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Poised for Success

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Released 28 March 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Poised For Success: Club Member shines in the face of competition

On March 21, 2007, after months of competition and years of triumphs, Aaron Mack (16), a native and resident of the West Side of Baltimore faced dozens of other young hopefuls in competition for the coveted title of Maryland's Boys and Girls Club's 2007 Youth of The Year.

Although Mack, who ascended to this phase of the competition after being nominated by his peers at The Salvation Army's Franklin Square Boys and Girls Club and championing a local competition, did not arise the victor, he returned from the day of judging and panel gleaming at the bravado of confidence and pride he showcased to a panel of key Boys and Girls Club staffers and Legislative officials.   Mack showcased a level of poise, self-confidence, and intellect which the panel both recognized and plaudit him for during the ceremony.

"When Aaron first came to our Clubs," explains Deborah Tyson, Unit Director for the Franklin Square Club, "Although it was obvious that he was a young man headed down the wrong path, it was also so easy to see that beneath all of the tough talk was great potential and good soul."

According to Mack, he's seen his share of violent crimes on his "block" and fell prey to the pressure the streets, committing petty nuisance crimes like graffiti and fighting. Although he was never caught, it wasn't long before he would see some of his closest friends and neighbors suffer the consequences of their illegal actions and appreciate his need to transform.

 "There was so much more constructive stuff to do at the Club [then on the streets]." Says Mack. "We can go there and get help with our homework, and play basketball and pool. We learn Spanish, take trips to museums and plays, and Ms. Deborah teaches us how to be better people, how to respect one another and solve conflicts so we don't have to fight. If it wasn't for the Boys and Girls Club I would probably be selling drugs, in jail, or even dead."

Mack, an honor student at Baltimore's Talent High School who participates on the school sports and Debate Teams, has aspirations of becoming a successful Pharmacist, and says that not winning the Regional competition, hence the $1000 scholarship, hasn't hindered his commitment to or admiration for the Boys and Girls club program, "When I get older I'm going to make money so I can give back to the Clubs.  That way other kids can have the opportunities I have."

The Salvation Army operates three Boys and Girls Club after-school programs throughout the Greater Baltimore Area.  At its core, each Club program is designed to promote the development of its members by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, influence and belonging, enhancing each member's self-esteem and creating an environment that helps its members and their communities achieve their full potential.

For more information about The Salvation Army and its local programs, call 410-783-2920, or visit http://www.tsabaltimore.org/.

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