Meet 305 Club's Founder, Paco Prio
1. Hi, tell us who you are and a little bit about why you wanted to launch the 305 Club. What are some of you interests and skills that prompted you to serve our communities in this way?
My name is Francisco Prio but everyone calls me Paco. I’m a senior at Belen Jesuit and current Student Council President. I started volunteering with Hope for Miami and Urban Promise my freshman year when I was President of NJHS and part of our goal was to support a non-profit. I knew we would make good tutors and could certainly help younger students with homework and have some fun too. I had no idea then what an effect the kids and the experience would have on me. That summer I did an internship at the Marty Hennessey’s Inspiring Children Foundation which required us to really reflect on our own lives and the importance of doing what feels right. That experience got me thinking about what more I could do for the children in Little Havana I had come to care so deeply about. When I got back, I founded the 305 Club and rallied kids at my school to join. I knew we could serve as mentors and have meaningful service hours with the same group of kids over several years which could really have a positive impact. We financially support the program too with a $305 annual donation (or $30 monthly recurring one.) It’s truly a symbiotic relationship.
2. Thanks, so now, tell us who’s involved in the Club and what are some of the projects and activities you all have accomplished.
The 305 Club is a teen volunteer force of approximately 70 students from Belen Jesuit Preparatory and Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. The volunteers get DCF required security clearance to be able to have direct contact with kids. We help in many different ways including homework, tutoring in person and on-line, reading and of course lots of fun things- arts & crafts, science fairs, sports clinics and games like spike ball, Simon Says and musical chairs. We plan and execute holiday events too like our annual St. Patrick’s Fun & Kinship Day. We are able to really engage with the kids. Their eyes light up when the 305 Club arrives. We’ve also been very effective at fund raising. Using promotional video and social media campaign to help raise much needed funds for the programs the kids and their families really rely on.
3. Then, can you share what it is about serving the Little Havana neighborhood that is particularly meaningful to you?
As a Cuban-American, I relate to the Hispanic community that is predominant in Little Havana. I speak the language and I don’t just mean Spanish. I understand the body language and what the kids are not saying. I know many of them have no male role model, worry about food security, if Mom is going to be able to pay the rent and sadly even deportation. Some have PTSD levels of stress especially during the pandemic and anything I can do to ease some of that pressure and help them see a future for themselves that is successful motivates me. I am always conscious that it could easily be me in their shoes.
4. Also, what’s one aspect of Hope for Miami’s work that most encourages and motivates you?
Helping kids is what motivates me most. During the pandemic, I was able to teach a young boy named Luis how to divide fractions via Zoom. It was one of the greatest feelimgs of accomplishment in my life. I think the Hope for Miami logo beautifully exemplifies the concept that resources, skills and interests are the ”threads” that help re-weave our neighborhood into a tapestry of well-being. When we all do our small part, we can make a BIG DIFFERENCE.
5. Finally, tell us something interesting about yourself to help us get to know you better.
I am a storyteller. I love multi-media and use video and photography to communicate whether it’s inspiring people to join a club and donate to a good cause or to promote a product, service or just for entertainment.