LOCAL SUCCESS STORY TO BE HONORED AS “GOLD MEDALIST FOR LIFE” BY THE YOUTH HOME THAT GAVE HIM A SECOND CHANCE
Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga. Celebrates its 60th Anniversary
(RALEIGH, NC) Jonathan Carter of Wendell, N.C., never expected to be honored as a “Gold Medalist for Life.” The 33-year-old financial advisor lives a relatively peaceful life with his wife and children in the pleasant Raleigh-Durham suburb. His life could have been the exact opposite of what he is experiencing now if not for Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression.
Paul Anderson, who was declared “the strongest man in the world” after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, was a gold medal winner and weightlifting legend. To this day, no one has exceeded or even matched his feat of lifting 6,270 lb. in a back lift. Anderson used his fame to promote youth physical fitness and his devotion to Jesus Christ. While touring the country as a goodwill ambassador, he developed a desire to help young people mired in bad behavior and poor choices who were throwing their lives away. Along with his wife Glenda, who still maintains quite a presence at the Home, the Paul Anderson Youth Home was founded in 1961.
PAYH celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with a specific goal in mind. The organization will be reaching out across the country to let parents and advocates know there is a place to find an alternative to jail for troubled young men and boys who need a second chance.
Carter is one of six distinguished alumni who are being recognized by the youth home as true success stories, living productive and positive lives and named “Gold Medalists for Life.”
In tandem with the 60th anniversary and award, an awareness campaign encompassing print and digital channels will focus on stories like his, targeting prosecutors, law enforcement, legal aid, social services, parent groups, churches and other organizations who could intervene and keep a troubled boy or young man from prison and put them on track to change their lives.
At 20, Carter was arrested in Georgia for drug possession with intent to distribute. His family, desperately researching alternatives to prison, found the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
“I thought life was over,” Carter said. “I spent 120 days in jail and doing roadside clean-up. Then I was transferred to the youth home,” he added.
If necessary, each young man in PAYH’s care receives counseling, academic assistance to complete their education, job training, and substance abuse therapy. Through discipline, group living responsibilities, intensive Bible study and a physical fitness regimen, Carter began to see there was a way back to a normal life. Resistant and cynical at first, Carter’s relationships with his mentors at the Home and his Bible studies led him to his breakthrough.
“The change in my perspective was the main thing. Looking back, the Christ-centered lessons are what anchors me. I went back to college, got a baseball scholarship, and met my best friend. Now I am married, I have four great children and a beautiful wife. The closeness we have with the rest of my family, my parents and my siblings and their children, I owe it all to Paul Anderson Youth Home,” he added.
The PAYH mission has remained the same, as has the need for alternatives to prison. “Rather than facing a life of crime, jail time, and poor adjustment, young people need continued support and counseling like the kind that our Home has provided for decades, said Glenda Anderson. “Our boys who have completed the program are the living example of how this ministry turns lives around and helps make respectful men who are an asset to their communities.”
Carter summed up his feelings succinctly, “Paul Anderson Youth Home gave me my life back.”
ABOUT PAUL ANDERSON YOUTH HOME
Founded in 1961 by weightlifting world champion and Olympic gold medalist Paul Anderson and his wife, Glenda, the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) is a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression. PAYH is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In addition to counseling and character development, PAYH offers an accelerated learning program enabling residents to graduate with a high school diploma and technical certifications. To date, over 1,400 young men have attended the program. The Home is located at 1603 McIntosh St. in Vidalia, Ga. To learn more about PAYH, call (912) 537-7237 or visit www.payh.org.