie, FL 33325
Monday – Friday9:00-5:00 p.m



Firewall Centers

April 2018 Newsletter

Meet Nakita, a 9th grader who started at Firewall in 6th grade.

This past year has been very difficult for Nakita as one of her close friends died in a tragic car accident. She has also faced numerous health issues that have caused her to miss a lot of school.

As a result, Nakita’s grades began to drop as she felt overwhelmed by all her circumstances.

That’s when her Firewall Mentor Yasmin stepped in and encouraged her to stay focused on the positive things in her life. She also worked alongside Nakita to help her catch up on all the work she had missed.

The good news is Nakita has not only done well in all her classes throughout this difficult year, but she has also continued to be an intern at the Middle School Firewall Center close to her High School.

Nakita feels strongly that helping the younger Firewall students during her struggles has ultimately strengthened her as a person and given her a positive outlook on life.

Nakita’s story also has made an impact on her Mentor, Yasmin.

“Firewall has given Nakita the academic and emotional support she needed to succeed. Students like Nakita make me love serving at Firewall more and more everyday,” said Firewall Mentor, Yasmin.

 Serve-A-Thon is 10 days away!

 We are halfway to our $50,000 Serve-A-Thon goal! Thanks to a generous donor, every dollar you give will be doubled. Please consider donating today!

If you have any extra books or know someone who might, please consider donating them!

Book drop-off information:

Firewall Headquarters building
13451 SW 7th Pl, Davie, FL 33325
Monday – Friday, 9:00-5:00 p.m


Firewall Centers

March 2018 Newsletter

Our High School students are career ready!

Retired businessman, Bob Jablonski, and Firewall’s Executive Director, Andy Fernandez, visited our 3 High School Centers and did a 2 week series where they shared tips on how to search for and secure a job. This series ended with students participating in mock interviews in front of their peers!

At Firewall, our focus is always on preparing our students for college and/or career, that’s why series like these are so important.

Kenny, who started Firewall in 6th grade and is now a Senior in High School, understands the importance of preparing for his future.

“Kenny came to the mock interview day dressed to impress and carried himself very well. He learned a lot about the skills needed to ace an interview. He plans to use these skills when applying for schools and future job opportunities,” said Tera, Firewall’s High School Program Director.

Thank you for your support that allows us to better prepare students like Kenny for life after graduation.

We Won an Award!

Our Executive Director, Andy Fernandez, received the Non-Profit Staff Leader of the Year Award at the 211 Broward Non-Profit Academy Awards!  

This award is given to a Staff Leader that models effective leadership, furthers the organization’s mission and impact, and stands out as one of the community’s great non-profit leaders.

Serve-A-Thon is right around the corner!

Firewall’s 5th Annual Serve-A-Thon is on Saturday, 4/28! On that day, our 500+ students, their mentors, and volunteers will be impacting Broward County’s community by:

  • Feeding the homeless at Hope South Florida
  • Spending time with the elderly at different residential facilities with Heart2Heart South Florida Outreach
  • Packaging meals for hungry families at Feeding South Florida
  • Landscaping, painting and cleaning up Snyder Park with the City of Fort Lauderdale
  • Beautifying North Side Elementary, one of Firewall’s locations in Fort Lauderdale

Leading up to April 28th, our goal is to raise $50,000 to continue to provide academic support and character development to 500+ students.

If you would like to give, visit http://2zm.dbb.myftpupload.com/give/

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 954-530-1871.


Firewall Centers

February 2018 Newsletter

For Valentine’s Day, our students and mentors gave handmade cards to over 400 residents at three different elderly care centers with the help of Heart2Heart Outreach of South Florida.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, all of our Firewall students were taught that they can love others by serving them, so they created personalized cards to express love to the elderly.

Over 60% of elderly residents in Florida will never receive a single visit from family or friends.

So our Firewall High School students brought their smiling faces and youthful energy into the care centers to brighten the day of those living there.

The students handed out cards as they walked throughout the community areas and even visited individual rooms.

Anthony and Zack, 11th grade Firewall students, deliver cards to resident

One of our students, Alexandra from Blanche Ely High, didn’t expect the cards to have such a great impact on the recipients.

When she handed a card to a resident, their response touched her:
“I don’t usually get many visitors or people who go out of their way to bring me such beautiful cards. I really appreciate what you have all done.”

Just the students‘ small act of service of simply showing up, caused many of the residents to light up.

Once they finished handing out cards, the students asked, “When can we come again?

Firewall students and staff smile with Bernadette, a residential coordinator, and Blake Silverstrom, Executive Director of Heart2Heart Outreach of South Florida.

For our 5th Annual Serve-A-Thon on April 28th, we will partner with Heart2Heart Senior Outreach to bring more joy to these care centers. We also plan on serving again at Hope South Florida and Feeding South Florida to allow our students the opportunity to give back.

