JORGE VELASQUEZ

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Jorge Velasquez succeeds by developing a life of faith, leadership, and achievement

Two years ago Jorge Velasquez and his two younger brothers were placed on our Lakeland campus due to a family crisis. At that time he never imagined that less than two years later he would be giving his life to Christ, getting baptized, and serving others on mission trips in Tennessee, New Orleans, and Guatemala.

Jorge doesn’t want his past to define his future. He points to other kids on the Lakeland campus who have influenced his personal growth and development.

“I have seen how some other students are able to stay positive despite the many difficult circumstances they have experienced in life. I made a conscious decision that I am going to stay positive as well,” Jorge said.

Jorge attends Kathleen High School where he is an honor student, receiving mostly all A’s. His academic strengths are in math and science. For this reason many people think he may pursue engineering.

Jorge often helps to prepare meals for his cottage. Cooking is one of his passions.

However, like many kids his age, he’s not quite sure what he wants to do after he graduates from high school. He has wide and varied interests. He loves to cook and has expressed interest in maybe becoming a chef.

He is also seriously considering majoring in psychology and working in law enforcement as a criminal profiler.

He has even talked about being a house parent someday often questioning other house parents on campus about how they got involved in the ministry of house parenting.

“Because of my own life experiences, I think I can relate very well to other kids who may be struggling with their past circumstances and be able to encourage them in all the things that they may have to deal with,” Jorge said.

He attends Medulla Baptist Church where he was baptized this past summer. Daniel Sweaza, minister of youth at Medulla describes Jorge as a young man of few words, but with a very big heart.

Jorge pictured with his youth pastor Daniel Sweaza at Medulla Baptist Church in Lakeland. He was baptized at Medulla this past summer.

“When we first met him he was very quiet and reserved, but we soon found out what a great guy he is, and just how deeply he desires to know God,” Sweaza said.

“He went with us on a mission trip to New Orleans this past summer and sings every Sunday in our youth choir. He’s a real leader among his peers. I don’t think even he realizes how much other students look up to him.”

Jorge was part of a select group of kids from the Children’s Homes who traveled to the Children’s Malnutrition Center in Guatemala this past summer.

“It was a great experience. I had never been to a foreign country, and had never been on an airplane. Those little kids were so happy to see us and loved being around us. I couldn’t get over how happy they were,” Jorge said.

 

Jorge traveled with a select group of students this summer to help minister to the little children at the Children’s Malnutrition Center in Guatemala.

Jorge turned 18 last spring. He has the option to move into an apartment, but has opted to stay on campus in order to be close to his two younger brothers. Family is very important to him and has grown closer to his brothers over the past two years.

He is in the independent living program, which provides a combination of services and training to prepare him make a successful transition to life on his own.

“I feel good about my future. I know I am going to be on the right path as long as I go where God leads me. The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes helped me develop more confidence in myself, but most importantly, they taught me about the need to have a relationship with Christ.”

Jorge’s house parents have had a major influence on his life as evidenced by his interest in someday becoming a house parent.

Jorge with his house parents Neil and Jennifer Land.

 

His house parents Neil and Jennifer Land are very proud of him and speak to his maturity and leadership in the cottage and on campus.

“He really cares about the other kids. He is a quiet person, but leads by example. He currently serves as President of our Lakeland Campus Advisory Board,” Neil said.

“He grows in his spiritual walk every day. He has a heart for the kids he worked with at the Children’s Malnutrition Center in Guatemala. He asks that we pray for them every night during devotions,” said Neil.