Season for Sharing: From homework to job skills, Saint Florian Center helps at-risk kids

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'We would see kids that were just in despair. ... And so we were like, 'We've got to be able to do more.'

United States News, United States Headlines

As a firefighter, Anthony Williamson often sees people at their worst moments. He also sees some of the most unsafe parts of the city.

So in the early 1990s, he and another firefighter decided to start a nonprofit to serve at-risk kids in Indianapolis. They envisioned an organization that does not just save people when they've already reached rock bottom, but that helps them at an age when positive influence matters the most. They called it Saint Florian Center, named after the patron saint of firefighters.

The center also has a program that teaches high school students how to interview for jobs and how to keep them, among other things. Because so many of these kids have never traveled outside the city, or even outside their neighborhood, the center also takes them on out-of-town field trips, as well as outings to local parks and museums.

"She flourished so, so much," Jones said."She was confident enough to actually try out for the cheerleading team and the dance troupe, things that she never really wanted to do before." Growing up, he was one of 10 kids raised by a single mother. The holidays were one of the toughest, he said, because he always ended up as the one kid with no gifts. So on holidays, his organization donates dozens of toys to several churches and organizations in the city.

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