Pine Hills was not an easy place for Wes Hunter to grow up. Drive-by shootings, stabbings and other crimes were a part of life for Wes. Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida was his escape. In fact, the family moved to Seminole County when Wes was 15 after a kid at school was shot.
“I grew up in a rough neighborhood and you didn’t have any other place to go that was worry free,” he says. “Boys & Girls Clubs provided a loving and secure direction for us.”
Wes looks back and remembers his friends. There were about five or six friends who really became involved in the club. They played football and hung out with kids who were doing the right things. They succeeded in life. Five or six of his other friends didn’t become involved.
“They were absorbed by the teenagers who were doing things they shouldn’t,” Wes says.
Today, Wes is a perfect example of giving back. Today, he is a Senior Financial advisor and Senior Vice President with Hunter & Associates, a Merrill Lynch office in Lake Mary. The firm participates actively in the Altamonte Springs branch with company and client activities, sponsorships of Club activities and working at the Club.
“Giving back to Boys & Girls Clubs has had a huge impact on my life as well,” he says. “You can feel the results in the kids. We need to make sure these kids, who are less fortunate than us, get the TLC and protection they need from the things that are out there working against them.”
When working with the youth at the clubs, Wes is someone the youth can relate to. He started his life in a difficult situation and is extremely successful. His advice to today’s Club kids?
“Be a sponge, keep your eyes and ears open and accept and recognize opportunities when they are presented to you,” he says. “You will be distracted to do what others are doing and head one way other than the right way. It is hard to focus on the good, you will be in the minority. It might not look like you are getting the results, but once you get to a situation where you are graded on quality of personality, it will all pay off.”