Derrin Slack is this month's recipient of the Jefferson Award for inspiring youth to lead, serve and change our communities for the better. Derrin founded ProAct Indy, a critical service learning organization.
INDIANAPOLIS -- As a child, he was teased for stuttering. But now, Derrin Slack is using his voice for empowerment.
Slack had a life-changing experience in college on a mission trip to Africa.
"That experience really ignited a fire underneath me that really said, 'What if I had this experience that I had in Botswana at a younger age, how would my life be different?'" said Slack.
Slack founded ProAct Indy, a critical service learning organization taking lessons beyond the classroom.
Students 10 to 18-years-old do service projects in the community with a focus on social justice.
"We come back to the classroom and ask the question, 'What injustice exists that allows there to be a need for service in the first place?'" said Slack.
Slack hopes to build character and self-esteem in youth, something he struggled with as a child.
"Those self-esteem issues stemmed from a disability that I had, I have a stuttering problem, and you can understand the stigma that was attached to me," said Slack.
Slack says he had a few caring adults in his life that really invested in him.
"They thrive and they are seeking that guidance and seeking that structure and seeking those caring individuals, who are just going to believe in them, and believe in their future," said Slack.
ProAct Indy partners with several local elementary and high schools, serving 6,000 kids right now. Slack says his goal is to reach 20,000 kids by 2020.
"The greatest reward for me in this whole thing is seeing that light bulb moment in a kid when they figure out their purpose and figure out their why, that gives me why and my purpose."
Know someone who is deserving of a Jefferson Award? Nominate them here!