While this year hasn’t ended as planned for 2020 high school seniors, leaders at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County held a surprise graduation celebration for one of their own.
Danielle Meeker has been a member of the club for the past 12 years, and a staff member at the club since 2018.
“Danielle is our ‘Youth of the Year’ and she’s heading to Tallahassee for college,” said Boys & Girls Club Director of Development Monica Luna. “We want to send her off knowing how proud of her we are and that she’s loved by her Charlotte County Boys & Girls Club Family and community.”
While Meeker was busy in the kitchen preparing drive-thru dinners for kids, staff members setup a table outside with balloons, flowers, a cake and gifts. Family and friends in cars lined up around the corner, and when Danielle came outside, a Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputy led the parade of cars to the parking lot to start the drive-by celebration.
Meeker’s grandparents brought a cap and gown for her to wear.
“This is amazing — I had no idea this was happening,” Danielle said. “I’m so happy to see everyone.”
Meeker started attending the club when she was a young girl and just wanted to have fun with friends.
“As a child, she had a lot of anger issues and frustration and was often getting in trouble; her life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced, but the staff never gave up on her,” Luna said. “She was a child that needed support, hope and opportunities and that’s exactly what she received at the club.”
Club Executive Director Lynn Dorler said he has many fond memories of Meeker over the years.
“My wish for Danielle and every kid at the club is that we can provide each one of them hope, opportunities and allow them to dream big knowing we will support and guide them towards great futures,” Dorler said.
Meeker is moving to Tallahassee this fall to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatric surgeon. She has recently been offered a job at a Boys & Girls Club in Tallahassee.
“We are very proud of the young woman she has become and know that she will not only carry all the experiences and skills she has learned at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County, but will also pass them along to other kids as a staff member of the Tallahassee Big Bend Boys & Girls Clubs,” Luna said. “She wants to make a difference in children’s lives and we know the sky is the limit for her.”
Luna said staff and kids at the club will really miss Danielle.
“She is like one of our children,” said Luna. “We are so proud of her and happy to celebrate this next step in her life.”