DEERFIELD BEACH — Twenty-five young adults are starting a new chapter in their lives after graduating from a unique program created by the late automobile dealer Jim Moran.
Nine months ago, the students, ranging in age from 16 to 21, were selected for Class 32 of the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC).
Established in 1984, the mission of the center, located at 399 S.W. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., in Deerfield Beach, is to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, provide academic remediation, job readiness and life-management skills.
The goal is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive, law-abiding citizens.
This year, three students also received their GEDs, with six waiting for their test results, thanks to help from the academic instructors.
Students are referred to the center in a variety of ways, including through the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Children and Families, as well as by center graduates, clergy and word of mouth. To date, more than 500 students have graduated from the program, a center release said.
Students honored for exceptional commitment to the program included Ricardo Berrios, 21, who received the Jump Start Award. He said that the center offered him “everything I dreamed of and more. These people are here for you, just like family.”
Hector Nuñez, 21, and Fabian Ardila, 22, shared the award for Best Attendance. Kewuan Jones, 19, was awarded the Turnabout Award for his progress and accomplishments during the year.
“I know that I’ve grown as a person. I feel confident to move forward with any opportunity that comes my way,” Jones said.
The second annual Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship Award was presented by Sandy Rossmeyer and Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe to Shaquille Antonio, 18, who now says he understands “the benefits of staying on the right path.”
Antonio will have the opportunity to attend Miami Lakes Educational Center in Miami-Dade County, where he will study automotive service technology.
Bruce Rossmeyer, fou-nder of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Harley-Davidson dealerships and Daytona Toyota, was a longtime friend and generous supporter of the center, the statement said.
The Jim Moran Award this year went to the late Peter Van Deusen and his wife Kay for their determination to help provide the students of the center with a brighter future.
Peter Van Deusen joined the YATC Advisory Board in 1995 and chaired it, becoming a member of the YATC Board of Directors in 1998. Kay Van Deusen was also a member of the Advisory Board and instrumental in establishing its Tutor Committee. She accepted the award, along with their son, Ed.
Additionally, the Peter L. Van Deusen Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by Kay Van Deusen to provide financial help and other assistance to the children of YATC graduates.
For more information on the Youth Automotive Training Center, call 954-428-0909 or visit www.yatc.org.
SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: Shaquille Antonio was awarded a scholarship during graduation recently from the Youth Automotive Training Center in Deerfield Beach.