Ben Kemmer - Florida Keys Children's Shelter
Dec 06, 2023 7:30 AM
Rotary Club of Key Largo Weekly Meeting
Ben Kemmer - Florida Keys Children's Shelter


Hello, I'm Ben Kemmer, a devoted resident of the Florida Keys for the past 24 years. My journey to this picturesque haven began on the cusp of the new millennium in 1999, with a memorable New Year's Eve. I found myself attending a job interview at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter (FKCS), where fate smiled upon me, and I was hired on the spot.


March of that year marked the beginning of our Upper Keys adventure, where I embraced the role of Youth Advocate at FKCS. This position not only grounded me within the organization but also became one of the most gratifying experiences of my career. Guiding, mentoring, and connecting with the kids fueled my passion and commitment to FKCS's mission.


My professional journey at FKCS unfolded, propelling me through various roles—Team Leader, Residential Assistant Coordinator, Residential Coordinator, Training Coordinator, and Chief Learning and Evaluation Officer. Today, I proudly hold the position of Chief Executive Officer, a testament to the growth and evolution I've witnessed within the organization.


Reflecting on my career with FKCS and my personal life, I find parallels between my roles at work and as a parent. Together with my wife, we are raising four wonderful kids, and the lessons learned at FKCS continually inform and enrich my parenting and other relationships. The past 24 years with FKCS have flown by, yet I can't imagine a more perfect fit for myself and my family.


This incredible journey has been supported by an unwavering Board and an exceptional team. Their dedication fuels my motivation to overcome challenges and ensures the continued success of FKCS.


The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter is an organization that provides a variety of services for children and young adults who are in need of a safe and supportive environment. Some of the services they offer are:


Emergency shelter: They operate the only licensed emergency shelter for youth ages 8-17 in the Florida Keys, where they provide housing, food, activities, and counseling.

Project Lighthouse: They run a drop-in center for youth ages 21 and under. 

Keys-Wide Counselors: They have a team of qualified counselors who work with youth ages 6-17 at their schools or offices, helping them with issues such as missing school, anger management, and substance abuse.

Transitional Living Program: They have a program for young adults ages 18-21 who may be homeless, aging out of foster care, or in other situations that limit their self-sufficiency. 


The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter has been helping and counseling thousands of children and families in their time of need since 1989. The goal is to help each individual live up to his or her highest potential and become a positively contributing member of the community.