Frances O. Scarantino had a vision to form a place where youth of all ages could get the services they wanted and needed. There had been a great need for youth services in the area. As a result, Frances reached out to other community leaders and residents and established Striving to Achieve & Reach Success, Inc. ( S.T.A.R.S.) as a not for profit community youth organization in June of 1996.
In September of 1997, they opened the doors to a youth center where a range of programs for boys and girls ages 4 to 18 are offered at no cost. The programs include, but are not limited to, cheerleading teams, dance classes, arts & crafts, vocal club, after school help, educational and vocational workshops.
In addition, they developed a youth council for teens 12 to 18 which acted as a research team and sounding board to develop programming. They grew to be a youth civic group. They bring up issues for youth and for the community at large and they initiate, plan and implement community projects as well as work on existing projects.
In less than a year, the youth council conducted a neighborhood clean-up, a recycle project, food collection, clothing collection and brought performances to a shelter for homeless and runaway youth. The youth council has proven to be successful in empowering these young people to make a difference in the community. They have learned what it means to be a leader in their community and how to strengthen their neighborhoods.
All of these accomplishments could not have been made possible without the leadership of Frances. The only thing she expects in return for her time and talents is the smiles of the many youth whose lives she has enriched. Every night after work and all day on Saturday, she is at the Youth Center. Not only is she the Founder/President of the Board of Directors and Executive Director doing all the paperwork, publicity and research, she also teaches the arts and crafts class, supervised the cheerleading class and heads the Youth Council, as well as mentoring the older youth who have taken on some of the responsibilities of peer teacher.