Benefit Breakfast Draws a Crowd for PYO Fundraising

It was an early morning last week that found a jam-packed room of attendants at PYO’s 10th Annual Benefit Breakfast fundraiser. The event raised $34,000 for the organization.

Special guests and sponsors (including corporate, business and individuals) shared breakfast as PYO students and their parents gave their organizational testimonies and were honored for dedication in saving and paying for their own higher educations. The annual late winter event’s keynote speakers, Latino Community Credit Union CEO and President Louis Pastor and Vice President of Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs Phail Wynn spoke about PYO’s significance to the Durham community.

Pastor, a strong advocate for Durham youth, highlighted the importance of setting an example of diversity and also the impact that robust institutions, like finance, can have.

He announced that LCCU is committed to continuing the savings matches it gives PYO students who work through the organization. If a student saves $325, LCCU will match $175 to get the student to the $500 benchmark.

Au’Dasia Newsome – Adriel Williams Scholarship Winner

Studies from the 1:1 Fund have found that students who begin college with at least $500 in savings are four to five more times to graduate.

“Typically financial institutions aren’t known to give away money,” Pastor said. “But PYO is like a sister organization.”

Wynn, another long-time champion of PYO, told guests the backstory and significance of the PFY/YO Durham merger three years ago, and that it is the only “multi-year, multi-program” entity for Durham teenagers.

He gave a nod to the executive directors and boards of both organizations for putting aside differences for the greater good of community youth.

“They have been a case study of best practices when it comes to merging nonprofits,” Wynn noted.

Teona Meek – Tomee Blackmon Scholarship Winner

The morning was also spent recognizing some of PYO’s highest achieving students and awarding them $1,000 scholarships.

Au’Dasia Newsome, a business PYO freshman at Durham Tech, won the first ever Adriel Williams Scholarship. Williams was the fianc√© of YO:Durham executive director, Susan Blackmon and the uncle of Cassandra Taylor, a regular supporter of PYO.

“PYO has helped me achieve a better platform for my communication skills and interaction with others,” Newsome said in her speech. “Now that I have improved that skill, I can open up to networking with people and promoting myself. This program has helped me shape the person that I am today, it has let me know what exactly I am capable of.”

Teona Meek, an interior design freshman at Appalachian State University was named winner of the Tomee Blackmon scholarship. This scholarship was created to honor Susan Blackmon’s son who died suddenly last year. A young man on a quest for knowledge, Blackmon’s ambitious legacy lives on through this award.

Meek said tutoring went a long way in helping her get good grades in honors and AP courses as well as preparing her for college.
“It is a blessing because living with a single mother who just earned her master’s degree and has loans to pay off, I am greatly appreciative to have earned my own scholarships,” she said of the honor. “This scholarship would help greatly with my major because this is something I really enjoy doing and will pursue with my whole heart, no matter how hard it gets.”

Xochitl Cahua – “It Pays to Save” Scholarship Winner

Xochitl Cahua, a pre-med freshman at Durham Tech currently works two jobs while still going to school. She was recognized as the highest-achieving saver in PYO and was awarded the “It Pays to Save Scholarship.”

She has saved close to $4,000 for school through her PYO internships and her own jobs.

“PYO not only taught me about financial literacy but helped me raise money,” Cahua said. She added that the opportunity to save and strengthen her work skills came about while interning at El Futuro where she is now employed as assistant to the director.

“This one goal of mine slowly turned into many goals like impressing my supervisor and building my resume,” she said. “It was kind of hard to save 80 percent of what I earned but looking back it was well worth it. I’m still, to this day, trying to put part of my paycheck into my savings account.”

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