Gary Cain is the President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. With that comes prestige and responsibility.
But it’s not like Cain was born into such a position. In fact, as shared at the Tupperware Brands location Thursday during its annual fundraising event, he gravitated toward a local Boys & Girls Club in Panama City, his boyhood hometown, because the club offered him far more than his family did at home.

He noted the importance of finding people “you can rely on,” as he found in his local club.

“I had no positive role model at home, I came from a tough home life,” Cain said. “The Boys & Girls Club understood my circumstances,” And as the organization is in the midst of a 75th anniversary celebration, it’s as important as ever that it get to continue its mission, he toxld a room of some of the county’s biggest influencers.

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

“Through the generosity of you donors, these children may learn their multiplication tables, or have someone to cheer them on at their basketball games. they and I are the same.”

It’s a generational story, as told by those of middle age and currently school age.

Jacky Lagrace, a club alumnus, told of how he started attending the Dyer Boulevard club in 1994 as a 10-year-old who’d just moved from Haiti.

“I walked there after school every day. It’s been a part of life ever since,” he said.

He was named the 2002 Florida State Youth of the year, attended the University of Florida on a Boys & Girls Club scholarship and earned a Bachelor’s dergree in health services. He’s now a regional director of integrated networks for Adventist Health.

“The Boys & Girls Club allowed me to dream beyond what I could imagine, and prepared me for my career,” Lagrace said. “I am especially motivated to help our board continue to deliver a world-class experience that assumes success is within reach of all who walk through those blue doors.”

For example, at the Tupperware Brands location, club members will learn strong character and leadership skills — and can record their own music in a fully-furnished sound studio.

Cindy Rodriguez is a graduating senior at Gateway High this spring, and will be moving on to Valencia College, in part of the support she received at the Buenaventura Lakes Boys & Girls Club.

“It was a safe place to go,” she said, noting she began going in third grade. “It was an escape. It’s where I grew a whole another family.”
Thursday’s program was opened by Jaylen and Isabella, a pair of bright, personable 11-year-olds, the pride of the Tupperware Brands location.

Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell, a Boys & Girls Club board member, said that every successful adult received a push forward when they were Jaylen and Isabella’s age.

“I can’t wait to see, 10 to 20 years from now, what kind of positive impact we’ve made on this generation.”

To help support one of Osceola County’s club locations, reach out to the Buenaventura Lakes (321-682-5910) or Tupperware Brands (407-847-2833) locations, or check out the Kissimee location’s Facebook page.