KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida is celebrating 75 years.

For three years straight, Rene Azcanio’s best grade was a C.

“My life before, I was kind of like rough… Like, I didn’t really pay attention to people,” Azcanio said. “I was rude and disrespectful.”

In 2013, his mother got one last call about Rene’s behavior in school and decided to enroll him at the the Boys and Girls Club.

The Kissimmee branch is the largest of 35 clubs in Central Florida.

Azcanio said the club’s Technology Program Director Martha Avalo, who has been there for 20 years, has encouraged him to participate in field trips and become more involved.

“He has potential for so much better things in life and what to look forward to,” Avalo said. “I am just here to help him and guide him in any way that he can, in order to become successful.”

Azcanio said going to the Boys and Girls Club every day after school has changed his outlook in life, and that it has fostered relationships and nurtured his soul.

“The Boys and Girls Club changed my life because before the fact, I didn’t have the leadership skills that I have now, and I don’t have the communication skills I have now,” Azcanio explained.

Azcanio wants go to college and study criminal justice. He wants to become a police officer and come back to volunteer at the club which gave him so much.

Did you know?

  • Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando Police Chief are Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida alumni
  • There are more than 15,000 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida members in 35 Clubs in 7 Counties
  • Tupperware Brands Branch Club in Kissimmee is the largest of the 35 Clubs
  • The organization was founded in 1944 as the “Orlando Boys Club” by former Brooklyn Dodger Joe Stripp
  • For the past two years, 100% percent of Boys & Girls Club high school seniors graduated, and 94 percent enrolled in post-secondary education or the U.S. Military