|left to right, Tamika Friend, Sharona Brown, Desiree Potts, Wilson “Kent” Drake, Jr., Albert Francis, Jr., Bennie Wright, and Dr. Earl Pearsall|
Friday, August 29, 2014, Youth Interlock Society of Chester had its first banquet to salute Community Heroes. The banquet was held at the Renaissance Airport Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Earl Pearsall, Jr. Chairperson of Youth Interlock Society (YIS) founded the organization in 1988 after twenty-two years with the Federal Reserve System as a Bank Regulator. The focus of YIS at first was educational. In 1999, with an expanding vision for YIS, he combined athletics with academics to encourage its youth to seek higher educational opportunities. In 2000, YIS’s sports were extended to include females. In 2004, YIS established Youth Interlock Prep, a home-school initiative which facilitates intellectual, social, physical, and moral growth in a culturally diverse, family and Christian environment which was in operations for four years. In 2005, YIS established Mentor-2-Mentor Program an academic enrichment and athletic development organization.
Organizers, left to right: Zephi Francis, Dr. Earl Pearsall, Darrin Pearsall, and John Francis
Dr. Pearsall said, “YIS came about from my involvement with the City of Chester’s youth. Upon returning to Chester in 1977, I coached a middle school program and in the recreation leagues in the City. I tutored and mentored youth. While many had good athletic promise, many also lacked the academic skills to quality for scholarships and to continue on to higher educational opportunities. I grew up in this same environment and I knew my parents did not think beyond high school for me. I scored poorly on the SAT examination and other standardized examinations once I began to pursue post high school interests. I missed many of the basic learning tools as a youth, so I had to make up for those skills during my adult years. For example, I believe, generally, that minorities do poorly on standardizes examinations, such as the SATs, because we lack exposure to the material and many have weak reading and study skills. Reading allows us to experience things that are not accessible to us any other way.”
Dr. Pearsall graduated from Cheyney University in 1980 with a duo undergrad degree in Accounting and Business Management. He completed the Philadelphia Urban League Leadership School in June 1990 and earned a Certification of Nonprofit Business Management at the University of Delaware in May 2003. He continued his studies at the University of Delaware and South Trinity University (Texas) 2002 - 2004 and in Business Management and completed his thesis on ‘Organization Behavior of Volunteers Personnel’.
The Honorees of the Youth Interlock Society with involvement in the Chester community are Sharona Brown, Tamika Friend, Wilson “Kent” Drake, Jr., Desiree Potts, Albert Francis, Jr., and Bennie Wright.
Sharona Brown was recognizes for her community involvement as an Activities Director for Chester Panthers Football League for 9 years; CCCS PTA President for 8 years, raising over 200,000; a Shop Steward for Local 77 for almost 8 years; Mothers Guild for Archmere Academy; Team Parent for Lower Delco Wildcats AAU for 5 years; Founder & Co-President of Children of Purpose, Moms for Autism, 2nd Annual Walk for Autism raising Money for Autism Speaks; Former Girl’s Scout Leader for Troop 564 for 5 years; Team Mom for Chester Biddy League for 6 years; and former Del Val team and Cheer Parent.
Tamika Friend was recognized for her community involvement in the Chester High School Alumni Cheerleading Association, Chester High School Parent and Coaches Association, Chester Panthers Football Association board member and cheer coach, Chester High School Hall of Fame Committee, Chester High School Class Reunion Committee, St. Daniels UM Church Juneteenth volunteer, Conducts Mock Interviews for high school juniors and seniors, Volunteer at the STEM Academy front office, USA Track & Field and Penn Relays Official, Chester Biddy Cheerleading Coach 2005-2007, City Team Ministries food basket and Christmas deliveries, Community Tree Planting Days , Philadelphia Bike Race, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Telethon and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walk.
Wilson “Kent” Drake, Jr. came from Ridley to Chester in 1984 and opened “Just Pizza” where he has impacted the lives of the residents throughout the entire city continuously since its inception. Having a strong passion for the youth in the city of Chester, Kent partnered with the William Penn Elementary School in 1996. He played many roles including Santa Claus, Peter Rabbit, surrogate father, brother and friend. He was also a strong advocate and financial supporter of Rodney Bradley and the William Penn-Columbus School Choir. He was later awarded and bestowed the title, “Father of William Penn Elementary School” in 1999. Kent has financially supported numerous churches and organization including: Chester Biddy League, Youth Interlock, Chester Youth Soccer Team, YWCA, Shiloh Baptist Church Drug and Alcohol Ministry, Chester High School Football and Basketball Team. What makes him “unique” is the fact that he has thirty-five employees and they are all residents of the city of Chester. His motto is, “The residents of Chester spend their money in Just Pizza so ‘we’ have all Chester workers!”
Desiree Potts was recognized for founding the Coalition of Hope Offering Inner-City Empowerment services, Inc. (CHOICES), a non-profit charitable organization in 2000. CHOICES conduct an annual mentoring initiative through pageantry, called the Hollywood Glamour Pageant, formerly the Miss Chester Pageants. In 2011, she launched another initiative called Pink Stilettos, which was to raise Breast Cancer Awareness and funding for local breast cancer patients in the Tri-State area. There is an annual Pink Stilettos Stroll One Mile in Her Shoes and a pink Tie Charity Ball Fundraisers. She is a member in the Order of Eastern Star, Leah Chapter #27 and former Cub Scout Master, Cradle of Liberty District, former board member for the YWCA and the Village Charter School.
|Albert Francis, Jr.|
Albert Francis, Jr. was the oldest of five sisters and five brothers. An avid sports lover, Albert had to decline a football scholarship to Hampton Institute and Winston Salem University to go to work and help his mother support his siblings. He was the owner of the Czar’s baseball and basketball teams in the 1950’s. Albert sang on the Brotherhood Male Chorus in the city. He was inducted into the Black Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the Chester High Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, he served 25 years in Chester High School Football Boosters Club, and it is estimated that he attended more than 3,000 games involving Chester High School Athletics.
|Bennie Wright and Kent Drake|
Bennie Richard Wright is being honored for the thousands of hours of volunteerism. More importantly he is being honored for the hundreds of lives he touched and transformed along the way. Nicknamed “Jet”, Wright is remembered as one of the fastest runners in Pennsylvania’s history. He was recorded the fastest time in his era by a high school student in the 100 yard dash. His time was a smoldering 9.7 seconds. Wright mentored youth through track and field. He founded the Chester Blazers Track Team, and for decades served as a coach to hundreds of children. “You couldn’t have a better mentor and role model,” says one peer. “I saw Bennie compete as a great athlete, but most respected him for the person he is.” Honors over the years has been numerous, he was honored with former President William Clinton in 2007 at the National Builders Award Banquet in Little Rock Arkansas.
You can see why these special heroes were honored by Youth Interlock for their tireless and selfless contribution to the community. Dr. Pearsall will have his annual Youth Interlock’s Midnight Madness, 16 All-Star Basketball games, at Chester High School Saturday, September 13, 12 noon to midnight, and Sunday, September 14, 1pm to 8pm.