Turning his Pain to Promise: YAP Scholarship Awardee Plans to Become Doctor

    Former Lackawanna County, Pa. Program Participant Daniel (middle) with John and Kim Hunt at his high school graduation.

    Scranton, Pa. – Now a freshman at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania with aspirations to become a doctor, former Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP™) Lackawanna County, Pa. program participant Daniel entered his collegiate career with a new laptop in tow thanks to the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education.

    In his scholarship essay Daniel wrote, “the laptop that I have has a cracked screen and a chunk of it is missing. While it’s still functional, it is difficult to use and will not help me much in college. I do not have another computer. If I am awarded this scholarship, I will request a laptop that I will need as I pursue my college and work toward my life goals.”

    Former YAP Lackawanna County, Pa. Program Participant Daniel (middle) with John and Kim Hunt.

    YAP is a national nonprofit in 35 states and Washington, D.C. partnering with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, education, and other systems to deliver community-based services as an alternative to incarceration/residential care, and group home foster placements. YAP Lackawanna County, Pa. offers a behavioral health program where youth and their families are supported through trauma-informed services that includes connecting them to educational, economical and emotional tools.

    Named after YAP’s founder, the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund is mostly funded by employee donations and scholarships are provided to eligible current and former program participants with $1,200 for college tuition, job training/supplies fees, or a laptop computer.

    Introduced to YAP at a young age, Daniel became involved with the YAP Lackawanna County, Pa. program when his adoptive family thought it would be good to help him work through some of his childhood trauma. Prior to the adoption, he was removed from his birth family at age 7, when he entered the foster care system.

    At age 18, during his senior year of high school, YAP Lackawanna County Pa. Program Coordinator Kim Hunt and her husband John learned that Daniel was on his own and they stepped in to help.

    “When I heard his story, I went outside and called my husband – not releasing information that he was a program participant to my husband – who said ‘I think we need to offer him to come live with us.’ If we didn’t, he would have been homeless living under a bridge,” Hunt said.

    Hunt was not Daniel’s Advocate, but he had the support of all of the YAP Scranton staff including Clinical Director Andrea Sharpe, along with Behavioral Clinicians Tara Rotell and Bonnie Bower.

    “Throughout the years of being with YAP, they have provided numerous services with some of the best people I have met in my life,” Daniel said. “I have meaningful connections with almost every person that has worked with me. The people at YAP have helped me to be myself and to help me to build my future.”

    Daniel said if it weren’t for YAP he would not be where he is today in a safe environment pursuing his educational goals. He said his desire to enter the medical field stems from a need in wanting to give back and pay it forward. Admittingly not having the best childhood, he is turning his past pain into promise.

    “Everyone at YAP helped me to find my new home, where I am loved,” he added. “I came into YAP suffering from a lot of emotional trauma and had already been in foster care. YAP helped to support me through a lot of hardships in my life.”

    Hunt, who has been with YAP for 17 years, agrees with Daniel in that everyone who works at YAP is supportive, authentic and believes in the agency’s mission. That is the reason she has stayed with the organization this long. She also donates weekly through payroll deductions to the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund.

    “Kim will tell you her and her husband are the fortunate ones,” said Patty Rosati, YAP’s Chief Impact Officer and President of the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund. “They are so selfless in their love for Daniel, it is so heartwarming. Kim is a true YAPPER who walks the talk.”

    As to not disrupt Daniel’s financial aid for college, Hunt and her husband plan to legally adopt him once he completes school. Hunt is delighted that Daniel can apply to the Endowment Fund for the remainder of his matriculation through college, helping to ease his debt if even just a little bit.

    “I am in a healthy situation now and growing, it’s probably the best thing I could have ever asked for in my life,” Daniel said. “I have developed multiple goals for myself throughout the years, some short term and some long term. Since I was 12, I wanted to help people by being a doctor. That’s why I am going to college, to learn the things I need to in order to achieve my goals.”

    Learn more about YAP at www.yapinc.org and follow the organization on X @YAPInc.