History of Club Esteem

Over the last two decades, Club Esteem has experienced incredible growth in the number of youth served as well as the range of services and programs. However, one thing has remained the same: the belief of our founder, Gladys Williams, that "all youth can achieve success with a solid educational foundation and caring adult relationships."

Club Esteem was established as a nonprofit agency in 1991 by Ms. Gladys Williams (pictured above), a grandmother who was alarmed by the challenges facing young people in her South Melbourne neighborhood near Lipscomb Park Community Center. Ms. Williams recognized the difficultly of youth making positive choices while living in a community struggling with crime, drug use, unemployment, teen pregnancy, and elevated school dropout rates. While many may have given up hope, Ms. Williams, her close friend Ms. Dorothy "Dot" Linson, and others believed that the efforts of a few could change the direction of the youth in and around their community. In the spring of 1991, they began a "club" for children. The youth choose the name "Club Esteem" and defined their goals as staying in school, making good grades, and making positive life choices. From 1991 to 2003 Club Esteem met one night per week at Lipscomb Street Community Center.

In 2003, the Junior League of South Brevard, City of Melbourne, and M.H. Williams Construction joined together to build Club Esteem a new facility, adjacent to the Lipscomb Park Community Center at 3316 Monroe Street in Melbourne, Florida. In 2004, the Club Esteem Youth and Family Center opened offering expanded programs and services five days per week, during the school year.

With the opening of the new center, Club Esteem was able to provide tutoring, mentoring, character education, cultural arts, and more to 60 youth per day! As a result of these expanded programs, Club Esteem’s expenses increased substantially and the Board of Directors was challenged to raise the money needed to make a significant and lasting impact on the lives of these youth. In 2005, the first annual Club Esteem fundraiser -- The Halloween Masquerade Ball -- was held. From 2005 to 2009, the Halloween Masquerade Ball has raised close to $500,000 for Club Esteem programs. In 2006, the Club Esteem Guild was established to support Club Esteem through volunteerism, networking and fundraising. Guild members organize and host the Halloween Masquerade Ball each year, putting in hundreds of unpaid, volunteer hours to help raise money to support Club Esteem.

In addition to funds generated from the Halloween Masquerade Ball, Club Esteem is funded by donations from corporations, small businesses, families and individuals as well as organizations such as the United Way. Club Esteem is also funded through fundraisers, various grants, including Community Development Block Grants from the City of Melbourne and the City of Palm Bay. Facilities are donated and maintained by the City of Melbourne.

Club Esteem’s programs and leadership team have continued to expand. Club Esteem currently serves 150+ youth from economically disadvantaged communities, five days per week during our after-school programs. Club Esteem also offers summer workshops and services for the entire family.



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    Club Esteem Inc.
    3316 Monroe Street
    Melbourne, Florida 32901

    Phone: (321) 409-8942


    Ellena Little, Executive Director

    Phone: Phone: (321) 409-8942


    Robert Green, Fund Development Director

    Phone: Phone: (321) 252-9283


    April Barber, Administrative Assistant

    Phone: Phone: (321) 409-8942