Daily Point of Light # 3077 Nov 21, 2005

Daily Point of Light Award for
Associated Marine Institutes

Associated Marine Institutes is one of five winners of a special judging of the Daily Point of Light Award that seeks to recognize organizations and volunteers who are making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families and meeting the critical communities needs through their efforts. Marking National Family Volunteer Day (Novmebr 19, 2005) and National Family Week (November 20-26, 2005), these awards honor and celebrate individuals, families, organizations, and volunteer efforts that strengthen the bonds between neighbors and build more connected communities where families can thrive.

Learn more about how volunteering strengthens families and transforms neighborhoods.

Associated Marine Institutes has dedicated itself to achieve a common goal – rehabilitate troubled youth into responsible and productive citizens. AMI is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help delinquent youth through the development of community-based rehabilitation programs. The goal of the schools is to “turn the lives around” of misdirected kids, giving them the tools that will help them to succeed in life. Through its programming, AMI has grown from just 6 programs, serving 200 youth, to 53 programs in 6 states serving over 3,000 youth and families yearly.

In 1969, Judge Frank Orlando had a young man in front of him that had committed a crime, but he realized that sending the boy to a juvenile detention center was not going to benefit him. Judge Orlando understood that the boy was not out of reach yet. So, he called a friend who was managing a marine research program and asked if he would take the boy on one of his oceanographic research projects and put him to work. The friend obliged and after a few months passed he called the Judge back and told him to send more boys his way. They realized that the boys felt like part of the group, and that they were happy to earn their way. Positive rewards for their good work and effort reinforced their worth and made them understand that the more they put in the more they will receive. These experiences gave the adults the idea to establish AMI, a permanent program to serve these kids.

Rehabilitation is an integral component in each of AMI’s programs. It is shared with the clients through many avenues; academic instruction, experiential education, mentoring, goal setting, vocational training, and working to increase self-esteem through responsibility and accountability. Overall, the programs strive to provide an opportunity for kids who are academically behind in school, and have behavioral issues, to catch up or surpass their peers.

Community service is also key in AMI’s education. They believe that because kids belong to their community, they should take ownership in their community and develop respect for it along with respecting themselves. The kids are involved in community service on an ongoing basis and constantly learning their value and what value they can add to the community.

AMI has managed to bring together all facets of the community to make a difference in the kids and their lives. Law enforcement, judges, business professionals, legislators, retirees, family members, they all come together. Through their efforts and those of AMI, an average of 28% of AMI’s kids are re-arrested compared to the national average of 59%, making AMI a national leader for rehabilitating adjudicated kids.

What AMI has done for years, results in successfully reintegrating youth back into their communities, schools, and family settings. AMI strives to impact as many youngsters as possible without compromising their standards of effectiveness. The data proves that AMI is succeeding, but they believe it is because the founders have a genuine desire to help children succeed.