Jefferson County Mentor Program leadership David Keen, Judge David K. Overstreet, Safe Families Executive Director Christine Taulbee, CASA Executive Director Brenda Torres and CASA Child Advocate Sharon Terry

APRO Hall of Honor recipient David Keen’s, Rent One Public Relations Director, 15-year affiliation with the Mentors 4 Kids program in Southern Illinois recently came to an end as the organization lost its funding for the region. Keen and several prominent individuals and organizations are coming together to reach out to the community for assistance in helping the youth in the area by filling the void with the newly formed Jefferson County Mentor Program.

“There are a lot of needs for both foster kids and to mentor,” says Keen, former Mt. Vernon mayor, and program organizer. “A lot of kids go to school and come home to see their parents doing drugs or going through some type of violence, or they don’t have food. They don’t know a normal life.”

A breakfast to discuss the program and various community needs will be held from 7:30-8:30 a.m. April 8 at Rare Chop House in Mt. Vernon, IL. Speakers at the event will include Jefferson County Presiding Judge Jo Beth Weber, Illinois Appellate Court Justice David K. Overstreet, and APRO scholarship recipient Javontay Moss, who grew up being mentored by Keen since he was five.

“The program allowed me to have a positive male influence in my life that I didn’t have before,” shares Moss who currently attends the University of Southern Indiana and is studying communications and social services. “It has had a direct influence on where I am now.”

The new program will adopt many procedures and framework that the former Mentors 4 Kids organization had but with a focus directly on the youth of Jefferson County. The new program is seeking mentors to take some time every week to help guide children who need a positive influence in their life. Information on how the community can be involved with various agencies will be at the event and will include Angel’s Cove, CASA, Safe Families for Children and Spero Family Services.

“We know there is an absolute need for this program,” says Keen. “We are initiating this meeting to formulate a plan and get the ball rolling.”

The presentation of the home to Valencia and her family was the 169th by Warrick Dunn Charities’ (WDC) HFTH program.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled the new home of a single mom and her four sons with furniture, electronics, and appliances as a surprise in Augusta, GA. This wish come true was part of Aaron’s partnership with the Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program, sponsored by former NFL star Warrick Dunn. The WDC HFTH program helps single parents become first-time homeowners.

Additional partnerships with the City of Augusta’s Homeownership Assistance Program, Peach State Federal Credit Union (FCU), and Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia helped provide Valencia and her family with a new, fully furnished home.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled the new home of a single mom and her four sons with furniture, electronics, and appliances as a surprise in Augusta, GA.

“Aaron’s is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Warrick Dunn Charities to provide a deserving Augusta family a safe place to call home,” says John Robinson, CEO of Aaron’s, Inc. “We have a longstanding tradition of giving back to communities across the country and we’re so pleased that these furnishings will be able to help make a difference for this family in their lives for years to come.”

Valencia works as an educator and strives to equip her children with skills that reach far beyond the classroom. She serves as an influential role model for her students in school and for her family at home.

Aaron’s has been a longtime supporter of WDC initiatives and has contributed home furnishings, appliances, and electronics to the Homes for the Holidays program for the past 16 years.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Lillian Snyder

Lillian Snyder is involved with community activities inside her high school community and the greater community. “Someone once told me to make the most of high school because it’s free,” says Snyder, a member of both the National Honor Society and an officer in the Hispanic Honors Society. The incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida was a leader improving her school community by tutoring other students in Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus; working as part of a school beautification team and organizing food drives for events ranging from natural disasters to the holiday season.

Outside of her school, Snyder supports her local community in a bevy of roles, working with Rise Against Hunger, the Special Olympics Bowling tournament, the local library, and Save-A-Pet Rescue. Snyder appreciates the joy these activities bring, while also being cognizant of the fact that these activities are learning opportunities. For example, Snyder’s work with her local library’s “Soundsational Storytime” interactive program has provided her with direct experience dealing with young children and the importance of patience in dealing with them.

The RTO-industry figures prominently in enabling Snyder to be such an important member of her local community. “My mother was able to continue going to college, and my grandparents were able to continue to take care of me,” explains Snyder, the daughter of a single mother. The financial challenges facing her family from a young age have underlined the importance of the RTO-industry in providing opportunities for struggling families to acquire basic household appliances that provide the breathing room to seek new opportunities. RTO continues to play a vital role in Snyder’s development, with the APRO scholarship assisting in Snyder’s college education.

Snyder is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. She is among a group of 47 students given over $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping futures leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Haleigh Adams-Salaberrios

Haleigh Adams-Salaberrios had to grow up quickly. Her parents divorced early in her life, forcing her mother to work full time to provide for Adams-Salaberrios and her younger sister. As a result, she found herself filling the role of primary caretaker for her younger sister, doing everything from cooking food to making sure they had clean clothes to wear to school. During this time Adams-Salaberrios coped with the post-traumatic stress of sexual assault. Rather than enjoy a leisurely childhood, Adams-Salaberrios faced some of the ugly realities of the world from a young age.

