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YMCA volunteers sing the praises of nonprofit which serves the community

Rosie Manins | 2/17/2017, 6 a.m.
Eight teens and adults who give their time to the YMCAs in DeKalb County to the serve the community were ...
Eight teens and adults who give their time to the YMCAs in DeKalb County to the serve the community were recognized for their service recently.

Eight teens and adults who give their time to the YMCAs in DeKalb County to the serve the community were recognized for their service recently.

The volunteers were among 44 men, women, and youth honored as Volunteers of the Year and Teen Leaders of the Year for their service to the YMCA of Metro Atlanta in 2016.

The DeKalb honorees are Jerome Adkins and Sha’Nawled Robins of the South DeKalb Y; Isaac Blythers and Jada Buckles of the Wade Walker Y; Beverly Banister and Christopher McCrary of the East Lake Y; and Douglas Wood and Malik Moore of the Decatur Y.

nSouth DeKalb Family YMCA

Jerome Adkins, a Stockbridge father of 15, is the Volunteer of the Year at the South DeKalb Family YMCA and Sha’Nawled Robins, a Southwest DeKalb High School 12th grader, is the Teen Leader of the Year.

Adkins attended the YMCA as a child in Fort Wayne, IN and joined the South DeKalb branch in 2013. He currently serves on the finance committee.

He said the Y is a different kind of organization because giving back and helping people get a second chance are top priorities.

“I think volunteering is important because the children in our communities need a place like the Y where they can feel safe, learn, and participate in various activities in one central neighborhood location,” Adkins said.

Sha’Nawled learned to swim at the YMCA as a seven year old. She eventually became a certified lifeguard and swim instructor for the organization.

“The Y is the kind of place that makes people feel like it’s a second home and helps them stay active and healthy,” she said. “The Y has definitely been a big part of my life and has helped me learn how to give back to the community, which is important.”

nEast Lake Family YMCA

Beverly Banister, a director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of Stone Mountain, is the Volunteer of the Year at the East Lake Family YMCA and Christopher McCrary, a Charles R. Drew Charter School 10th grader, is the Teen Leader of the Year.

Banister, who has been on the board of the East Lake branch for more than 20 years, said volunteering has allowed her to have a direct impact on the lives of many children, teens, and families.

“I do not have any children, but volunteering with the Y gives me the opportunity to touch the lives of children from all walks of life,” said Banister, who currently chairs the East Lake Y’s board.

Christopher, who first got involved with the East Lake Y three years ago through its teen development center, also received the same honor at the 2016 Y-CEO Golf Invitational charity tournament.

Since then he has participated in the teen advisory board, a global service initiative trip to Costa Rica, a young men’s leadership academy, the teen center volunteer club, and a summer camp leadership training program.

“The YMCA provides a place for everyone to be creative and to have the ability to lead and be heard,” he said.