Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brenda's Kids offers at-risk kids a place for fun and food for thought

One group gathers in the water for a social splash, another chats on the deck as Brenda’s Kids enjoy a pool party last week at Greater Ridgecrest YMCA.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

One group gathers in the water for a social splash, another chats on the deck as Brenda’s Kids enjoy a pool party last week at Greater Ridgecrest YMCA.

Brenda Days plans on putting her feet up soon. Summer is almost here.

She's spent every Monday night since August swarmed by kids. She's greeted them at the door of the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA. She's been a sounding board, listening to their concerns. She's given out advice, and she's given out so many hugs she's lost count.

Days is co-founder of Brenda's Kids, an organization for at-risk youth in the Greater Ridgecrest area.

The program was born out of the 51-year-old's personal tragedy. In January 2008, her son, Brennon, a senior at Largo High School, was shot to death by two other teenagers during an armed robbery.

At Brennon's funeral, Edward "BeBe'' Hobson, a minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Largo and vice president of Pinellas County YoungLife, challenged the young people there to change the direction of their lives to prevent other tragedies.

"Brennon's friends reached out to us then, and we decided to start meeting on Monday nights,'' Days said.

In the spring of 2008, Hobson and Days started Brenda's Kids, and about 60 children have become regular participants.

They come together and eat hamburgers and hot dogs. Some play pickup basketball. Others go off in groups of five or six to socialize.

"When we started, we aimed for older teenagers like Brennon,'' Hobson said. "But we realized we needed to get to kids earlier because by the time they are teens it's too late.''

Churches and social service organizations in the Largo area donate the dinners on Monday night and help coordinate special programs.

"It gives them a peaceful place to come together, but we also want to help them explore their vision of life,'' said Hobson. "We want to show them that life is more than what they see every day, in their 2-mile radius of their house.''

Earlier this month, members of the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Democratic Club visited Brenda's Kids to take part in a project to send President Barack Obama a package of letters.

"The kids worked hard that night,'' Hobson said. "At first, it was like pulling teeth, but once they started writing, they got into it.''

Reginald Moore, 15, said attending meetings like the one with the Democratic Club has given him a chance to "work on being a leader.''

"I decided to come (to Brenda's Kids) when a friend of mine was walking in here,'' he said. "But it was my mom who taught me to follow rules and to mentally focus on school work, and I told the kids here, it's not hard to write, just listen to the directions.''

June 7 marks the last meeting of Brenda's Kids until the fall. Days admits to being ready "for a little vacation.''

Still, Hobson expects to see most of Brenda's Kids over the summer on visits to the summer camp at the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA.

"But just like most summer camps in the area, the YMCA does not have a program for older teens, over 14,'' he said. "So if a family has not made plans yet, my advice is for parents to take them to local supermarkets and businesses to find a summer job or get them volunteering for organizations.

"Keep them busy, other than sitting at home alone all summer.''

Reach Piper Castillo at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.

Brenda's Kids offers at-risk kids a place for fun and food for thought 05/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Passing motorists pull three from burning home in Tampa

    News

    TAMPA — Two men in a passing car rescued two children and a woman from a burning home late Sunday morning.

  2. Bucs-Bills: Social media reactions to the Bucs' 30-27 loss

    Bucs

    Here's a sampling of reactions from the media and fans to the Bucs' 30-27 loss Sunday at Buffalo:

    Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka (4) is mobbed by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Buccaneers-Bills: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss

    Bucs

    Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo on Sunday:

    173

    Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) screams in jubilation after running for a first down late in the fourth quarter. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs-Bills roundtable: Deonte Thompson's late catch spelled 'instant disaster' for Bucs

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Adam Humphries' fumble led to the Bills' game-winning field goal in Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss Sunday at Buffalo. But the Bills' first play after the Bucs finally took the lead was almost as deadly.

    The Buffalo Bills' Deonte Thompson (10) catches a pass in front of Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (24) during the first half. [AP photo]
  5. Bucs-Bills: Instant analysis from the Bucs' 30-27 loss

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Here's the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team's instant analysis from the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo:

    YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

    Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) intercepts a Jameis Winston (3) pass intended for tight end Cameron Brate (84) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]