ORLANDO, Fla. – Alexandre Temes calls her job a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The manager of the Englewood Kidz Zone grew up right in the neighborhood and has worked at the center for 23 years, starting as a summer camp counselor when she was just 16 years old.
“All my uncles, aunts, we all lived on the same street which was really beautiful. And besides that having the opportunity to come to this facility as a young person. I had birthday parties here, I had the opportunity to participate in youth sports programming,” Temes said. “I feel good when I walk in. The energy in this building is amazing from the children, all of us working together. We’re just one big, happy, beautiful village and community just chugging along trying to make the world a better place.”
[TRENDING: Freak fishing accident: Boy airlifted to Florida hospital after catfish stabs him in chest | 2nd case of monkeypox found in Orange County, 1 case in Seminole County, records show | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
With school out for the summer, the Kidz Zone is busy. Students’ days are filled with academics, sports, playtime and even cooking.
Temes added the center’s cooking teacher, Ms. Ruby, has a very special place in her heart. Temes took cooking classes with her as a child, and through grants, was able to create Ruby’s Garden, where kids grow and harvest food.
“And to know someone like her, she’s phenomenal. And again just to continue giving that back and continuing that legacy. It started before me. I’m just continuing and expanding on it,” Temes said.
While the center itself is multigenerational and serves thousands of people a week, the Kidz Zone specifically caters to newborns through 25-year-olds.
“We have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude. Whatever we need to do to create stability for that child and that family to achieve the American dream, that’s what we’re going to do,” Temes said.
Temes said about 230 kids are enrolled in the zone and the program encompasses every single area of a child’s life. Workers are even embedded in schools.
“This is one person that knows every person in that child’s life and is communicating with all of them to make sure we are building the best life plan for them. If things aren’t working out, we step in with our program, and all of the sudden they’re on the right track, and everything about that child changes. It’s the most fulfilling thing in the world. My favorite part of the job is just being able to be a servant to the community. I consider myself just a lucky member of society who gets to work in the neighborhood she grew up in,” Temes said.
To learn more about the Englewood Neighborhood Center and to see if there is a Kidz Zone in your area, visit their website.