|Neighborhood Networks Center Youth Helps Wall Street Ring in the New Year|
Spartanburg, SC—Peer pressure. It is used to refer to the social pressure that one's peer group exerts to persuade another peer to act or think a certain way. In youth, the term is often used to explain why negative actions have been taken, such as performing poorly in school or engaging in underage drinking or drug use to fit in.
But for Dominique Jones, there was nothing negative about the peer pressure exerted by his friends. In fact, it was their persuading that changed Jones’ life for the better.
A Little Help from His Friends
For Jones, the journey to the New York Stock Exchange began when he saw how much fun his two friends were having participating in the Crescent Hill Apartments (formerly the Spartanburg Terrace Apartments) Tenant’s Association Save the Children Program. Encouraged by his friends, Kendrick Hardy and Julius Williams, and not wanting to miss out on the skating and bowling parties, Jones joined the program in 1999. From that moment, Jones became actively involved in the program, becoming a team leader, helping younger children with their homework, and serving as a mentor. Jones went on to become president of Save the Children’s Youth Council.
An Example for All
After graduating from Spartanburg High School in 2005, Jones enrolled in Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. Currently in his sophomore year, Jones is studying business and accounting, and hopes to launch a career in real estate upon graduation.
“Even though Dominique is off at college, he still comes around whenever he can and mentors the other children at the center,” said Vernon Beatty, center director at the Spartanburg Terrace Resource Center at Crescent Hill Apartments. “He has never forgotten how much the center and the Save the Children Program have affected his life, and how it could have been so different if he didn’t get involved in our programs.”
And, when Save the Children announced their nationwide search for young program participants to ring The Closing BellSM at the New York Stock Exchange commemorating its 75 years of service to children and families in need, Jones’ name was at the top of the center’s nominee list.
“Dominique is an example to all,” said Beatty. “He is living proof that people can accomplish great things if they apply themselves and if they engage in life. And I’m not only talking about youth who grow up in low-income housing. I’m talking about all people.”
As a nominee, Jones was interviewed and was required to write a biography. In the end, it was Jones’ drive and ambition that set him apart from the other nominees, and landed him on the platform at the New York Stock Exchange on January 8, 2007. And it looks like Jones will have the opportunity to become even more familiar with Wall Street.
“Dominique has been offered a summer internship with the New York Stock Exchange,” said Beatty. “They were so impressed with him that they offered him an internship that will teach him the ins and outs of the stock market. He’s interested in owning his own business one day, so I imagine this will be another life-changing experience for him.”
More Where That Came From
A cluster of three buildings, the Spartanburg Terrace Resource Center at Crescent Hill Apartments is comprised of two portable classroom buildings that were donated by local school districts and a 13-computer technology lab that used to be a maintenance shop for the housing complex. Beatty said he hopes to one day house all of the programs and services in a single facility.
The Save the Children Program that Jones participated in is one of the many programs offered at the Spartanburg Terrace Resource Center at Crescent Hill Apartments. Center staff members have worked hard to ensure that they offer a range of programs in which all residents can participate.
“Right now, we’re finalizing the plans for our summer programs,” said Beatty. “The summer program is our biggest program. We partner with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide a summer food program. Through this program, we serve 36 sites in three counties. Each day, we serve about 2,000 children breakfast and lunch. On our property alone, we serve about 150 children.”
In addition to the summer program, the center offers a literacy program that requires center youth to read books and then take a test in the computer lab to demonstrate their comprehension. The program offers incentives for the children, such as the recent trip to the circus that was the reward for approximately 85 of the children who participated in the program.
“We also have an afterschool program,” said Beatty. “Every school day from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the children come in. After they have a snack, they work on their homework. Then they have a literacy block at which time they are required to read. This is followed by a physical activity block. We have about 18 volunteers who help us with this program.”
In the summer, the center offers a summer program that is similar to the afterschool program but with extended hours. Beatty relies on the help of more than 45 volunteers to make this program a success.
“All of the programs offered at the center are operated by the residents association,” said Beatty. “This is a 501(c)(3) organization, and through it, we are able to apply for grants. Since the center was established in 1996, we have won about $1.5 million in grants, and we’ll keep going for more. When you see the difference these programs make in the lives of the residents, like Dominique, you’re easily inspired.”
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in South Carolina, contact:
Elaine F. Bennett
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Columbia Field Office
1835 Assembly Street, 13th Floor
Columbia, SC 29201
For more information about the Spartanburg Terrace Resource Center at Crescent Hill Apartments, contact:
108 Pineneedle Drive
P.O. Box 5330
Spartanburg, SC 29304
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)