'Somebody looking out for us': Program gives younger Yorkers a boost

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Though Christian Trostle grew up without a father, he’s recently gained a few new male role models in his life looking out for him.

Trostle, alongside his brothers Noah and Micah, joined the Advantage Program —  a nonprofit started by Tavon Parker designed to teach underprivileged kids valuable skills and expose them to life outside of York County. 

“It’s great because I don’t really have many mentors,” Trostle said. “It’s good to have somebody looking out for us.”

Trostle, a 17-year-old senior at Crispus Attucks Charter School in York, dreams of starting his own landscaping business.

So it was a no-brainer for Parker, who owns Tavon’s Lawn Care, to hire the student and help him gain experience in the field.

“A lot of times people that are getting looked up to are doing the wrong thing, and it’s easy to do the wrong thing when that’s all you see,” Parker said. “You can only go as far as the people you know.”

As part of the program, participating students attend weekly Saturday meetings on topics such as financial literacy, community involvement, entrepreneurship and personal hygiene. 

Each month, an overall theme guides weekly lessons and culminates in a trip outside York County. 

So far, students have traveled to Philadelphia, participated in paint classes and played baseball on the York Revolution’s field.

“It’s a great feeling to provide an outlet for these young men, not only to enjoy themselves but to look at people that are doing the right thing and being productive,” Parker said.

Trostle initially joined Advantage as an outlet to be creative, travel and learn about new experiences. He said that since his two brothers don’t get out of their home often, Trostle and his mother urged the two to also apply.

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“I’m in the house a lot sometimes, and I just needed to get out of the house,” Trostle said. “It feels nice to help out the other kids and stuff.”

With 13 kids in the program ranging from as young as 9 to 17-year-old Trostle, Parker said many mothers have approached him about getting their kids to join for various reasons.

One mother told Parker her preteen son gets into fights and she wanted him to be around older kids who could be a good influence.

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Another mother wanted the boy she's fostering to have more male influences in his life.

Currently, the Advantage Program only has three to five mentors able to attend the weekly meetings and trips at once.

Interested individuals can apply to be a mentor by emailing TheAdvantageProgramYork@gmail.com.

As Parker said: “I’m just happy to help."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.