%> Print this page

At-Risk Youth Receive Fresh Start as Graduates of Youth Automotive Training Center

Deerfield Beach, Fla. – At an inspiring graduation ceremony, 25 young adults celebrated the completion of a life-changing, nine-month program created by JM Family Enterprises Founder and automotive legend Jim Moran.


Members of the Youth Automotive Training Center’s (YATC) Class of 2013 – ranging in age from 17 to 22 – received their graduation certifications in front of family and friends on May 23, becoming the 34thclass to graduate from the program.


Jim Moran established YATC in 1984 with the mission to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The center’s goal is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive and law-abiding citizens.


Students are referred to YATC in a variety of ways, including through Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Children and Families, as well as 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. This year’s graduates join nearly 600 fellow alumni whose lives have been turned around by this innovative program.


Fifteen scholarships were awarded at the graduation ceremony and five students received special recognition for their exceptional dedication to the program, including William Watson. Watson, 22, received the Jump Start Award for excellence in automotive knowledge and repair skills. A close friend and past graduate encouraged Watson to apply to YATC. After being accepted into the program, he relocated from Daytona to live with friends in Broward County to attend classes. While juggling various jobs, he also earned his GED and now aspires to a career as a lead automotive technician.


Kelly Lively, 19, also referred by a former YATC graduate, was honored with the Turnabout Award for making significant changes in all areas of his life. Saying he cherishes the advice and automotive education he received, Lively begins his next chapter with a new perspective and hopes to further his training in auto body collision repair.


Camden Burton, 20, received the fourth-annual Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship Award. Established in 2010, this recognition includes a full-paid tuition scholarship to attend a technical/vocational school. Rossmeyer, founder of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota, was a longtime friend and generous supporter of YATC. In honor of her husband, Sandy Rossmeyer presented Burton with the award during the graduation ceremony.


Growing up, Burton worked on auto repair projects with his grandfather and the scholarship will allow him to advance his knowledge, skills and training in the automotive industry.


“YATC opened my eyes to a family that cared about me and said I could have a bright future,” said Burton. “I learned to not give up on myself and to work hard towards a better life.” 


Bruce Beuchert, 17, and Michael Turner, 21, were presented with Outstanding Attendance Awards. Beuchert saw YATC as an opportunity to refocus his life and learn more about automotive repair. He now has plans to study aviation and hopes to work on helicopters. Seeking direction in his life, Turner applied to YATC after receiving advice from his brother Brandon, also a graduate of the program. Turner recently earned his GED and plans to attend college in the fall to study mechanical engineering.


The Jim Moran Award is presented each year to a community partner who has exemplified dedication to helping the students of YATC improve their lives. This year, devoted YATC supporter and Advisory Board member Doug Dunbar was awarded the honor via satellite television feed to the CBS 11 News studio in Dallas, Texas, where he is now an anchor. 


Dunbar became involved with YATC in 1995, often visiting the school and working with the students in various capacities. Since 1996, he has served as the emcee of the Jim Moran Classic, an annual golf and tennis tournament weekend, which is YATC’s primary fundraiser. Despite relocating to Texas, he and his wife Camie, who is a member of the Board of Directors, remain passionately involved with the school and its students. 


Through a donation to the Harold Shafer Memorial Fund, in honor of her husband, Vicki Shafer made it possible for YATC to purchase a much-needed bus to take the students on field trips, to tour educational facilities and on the many other outings they enjoy throughout the year. Vicki, in attendance at the graduation ceremony, was recognized for her assistance in acquiring the new vehicle, which was displayed at the event. The Shafers began their support of YATC the day the doors opened in 1984 and remained loyal supporters through the years. Harold, founder of Centurion Auto Logistics, passed away in 2011. Thanks to JM Custom Creations, the 25-passenger bus artfully displays the YATC logo in a specially designed full vehicle wrap.


For more information about the Youth Automotive Training Center, please visit www.yatc.org or call 954-428-0909. YATC is located at 399 S.W. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla.


To download photos, click here.