At its annual awards banquet, the African American Mentoring Program celebrated "young men of distinction."
Darryl Boyer came from “absolute nothing,” he said.
His birth mother had struggled with addictions and ingested drugs while he was still in her womb.
After being born in 1999, Boyer spent three years being passed around 12 different foster homes — many where he was physically and mentally abused. His biological father strangled his sister when she was just a few months old.
But on July 22, 2003, the torturous cycle ended when he was adopted by the Grant family.
Boyer shared his story with hundreds of people who attended the African American Mentoring Program annual awards banquet at the First Baptist Church of Palm Coast on Thursday, May 26.
Boyer hasn’t let his past overcome his future. He is a graduating senior from Flagler Palm Coast High School who was dual enrolled and actively involved with FPC track and field and FPC’s Positive Behavior Support team. After graduation, he will pursue a doctorate at the University of North Florida in business mergers and acquisitions.
“After college, I will use my educational experiences and knowledge to give back to my community and inspire others facing similar, overwhelming life challenges to never doubt they are a valuable asset to society and can become influential.”
In tenth grade, Boyer became a mentee in the AAMP, which launched in 2002. In his speech, he thanked Flagler Schools teachers and staff who have impacted him over the years, including Wadsworth Elementary Principal School Anna Crawford, Indian Trails Assistant Principal Ryan Andrews, Mindi Scala of FPC’s Positive Behavior Supports, Flagler Schools’ Phyllis Pearson and his mentor John Winston.
“The first day I was introduced to Mr. Winston, he said ‘I believe in you,” Boyer said.
“In that moment, I was like ‘What, you believe in me?’” he added.
In his speech, Boyer urged fellow mentees (who are made up of many ethnic backgrounds), community members, friends, family and local leaders in attendance to always remember they add value to society — something that was instilled in him through the mentoring program.
“Throughout high school, Mr. John Winston and wife Fanchon Winston really proved that truth in his statement,” he said. “From attending my track meets, coming to see me at my first day at work, simple phone calls and texts to check on me and my family, Mr. John Winston and the other mentors continued to uplift and motivate young boys and young men. What I see in this room is full of opportunity — opportunity for all who seek knowledge.”
There were 164 students representing every Flagler County Public School in this year’s AAMP’s Boys Program. There were about 140 young women in the girls group, who celebrated at their banquet earlier this month.
Flagler Schools Coordinator of Special Projects in Student and Community Engagement Sabrina Crosby said there are about 75 dedicated volunteer mentors in this program, so they’ve had to switch to group mentoring sessions instead of one-on-one.
“The men that mentor are unbelievably dedicated and committed,” she said. “Once they get started, they really see the need that’s there and how much the young people depend on them. If they’re not there, they’re missed.”
She added that AAMP is expanding to create another group called “One Million Men in the Making,” which is a program started in the local high schools and middle schools that will also be in the elementary schools.
“That program provides the mentor with a step-by-step guide in the areas of growing up to be a young man and taking responsibility and also looking at career exploration,” she said.
The mentors there focus on life and social skills, like how to tie a tie and how to properly shake hands, as well as preparation for future education.
“Thank you to all that made contributions to my success and future by donating to the Dr. Jim and Laverne Guines AAMP Scholarship,” Boyer said. “You have reminded me that ‘Success is not what you have, but who you are.’”