DEERFIELD BEACH — Twenty-seven young men and women who have been coping with troubled lives are now trained to enter the automotive industry, thanks to a 35-year-old program.
They join more than 600 other youths aged 17-22 who have passed through the Deerfield Beach-based Youth Automotive Training Center.
The late Jim Moran, who founded JM Family Enterprises, started the nine-month program as a way to help young people develop skills to help turn their lives around.
Besides getting their diplomas, five graduates received special awards.
Jarad Boykins, 21, received the Jump Start Award for excellence in automotive knowledge and repairs.
“YATC is a place that I will always call home,” Boykins said. “I really needed this to help get back on track.”
Boykins was born in Pompano Beach and raised in Deerfield Beach. While at YATC, he learned to balance school and work as a newly hired technician at a Tire Kingdom store. He says he plans to continue his education after graduation.
Roel Edwards, 20, who was born in Jamaica and lives in Lauderhill, and Dondrea Grant, also 20, who was born and raised in the Bahamas and lives in Deerfield Beach, were presented with the Outstanding Attendance Award for demonstrating commitment to completing the program.
Timothy Butler, 22, who was born and raised in South Florida, got the Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship. This award was established in 2009 by Moran’s widow Jan Moran in memory of Bruce Rossmeyer, founder of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota and described as a devoted friend and generous supporter of the program. It covers full tuition to attend a technical/vocational school.
Rossmeyer’s widow Sandy Rossmeyer, along with Jan Moran, presented Butler with the award.
“I was searching for help and discovered a place with good people to help me get on the right road,” Butler said. “If I hadn’t found YATC, I am not sure what my life would look like right now, but I definitely wouldn’t have this much hope for my future.”
Brian Garvey, 18, who was born and raised in Deerfield Beach, was presented with the Turnabout Award for making significant changes in all areas of his life.
Sixteen scholarships for continuing education were awarded at the graduation ceremony and five students received special recognition for their exceptional dedication to the program. Additionally, six of this year’s graduates earned their GED.
Presentation of the diplomas and awards took place May 22 at the JM Family Enterprises Aviation Hanger at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Moran started YATC in 1984. The 16,000-square-foot modern facility features technical and academic classrooms, a computer learning center and library, a state-of-the-art automotive shop, a conference room, a lunch room and a fitness room.
The curriculum includes intensive, hands-on automotive training, academic instruction, life management skills and career preparation, with classes held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
As part of the program, additional educational and enrichment activities are offered. These include guest speakers and instructors, team-building exercises, field trips, tutoring and mentoring, certification programs, college scholarships and community volunteer projects.
“The center’s goal is to prepare the students to become self-sufficient and productive citizens,”
according to a JM Family Enterprises statement.
“YATC is unique in that its support does not end at graduation but continues providing resources and opportunities for alumni and their families, including counseling and job placement assistance, to keep them on the right track,” the statement said.
Some students go on to technical schools or college, while others pursue careers in mechanics or use their training to explore other fields.
Many of the students are hired during and after completion of the program with a range of companies, including several in the automotive field, as well as some in other areas, such as Citrix Systems and Victory Yacht Painting Service.
Former Miami Dolphins defensive end and YATC supporter Jeff Cross joined Executive Director Terry Routley to present certificates of completion to the graduates.
“YATC has a significant impact on young people and their families and this program has positively altered the course of so many of their lives,” Routley said. “These students know that when they graduate tonight they are not losing us as family. We will continue to stand behind them and provide support when they need us.”
The Jim Moran Award went to Advisory Board member Dr. William Penzer, a psychologist, therapist and life coach. It is presented each year to a community partner who has dedicated his or her time to supporting YATC.
Penzer provides YATC students with life management skills training, including counseling on careers, substance abuse and healthcare. Three psychologists from his Plantation-based practice offer their services and work one-on-one with the students throughout the school year.
YATC is located at 399 SW Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Deerfield Beach. Students are referred to the program in a variety of ways, including through the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families, as well as YATC graduates and clergy and by word of mouth.
For more information about the program, call 954-428-0909 or visit yatc.org