Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mentor to Be Honored by Foster Care Program; Presenting the Award to His Memory Will Be One of the System's Success Stories

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mentor to Be Honored by Foster Care Program; Presenting the Award to His Memory Will Be One of the System's Success Stories

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLIE PATTON

There are plenty of horror stories about the foster care system.

This isn't one of them.

During his eight-year stay at the Boys Home on University Boulevard North in Jacksonville, Mike Dunlavy made the transition from angry, confused child to happy, successful adult.

Now 24, Dunlavy, a 2004 graduate of Jacksonville University, works in marketing and design for Presentation Resources Inc.

In 2004, Dunlavy was honored by Florida's Children First, an advocacy organization that works to protect the legal rights of foster youths and other at-risk children.

And on Thursday he will present a lifetime achievement award in honor of a late mentor who has touched him to this day.

"We like to showcase the young adults who are the success stories," said Andrea Moore, executive director of Florida's Children First. "Then we can think about how we can have more success stories."

Brian Cabrey, a Jacksonville lawyer who is vice president of Florida's Children First, has known Dunlavy and his younger brother, Derrick, since 1996, a couple of years after they were placed at the Boys Home. He and his wife became sponsor parents to both boys and foster parent to Derrick.

Cabrey encouraged Mike Dunlavy to stay active with Florida's Children First and invited him to serve on the host committee for this year's Northeast Florida awards reception, which takes place Thursday.

Dunlavy then suggested a lifetime achievement award to Fredrick Borg, who spent 26 years as executive director of the Boys Home Association.

By the time Dunlavy arrived at the Boys Home, Borg, who died in May at the age of 89, had retired, turning operation of the home over to his son-in-law and daughter, Rob and Kathy Brown.

But he remained a presence there, puttering around the gardens. He became a kind of surrogate grandfather, Dunlavy said.

"He was somebody I could always talk to," Dunlavy said. "When you're in that situation, it's hard to find somebody you can trust."

Dunlavy, who first entered the foster care system when he was 7 and his brother was 5, had been in and out of foster homes before arriving at the Boys Home when he was 11. …

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