When Crystile Carter describes the events of her often challenging childhood, it is hard to imagine how, as just a child, she managed to maintain such strength of character and an unwavering drive for success. At a young age, Crystile went to live with her great-grandmother and 13 siblings and cousins, who filled the home with love. Yet, taking care of 14 young people was a massive undertaking, and her great-grandmother simply could not manage on her own. Crystile was placed into the foster care system, and was bounced from one temporary home to another. The lack of stability took a toll on her, making her feel like “just another lonely foster child.”
But despite that uncertainty and loneliness, Crystile found safety and support when she joined the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx. For 11 years, not only did the Club offer the stability she needed, it provided her with opportunities to define goals, develop her leadership skills, and find ways to support and motivate her peers. Crystile joined the Keystone Club, a small group leadership activity. She became a proud member of the drug and alcohol resistance course known as Youth Empowerment Program. And she has spent countless hours volunteering in the DiverCity dance troupe, helping to choreograph performances, and assisting younger Club members as they learned not only dance steps, but also the importance of physical activity to a healthy lifestyle.
Crystile attended a notoriously underperforming high school. Only 14 of the 62 seniors in her class graduated that year. But the Club supported Crystile academically, ensuring that she was one of those 14 graduates. Crystile says, “I am a high school graduate because of my Boys & Girls Club.”
Now 18 years old, and a freshman at Monroe College in New York, Crystile is well on her way to fulfilling her childhood dream of joining the New York City Police Department. In fact, she is already ahead of the game. She took advanced placement courses in criminal justice while still in high school, and is now that much closer to earning the four-year degree that will pave the way to her ultimate goal; the rank of sergeant.
Crystile attributes her career aspirations to an experience she had with a police officer when she was a child. “[The officer] didn’t even know me, but she was so welcoming, so caring,” Crystile says. “She guided me during the toughest time of my life.”
Now Crystile looks forward to the day when she is in a position to help children who are struggling with difficult situations. In doing so, she will undoubtedly inspire those children to follow a similar path … work hard, achieve their goals, and help others.
Toyota Financial Services is a proud sponsor of Pacific Youth of the Year and the National Youth of the Year dinners where TFS awards more than $70,000 in Toyota scholarships, and a new Toyota vehicle to the National Youth of the Year winner. Crystile received more than $2,500 in scholarship money, which was raised through the TFS Brand Story contest. The TFS Brand Story Contest gives our associates the opportunity to acknowledge extraordinary and everyday moments where they witness fellow associates delivering an experience that exemplifies the TFS Brand. These stories help our associates visualize a TFS brand culture that builds strong relationships and creates loyalty through extraordinary customer service. For every Brand Story that is submitted, TFS contributes $10 directly to the Youth of the Year program supporting youth in every state. This year more than 2,150 associates contributed 7,444 stories.