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Mission complete: Eckerd to bow out- June 20

A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times about the Eckerd Family Foundation, while outstanding, has caused some confusion in the local community. I would like to clarify that the Eckerd Family Foundation is a totally separate organization from Eckerd Youth Alternatives. As a result, Eckerd Youth Alternatives will not be affected by Eckerd Family Foundation's plans to close by 2014. In fact, the 865 staff members of Eckerd Youth Alternatives are deeply committed to continuing Jack and Ruth Eckerd's vision of giving every child the opportunity to succeed.

Headquartered in Clearwater, Eckerd Youth Alternatives was founded in 1968 by Jack and Ruth Eckerd to provide better therapeutic alternatives for at-risk and troubled youth. Today, we are among the largest nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area and are a national leader in helping youth succeed. Since 2007, we have grown from an $80 million organization to a $101 million organization serving 11,000 youths annually through 40 different programs nationwide. Just in the Tampa Bay area, on any given day, we serve more than 3,100 youths. We have helped more than 100,000 youths since our founding 42 years ago.

I invite anyone who would like to help us continue the tremendous Eckerd legacy of helping disadvantaged and foster care youth to contact us toll-free at 1-800-554-HELP (4357) or visit to learn more.

Karen Bonsignori, associate vice president,Eckerd Youth Alternatives