Waters focused on excellence

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 10, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Don Roberts, a WAVY-TV news co-anchor, recently made a few waves among youngsters living at Wilson Pines Apartments.

Roberts was the keynote speaker at the recent awards ceremony for Youth Striving for Excellence (YSE), a group of kids organized at the apartment complex. Roberts, an award-winning reporter and published author, established a rapport with the kids. He read them an excerpt from his 1993 book, &uot;Rap to Live By,&uot; a collection of positive poetry and rap songs for kids of all ages.

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Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett and Diana Klink, community outreach coordinator for the commonwealth’s attorney office, were also on hand to give the youth a pat on the back. They encouraged the youngsters to keep up their search for life’s best, and to always strive for high goals.

YSE was founded about two years ago by Kenyelle Dontra Waters, who lives at Wilson Pines with his mother, Anita Waters. He wanted to establish his own &uot;gang&uot; – but not the type that hangs on street corners. Instead, Waters said, he sought to form a gang that seeks to learn; one that works to improve the neighborhood by picking up litter, helping older people and doing chores.

Hence, YSE’s motto is &uot;Building self-esteem, positive attitudes, and having fun.&uot;

It’s been nearly two years and the gang is still growing, he said. The group meets in Wilson Pines’ community room. That’s where members do their best thinking, including coming up with ideas for the next summer’s activities.

Just a couple weeks ago, YSE returned from a fun-packed excursion to Water Country – all funded by money the group raised.

&uot;Last year, we went to Ocean Breeze,&uot; Waters said. &uot;We loved it so much. We all had lunches and drinks and everything we needed throughout the day.&uot;

It takes funding to participate in such fun, so throughout the year he organizes his troop of revelers to earn money. During the past year, the group sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts, had car washes and sponsored a May Day celebration and fried crab cook-offs.

&uot;We all worked really hard for funding for the trips,&uot; said Waters. &uot;But, by the time we got back from the water parks, we were all exhausted and tired so we really got our money’s worth.&uot;

Look for the YSE gang around the city as it begins working toward next year’s planned trip to King’s Dominion, Waters said.

&uot;It’ll take a lot more money for that one, so we’ll be out with the car washes, another fried crab cook-off and many more activities,&uot; he said. &uot;People can recognize us by the new blue-and-white T-shirts we are wearing. We purchased those with part of our fund-raising money too.&uot;

Many of the youths received awards during the recent meeting, and all were congratulated by Roberts as Waters presented them with a plaque.

For perfect attendance, Tatiana Mason and Kaneshia Minggia received gold-embossed awards. Minggia, the YSE vice president, received another for raising the most funds with the club’s Krispy Kreme project.

Many adults help the YSE members continue on the road toward successful lives. Certificates of appreciation went to chaperones Geraldine and Anita Waters, grandmother and mother of the founder; mother and son, Vanessa and Andre Skinner; Waters’ step dad, Derrick Riddick; and Veronica Minggia.

A special &uot;chef’s award&uot; went to George Bryant, the man who created the culinary masterpiece that added

more funds to the YSE project coffers.