Bruce Mount, Jr., was about to begin his senior year in high school – his whole life was ahead of him. But in a short few hours, life as he knew it would be destroyed.
“We were hanging out in the Boys & Girls Club parking lot when a friend ran over to tell me my house was on fire,” says Mount. “I didn’t fully understand, but I ran home to find my house roped off and burning to the ground.
“I’ll never forget turning around and seeing the entire Club standing behind me, supporting me,” he says. “They were my family.”
The Club rallied around Mount’s family by organizing a clothing drive, making sure Mount and his siblings had a place to go, and supporting them through the ordeal.
But, of course, this is what the Boys & Girls Club does for its youth. The Club becomes family and a home away from home. The Club is a place the sets its youth on the journey to a life they often can’t imagine for themselves.
Mount understood that from the first day the Eatonville Club opened in 1998. “That trailer popped up, and we were there,” he says.
Mount’s involvement in the Club resulted in becoming the Youth of the Year during his senior year in high school and placing second in the state competition.
Shortly after the state competition, Mount spent the summer sharing his story with various business and civic groups in Central Florida. He had plans to attend Howard University, but after meeting Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry at an event in Seminole County, his course shifted. Justice Perry took an interest in Mount and offered him an incredible opportunity.
“He was at circuit judge at the time,” Mount says. “He walked up to the table and said, ‘I went to a small school in Raleigh (North Carolina) and Columbia Law School, and I would like to help you go to those schools. If you are interested, you could visit and view the campus.’”
Mount continues, “Of course I was interested. After visiting, I loved the campus and received a full ride to attend St. Augustine’s University.”
After graduation, Mount attended Florida A & M University’s School of Law and became a founding partner of a regional law firm. And true to his goals and values, he opened the only law firm in Eatonville.
The Boys & Girls Club experience enabled Mount to dream of bigger things. Without it, he believes he would not have “shot for the moon.”
For today’s youth, he provides this advice, “They have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. To break barriers, you have to be OK being the only one in the room who looks like you do.”