Seventeen year old Anthony sits on a sea wall outside a Pinellas Point home. His feet dangle above the water. He feels something he’s waited a long time for.

  • New group home offers hope to foster kids
  • SailFuture opened in March
  • Organization started by teaching kids to sail

"Every morning I wake up and look at the Skyway and everything out there and it gives me a sense of hope that I can actually be something,” he said.

It’s a view Anthony has had for the past five months, since he moved into SailFuture’s first ever group home.

The organization started with after-school mentoring programs in 2013. It then began offering an alternative to juvenile detention by teaching troubled teens how to sail instead.

But that morphed into an even greater need. Some of the kids were successful on the boat, but what about after?

"So we thought, what can we do to sort of influence more of these boys lives?” Michael Long, Program Director, said. “We have this amazing time and experience on the boat, but what if we housed them afterwards?"

In March, SailFuture opened its first group home on 68th Avenue South. The organization worked with Eckerd Kids to find kids in the foster care system that would fit well into the new program.

Six boys between 15-17 years old live at the house with teachers and counselors and take classes at an accredited school right in their living room. They can stay there until they turn 18.

Anthony said it’s a big difference from the group home he lived in for eight months before coming there.

"I was cutting school, I was talking back a lot, I wasn’t getting any work done,” Anthony said. “I just didn’t have any real motivation to better myself."

Anthony is now one of three boys in the house to graduate high school. All three are now enrolled in St. Petersburg College. He said the program has given him a future he never imagined.

"I was shooting for so low back then I thought I was going to be flipping burgers at a McDonalds for the rest of my life and now I am thinking I can really chase millions and become something I want to become,” Anthony said.

While at the home, the teens are spending a lot of time out on the water. They’ve completed 100 sailing hours in preparation for a three-month sailing trip around the state in October.