Benzell, a recent graduate of Paxon School for Advanced Studies, has been part of the T-n-T program since 2004. In his 10 years at the Foundation he has spent hours on the courts, made many friends and has served as a positive role model for younger students. Here are his thoughts on his time at the Foundation and his next big adventure:
“In 3rd grade, I watched a presentation that would change my life. My parents liked that the students in the program receive daily homework assistance, learn to play tennis, attend life skills classes and learn to be a leader; I thought playing with my friends after school and getting snacks was a great deal! Tennis wasn’t always a huge part of my life. My early memories of the Foundation consist of tennis lessons on two crowded courts, always waiting in line for a chance to hit a few balls. As I got older I leaned to love the game, mainly because my friends liked it more too, and began to focus on my development as a player. Not only was I improving on the court, but I was also doing well in school and getting some good advice in my leadership classes. My biggest accomplishment came in high school when I won the Student Athlete of the Year Scholarship (2011). The opportunities that came about when I won this award expanded my network and I decided to apply for a military academy. I’ve never really put all of my eggs in one basket, but I did with this and the outcome was unbelievable. I only applied to two schools: West Point and the Naval Academy. I was appointed to both and chose to attend the United States Military Academy (West Point). As I get ready to leave for college (on July 1st) I think back on my time at the Foundation. I have grown as both a player and student over the years. I now have many leadership qualities and experience in dealing with difficult situations. I know I’m ready for the challenges ahead of me and I can’t wait to come back with stories for my friends at the Foundation. Thank you for your support and thanks to Mal for the wonderful opportunities.”
Whenever the fall season begins to roll in, we get VERY excited around here because that means that the Gala is just around the corner! This year, we’re changing things up a bit and hosting the 17th Annual Merrill Lynch/Bank of America Gala during the month of October! What makes this year special from all other previous galas? Special guest and Olympic Gold Medalist will be attending our Gala Dinner, helping us celebrate Champions for Children! On Thursday, October 17th the Gala Dinner will be held at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa in the Champions Ballroom. During dinner, you’ll hear how easy it is to become a champion for children and how your support and volunteerism helps to create better lives for our youth. The Gala Dinner is complete with Silent & Live Auctions as well as special awards presentations to our students for their hard work. A Tennis Pro-Am featuring local tennis pros will be held on Friday, October 18th at San Jose Country Club. All proceeds from the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America Gala goes directly to the programs of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.
You definitely do not want to miss this opportunity to attend our Gala event and meet one of the world’s top tennis players! For tickets and sponsorship information, please call 904.359.5437 or visit www.malwashington.com. VIP Reception & Photo Opportunity tickets are available but in limited supply!
Last month, we announced our NEW Name & Logo and it appears that everyone loves it so far! The new name & logo is part of a comprehensive rebranding effort which places more emphasis on academic and personal success.
This is what Mal had to say about the change:
“When we first started this organization, we only provided tennis programs to elementary aged youth”, said MWYF Founder, MaliVai Washington. “Our new name and logo identifies the fact that, although tennis will always be a part of our programs, we now place more emphasis on learning and success in life. We also serve youth from kindergarten through young adult program alumni who are now students in college. We hope the change will portray our mission more effectively especially to those who may not be aware of what we do,” commented, MaliVai Washington.
We posted the logo to Facebook and Twitter and we’re happy to say that both our name and logo change were well received by our supporters! They LOVE it and so do we! One of the best things about a new logo, is new t-shirts!
What do YOU think?
Meet Rajhenae. She’s a first grader here at our Tennis-n-Tutoring afterschool program. Before she attended TnT, she was a camper at Camp Dynamite, our full service summer day camp. Last summer, Rajhenae had the opportunity to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, learn to tie-dye and to make new friends. Today, many of these friends are the same friends Rajhenae sees everyday here at TnT.
Camp Dynamite is not just a summer camp for our youth. For students like Rajhenae, it opens doors, introducing them to our programs and giving them a fun, educational alternative to sitting at home, like so many do.
You can open doors for students like Rajhenae. For just $75, you can provide a week of camp for a student. For $375, you can provide one student the experience of enjoying Camp Dynamite for the whole summer. That’s five weeks of non-stop fun and learning!
If you commit to sending a child to camp before May 8th, you can increase your impact on our programs (and potentially win $5,000 for yourself) by participating in THE PLAYERS Birdies for Charity contest. Commit and we’ll send you more details.
Click here to Send a Kid to Camp!
We’re so proud we’re blushing!
We were named a Merit Finalist for this year’s Mutual of America Foundation’s Community Partnership Award. We are one of ten organizations in the country to be recognized for our community partnerships!
Mutual of America sponsored a “hometown luncheon” to celebrate and recognize the many partner organizations and individuals that have made TnT a success. A HUGE thank you to our community partners: the City of Jacksonville, Communities in Schools, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, John E. Ford K-8 School, Take Stock in Children, USTA Florida and USTA National Junior Tennis & Learning.
