There is always a twinkle in the eye of this Miami Native, but do not mistake it for unprofessionalism or lack of ambition. Keeping a positive attitude while wrangling youngsters from ages 5 through 14 is difficult on the best of days. Don keeps the ingredients on his daily menu of chores sprinkled with fairness, common sense, consistent discipline and a sense of humor. There is always some spice added, due to things beyond his control, but he handles whatever comes at him well, most likely because this supervisor is also a dad.
Don encourages boys and young men in his sphere of influence to work towards perfection in sports and education. He found sports to be a vehicle to help his journey toward larger things and he passes that knowledge on. He was able to pursue his education with help from a basketball scholarship, studying education with the intent to become a teacher.
Don came to work in the City of Sunny Isles Beach in 2008 as a basketball coach. When an opportunity presented itself, he took a job as office assistant, working the front desk at Pelican Community Park. More recently he was promoted as the supervisor of the After School Program for the children from the neighboring elementary school. He knows the program is needed and sees his role here as one of “molding our future and providing a service that is greatly needed by working parents.”
Don admits that since a young age he has always looked at the bottom line when he approaches a new idea or job. As a child, he used up youthful energy playing basketball in between his ambitious plans of selling snacks, cutting grass and charging for his skills as a technology consultant to his peers. Currently, he is employed fulltime at the City but also coaches an AAU travel basketball team, plus maintains an online sports magazine. His goal is to grow his media company to a nationally recognized brand. He is certified by the American Athletics Union as a registered NCAA Certified amateur coach and team owner. His basketball team operates out of northeast Miami-Dade and since March 2010, has been responsible for 30 scholarship opportunities for young men.
Don, and the counselors he mentors, are aware of the influence they may have on children under their care. As the holiday season draws near, the counselors have plans to get the students engaged with the community to help those less fortunate. Last year, the group sponsored a food drive and collected more than 750 toys for those in need. Don says, “We’re looking to continue giving back this year. For Thanksgiving we’re planning to hold a Feed the Needy event.” The group will also hold a holiday canned & non-perishable food drive, plus the 2nd Annual Afterschool Program Toy Drive.
Don says he loves spending family time with his wife and two children. His son, who is eight, emulates his father and “is in love with the game of basketball like I once was. I love helping him run through drills and just talking about the path he’s going to take on his journey with the game. I’m proud of how well he’s picking up on things.”
Don’s philosophy of life can be summed up by his words, “In life you’re only measured by how many lives you affect and change. You can have all of the money in the world but if you don’t give back in any form – donating, helping up the next man, providing help to others that came from where you came from – you’re living an empty life.” Maybe that is what puts the twinkle in the eye of this care-giver, husband, father and entrepreneur.