Staff Report In addition to serving children, Edna Runner, JUPITER, Fla. – Donors, community friends, guests and local government officials joined Board of Directors, volunteers, students and staff as they picked up shovels and hit the dirt in a ceremonious display to celebrate and make it “official” that the Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center has begun construction of its building and grounds expansion project.

Construction will support the nonprofit’s afterschool educational programs including music, culinary, science, workforce training, outdoor recreation, life skills and more.

To date, the effort has garnered commitments from private and business donors but still falls short of reaching its $2 million goal to complete the project.

who has led the center as its executive director for 20 years, offers extensive outreach to the senior citizen members of the community by busing them to the center to enjoy activities and holiday functions, hosted by the students. Many are grandchildren of the students enrolled in the afterschool tutoring program; some are Runner’s friends from childhood.

“These improvements are overdue and significant to assist our children with gaining the skills and experience necessary in today’s competitive higher education environment to help them achieve and reach their goals,” said Runner.

“We are so appreciative of the community’s support, but we truly need more help…we ask your help.”

Runner welcomed and thanked the more than 100 guests seated under a tent outdoors amid architectural renderings of the pending facility upgrades during the on March 12 program.

Lee Owen, the center’s president and board chairman addressed the group gathered and detailed building enhancements planned to do more for the children who find the center “…a safe and supportive learning environment to thrive in.”

Some mentions by Owen included plans for “everything new” like a kitchen to support cooking lessons, music instruction room and counseling room. The facility will receive a new roof, HVAC, added office and classroom space and more science materials and equipment. A new playground will increase the size of the current outdoor recreation space and come complete with AstroTurf and a regulation-length basketball court. Additional parking will provide easy access to the entrance for visitors.

Also featured on the program, invited by Runner, were: Pastor Dan Plourde of Calvary Word Church in Jupiter Farms, who led the ceremony with an opening prayer; Mario Marino, center board member and Palm Beach Gardens mayor who recognized legislative and local government officials in attendance; Ellen DiMarco, the center’s volunteer band leader and talented musician, who led students in a showcase of the Music Program; and center Staff Member Travis Conway, who shared his personal story about how the center helped his mother and his family when he was a young student and his mother fell ill at the close of a school year.

“The Edna W. Runner Center welcomed us into their summer school program and helped us out a lot,” Conway said. “Because of Ms. Runner, we were able to do things, go on field trips, play sports and experience things we would have never been able to do while in school…and I am so thankful to her.”

Janice Harper, Tyree Campbell-Rollins, Jason Diaz, and Triston Tabeaua Lawrence, students from Limestone Creek Elementary School, read prepared words about what the center means to them, and revealed a “time capsule” filled with messages from the students enrolled at the center. The capsule will be buried and subsequently discovered, at a later date to be determined.

Chief Deputy Michael E. Gauger of Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office spoke about the effect of lowered crime and reported incidents due to Runner’s work and presence in the community by providing a caring, nurturing, supervised environment for kids to go afterschool.

A program highlight was Runner’s sentiment about the tree insignia that makes up the center’s logo.

“Trees make landscape beautiful, protect weaker plants, provide shelter, produce fruit, and so much more,” said Runner, dressed in bright green. “…The moral of the story is, ‘be the tree planted by streams of water.’”

Prior to the ceremony, guests were greeted by volunteers and students with ribbons and asked to wear them throughout the day as they returned to their community to help spread the word of the need for the Center’s support.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center, 561745-0950 or visit