If you want more information on how you can get involved with Serve-A-Thon or volunteer with students, please reach out!


Firewall Centers

January 2018 – We reached our matching challenge goal!

We Reached Our Matching Challenge Goal!

We would like to thank everyone who made it possible for us to reach our $40,000 match!

With the funds raised, we are able to start the year strong and provide 500+ students with the tutoring and mentoring services they need to succeed in school, build their character, and transform into servant leaders.

A Christmas Surprise

Our Firewall Board Member Aaron McKee and his wife, Toni, along with some of their friends, wanted to do something special for our North Side Elementary School students.

So they purchased pajamas for each student and wrapped them up nicely as a Christmas surprise!

The students also enjoyed a Christmas party at their Center where they made Gingerbread houses and ate pizza!
While this may seem like a small thing, we know that our students will not forget it! Our AmeriCorps Firewall Mentors also got to spend quality time connecting with their students and celebrating the Holiday season.

Exciting 2018 ahead!

We just finished our first AmeriCorps Firewall Mentor training of the year where Mentors learned how to most effectively serve students with disabilities as well as how they personally can become more active citizens that can impact their communities.

Our AmeriCorps Firewall Mentors are ready to take on the New Year and continue to help our students succeed!



Firewall Centers

December 2017 Newsletter – Firewall helps student receive $5000 in scholarships!

It’s almost 2018, and our high school seniors are busy preparing for the next steps in their lives. One of these seniors is Kyan from our Blanche Ely High School Center. Kyan has been in Firewall since 8th grade, and his hard work during his years at Blanche Ely led to his induction into the National Honor Society last year!

This year, Kyan’s Firewall mentors are ensuring that he is prepared for college. They especially encouraged him to take advantage of college scholarships and helped him through the entire process of researching, writing, and submitting them. Thanks to their assistance and the letters of recommendations that they wrote, Kyan was already awarded a variety of scholarships that total $5,000!

His mom expressed how thankful she is for Firewall helping Kyan through middle and high school. We are confident that he is going to be successful, and we feel blessed to have walked this journey with him.

We want to continue to impact students just like Kyan in the 2018-2019 school year. This Christmas, you can help us achieve just that! Thanks to an anonymous donor, every dollar you give until December 31st will be matched up to $40,000. You can give online at http://2zm.dbb.myftpupload.com/give/.

We are thankful for our amazing volunteers!

One of our greatest needs at our North Side Elementary Center is simply to practice reading with our students and provide them with one-on-one tutoring. We are now able to provide this help thanks to our incredible volunteers who come consistently every week. When the volunteers walk into the classroom, the students’ faces light up, as they look forward to the attention and the chance to learn.

Our kids thrive off of consistent caring relationships in their lives, so not only are we thankful for our mentors who continue to pour into them, but for the volunteers who show them the love and care they need. Without fail, the students always ask to see if the volunteers will be back the next day. At Firewall, we want to say a big thank you to our great team!

We wish you, your friends, and family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Firewall Centers

November 2017 Newsletter

This month, we would like to highlight two service projects that our students participated in as well as our successful Firewall Family Dinner event!

Operation Christmas Child ‘Wrap-Up’

For the second year in a row, all 500+ Firewall students participated in the Operation Christmas Child Project. They packed and sent out 113 shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies to children around the world who are affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease. Beyond packing the box, our students learned about the importance of giving back to those in need. Students took control of the project, determining the gender of the child they wanted to send the gift to, creating a budget and shopping list of their items, and crafting a card and pictures for their box. These boxes will bless 113 children on Christmas Day!

Firewall student, Johnny Torres, packing gifts into an Operation Christmas Child (OCC) box

Seeing the excitement and smiles on our students’ faces during this project shows us that they were impacted as well. We are very proud of them!

Lauderhill 6-12 Firewall Mentor and students are excited to send their OCC box 

 Our High School Students Served!

 At the end of October, our High School students put together over 100 goodie bags with delicious treats as a way to serve our North Side Elementary students! When they went to distribute the bags, they ended up giving more than just goodies to our younger students. They were also able to read with them and help them with homework! The North Side students were so thankful and immediately connected with the high schoolers. When one of our 3rd grade students, Shanella, saw our student Nathaly from Western High School walk in, she pointed at her and said, ‘I want her to read with me!’

Firewall students, Nathaly (11th grade) and Shanella (3rd grade) reading together during homework time 

The high schoolers were touched and expressed that they want to return to the school to help during homework time regularly. It is an honor to see how much our high schoolers have grown into Servant Leaders.

Family Dinner 2017

 On November 16th, we hosted our 2nd annual Firewall Family Dinner where guests learned about our successful program statistics, history and mission, and vision for the future. Students from our Elementary, Middle, and High School centers were highlighted by way of video, student interviews, and guest speakers.

