%> Print this page

Graduates of the Youth Automotive Training Center Celebrate During 35th Commencement Ceremony

Twenty-seven at-risk youth who have overcome great adversity recently became the 35th class to complete a transformative, nine-month program created by automotive legend and JM Family Enterprises founder Jim Moran. Members of the Youth Automotive Training Center’s (YATC) Class of 2014, ages 17 to 22, celebrated during a graduation ceremony with family and friends on May 22.

Jim Moran established YATC in 1984 with the mission to train and educate troubled young men and women in basic automotive repair, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The center’s goal is to prepare the students to become self-sufficient and productive citizens.

This year’s graduates join more than 600 fellow alumni whose lives have been turned around by this innovative program, which is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Former Miami Dolphins defensive end and YATC supporter Jeff Cross helped present certificates of completion to the graduates with Executive Director Terry Routley.

“YATC has a significant impact on young people and their families, and this program has positively altered the course of so many of their lives,” said Routley. “These students know that when they graduate tonight they are not losing us as family. We will continue to stand behind them and provide support when they need us.”

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 by word of mouth. Many of these young people have experienced poverty, crime, abuse and addiction even before reaching their teen years.

Sixteen scholarships for continuing education were awarded at the graduation ceremony and five students received special recognition for their exceptional dedication to the program. Additionally, six of this year’s graduates earned their GED.

Timothy Butler, 22, 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 Butler with the award.

“I was searching for help and discovered a place with good people to help me get on the right road,” Butler said. “If I hadn’t found YATC, I am not sure what my life would look like right now, but I definitely wouldn’t have this much hope for my future.”

YATC guest speaker Ray Daley, a member of YATC’s Board of Directors, said something that resonated with Butler, “…make yourself a first priority.” Those words motivated him to work hard, successfully earn his GED and continue his education. Butler hopes to become a master underwater welder and business owner.

Other stand-out award recipients include:

  • Jarad Boykins, 21, was presented with the Jump Start Award for excellence in automotive knowledge and repairs.
  • Brian Garvey, 18, was honored with the Turnabout Award for making significant changes in all areas of his life.
  • Roel Edwards and Dondrea Grant, both 20, received the Outstanding Attendance Award for demonstrating a commitment to completing the program.

The Jim Moran Award is presented each year to a community partner who has dedicated his/her time to supporting YATC’s mission. Longtime advocate and Advisory Board member Dr. William Penzer received this year’s distinction. With more than 30 years of experience as a psychologist, therapist and life coach, Dr. Penzer is an annual guest speaker who provides YATC students with life management skills training, including counseling on careers, substance abuse and healthcare. Three psychologists from his Plantation-based practice offer their services and expertise by working one-on-one with the students throughout the school year.

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