With the help of advocates and community leaders, PACE Center for Girls initially opened in Belle Glade in 1996 but was later relocated into the West Palm Beach city limits. Currently located in the Summit Commons Plaza on South Military Trail, PACE Palm Beach serves approximately 100 girls per year.
Since opening in 1996, PACE Palm Beach County has served more than 1,900 girls.
My name is Whitney and I am 24 years old. My success story is truly a miracle. Until PACE, my life was filled with depression, hardships, violence, abuse, and fear. For as long as I can remember violence and abuse were a part of my life. My dad was abusive towards my mom and later turned the abuse on me and my sisters. For a while, I thought my dad was just a mean person, but I later found out that he was addicted to hard core drugs. After 13 years of abuse, my mom finally found the courage to leave.
For the next four years we moved from place to place and never really had a stable home. We lived with friends, neighbors, my mom’s boss and when we had the money, at hotels. At one point, we even lived in our car in a parking lot.
While my family was going through its hardships, my life was falling apart. At least it felt that way. I was suffering from anorexia, severe depression and had no motivation to participate in school. I failed the eighth grade because I was involved in the wrong crowd and doing things I shouldn’t have done. I really didn’t care about what was happening in my life. I just expected it to progressively get worse. Eventually, I too became involved in an abusive relationship. The people at PACE Center for Girls showed me how to end the cycle of violence, how to make friends again, especially with people I would never have even talked to before.
"If you use the PACE Center to your advantage, it will help you in more ways than you can expect."
I came to the PACE Center as a freshman with no credits, but I graduated. PACE changed my life drastically and in more ways than academically. For example, they found a dentist that would cover my dental work for free. I was faced with thousands of dollars in dental work before I qualified for Medicaid. Now my smile is almost perfect and I know that I’m a beautiful girl for the first time ever.
Since the day I started PACE, I had a newfound push of determination. If you use the PACE Center to your advantage, it will help you in more ways than you can expect. Even though I like to play off my experience at the PACE center as being no big deal, it was just what I needed to make my college dreams come true.
(Note: Whitney is studying in the Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience program at Florida Atlantic University. She is working part-time while attending school and job shadowing an ER doctor.)
How many girls are served daily? Approximately 70
How many girls served annually? Approximately 106
What is the average age? 14.9
Why do girls attend PACE Palm Beach? Girls attend PACE to get appropriate counseling and education in a nurturing environment. To become enrolled, they must be between 12 to 17 years old, at least one year behind in school, and have 4 or more risk factors.
What are risk factors? Risk factors are the underlying issues that lead girls to academic underachievement. These are issues such as: foster home placement, substance abuse (by girl or family member), domestic violence, incarceration of a family member, neglect, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, grief, emotional health concerns, low income, and more.
Think about these statistics…
71% of our girls were failing one or more classes prior to coming to PACE
25% of our girls had a prior arrest before coming to PACE
33% of our girls used drugs and alcohol prior coming to PACE
What kind of success do girls have after leaving PACE?
90% had no involvement with Juvenile Justice within a year of leaving PACE!
83% improved their academic performance!
86% were in school or employed three years after leaving PACE!
1225 D South Military Trail
West Palm Beach, FL 33415
For enrollment referrals, please call the front desk at the number above.
Steven Rivera, Chair
Tara Pregnolato, Vice Chair
Jenn Herseim, Secretary
Nicole Hunt Jackson
Rebecca Marcus Wheeler