Far Rock Native Honored At Princeton Club
By Gary G. Toms
"I have seen too much violence. Too many of my friends died -- from drugs and violence. I felt I had to do something with my life to make a difference."
So says Eric Dennis, a 35 year-old native of Far Rockaway. On October 2, Eric and 10 other young adults were honored at the Princeton Club, in New York City, as "Young Leaders for Change," at a reception and awards ceremony sponsored by the non-profit organization All Stars Project, Inc.
"Eric is a young man who made a decision very early on in his life - when he was 15 years old! -- to help young people," says Pam Lewis, the All Stars Project's Director of Youth Programs.
Over the last six years Eric has sponsored and brought in over 100 young people from Far Rockaway into the All Stars Talent Show Network's youth anti-violence program. He has organized and managed many different groups of dancers, singers and rappers who have performed in - and volunteer with - the Talent Show Network.
Dennis noted that his mother, who lived in Far Rockaway since the 1940's, was responsible for raising him. She worked at Far Rockaway High School for 21 years as a Student Aid, as Eric attended P.S. 197, I.S. 53, and Far Rockaway High School.
"For years I was known as a basketball coach," says Dennis.
"But over the last six years I've become a manager of all these groups of young dancers. Now, the entire [housing] project comes out to see the [talent] shows! I keep bringing the kids to the All Stars because it's one of the only positive, inspirational places for these kids to go," said the Far Rockaway native.
"I mentor a lot of young boys who don't have fathers. I can be there for a lot of these young boys who have a hard time opening up to their mothers. They stick to me like crazy glue. Their parents tell me how they (their kids) talk about me all the time."
Dennis works in MS 143 and 267 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He has been working for a Sports and Art company out in Long Island City, and they allow him to go from school to school. As a result, he has acquired some new family members, according to Dennis.
"Kids come up to me and say: 'I want you to come home and be my father.' I'm dead serious," he said.
"I went to a baseball game the other day and the kids were fighting over whose stepfather I am. Two six and seven-year-old kids and a couple of thirteen-year-olds were arguing over whose father I am. These kids need so much. I'm glad I can be there for them."
The non-profit All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) creates and funds performance programs to promote human growth and development.
The flagship program of the All Stars Project is the 19-year old All Stars Talent Show Network. Each year tens of thousands of young people - from all five boroughs of New York City, from Newark, NJ, the San Francisco Bay Area and Philadelphia - produce and perform in dozens of cultural events in their communities as an alternative to violence and destructive behavior and as a vehicle to ongoing emotional, personal and social growth.
Pamela Lewis, Director of Youth Programs for the non-profit All Stars Project presents the "Young Leader for Change" award to Far Rockaway native, Eric Dennis. The Third annual "Young Leaders for Change" awards ceremony and reception was held on Wednesday, October 2, at the Princeton Club in Manhattan, honored eleven young men and women from around New York City for their leadership.