Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys to Find Home with Couple `with Mission'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys to Find Home with Couple `with Mission'

Article excerpt

A plastic duck floats in the empty pool while a pool table sits

unused in Sal and Maria Daidone's home on Mandarin Road.

It's quiet in the five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot ranch home

near Village Lane the Daidones moved into last year.

But by late October, the Daidones' empty nest will become home

for six boys from broken or troubled families, when Florida's

first Boys Hope home opens in Mandarin.

Boys Hope is a non-profit agency that provides homes for abused

or abandoned boys from age 10 to 14. The children live with

house parents and attend area schools as they try to overcome

their problems. The Mandarin facility was dedicated Thursday by

Mayor John Delaney and Bishop John Snyder of the Catholic

Diocese of St. Augustine.

The Daidones moved here from Newport, R.I., last year to be the

house parents. Married for 38 years, their three children grown,

they had worked with their own church in children's programs and

were foster parents. They wanted to try something new, so they

applied for the houseparent job when they saw it advertised in a

religious magazine.

"We are all placed on this Earth with a mission, and my mission

is to work with young people," Maria Daidone said. "If I can

make one young person's life better, then I have done

something."

"Kids keep us young," said Sal Daidone. "The kids give me more

than I give them. If you treat them with love, they will give it

back."

Boys Hope was started by Jesuit priest Paul Sheridan in St.

Louis in 1977. A Girls Hope program followed in 1991. The

organization's 30 homes across the country work with children

who have emotional or developmental difficulties. But the

program selects only children with good academic skills, who

have been recommended by teachers and family, said Pat Zoller,

executive director of Boys Hope of Florida. …

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