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Rollins is named top youth

April 16, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Setting and achieving high goals in life isn't always easy, but it can be done despite adversity and peer pressure, said Washington County's Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year, Eric Rollins of Hagerstown.

He's been an active member of the Pennsylvania Avenue club since he was 8 years old.

"You can make it; the situation doesn't matter, or how people label you," Eric, 17, said in an interview before addressing the audience Thursday night at the 14th Annual Steak and Burger Dinner to benefit the clubs.

The award is accompanied by a $1,500 scholarship, said Buck Browning, the club's director of operations.

Eric, a senior at North Hagerstown High School, said he is proof that young people living in areas identified with high crime aren't destined to be low achievers. He said he lives in Hagerstown's designated C-Safe - formerly HotSpot - area.

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"You're labeled as a young, black, poor kid who's not going to make it," Eric said. "I wasn't involved in alcohol; I was at the Boys and Girls Clubs. I was at my church doing things."

Eric's parents, John and Angie Rollins, said they've worked hard to provide a nurturing home environment for their son.

"It's a very proud moment when you see your son and you know that you did all that you could do to raise him. All I can say is, to God be the glory," Angie Rollins said.

Thirty-five area companies purchased tables for 10 people at $400 each at the event, filling the banquet room at the Four Points by Sheraton Hagerstown on Dual Highway.

"The success stories are remarkable. This club is touching and changing lives," said Michael Gardner, vice president of Wright Gardner Insurance Inc. in Hagerstown. Gardner said his company has purchased a table for the event for as long as he can remember.

The Youth of the Year scholarships are sponsored by the M&T Foundation.

Two other area students also were awarded scholarships.

Andreana Gonzalez, a junior at South Hagerstown High School, was awarded a $500 scholarship. Raylonda Nobles, a senior at North Hagerstown High School, received a $300 scholarship.

"I want to be able to go to college and better myself and give back to my community like the Boys and Girls Clubs has helped me," said Nobles.

Dinner chairwoman Julie Rohm said the annual fund-raiser set a $25,000 goal to reach with proceeds from table sponsorships, ticket sales and a silent auction.

"We reached our goal with our table sponsors and we surpassed. We're hoping the silent auction will take us over the top," Rohm said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs, a United Way agency, operates five units and two extension programs.

The organization "offers tutoring, computer software training, performing arts and other programs that support positive youth development," Browning said.

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