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Troy Boys and Girls Club Earns National Recognition



Nicholas Buonanno, TroyRecord.com

A youth program out of the Troy Boys and Girls Club was recently awarded the 2018 Honor Award for Program Excellence in Character and Leadership during the 112th national Boys and Girls Club conference.

Last week Jerry Ford and Tafari Harper, leaders of Team Helping Everyone Recognize Opportunities along with The Block Center, traveled from the Collar City to San Diego, California after being nominated for the award at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Conference.

“That was a national nomination and we brought it home,” said Ford. “It feels magnificent; actually the word magnificent wouldn’t even describe it feels because we know that Troy was up against all of the major cities in the United States. I’m still getting adjusted because it’s just such a magnificent thing.”

According to a release, Merit Awards for Program Excellence, are sponsored by MetLife Foundation and presented annually for outstanding programs developed and implemented to lead youth to great futures at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. Each honoree also receives a $2,500 award. Each year, hundreds of entries are submitted in the five core program areas: character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; the arts; and sports, fitness and recreation; as well as in the three overall program areas: Best Overall Program by organizational Budget (as it pertains to your Club’s annual budget amount) – less than $500,000 or more than $500,000; Best Overall Participation and Regular Attendance; and Innovations in Safety.

Team HERO strives on developing and implementing programs to support youth making the transition from childhood to adulthood. The group utilizes a relationships first model, prioritizing human connections rather than focusing on perceived problems; their strategies are long-term and built around the strengths and needs of people who make up the communities they serve.

The Block Center is a positive youth development program for young people ages 11-17 living in the Troy area. Founded in 2015 in partnership with the Troy Boys and Girls Club, the program connects caring adult mentors with young people for educational groups, character building activities, field trips, and more.

Ford said that it felt great for them to bring the national award back home to the Collar City and he is happy to see the program’s hard work get national recognition.

Ford said him and Harper along with other program leaders such as Patrick Doyle, the Executive Director of the Troy Boys and Girls Club, Jennifer Livingston, Elvira Ford, Matthew Rector, Chauncey Schoolfield, Jamie Lucey, Stephen Figueroa, Lucie Taylor along with others helps to build character for the youth they serve through their programs.

“We break that character down into an acronym, which is Commitment, Honor, Accountability, Respect, Action, Credibility, Trust, Empowerment, Resilience,” explained Ford, who also noted that their programs typically serve 30 to 40 youth every Tuesday at the Troy Boys and Girls Club from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It is a great honor to start off the year with our first Merit Award for Character & Leadership. The Block Center started 3 years ago when members of Team HERO wanted to [provide] positive opportunities to teenagers within our city. This program has developed into an award winning program thanks to the caring mentors. Without their constant hard work and dedication over 100 teens would not have a positive mentor in their life. We look forward to deepening the impact throughout the Capital Area by providing award winning programs for years to come. As we celebrate our 115th year of youth development serving youth throughout the Capital Area we know that there are more ways to reach more youth,” added Doyle.

Ford said that during the Block Center’s meetings they try to focus on different life values to help prepare them to be positive youth and adults.

“Each month we just tackle a value head on, so within that month we’re going to focus on that one value and we’re going to come at it from a few different angles,” said Ford. “We’ll come at from a point of definition, where we define it and give them what it means and also then we come with practical application of it and then we come with implementation, which is like a physical way and we act things out with them with team building exercises.”

Ford said that he believes that the programs that they offer at the Boys and Girls Club has been beneficial for youth in the city and they started it a few years ago for that reason along with other reasons.

“This program is a must, I mean right now our young people are facing things that were unheard of a few decades ago, so this program is very important because we see a breakdown of the homes of a lot of our young people and they need mentoring and we know that providing positive mentors can actually shape a young person’s life for the better,” said Ford, while mentioning that the program will see its first youth, Milan Miles, attend college this summer.

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