How did Antonio Crothers become Fathers & Families Support Center’s Youth of the Year in 2013?
When he was only 2 years old, Crothers lost his father. At six years old, he lost his mother.
Relatives raised Crothers, but no one prepared him to be a young father at 17.
“I was clueless but wanted to take care of my son,” Crothers said. “I needed guidance, but no one was around for me anymore. Growing up without a father was real painful.” This motivated Crothers to be there for his son. “It makes me not want my son to go through what I went through,” he said.
Kierra Haynes, the mother of Crothers’s newborn son, urged him to check out Fathers & Families Support Center. “I told him about FFSC’s Youth Leadership & Development program, and how they offer mentors to young mothers and fathers,” said Haynes.
Crothers did not hesitate. “Signing up was a blessing,” he said. “That’s how I met my mentor, Mr. Kevin Anderson, who changed my life forever.” Part of the Youth Leadership & Development program, Anderson met with Crothers twice per week and on the weekends for mentoring sessions. “He was and still is a true father figure in my life.”
When Crothers’s first signed up, he was jobless and full of fear about his son’s future. “All that fear went away after I met with Mr. Anderson,” he said. Anderson helped Crothers get a job at the YMCA as a camp counselor to help support the family. “That was the first time I had a great job that meant something to me,” said Crothers. Shortly after, he signed up for classes at Vatterott to study Building Maintenance and continued to grow in his position at the YMCA.
Also during that time, FFSC staff recognized Crothers’s outstanding transformation from its Youth program and awarded him the 2013 Youth of the Year award. “That was a big deal for me. And a privilege. It motivated me to do even more!” Crothers said.
On the weekends, Crothers would meet with Anderson to talk about life and make plans for the future: “Mr. Anderson was such a big part of my life in developing into the man I am today,” he said. “And we still meet up and talk! I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mentor and FFSC’s Youth program.”
Today, Crothers works as a full-time probation officer for the Department of Corrections and supports his partner Haynes and their three children, ages 6 years, 2 years and nine months.
“Slow feet don’t eat and closed mouths don’t get fed” – a mantra Haynes and Crothers repeat to each other – a reminder of how far they’ve come together in the process of changing their lives.
To give back, Crothers offers rides to mothers and fathers without transportation on FFSC Graduation Day, so their day will be less stressful and more relaxed: “I want their day to be special. I will always want to help FFSC because of what they did for me and my family,” Crothers said.