African Caribbean American Center reopening for Fort Myers youth

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino

A group that ensures underserved Fort Myers children have access to computers, tutoring and mentorship is reopening its center after closing for the pandemic.

After a two-year hiatus, Catholic Charities’ African Caribbean American Center, located at 3681 Michigan Ave., is finally reopening its doors so that students can get the extra help they may need either after school or during school breaks. AFCAAM provides education, youth mentorship groups, and after-school reading programs with the goal of ensuring students are successful throughout the entire school year.

AFCAAM currently has 32 children enrolled in after-school programming. Alex Olivares, AFCAAM’s regional director, says he understands a lot of families are struggling to make ends meet and need extra help due to inflation. The center also provides food and clothing for students who need them.

“It helps children improve both writing, reading and math in three different areas and, like I said, individualized attention and a lot of care for social, emotional and academic development,” Olivares said.

Olivares says they have a program that helps students build character and teaches them positive values. He added that, since the doors have been closed for the last two years, he’s expecting quite a few students to return.

“It’s a huge opportunity for a lot of families; a lot of families have children and child care is very expensive, so this opens up [an] opportunity for kids to have enriching experiences and enjoy a safe environment after school,” Olivares said.

Officials say they are having a free reopening celebration with food and games for the community from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, as a way to welcome students back to the AFCAAM Center.

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