The Road to Success
When Darian Chavis started attending the Richardson Boys and Girls Club after school as a shy 10-year-old, he was not expecting it to change his life and help him gain the confidence to finish high school and pursue college. And when earlier this year Chavis, an only child raised by a single mom, spoke to Leadership Richardson participants about his experience with the club—almost a year after he graduated from high school and eight years after his first day at the Boys and Girls Club—he couldn’t have known his life would once again be impacted by a community who witnessed his potential.
However, that is exactly what happened.
Chavis’ mom sent him to the Boys and Girls Club of Richardson, an enriched after-school program for youth, when he was in fourth grade so he could interact with peers and receive tutoring instead of coming home and playing video games. What he received was so much more.
“The club taught me how to be social with my peers and how to network with people,” Chavis, now 19, said. “Through the older counselors, I gained mentors who taught me what it means to grow up. They were there for me every step of the way.”
Erica Taite, branch director of the Richardson Boys and Girls Club, agrees that Chavis evolved throughout his time with the organization. She first met Chavis in 2013 and recalls a quiet teenager who didn’t say much, but was always respectful. Over the years, he became a leader in the club’s programs, serving as a teen tutor and class assistant.
“Darian was very determined, you could see it in his eyes and in his demeanor,” Taite said. “He was always positive and of service to others, and he always talked about going to college.”
To recognize his leadership and positive involvement in the club, Chavis received the Richardson Youth of the Year award both his junior and senior years, something the young man describes as a “humbling experience.”
It was at the Youth of the Year awards ceremony where Chavis was seated next to Coby Pewitt, assistant chief at the Richardson Police Department. Pewitt would think about Chavis again almost a year later for a special opportunity.
A 21-year veteran of the Richardson Police Department, Pewitt has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club for many years, including two years on the local organization’s advisory board. He took his commitment and connection to the community further by participating in Leadership Richardson, a nine-month educational program of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. Leadership Richardson broadens participants’ knowledge of the inner workings of the city to enhance their personal and professional leadership skills.
It’s no surprise that Pewitt would serve on the social services committee throughout his Leadership Richardson experience. The session planned by Pewitt and his peers focused on learning about the needs and offerings of the city and how social services strengthen the community.
Pewitt knew he wanted to get the Boys and Girls Club involved so his classmates could see the impact of the club on local youth. He reached out to Chavis, now graduated and taking classes at Richland College, to share his story and represent the organization.
“We learned about Darian’s intention to live a quality life and how the Boys and Girls Club helped him achieve that,” Pewitt said. “But when someone asked what he was doing now, he shared that he had to drop out of college to work and help his family.”
Chavis’ current job didn’t pay enough to support both his family responsibilities and his college courses. But that was about to change, when a Leadership Richardson participant who works in human resources at State Farm was moved by his story and his determination. At her encouragement, Chavis started the application process with State Farm—and waited.
“In-between everything, I was just waiting for a decline email that said there was a better, more-qualified candidate, but that email never came,” Chavis said.
Instead he was accepted to start as a claims associate—the youngest in his training class—in June. And when Chavis expressed to Pewitt that he was going to be $150 short to cover some family obligations while in-between jobs, Leadership Richardson participants once again stepped up. In a matter of minutes, the group collected the necessary funds.
Pewitt isn’t surprised that his peers felt compelled to help a young man like Chavis.
“Darian is the silent hero type. He is not going to brag; rather there is a kindness and genuineness to him and how he has embraced his story with honesty,” Pewitt said. “This was a way for us to thank him for what he’s done and for what he wants to do, and hopefully he will go out there and pay it forward.”
Chavis is currently in training for his new role at State Farm. He plans to continue toward his goal of higher education by taking advantage of the community college classes the company makes available to its employees on its CityLine campus.
“I want to go back to college, study business and finish my degree,” Chavis said. “My biggest dream is to open up my own business one day and be my own boss.”
And Chavis will definitely have supporters cheering him on in his pursuit of his dreams.
“My hope for Darian is that he gets his degree and goes down the career path he has always wanted to acquire his dream job,” Taite said.
Pewitt added, “There will always be a job for him at the police department if he wants it.”
There is no shortage of opportunities to serve the Richardson community. Read on to learn more about the two organizations that directly impacted Darian Chavis’ life.
Richardson Boys and Girls Club
The Boys and Girls Club of Richardson is so much more than just a place to go to after school. Operating out of the St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, the club serves nine Richardson ISD schools, picking up students and bringing them back for homework assistance, healthy snacks and exercise.
They also work with corporate partners like Toyota to teach teens life and college preparatory skills like financial literacy, scholarship applications and college essay writing. And they are always looking for volunteers, according to Erica Taite, Richardson branch director.
“We love the one-on-one engagement with the kids and try to give volunteers activities that match their skills or interests,” Taite said.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at bgcdallas.org.
Leadership Richardson has been serving the Richardson community for 32 years, graduating more than a thousand participants during that time. In fact, according to Executive Director Kim Quirk, approximately 80 percent of the community volunteers who currently serve on boards or commissions in Richardson are alumni of the Leadership Richardson program.
After passing through a selective application process, class participants take part in a nine-month program where they explore many aspects of the Richardson community—from arts and culture to government to public safety and education.