He said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County provided the strength to refuse the societal mold of coming from a single-parent home.
He said the clubs helped raise him.
His testimony resonated from the podium at the Gainesville Elks Lodge No. 1126 on Wednesday as Donavan Moss won the 2013 Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County Youth of the Year award.
Moss, 17, a senior at Gainesville High School, said, “I refused to be another statistic; a man who can wine and dine in the sense of the world and still can be considered a Christian. I plan on being great. I cannot be less. I refuse to wear a barcode across my chest ... my only regret is the stigma that many men of the past have set. ... (The Boys & Girls Clubs) planted a seed that not only pulled me out of my ‘cocoon’ but would have a lasting and legendary effect on my life.”
His mother, Chere Rucker, said she also was active in Boys & Girls Clubs as a child and knew engaging Moss in the clubs’ after-school activities and with the people would set a good example not only for him, but also his two siblings.
“I am very proud of him. I am blessed to have him as a role model. Believe it or not, his brother wants to go the same route,” said Rucker.
The Boys & Girls Clubs has been a part of Moss’ life since elementary school, including the sports and character development programs, such as Passport to Manhood, a class concentrating on specific aspects of character and manhood as well as the importance of giving back to the community.
In response, Moss organized a youth volunteer program to help with the Good News at Noon homeless shelter in Gainesville.
“My people are not temporary. There is potential in everyone,” Moss said.
Steve Mickens, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County chief professional officer, said Moss does not “do pity parties for anything.”
Moss aspires to do well and strives to do his best, Mickens said.
Moss is an honor student, a member of the National Honor Society, but also is active in Gainesville High School football and is co-captain of the lacrosse team.
After graduation, his plans include attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering and later join the U.S. Air Force.
“I want to fly the F-22 fighter jets,” Moss said.
Other participants in the 2013 Youth of the Year competition included Jasmin Gaudlock, 17, senior, Chestatee High School,who received the runner-up award; Gabriel Copeland, 15, freshman, Gainesville High School; Dedricka Stovall, 18, senior, Johnson High School; and Brenquese and Brenqueze Dukes, juniors, Gainesville High School, identical twin brothers who presented a speech together.