Another HUGE thank you to the many individuals who have worked our behalf: Leon Baxton, Luther & Blanche Coggin, Michael DuBow, Pat Hogan, Sheriff John Rutherford and Sherry Murray. Their efforts— whether fundraising, volunteering, advocating for our organization or working to keep the neighborhood we serve safe—make us who we are today.
Ser-vice: an act of helpful activity; help; aid.
Serv-a-thon: TnT’s month of service staring MLK Day-President’s Day.
Our students tackled this year’s Servathon with enthusiasm. Students in every grade level completed service projects to help the Jacksonville community. Even our kindergartners got in on the action! Check out the activities we participated in below:
- Kindergarten-2nd grade created Valentine’s for residents at a local Nursing home as well as deployed soldiers in Afghanistant
- 3rd-4th grade beautified our center , Emmett Reed Park and John E. Ford Elementary K-8 School
- 6th grade helped prepare food & serve the hungry at the City Rescue Mission
- Middle & high school students read and played with disabled youth at DLC Nurse & Learn Center
- 5th Grade spent time with the elderly playing games and doing puzzles at Cathedral Terrace
- Our entire organization, including a few supporters, collected toiletries, games and snack items for soldiers deployed overseas
Each year, we try to incorporate different activities in our Servathon. If you have any ideas about any activities or collection drives we should participate in, please contact Community Relations Manager, Ashley Strickland at Ashley@malwashington.com. For more photos from Servathon, visit our Facebook page!
This summer you can support the Jacksonville Jaguars and the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation through the Nonprofit Center’s Give & Go Campaign! Click on the Give & Go badge and purchase your DISCOUNTED Jaguars tickets! You can be in the center of it all when the Jaguars start their new football season off with a new owner, head coach and draft picks! There’s no better way to enjoy the game and support your favorite charity than through this amazing deal!
For every ticket you purchase, $20 will be donated to our annual Back to School Drive! Your support will enable our students to have a great start to the new school year with all of the much needed school supplies.
Our Week #2 of Camp Dynamite was dubbed “World Tour Week”. Our students learned about various countries and islands as part of our Where in the Universe series. We also had special guests come and speak to our students as well! Special thanks to the Caribbean Organization of Jacksonville, Inc. for coming to speak to our students about Jamaica and for serving a tasty Jamaican drink and beef patties. We also had Uli Decker from the World Affairs Council come and speak to our students about life in Germany.
During our field trip to Seamark ranch, our students enjoyed a fun afternoon with farm animals. Our community service projects this week were : reading to students of the Oaks of Durkeeville Youth Center and St. Stephen’s Child Care & Learning Center, we also volunteered at the City Rescue Mission and we fed the hungry at I.M. Sulzbacher Center!
Our first week of Camp Dynamite was a wild week! To go with the theme of Jungle/ Wild Life, we invited representatives from the Jacksonville Zoo to come out and speak to our students about working with zoo animals, and the most amazing thing of all was that they brought a live, 5-foot python! The Zoo representatives also brought with them preserved rhino dung and elephant hair which really impressed our students! Did you know elephant is really tough? It felt like a hard, plastic cord!
Mr. Ron, who climbed to the top of Mt. Everest also came and gave an amazing presentation about his adventures! He had extraordinary photos of the snow, the mountains, the animals and his team! Did you know that the weather on Mt. Everest isn’t all cold and snowy? They were parts of Mr. Rob’s adventure that were so hot, he had to hike in his underclothes! Mr. Rob has also climbed Mt. Denali in Alaska, Mt. Chimborazo in Equador and Mt. Kilamanjaro in Africa several times! Mr. Ron’s sister was also the first person to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro while undergoing radiation treatment.
To top off our Jungle/Wild Life week, we took our ENTIRE Camp to the Jacksonville Zoo!
We also incorporated something new into our camp dynamite program! We have added a community service component to our program. All campers have activities that are geared towards making our community a great place!
Stay tuned for our World Tour Week!
We are wrapping up a wonderful school year and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful staff members here at MWKF! This year was filled with much laughs, fun and excitement for everyone. All of the events and activities we host for our students, their families and the community, takes a lot of hard work. Take time to meet some of the staff who help develop our amazing program! Check out pictures on Facebook & Pinterest!
Ms. Kerra, Administrative Assistant & Ms. Keanna, MWKF graduate and current 4th grade teacher.
Ms. Sherry, Board Member & Ms. Rena, Facilities Coordinator
Ms. Jalen, Program Coordinator & Coach Devin, Head Tennis Professional
Ms. Terri Florio, Executive Director
Ms. Sheila, 5th Grade Teacher
Ms. Shante, 3rd Grade Teacher