YORK, Pa. — This year has already been a big one for Accountability for Life (AFL).
The organization, which mentors at-risk youths, finally found a home of its own and it wasn't easy.
"We had realtors helping us try to find a location and I told Mike, 'I'm just going to get in my truck and start driving,' and low and behold, I came down Vogelsong Road and I was like, that place doesn't have a name on the side of the building. I'm going to pull in," recalled program founder Russ Stoner. "So I pulled in and she said, no one's looked at it for the last 18 months because it's under a residential listing. I'm like 'Fantastic for us.'"
AFL wants to give students a safe place to go when they are not in school, something that Stoner realized was needed shortly after he took over as the York Bearcats football coach.
"We've always been doing it," added Stoner. "It's just that we never called it anything and we just realized that when we got to York High and in the city, that we needed to do something a little bit extraordinary."
Word of the goals and direction of the group spreads long before anyone becomes a part of AFL.
"I heard that it was a positive organization even before I got the York High," stated AFL member and York junior Montress Jackson. "I heard about AFL before I ever considered playing for York High. You know, that was one of the reasons why I decided to play here."
"I knew it was something that not only prepares you for the next level, but prepares you for life as well because there's always life after football, and not all the programs prepare you for that," said AFL member and York senior Joden Nelson.
The academic and athletic training facility is so much more than just a gym and a place to work out.
"We'll have retired teachers for One of the programs were going to put in here for tutoring for kids that are in our Bearcat Cyber program. We want to have teachers here that can help tutor our kids and we'll do SAT prep here," added Stoner.
A new place is a big step but it's a step that couldn't be taken without Give Local York.
"Give local has been a huge, huge thing for us," said Stoner. We have some local real estate agents that are going to come out here that day for Give Local York and we're going to basically do a Telethon and that's our next thing. We've got to continue to raise money and funds."
Jodan is off the Towson in the fall, but he knows the AFL's work is far from done, and that there will always be more kids in need of this program.
'My hope for the program is just for it to continue helping all the younger guys. If it's just one of our meetings where we talk about what's going on in life or it's a life lesson. You're going to be able to look back on and it's going to help you for the rest of your life," said Nelson.