Genaris Haston joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County in 2014. His experience working with some of our community’s most challenged youth as a Corrections Officer, Counselor and Mentor matched perfectly our need for a Prevention Director for a new program called the HERO (Helping Each Other Realize Opportunities) Challenge. HERO pairs local youth with Club staff trained to provide them with extra personal attention and guidance to assist them in overcoming personal challenges and achieve success in all aspects of their lives. Youth are referred to HERO by Club staff or their families and often HERO is their last chance to course correct behavior patterns that lead to continuing negative behaviors or worse.
We invite you to learn about Genaris through the eyes of one family touched by his character and dedication.
Before Jayden began participating in HERO at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Hobe Sound Club he was an angry, defiant kid. Lacking integrity, respect, and responsibility, Jayden was failing school and on the verge of being expelled for behavioral issues. While his peers at the Club participated in fun programs; Jayden sat by himself where he wouldn’t get into trouble. As his mom recalls, “Things at home got so bad that Jayden spent time at WaveCREST (a safe housing and crisis intervention shelter for youth) for everyone’s safety.” Recommended to HERO by Club staff, Jayden joined the program last year. Through intensive case management and mentoring, HERO provided the network of support that Jayden sorely needed.
Now, Jayden is an honor roll student consistently displaying positive behavior at home, in school and at the Club. “I have a baby sister and want to be a better person and role model for her. Through HERO, I have friends and a support system; people I can talk to. We memorize motivational quotes and I think about them when faced with a tough situation – I have options. Mr. Genaris always tells me to work hard, that I can do better.” Since being in the program, Jayden’s mom has noticed a profound change. “Before Mr. G., Jayden wasn’t doing well at home and in schooltasks and responsibilities at the Club. He has matured tremendously. We needed someone to reinforce what we have been trying to do for years. His self-esteem and attitude have improved. Now, he helps others.” A leader and mentor, Jayden is developing a baseball program in the Hobe Sound Club with other HERO members. Soon, they will be coaching younger kids; teaching them baseball skills. In addition, Jayden is a bus monitor, ensuring that members behave while riding the bus. Less than a year ago, Jayden’s impulsive behaviors seriously threatened to put a damper on any future success. Now, Jayden and his mom are talking about what type of career Jayden will pursue when – not if – he graduates high school. Without a doubt, “Mr. Genaris and HERO saved our lives.”
HERO was funded in its first years by a state grant. Genaris’ impact on the youth who needed him the most was significant. In fact, in 2016 the state dollars funding the program ran out. Our Board members and the community were so impressed with Genaris’ impact on our youth and on his value to the organization that they raised the money necessary to continue HERO and to retain Genaris until additional money became available to continue the program. That money was raised, and the program continues.
In 2018, Genaris was awarded a Character Counts Mini-Grant to educate and engage HERO members in community service projects with organizations who exemplify the six pillars of character throughout the year.
Genaris exemplifies these six pillars of character every day.
Trustworthiness: Families entrust Genaris with their most precious asset – their children. He hasn’t betrayed that trust. In fact, HERO is filled to capacity and kids come to Mr. Genaris asking to please be part of the program!
Respect: Genaris has the respect of colleagues, peers and families. More importantly, he shows respect with every young person with whom he interacts. Out of that respect comes his belief that every kid has a HERO inside of him or her.
Responsibility: A 30-year resident of Martin County, Genaris graduated from Martin County High School and worked 13 years with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. During this time he pursued his education, receiving an AA degree from Indian River State College and a BA from Florida Atlantic University. He exemplifies the values that he instills in his HEROs.
Fairness: Fairness is defined as impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination. Genaris exemplifies this trait every day in his work. He sees the good in every one of his HERO participants and they do their best for him.
Caring: Genaris truly cares. I am new to Martin County and to the Boys & Girls Clubs and Genaris was one of the first to reach out to me and make lunch plans. A small thing. But when you don’t know anyone and you’re in a strange new place, small things mean a lot. His actions demonstrate this trait every day, whether with friends, colleagues or the youth that we serve.
Citizenship: A good citizen is active in their community. They look for ways to make their communities better places. They instill that value in others. Genaris’ body of work is the definition of good citizenship.
HERO is an intervention program. It was designed to support kids with behavioral challenges. And here in Martin County it truly has lived up to its purpose. But it is a tribute to “Mr. Genaris” that kids who don’t need HERO’s interventions ask to be involved. HERO is “cool”. And the ability to make a serious intervention program like HERO cool is a tribute to Genaris Haston. We thank you for considering him as a recipient of the Pillar of Character Award.