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Eckerd Youth Alternatives
Deer Lodge, TN

Eckerd Youth Alternatives Celebrates Founders' Day
By Encouraging Students to "Pay It Forward"

Martha L. Chamberlain
Director, Marketing and Client Relations
727-461-2990, ext. 490

To commemorate the 38th anniversary of the founding of Eckerd Youth Alternatives and opening of its Brooksville, Fla. outdoor therapeutic program, staff and students in eight states reflected on the generosity of Jack and Ruth Eckerd.

The May 16th celebrations at Eckerd programs in Deer Lodge, TN and Brooksville, FL incorporated discussions and activities on the importance of "paying it forward" - doing good deeds to help others. Students also learned more about the Eckerds and their passionate belief that even the most troubled children, given nurturing support and proper guidance, can turn their lives around.

There was barely a dry eye at the celebration at Eckerd Youth Alternatives' headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., where staff reminisced over humorous and poignant memories about Jack Eckerd, who died in 2004 at the age of 91. Jack was remembered as a down-to-earth, vibrant leader who knew the name of virtually any employee and whose favorite meal was grilled hotdogs shared with students at his outdoor therapeutic programs.

When questioned about why he devoted himself to helping children, Jack would say that he believed society would generate the biggest return on investment by helping troubled and at-risk children turn their lives around - "a lifetime of returns" for each child and family who were helped. Those closest to Jack and Ruth, however, would say that it was because the Eckerds had a special place in their hearts for children - especially society's most vulnerable children.

Over the years, Eckerd Youth Alternatives has helped about 70,000 troubled and at-risk children.

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