Youth Volunteer Is Moving in the Right Direction and Achieving Excellence
February 2004 — "I could not have done it without my family at home and my family at Memorial," says Andrew Gregoire, a young man who knows all about the effect a community can have on a person's success. After a brush with the law in December 2001, Andrew was given this choice: go to court or get counseling at Community Youth Services (CYS), a program supported by Memorial Healthcare System. He made a choice that would have a major impact not only on himself, but also on the children of his own community.
Andrew attended counseling with Community Youth Services New Directions, a 12-week program for first-time, non-violent offenders. He completed the program successfully, and the charges against him were dropped. But more importantly, he emerged from the program with a positive outlook. "Basically, they gave me a new way of thinking," says Andrew. "The people there believe in you and want you to succeed."
In June 2002, Andrew was hired by Timothy Curtin, manager of CYS, as a Summer Youth Counselor. "I must have done a pretty good job, because after the summer they kept me on part time every day after school at the Bethune Elementary Aftercare Program," Andrew says. This was a perfect match. He worked as an assistant counselor facilitating physical fitness programs in sports and obesity prevention, as well as acting as a mentor and academic tutor. "He is a very bright young man who just needed an opportunity," Curtin says.
Making the MOST Out of a New Opportunity
Since the fall of 2003, Andrew has been a part-time youth counselor with MOST (Maximizing Out-of-School Time Aftercare Program) at Walter C. Young Middle School, in Pembroke Pines, which is also sponsored by Memorial Healthcare System through Community Youth Services. Constance Lindo, Community Youth Counselor II with CYS, specifically requested Andrew for this position because of his unique ability to relate to the kids. "He takes initiative and is not afraid to step up," says Lindo. "The kids love him. He has a great rapport with them and doesn't allow disrespect. And when it comes to sports, he's awesome â€” a great organizer."
But Andrew is doing more than organizing activities. He is providing much-needed guidance, as well. "I can give kids the same direction I got, provide some counseling about everyday life and give them someone to confide in." Just recently, Andrew's skills were put to the test when one of the girls in the program came to him about a problem she was having with another girl. Andrew used his skills to work with her, the other girl and another counselor in mediation to prevent a physical altercation. Both girls now have the tools to solve problems on their own and without violence, but they still turn to Andrew and the other counselors for help.
Going for It
"Coming to Memorial is the best thing that ever happened to me," Andrew says. The combination of counseling and responsibility has strengthened his drive to reach his full potential. He graduated from high school in the top 10 percent of his class in June 2003. He is now a student at Florida International University pursuing a degree in Healthcare Management. He will be eligible to apply for a Memorial scholarship after he completes his first year. "I like helping people and giving them another chance at life," says Andrew. "Thanks to Memorial Healthcare System, Tim Curtin and Mr. Sacco, I have the opportunity to strive for what I want." Not surprisingly, Andrew's personal motto is: Achieve Excellence.
Not only is Andrew a success story in his own right, but he is also part of a larger success story that goes beyond his CYS/Memorial family. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is one of the agencies that funded New Directions, the program Andrew successfully completed. FDLE recently asked Andrew to address their organization to show the importance of providing area youth with the support they need to succeed.
Community Youth Services at Memorial Healthcare System offers 21 prevention and early intervention programs, and receives 100 percent of its funding through county, state and federal grants. For more information about Community Youth Services and to find out how you can get involved, contact (954) 985-7000.