Getting to know Dana Bradford

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By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Q.  How long have you volunteered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida?

Since 2001 I’ve served on their board of directors concentrating on facilities, programs and fundraising. I am most interested in making sure the Club facilities are sound and equipped with all the resources they need. I especially enjoy working on special projects and activities for the kids. As an attorney (Smith, Gambrell & Russell Managing Partner) I also offer legal counsel.

Q. Clubs president Shannon Perry, Ph.D., said that your deep affection for the Clubs dates back to your college days and that you are a major part of their solid foundation. You were involved with the Clubs before joining the Board?

I always enjoyed working with youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds, teaching them swimming and sports. As a college student, I worked summers as a youth recreation counselor in the public parks of my hometown, Hialeah. As a senior I joined the staff of the Boys Club of Gainesville as youth counselor. Working for the club director who was a strong mentor to the Boys Club members and staff, I saw the difference one person could make in the lives of deserving young people at a critical time in their lives – which I have never forgotten.

Q. What is the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs?

The mission is to inspire and enable youth, ages 5-18, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring adults. The Clubs provide a safe place where kids can go after school to enjoy recreational and enrichment activities under the direction of caring staff who serve as mentors and strong role models. The goal is to help kids toward academic success, to develop good character, citizenship and a healthy lifestyle.

Q. What are some important statistics about the members of Northeast Florida’s Boys & Girls Clubs.?

• 82% of members are on free or reduced lunches
• 79% are from households under $28,000 annual income
• Only 33% of members live with both parents
• 94% are promoted to the next grade level before summer school
• 100% of our middle and high school members have not become teen mothers
• 95% of members have not entered the juvenile justice system

Q. Do you want to encourage readers to volunteer or support the Boys & Girls Clubs, or another youth charity of their choice?

I absolutely encourage anyone of any age to volunteer. I was from a modest background and was fortunate to grow up in Dade County where the parks and recreational facilities provided me with a place to go and a healthy way to spend my free time. I was a real “park rat”. Jacksonville is a large city and the Clubs are all located in neighborhoods where many children are at greater risk of poverty, school failure, poor health and risky behaviors (14 locations in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns Counties serve more than 3,600 kids). These Clubs really make a difference to kids and there are many ways to volunteer or support the organization. Visit the website: bgcnf.org.

Q. Your wife Donna, son Jeff and daughter Shannon all volunteer also?

Donna plays with a handbell choir for two churches; they perform for retirement homes and at Pine Castle which serves people with developmental and acquired disabilities. My son Jeff and his wife Andrea live in Cary, NC with my three granddaughters, twins Riley and Zoe, 7, and Ellie, 4. Jeff, 36 and also an attorney, was in a minor car accident that actually saved his life when a medical exam discovered he had a brain tumor. The tumor was successfully removed at Duke University and now he participates in Angels Among Us annual walk to raise funds for brain cancer research at the Duke Brain Cancer Center. My daughter Shannon, 24, works locally for Beeline in software sales and she is active with Rotaract (Rotary-sponsored service club for young adults 18-35). They just finished their Black Tie & Blue Jeans Gala which this year raised funds for the JLG Brain Cancer Foundation. Shannon also is a volunteer for Jacksonville’s Finest (young professionals) who raise funds to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Shannon was honored as among the group’s top five fundraisers for the 2013 event.

Q. What does the Bradford family enjoy after work and volunteer activities?

We enjoy travel, exercise, working out and water sports at Lake Santa Fe. I like to golf. On our wish list is visiting the countries in Europe we have not yet seen; our real pipe dream is a trip to Australia and New Zealand.

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