A Word From Our Executive Director:
Mrs. Brenda Louise Sellers
The responsibility to start a service like the YROP was placed on my life 20 years ago. I foundelf standing near a cashier worker, getting ready to pay for items that only took me about fifteen minutes to shop for. This unpredictable incident occurred during the time young people should have been into a summer after-school activities or taking part in other fun summer programs. Little had I known, I would be the unwilling participant in witnessing two young boys, possibly ages 9 and 12, being arrested for shoplifting. I remember being unable to turn away from this embarrassing incident because I noticed one of the young boys in tears, crying hysterically and becoming obviously remorseful for what they had attempted to do; however, the other boy’s face was almost like stone and void of sorrow or regret. His character was one of unwavering contempt. He seemed to emotionally disconnected himself from the entire situation, as if he had no part in it whatsoever and his eyes seemed to curse anyone who attempt to stare too long in his direction. Suddenly, I heard a loud voice from a far off in the crowd.
‘Man, just let the boys go! They ain’t hurt nothing!’ The Policeman turned his head in the direction of the voice and said something I definitely was not expecting him to say. In a voice filled with frustration, agitation, and stress, he said, ‘Give me one reason, just one reason why I should let them go and I will! Is there anyone here willing to take responsibility for these two young men?! There was a brief moment of silence, and then, a very deep, sarcastic, “Yeah- that’s what I thought!”
The police officer walked away with the two young men in each arm. On the long ride home, I kept asking myself, Why didn’t I say anything? Was there really nothing I could do?’ We all talk about the problems we have with young people and sometimes we need only to look to the news media to see the problems with our youth; nevertheless, at this particular time, there were only very few people in our neighborhood willing to do anything about it. I, along with a few others, decided to step up to the plate of responsibility and accountability and make a difference; furthermore, I made a personal decision that anything I did or anything anyone else would do to help me in my vision matters and it would continue to matter to the up-most. Right now, a band of supporters and I are trying our best to allow situations similar to one I spoke of to occur lesser and lesser; better yet, never to occur again.
It is my deepest belief that children do not plan or want to fail in life. Children are the cornerstone of our future and they are our deepest hopes and dreams. If we point them in the right direction, they will go; even more, they will succeed.
The Youth Reach Out Program (YROP) was established in 1995 as a non-profit organization and as an active referral agency geared towards meeting the needs of at-risk youth; originally the program was designed to meet the social and the basic educational needs of only disadvantaged young people in a very small section of an Dekalb local Parkview neighborhood in Decatur, GA. The agency, has since then, extended its services to holistically aid low-income communities and supporting networking agencies in meeting the needs of many young boys and girls and their families residing in the poor areas of Metro-Atlanta.
The Youth Reach Out Program has grown slowly, but surely over the years into a rather holistic ministry with an array of services of youth programs and supportive family referral services that work. Each program has its own uniqueness that allows at risk young people, low income families and poor neighborhoods to thrive. This program can breath life and impact positive changes into the existence of troubled youth and give them the encouragement to do positive things. I have worked in this program for many years. I understand second chances and I know change is possible. I know this to be true. I used to be the troubled very angry kid that was in the store. I was a juvenile delinquent-headed for no-where but right into a revolving door of the Juvenile system; arrested three times at the age of 14 for stealing, fighting and assault until a very serious page was turned in my life and a very kind Judge gave me a second chance and with that second chance I became the successful person that I never thought I would ever become.
Today, The Youth Reach Out Program Family/Community Help Center & Youth Ministries (as it is now known) is a community improvement, youth and family supportive agency that strengthens communities and families through positive innovative projects, helpful referral services, family-orientated activities and events that creates a healthy atmosphere in the low-income communities. We often work in the DeKalb, Parkview and Atlanta, Pittsburgh Communities with a small, yet very effective, staff made up of residential parent volunteers, youth leaders, local churches and civics representatives; all working closely with a small group of adult and teenage program facilitators to offer ideas and suggestions for program development and implementations. The goal of the YROP is to inspire community civic pride, support low-income families, encourage academic and personal growth in the lives of young people; more importantly, we want to help at risk youth become the helpful driving force in positively changing the communities in which they reside; thus the name, the YOUTH REACH OUT and do something positive in your own lives and in your own neighborhood PROGRAM.
Right now, the YROP is on the lookout for other possible partnering volunteers, agencies and organizations willing to help us in our efforts to enhance the quality of life for many disadvantage youth and families. We can do a lot on our own, but we can do much, much more together.
Mrs. Brenda L. Sellers, Executive Director
The Youth Reach Out Program
The Youth Reach Out Program (YROP) is a non-profit community, youth and family
organization; it was first established in the Dekalb County area in 1995 and has
been around for a little over two decades. The program’s “hands” icon is unique in that it displays how youth really can play a vital role in making a positive difference in the community. For example, it is a universal fact that young people have always yearned for attention, and as far as most young disadvantaged individuals are concerned, it doesn’t matter whether the attention has a positive or negative out-come. Usually, one can tell when a young person is attempting, from their own naive perspective, to sport their own individuality. One can see the messy chocolate stained handprints on the oven’s door handle or on the table as evidence of their willingness to perniciously produce warm baked cookies all on their own or the unofficial barely recognizable and unwanted graffiti smeared on corner traffic signs and on abandoned billboards. Well, the YROP is about allowing young people to take part in expressing themselves in creating positive things in the community. Now when you see that similar proverbial-stained handprint, it will be connected to positive things people want to see; like cleaning up the front yard for a handicap senior citizen, assisting another young person with homework or making their neighborhood police officers’ jobs a little easier. How one might ask? Well, by enabling neighborhood police officers the opportunity to collaborate with young people, teaching disadvantaged youth about the value in maintaining respect and about the good they both can implement into improving their neighborhood.
Our program is designed to holistically meet the needs of many low-income communities, youth and their families. Supported by a qualified staff of educators, civic representatives and part time volunteer college students, the program has developed a unique way to connect with neighborhood families and the youth we service; moreover, our board of directors, which are made up of local law enforcement, clergy leaders, teachers, volunteer parents and small business owners, provide the almost perfect collaborative management system for overseeing the organization’s operation. Our program has been very active and collaborative in many community events and activities. We have a history of collaboration with The United Way of Metro-Atlanta, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Funds for Community Support, The Atlanta Public School System, The Dekalb & Atlanta Community Orientated Police Unit (COPU), the Project Pact Crime Prevention Program, the Status of Health in Dekalb County Program, and the Parkview & Pittsburgh Civics Associations.
The vision of the YROP is to meet the needs of youth, families and communities in the low-income neighborhoods of Metro-Atlanta. We would like to help young people get their handprints all over Metro-Atlanta first, then get their handprints all over the world. The YROP has a very profound mission statement. Our mission is to maintain a structured organization geared towards developing a strong youth centered leadership in many disadvantaged communities while offering helpful referral resources for enhancing the quality of life for many families and neighborhoods in the Metro-Atlanta area.