Heilange Porcena, Principal at North Side Elementary, was one of the speakers of the evening. She expressed her excitement about the launch of Firewall’s North Side Center and shared how much her students love attending the program every day.

Opening an Elementary school center was a big push towards realizing our goal of walking through life with our students, and at the dinner, we were happy to share the daily impact our mentors are making on students.

We have exciting dreams for where Firewall will be and what it will accomplish, and we are so thankful for your support to help us get there. Interested in giving? Visit our give page on our website here.

Thank you for following our updates! We can’t wait to share more in the future. From all of us at Firewall, we wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Firewall Centers

October 2017 Newsletter

This month, we were recognized for a prestigious award and formed a new partnership in our community to provide the best for our students.

We Won the AmeriCorps Rising Star Award!

After our first year as an AmeriCorps program, we were presented with Volunteer Florida’s Rising Star Award at their 2016 – 2017 Awards Ceremony in Tallahassee!
Firewall Program Manager, Lisa Ramos, and Volunteer Florida’s CEO, Vivian Myrtetus (left to right)
This award recognizes that, in our first year, we exceeded our program and volunteer goals, including the fact that over 80% of our students improved their literacy skills. We were also commended for excellent Mentor recruitment and retention. You can read more about the award here.
Volunteer Florida’s Chief Executive Officer Vivian Myrtetus said, “[Firewall] exemplifies each of Volunteer Florida’s values – service, leadership, collaboration, excellence, inspiration and innovation… Volunteer Florida is proud to administer [this] award-winning program!”

Myrtetus also toured our Pompano Beach Middle School Center, which allowed her to get a close-up view of our program and meet our Firewall students!

Mentor Aaron, Program Manager Lisa, Firewall student, Volunteer Florida CEO Vivian Myrtetus, Firewall Centers Executive Director Andy Fernandez (left to right)

 A New Community Partner

We recently partnered with Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church and the Saint Vincent De Paul Society who have recruited a group of dedicated volunteers to make sandwiches every Monday through Wednesday for Firewall students at both Western High School and the Orange Park Community Center. These students are now able to enjoy a filling and delicious meal thanks to the generosity of these volunteers!

Thelma Napolitano, Luz Roldan, Laura Poitras, and Carole Muller (Not pictured- George Napolitano)

“We are always trying to find ways to help children, so we were more than happy to get involved with Firewall, who is doing great work helping these students,” said Luz Roldan, a member of Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church.

We are so thankful for this group and appreciate their willingness to serve!

At Firewall, we strive to connect our students with resources and support they need to thrive. Thank you for your support. It is helping to make this school year the best one yet!

Firewall Centers

September 2017 Newsletter

School started back up this past week after a short break for Hurricane Irma. We are thankful to say that we are safe and received little to no damage from the storm, and all of our centers are back to business. We hope you and your families are doing well after the storm.

We have an exciting announcement…

Introducing our Newest Center- North Side Elementary!

For the first time ever, we launched a THINK Leadership program at an elementary school!

This opportunity to work with 3rd and 4th graders was made possible thanks to Firewall’s partnership with Broward County Public Schools, 21st Century Learning Center, and Church United. We have a great team of mentors that are already making a big impact on over 90 students on a daily basis. That is over 20% of the school population!

North Side Elementary is a Title I school with 98% minority students and 97% of its students receiving free/reduced lunch. Many of the students that are now enrolled in Firewall are significantly below reading level and also have trouble writing.

We recognize and are ready to respond to this need. We know that there are so many opportunities for growth, and this is definitely just the beginning of an exciting journey. Our team is ready to make a difference in these children’s lives.

Erika Ranslow, North Side Elementary Teacher and 21st Century Coordinator, said ‘When our 3rd grade parents heard about Firewall, they were lining up for applications. But it’s not just the parents noticing, I have teachers coming to me daily asking how they can sneak ‘just one student’ into the program. Our students are already more confident, responsible and so proud of the work they are accomplishing.’

Expressing Gratitude Early On 

Meet Frances. She is a 3rd grader at North Side Elementary and within the first week of Firewall, she had an immediate connection with her mentors!

Firewall Student, Lead Mentor Annalyse, and Frances

One day, while the students were lined up and waiting to go to their classroom, Frances pulled out colored pencils from her jacket pocket and leaned against a wall to make a ‘Thank you’ card for her Lead Mentor Annalyse. She wanted to make it as soon as possible even though she didn’t have a desk to use. She just couldn’t wait to give it to her. It is encouraging to see how these young students are already connecting with their mentors and truly enjoying Firewall!

Firewall Students Posing for a Quick Picture

The 2017 – 2018 School Year is already off to a great start, and we can’t wait to continue to share our experiences with our elementary students, as well as the 500 students we serve daily!


Firewall Centers