Letters to the Editor

Judge Gladstone’s ‘kids’

Judge William Gladstone was instrumental in the establishment of the Dade Marine Institute, now AMIkids Miami-Dade, and Swamp Camp, now AMIkids Big Cypress.

There’s nothing more inspiring than hearing about Judge Gladstone’s impact directly from one of the many young people he influenced. I had the pleasure of visiting one of them recently.

This woman, now a great mom, wife and businesswoman, had been before his court 25 years ago. She was what many judges would have considered a dangerous gang member. She had come to the United States as a teenager as part of the Mariel boatlift, leaving Cuba with no one and soon making a gang her family.

Many a judge would have sent her away for her crimes. Judge Gladstone, however, recognized her potential and placed her with us. She redirected her immense abilities and went on to be successful in community college and the University of Florida. To this day, she is grateful to Judge Gladstone in believing in her and giving her a chance at transforming her life.

Our AMIkids family believes — as we continue to work with kids in the programs he helped to establish, as well as many others that have opened across the country — that his impact on future young lives is immeasurable.

O.B. Stander, president, AMIkids, Tampa