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Gainesville fire chief credits Boys and Girls Clubs for career
Jerome Yarbrough is nominated for one of organization's top awards
Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough
Fire Chief Yarbrough

After his father left town at age 10, Jerome Yarbrough spent his time at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier, where his hard-working mother felt he and his siblings could be safe.

Now the Gainesville Fire Department’s chief, Yarbrough is one of its biggest advocates for its effect on his life’s path.

“I put a lot of time in Boys and Girls Club because I benefited from some of the programs and just the people that worked at the club, inspiring me and showing me a different road to travel versus the one in the path that I was on before,” he said.

Yarbrough was selected as one of 10 nationwide finalists for the #BGCMade contest, a video contest of alumni stories. The grand prize winner is decided by votes and will bring home $10,000 for a club of choice.

Boys and Girls Club of Lanier Vice President of Development and Marketing Joyce Wilson said Yarbrough made the video in 2015. Serving on the board for almost two decades, Yarbrough represented an alumnus who was an “astounding example of good character and citizenship,” Wilson said.

“He’s been really, really involved with the kids. He loves the kids. He feels like the Boys and Girls Club is a safe place but a very constructive place for kids to go,” she said.

One of the most important values or opportunities presented was education in a time where graduation rates in his community were lower, Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough credited a trip to the Gainesville Fire Department while with the club as inspiration for his future career.

“I was mischievous and doing things, and they kind of start putting you on a path … I’m where I’m at today because of some of the values instilled in me from Boys and Girls Club,” he said.

Yarbrough said both his children were club members, adding it greatly benefits not only the children but the community as a whole.

“It’s the best investment you can put in a kid of any program that I know of,” he said.

Anyone can vote by clicking on the heart/like symbol on Yarbrough’s video. People can vote once a day every day until 11:59 p.m. Monday.

As of press deadline, Yarbrough had 860 votes, and the leading video had 13,214 votes.