Johnathan Spoon describes himself as a once “troubled child” – angry at the world and apathetic about the direction of his life. Growing up the oldest of 7 siblings and without a father, Jonathan felt an immense pressure to succeed, but often doubted his abilities. He credits his Boys & Girls Club for helping him see what he can be.
“I want to touch someone’s life the way mine was touched. This place is my heart.”
It was his former Club director, El Janeo Vereen, who not only took Johnathan, but his entire family, under his wing. He affectionately describes Vereen as his father figure. As Johnathan struggled, Veeren would sit him down and remind him that while he couldn’t be in control of his circumstances, he could drive change as long as he remained focused.
His current Club director, Ruth Holder, has seen this transformation unfold as he’s blossomed into an “insightful, sensitive, perceptive, and diligent young man.”
In fact, it was those very circumstances that have driven Johnathan to be an advocate for issues in his Club. As a witness to the effects of substance abuse within his own family, Johnathan has led the discussion around the dangerous effect of substance abuse. Hoping to break the stigma around these discussions, Johnathan has recruited speakers, planned events, and lead campaigns to educate his Club peers.
According to Holder, “Jonathan’s efforts around substance abuse and socio-emotional wellness will continue to nurture our youth members’ well-being long after he’s graduated.”
That once doubtful and reserved 6-year-old kid who walked into the Carroll County Boys & Girls Club has altered his mindset, channeled his struggles into compassion, and became a leader in his own right with his commitment to helping others.
Not only do his teachers believe in him, but Johnathan now believes in himself. An educator at his Carroll County high school, Agnelia Parker-Roberson believes that it’s a combination of his positive attitude and a belief that he can always improve that makes Johnathan special.
“That’s rare in a high school student, but so essential to the learning process.”
Currently enrolled in Pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement classes, Johnathan plans to reach new heights by studying medicine at the University of West Georgia upon graduation.
“It isn’t where life has taken you, but where you’re determined to go.”
Support Johnathan on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags: #YOYJohnathan, #YOY2017, and #TheTimeIsNow
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