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Antoine Hall mentors because he knows the need

March 25, 2012|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • Antoine Hall of Greencastle, Pa., holds his Mentor of the Year award, given by Lead4Life, which matches at-risk youths with adult mentors.
Submitted photo

Growing up in Prince George's County, Md., Antoine Hall said he knows all about the temptations awaiting impressionable youths on the streets.

After all, he had been one of those teens himself, admitting to having a few run-ins with the law before he could even drive.

But today, at age 32, Hall's past has molded him into being a model mentor and has helped him to steer youths on a straight-and-narrow path toward a positive future.

It's something, he said, he is passionate about.

"I was an at-risk youth. I thought I could relate to the kids a little more," he said.

On March 9, Hall, of Greencastle, Pa., was recognized for his volunteerism with the mentoring program of Lead4Life Inc. Hall received the organization's first Mentor of the Year Award.

Lead4Life matches at-risk youths with adult mentors.

"I was pretty happy. I was smiling within myself," Hall said of receiving the award. "I was feeling I was actually starting to do something; that I was starting to make an impact."

Hall said he volunteered at an event at Memorial Recreation Center with other members of the Black Student Union at Hagerstown Community College of which he was vice president. At Memorial Rec, Hall met Angela St. Clair, executive director of Lead4Life Inc., and they started to talk about mentoring opportunities at her organization.

And it's been a great fit, St. Clair said.

"The program is still in its infancy, and we need people in the community to invest and to really take on the spirit of the program and he has done that," she said.

St. Clair said Hall is always talking about the program to others, especially fellow male classmates at HCC. Hall encourages them to be mentors, she said, and he is finding ways for St. Clair to talk to other groups and organizations.

"He really believes in the program," she said.

When Hall signed up as a Lead4Life mentor, he was already volunteering with the Salvation Army and had volunteered during Antietam Creek Watershed Alliance's Rubbish Roundup. But he said he knew he could do more.

After passing FBI and state background checks, and having his home and car inspected, Hall was paired with 14-year-old Marco Delgado, who, Hall said, "is like family to me. He's a good little dude." The pair hang out and do different activities, but for the burly Hall their favorite pastime is going out to eat.

"He taught me how to eat with chopsticks," Hall said.

Hall said he was about 15 when he was busted for selling drugs in P.G. County. Hall was court-ordered to attend the county's Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program. The program specializes in juvenile intervention and behavior modification programs. He credits that for helping him make those first steps to turn around his life.

But Hall's passion for volunteering came later, when, as part of the Trio Club at HCC, Hall participated in a clean-up of Hagerstown's City Park.

"I had a nice feeling of 'Dang, this is pretty cool to do this,'" Hall said. "So I started volunteering somewhere else. Then I started volunteering somewhere else. Then somewhere else."

Hall has been married to his wife Kelly for 11 years, and is the father of two, Ariel, 10, and Kalaya, 8.

While balancing being a husband and father, Hall attends classes at HCC and is majoring in human services.

"I feel as though I could be a case worker or something like that," he said, noting that he wants "to guide people in the right direction."

He also drives a school bus for the Waynesboro (Pa.) Area School District and works at night as a janitor at HCC. The weekends, he said, is devoted to family, volunteering and school work.

Helping people, Hall has found, is something that is a part of him.

"I just like to help people out," he said. "If somebody's broke down on the side of the road, I'm the person who's going to stop and make sure you're all right. I just try to do onto others as I would like them to do onto me."

Hall believes it's his civic duty to volunteer.

"It's easy for people to talk about a situation, but nobody wants to take the extra step to better the situation," he said.

Hall said it's as simple as the motto "Each one, teach one, reach one" when it comes to reaching youths.

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Wright receives partner award

Loretta Wright was also recognized at Lead4Life's Mentor Appreciation dinner held March 9 at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Club. Wright received the Non-Profit Partner of the Year award as executive director of Memorial Recreation. Wright is executive director at Memorial Rec and also sits on Lead4Life's mentor advisory board.

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