As Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy approaches 50 years of serving Indian River County youth, the organization announces the addition of three new members to the Board of Directors. Kathryn Casano-Radecke, Lynne Whipple, and Wilfred Hart join Youth Guidance’s mission to provide local youth access to life skills, academic enrichment, and vocational training.
Every year, Youth Guidance serves approximately 250 children, teenagers, and young adults ages 5-24 through their mentoring programs.
As the organization continues to grow, the number of board members reaches 10. The Board provides guidance on carrying out Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy’s mission of enriching the lives of Indian River County youth though mentoring relationships that inspire trust, self-esteem, and positive futures.
“Kathryn, Wilfred, and Lynne bring with them a wide range of expertise that will help fulfill our strategic focus of expanding our workforce development, life skills, and academic programs,” said Phil Barnes, Youth Guidance Executive Director.
Casano-Radecke is Vice President for F.V. Casano Electrical Contractor, Inc. She has more than 10 years of experience within business, marketing, and operations. She brings with her a deep passion for introducing Indian River County youth to careers within the trade sector.
“I am the third generation in our family business of electrical contracting,” Casano-Radecke said. “It is my personal desire to positively change the perspective on the trades and reestablish the value of hard work in future generations.”
Casano-Radecke was involved as a member of the Indian River County School District Career and Technical Education Steering Committee, as well as the Future Builders of America. She attends local schools and youth-serving organizations as a guest speaker, where she educates students about the opportunities and rewards associated with pursuing a career within the trades.
“Youth Guidance’s pre-apprenticeship program is becoming more supported and successful than most initiatives I’ve been involved with in the past five years in our county. Without instilling work ethic and skill-sets in our youth, it will become increasingly difficult to have a developed workforce to support the businesses in our area.”
For 30 years, Whipple enjoyed a business career with MassMutual Financial Group in various roles, including communications, technology, and as brokerage director for the Philadelphia region.
Recently, Whipple successfully completed a three-year term as Grants Co-Chair for the John’s Island Community Service League, in addition to having tutored reading for students at a local elementary school.
As a PhD candidate in Audiology at Columbia with a master’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology, Whipple spent many years working for the school district of New York City with children from impoverished households. Through one-on-one and group therapy, she worked with middle school students with severe learning disabilities and elementary school students with neurological conditions.
Whipple was a board member of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia for three years. She also sat on the board of the Jenkintown Day Nursery in Pennsylvania, where she established a music program for underserved pre-school children.
“I’ve been fortunate to have visited many nonprofits in our county – each providing valuable services to our residents in need. But the agency that really struck a chord with me was Youth Guidance.” Whipple said. “Executive Director Phil Barnes knows that college is not always a viable option for their kids. In many cases, trades are the answer. To that end, Phil has successfully established life skills and pre-apprenticeship programs leading to qualifying certifications and good-paying jobs.”
Hart is the Community Liaison Specialist with the Indian River County School District. He is a deacon at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford, Florida and spends his time volunteering on the boards of multiple organizations, including: Treasure Coast Community Health, the Mental Health Association of Indian River County, the Indian River Foundation for the Elderly, and the Hart and Soul Foundation.
Hart received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bethune-Cookman University, and has more than 35 years of experience in retail management. Hart also has served as Vice-President of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Committee, a member of the local NAACP, and a member of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Inc. Hart founded the Women in Red with Pink, which recognizes those with cancer while promoting awareness.
“The Youth Guidance mission means everything to me,” Hart said. “When we’re able to develop our youth’s mindset, character, love for giving back to the community and building their intelligence, it gives me a sense of pride knowing that we as an organization are going in the right direction.”
Founded in 1973, Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy serves approximately 250 children and young adults ages 5-24 each year. The organization provides daily meals, summer camp, after school programs, and one-on-one mentoring in a safe and positive environment.
All programs and meals are provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of the local community. Programs include tutoring, website design, gardening, culinary arts, bicycle repair, woodworking, boat mechanics, sewing, money management, a pre-apprenticeship, and more.
If you are interested in learning more about Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy or making a donation, please call 772.492.3933, or visit our website at www.youthguidanceprogram.org.