Craig and Kate attended the University of Central Florida in 2001 and enrolled in the same classes, but never met. They worked at the same restaurant in college, but never met. Years later, after what felt like a lifetime of experiences, the two non-education majors found themselves embedded in the lives of youth as teachers. Their care for a common student finally brought them to their first meeting at a family "Taco Tuesday" night. And the rest if their love story is history.
Through their many experiences with teens and young adults however, Craig Russell and Kate Demory, have learned that there are a lot of people willing to support our youth; if they only knew of the need. When youth have shared their voice and cry for help with Craig and Kate, the pair have always known their community of supporters, their “troops” would answer the call for help.
Over and over and over, the “army” of community members, parent, and businesses, swoops in without question or judgement, supports our young people and their families. The actions and love of the community inspired Craig and Kate to name their non-profit Army of Angels.
Army of Angels is a non-profit organization that supports children, teens and young adults who have faced, or are facing, significant adverse childhood experiences (ACE). For many teens who have struggled with ACE, schools have provided the main source of stability and guidance. The Army of Angels serves as a support system that bridges the gap between the schools and community with the aim of older teens and young adults becoming fully independent, educated, healthy, productive adults.
Craig Russell and Kate Demory established the non-profit after their experience helping former Winter Park High School student, A'monte Green get back on his feet after being in jail. Green had been homeless and parent-less since 8th grade. After finding the government systems overwhelming and unrealistic to manage, Russell and Demory reached out to their local Winter Park community through Go Fund Me, and found that many local community members and businesses were able and willing to aid A'monte on his journey. Their story was shared nationally, and their army grew.
Craig and Kate began to see that there were many people who want to help the local youth, they simply need to know of the need. Their goal is to give children, youth, and young adults a voice, to share their story, the opportunity to ask for help, so those who are eagerly looking to support them, can have the opportunity to do so.
In the fall of 2019, Demory and Russell established a school-based outreach of Army of Angels at Winter Park High School called the Youth Society. Their club serves as a school-based support system for any student facing adversity, but especially those who are in foster care or homeless. They create a family-like atmosphere at school where they can be heard so those at risk can build better, healthier, safer lives, earlier than A'monte did.
Click here to learn more about The Youth Society and like its FB page. Click here to watch a short video about The Youth Society. After having a member of the club age out of the foster system and become a resident at the local Faine House, Kate again called on community support for the student. After again seeing the incredible support from the community, again, Kate couldn’t help but notice and be impressed with how many people came together, an army, to do what would have been impossible with only one person. The non-profit name was finalized as Army of Angels in honor of all of the people who come together at a moments notice to do what is needed to be done to support our youth.
When our schools closed due to COVID-19, Kate and Craig knew that many of the students they help at school would not have the means to buy food, or access the free food at their local school distribution sites. They knew that many of their students were already struggling and/or homeless, and again a gap would be created and the need was identified. Kate and Craig quickly called in the troops again to help identify students and families in need who were particularly effected by the school shut down. The need was identified and a food drive began and the Army of Angels started delivering food. As of May 10th, 2020 the Army of Angels has delivered over 1,000 boxes of food which included over 61,000 meals. Deliveries and donations are made daily and boxes are packed and delivered by the over 200 volunteers “enlisted” in the Army of Angels.
Craig and Kate both work at Winter Park High School. Craig is a Weight Lifting teacher and coaches football and wrestling. Kate is a math teacher and math coach. Together they have a blended family of 5 children ages, 6, 10, 11, 12, and 15. Their home life is guided the same as their coaching effort, #teamworkmakesthedreamwork.