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Annual Graduation Ceremony Recognizes the Youth Automotive Training Center’s Class of 2017

New skills and open doors were two of the biggest reasons friends and family of the 26 graduates of the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) gathered to celebrate last week. A crowd of more than 350 family members, guests and community leaders were present to honor the noteworthy accomplishments of YATC’s 38th class.

Automotive legend and JM Family Enterprises founder Jim Moran established YATC in 1984 to prepare these students to become self-sufficient, productive citizens. This latest class joins the nearly 700 alumni who received a second chance at success.

“YATC is a place that teaches you skills you will have for life – like how to be a team player and a strong individual,” said graduate William Johnson, 18, who also received a special scholarship in recognition of his hard work. “I would like to thank Mr. Moran for his vision to create YATC. His legacy has opened new doors for me.”

Jim Moran’s vision for YATC’s nine-month program was based on the belief that many troubled youth in the community can transform their lives through intensive instruction and hands-on training in automotive theory and technical skills. Equally valuable to the school’s mission is the emotional support provided by the caring staff — three of whom are YATC graduates themselves — and the educational and practical life skills they learn.

“Like the graduates who came before, you have overcome many obstacles and shown that you understand how to use determination and perseverance to achieve your goals,” said Terry Routley, YATC’s executive director, in a message to the Class of 2017. “Mr. Moran established this program because he believed in giving people a second chance. Our hope is that YATC has provided that chance to get you on the right path toward a better future for you and your family.”

Guided by YATC staff and volunteer tutors from the community, six of this year’s graduates earned their GED. During the commencement ceremony, 17 graduates were awarded scholarships for continuing education, four of whom received special recognition for notable achievements. 

Johnson received the Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship Award. Established in 2009 by Jan Moran in memory of Bruce Rossmeyer, this recognition includes a full tuition scholarship to attend a technical/vocational school. Rossmeyer, founder of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota, was a devoted friend and generous supporter of YATC. In honor of her late husband, Sandy Rossmeyer, along with Jan Moran, presented Johnson with the award.

Other standout award recipients include:

  • Jarvis Crawford, 20 and Tyler Kirksey, 19, were each presented with the Jump Start Award for excellence in automotive knowledge and repairs.
  • Jesury Briones, 17, was honored with the Turnabout Award for making significant changes in all areas of his life.
  • Kirksey also received the Outstanding Attendance Award for demonstrating exceptional commitment.
During the ceremony, YATC recognized Gilbert and Vicki Hanks of Auto Carrier Express with the Jim Moran Award, which is presented annually to a person or group who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to YATC’s program and students. The Hanks have given generously of their time and resources to the Training Center for 18 years.

Mona and Joe Aliseo were honored with the Super Big Heart Award for their committed volunteer work on behalf of YATC. The Aliseos have coordinated the annual Cool Wheels Car Show to benefit the school for six years, in addition to fundraising and serving on the Advisory Board for many years.

An evening highlight was hearing from two of the graduates who delivered inspirational messages to their classmates and attendees, acknowledging the new path they are on thanks to YATC. Longtime YATC supporter and Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino also spoke to the class, encouraging the graduates to cultivate and continue to build upon the positive relationships in their lives – such as the ones made through the YATC program. 

Students are referred to Youth Automotive Training Center in a variety of ways, including through the departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, as well as by past YATC graduates, local clergy and word of mouth. Many of these young people have experienced poverty, crime, abuse and addiction even before reaching their teen years. There is no cost to the students who attend YATC as the program is funded solely by generous donors and by the Jim Moran Classic Golf Tournament, which is scheduled for Nov. 10 – 11, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.

About the Youth Automotive Training Center

Established by Jim Moran in 1984, the mission of the Youth Automotive Training Center is to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The goal of this program is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive, law-abiding citizens. Students are referred to YATC in a variety of ways, including through the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, as well as YATC graduates, local clergy and word of mouth. For more information about the Youth Automotive Training Center visit www.yatc.org or call 954-428-0909. YATC is located at 399 S.W. Third Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla.

About JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

JM Family Enterprises, Inc. was founded by automotive legend, Jim Moran in 1968. It is a privately held company with $16 billion in revenue and more than 4,200 associates. Rooted in automotive and united in its strong culture and core values, JM Family is in the business of helping other businesses succeed. As a long-term partner, it is invested in its companies, associates and its communities. Driven by exceptional performance, current subsidiaries are in the automotive, financial services and franchising industries. Its family of companies includes: Southeast Toyota Distributors, JM&A Group, World Omni Financial Corp. (dba Southeast Toyota Finance), JM Lexus, DataScan and Home Franchise Concepts. JM Family has earned various awards for its culture, products and services, including 23 consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Interact with JM Family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.