By Julian Melton
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens is the mission statement of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Administration. To celebrate local club members’ academic achievements, the Durham Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club hosted the “Youth Can Count on Me” banquet on Sept. 14 at the Durham Convention Center.
The elegant event included thirty candlelit tables with white tablecloths. At each table, the eight chairs were filled with club participants and supporters of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
Club members who made the A/B honor roll at their schools, entered college in 2011, or were promoted to their next grade were acknowledged at the banquet. Athletic teams and community leaders were also recognized.
N.C Central University Freshman, Quantre Via, who grew up on Orange Street in East Durham, received a special award: The Salvation Army’s Youth of The Year Award.
Via has been a member of the club for years. He was a basketball star at Hillside High School until his senior year when he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and was forced to set aside his talents in basketball and rely on his academic prowess to get into college.
Via credits the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club with helping him stay focused and on the right track.
“It created an environment in which I experienced a lot of positive things,” said Via. “Through the Club, I was able to experience things I couldn’t in my neighborhood. The Club let me know that my education meant everything.”
He was also influenced by neighbors at his current residence on Weaver Street, where many veterans and NCCU alumni taught him about being a respectful and humble person.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club located on 801 Alston Ave. teaches its’ members leadership skills as well as the importance of education.
During the dinner, club representatives proudly announced that all but one of the 149 members who attended regularly were promoted to the next grade. Twelve percent of the members maintained a B average or higher for at least three quarters and 19 percent of the members were on the A/B honor roll for at least three terms in the 2010-2011 school year.
Additionally, all high school seniors who regularly attended the club graduated and are either in college or employed this fall.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club offers many programs that help youth develop positive life skills.
Torch club is a small group leadership and service club for members ages 11-13. Torch club members work in teams in four areas: service to club and community, education, health and fitness, and social recreation. The Torch club is an annual program. Membership in the Torch club is open to any child who is within age, but is limited to only 15 children per year.
Keystone Club, for members age 14-18 focuses on community service, but allows members to take the lead by electing officers and choosing their activities.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is open to all ages and nationalities.
Quantre Via encourages all parents who want their child to become active in the community to visit the club at 801 Alston Ave. and speak to the director for an application.
“The doors are always open. Just ask for the director, he will give you an application and start you on your way,” said Via.