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Youth First, Inc. honored former Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation educator and administrator Steve Fritz at its 11th Annual Breakfast of Champions event on Tuesday, October 23rd at St. Vincent Manor in Evansville.

Fritz received the Dr. William Wooten Champion of Youth First Award at the event, sponsored by German American.  With over 300 attendees, the organization celebrated its hundreds of donors, supporters and volunteers in addition to recognizing Fritz.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke proclaimed October 23rd, 2018, as “Steve Fritz, Champion of Youth First Day.”

Through his 35-year career with the EVSC and tireless passion for helping young people thrive, Steve has impacted thousands of lives. The students he taught, the players he coached, and the teachers he mentored all credit him with contributing to their success.  As a founding Youth First Board Member, Steve has championed the continued growth and success of the organization for the past 20 years.

Proud to have been born and raised in Evansville, Steve is a graduate of North High School, the University of Evansville and Indiana State University. In addition to his involvement with Youth First, Steve was also profoundly impacted by his involvement with YMCA’s Camp Carson, where he served as a camp counselor and continues today as a Board member.

Breakfast of Champions attendees enjoyed remarks from EVSC Superintendent Dr. David Smith, YMCA of Southwestern Indiana CEO Derrick Stewart, Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black and Founder Dr. William Wooten, as well as friends and family of Fritz.

Youth First Founder Dr. William Wooten was recently awarded one of Indiana’s highest honors. At the Emerald Gala celebrating Youth First’s 20th anniversary on April 21, 2018, Dr. Wooten was designated a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. 

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch announced the award in a video tribute, and it was then presented by Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black and Youth First Board Member Carol Lynch. 

“Dr. Wooten has literally saved thousands of lives through the founding of Youth First. It was no easy task in a world searching for quick fixes, but he knew Youth First must be a coordinated, collaborative, comprehensive, regional and sustained effort in order to fight substance abuse and related concerns like suicide, self-harm, child abuse, violence and other traumatic childhood experiences,” said Lynch. 

A former family physician and director of a treatment center, Dr. Wooten founded Youth First in 1998 because he saw a growing number of young people with complex substance use and behavioral health disorders. Feeling there was a gap in prevention services in our area, he rallied community leaders and worked to positively address the problem and help young people succeed. 

Over the last 20 years, Dr. Wooten’s concern for young people and dream of a better approach to prevention has resulted in an organization that has become a trusted partner in Indiana and is now a model for the rest of the state. 

The Sagamore of the Wabash honorary award was created during the term of Governor Ralph F. Gates, who served as Indiana Governor from 1945 to 1949. Conferred upon Indiana citizens who have contributed greatly to Hoosier heritage, the award has been given to astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, musicians, scientists, politicians and others. 

About Youth First, Inc.:
Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 58 schools across 7 counties to provide 39 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to community resources. Youth First also offers afterschool programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336. 

A record $342,000 was raised from the Emerald Gala Celebrating Youth First’s 20th Anniversary, held at Tropicana’s Riverfront Pavilion on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Nearly 500 guests enjoyed a live auction, program, formal dinner and dancing. The Emerald Gala, sponsored by Edward Jones, celebrated Youth First’s supporters and impact over the years and set the stage for the organization’s future endeavors. 

The Passport to Adventure Preview and Awards Reception, presented by Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park, was held on Thursday, April 19, 2018. The event was hosted by Hot 96’s Claire Ballard. Guests previewed and placed bids on silent auction items, and young people who have benefitted from Youth First’s programs and services were honored. 

The Don Mattingly Youth Award was presented to middle school student Alicia Phillips of Pike Central Middle School and high school student Michaela McGregor of Signature School. The Carol Lynch Advocate of Youth First Award winner was Ethan Barrera of Harrison High School/Virtual Academy EVSC. Toyota Indiana sponsored the Awards Reception. 

Proceeds will be used to fund Youth First’s school social work services and prevention programs available to students and their families across southwest Indiana at no charge. Youth First would like to thank all of the generous event sponsors, donors, volunteers and attendees for your support of these two 20th anniversary celebrations. 

About Youth First, Inc.: Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 59 schools across 7 counties to provide 39 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to community resources. Youth First also offers afterschool programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.

Youth First, Inc. hosted a ribbon cutting on Thursday, February 1st unveiling its 20th anniversary celebrations. The year ahead will include an anniversary edition of the organization’s signature auction, an awards reception, and a celebratory gala. These events will honor the community that has stepped forward to support Youth First over the years and serve as a springboard for the organization’s future endeavors.

Featured speakers at the unveiling included Dr. William Wooten, Youth First founder; Carol Lynch, Youth First Board Member; Jim Back, Edward Jones Financial Planner; and Parri Black, Youth First President & CEO. The Southwest Indiana Chamber marked the occasion with an anniversary ribbon cutting and light refreshments were served.

The organization will highlight the Edward Jones Emerald Gala celebrating Youth First’s 20th anniversary on April 21, 2018, at Tropicana’s Riverfront Pavilion. Limited sponsorships and tickets are available. The gala features an anniversary edition of Youth First’s Passport to Adventure auction as well as a formal dinner, dancing, and other entertainment. This event commemorates Youth First’s 20th anniversary by honoring all of the supporters who continue to protect and heal the hearts of youth and families.

Prior to the gala, Youth First will host an auction preview and awards reception presented by Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park on April 19, 2018, at Tropicana’s Riverfront Pavilion. All are welcome to preview auction items at this reception which will also honor young people who have benefitted from Youth First’s programs and services. This event is open to the public and free to attend. The winners of the Don Mattingly Youth Award and the Carol Lynch Advocate of Youth First Award will be named.

About Youth First, Inc.: Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 59 schools across 7 counties to provide 39 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to community resources. Youth First also offers afterschool programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.

Youth First, Inc. honored Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch at its 10th Annual Breakfast of Champions event on Tuesday, October 17th at St. Vincent Manor in Evansville. Crouch received the Dr. William Wooten Champion of Youth First Award at the event, sponsored by German American. With over 300 attendees, the organization celebrated its hundreds of donors, supporters and volunteers in addition to recognizing Crouch. 

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke proclaimed October 17, 2017, as “Suzanne Crouch, Champion of Youth First, Day.” 

Through her public service career and personal pursuits, Lt. Governor Crouch has focused on improving opportunities for Hoosiers. Having witnessed Youth First’s continued success strengthening youth and families, Suzanne became a champion for expanding the organization’s evidence-based prevention model. 

Breakfast of Champions attendees enjoyed remarks from Gov. Eric Holcomb, Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black and Founder Dr. William Wooten, as well as friends and family of Lt. Gov. Crouch. 

“It’s all about investing in our future, and our young people are our future. They’re our greatest asset here in the state of Indiana, and Governor Holcomb and I want to work alongside Youth First to ensure that we are protecting and helping our young people so we can take Indiana to the next level,” said Crouch. 

About Youth First, Inc.:
Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 59 schools across 7 counties to provide 39 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to community resources. Youth First also offers afterschool programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.