The incoming Wayne State College freshman hopes to obtain a master’s degree in Criminal Justice, ultimately becoming a criminal investigator. When recovering from her own trauma, Adams-Salaberrios realized the importance of catching perpetrators to minimize the harm they could do. She uses the trauma from her childhood experiences as fuel to motivate her in her studies and volunteer work.

Adams-Salaberrios is an accomplished student, earning a place on Kearney Catholic school’s honor roll for every year of her high school career and joining the National Honor Society. Her education has also encouraged volunteering in various capacities such as fundraising for the school through Kearney’s G.O.L.D. event and working as a frequent volunteer at local nursing homes and senior communities.

“Many people think that their parent’s place of work is just that, their parent’s place of work….to me it is our support system,” explains Adams-Salaberrios when speaking about her mother’s career at Premier Rental Purchase. Starting at Premier as a sales representative soon after her divorce, Adams-Salaberrios’s mother, Evita Gove, has worked up the ranks over the last eight years to become a store manager. “…being a part of an APRO family has also taught me how being an independent woman is possible….anything you put your mind to, you can make happen.”

Adams-Salaberrios is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. She is among a group of 47 students given over $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping futures leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Myaicia Womack

As a teacher in an inner city turnaround school, APRO Education Foundation scholarship recipient Myaicia Womack strives to provide students with a tangible link between academic and real-world success. Womack is currently earning her master’s degree at the University of Tampa and is part of the school’s first group of Turnaround Leadership Program (TLP) students. A passionate believer in the importance of education in combating the vicious cycle of generational poverty, Womack provides leadership both through her classroom instruction and by serving as a link between her school and stakeholders in the local community.

“I have faced many obstacles and hardships on my journey to becoming a teacher and I want my students to look up to me as a model of hope and perseverance,” says Womack. Finding her life purpose in her work at turnaround schools, Womack knows that students in such programs require not just greater involvement and love from their teachers, but also the opportunity to experience things outside of their neighborhoods. As part of this effort Womack plans to use a portion of her APRO scholarship to have her students experience simulated skydiving and the relevance of math and science to that experience at the iFly Museum in Brandon, FL.

Her work with disadvantaged students has given Womack, whose mother works at Buddy’s Rent to Own, an intimate look at the opportunities provided by the RTO industry. Womack has worked extensively with families who would otherwise have no access to basic home furnishings such as beds and tables without the RTO industry. In addition, the RTO industry has made it possible for Womack to provide new opportunities for students at her school. This past year, Womack partnered with a local rent-to-own business to obtain enough desktop computers to create a computer lab at her school and provide a computer for the highest performing student at each grade level.

Womack is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. She is among a selection of 47 students given more than $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping futures leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient William Padua

Poverty might have ended William Padua’s academic dreams before they began. “We had countless nights where we had no food to eat,” Padua recalls of his childhood. As the child of a Puerto Rican mother who moved to the mainland with her three children, Padua’s childhood included stays at shelters and lack of sufficient food. Despite this adversity as a child, Padua is the first person in his family to attend college. He is currently attending Florida International University where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology.

A member of the National Honor Society, Padua’s achievements in high school go beyond his GPA. In addition to his long list of academic accolades, Padua was also a dedicated athlete, volunteer, and mentor. He was captain of his school’s baseball team. Padua volunteered for the Ending Community Homeless Coalition (E.C.H.O.) providing groceries for families in need. As a mentor, Padua helped young children at Frost Elementary School. Padua speaks of his community engagement, “[Community involvement] helped me give back to those in need…I was in the same position as an adolescent.”

“Rent-to-Own has laid the stepping stones for my family’s success,” Padua says, citing his mother’s rise from a floor salesperson at Rent King to a manager at Happy’s Home Center. Padua’s father also has a career with the RTO-industry, starting as a delivery driver making minimum wage and living paycheck to paycheck to his current position as a co-owner and district manager for Great Rooms. Padua is straight forward about the importance of the RTO-industry to his life, “To this very day the rent-to-own industry still has tremendous impact on my family’s stability and financial well being.”

Padua is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. He is among a cohort of 47 students given over $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping futures leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient
Elyse Serrano

The admissions office, campus dormitories, local Lakeland churches, or Kenya, wherever the setting, APRO Education Foundation scholarship student Elyse Serrano understands the value of engaging with members of the community. The fourth-year student pursuing degrees in Accounting and Finance at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, learned the value of engaging through personal relationships from her father Anthony Serrano, an RTO industry veteran of more than 20 years. In her final year at Southeastern University, Serrano is approaching the first major milestone on her path toward a Masters degree, a CPA certification, and ultimately lifting people out of the cycle of poverty.

Serrano credits her father’s work with Aaron’s with teaching her the importance of human relationships and community engagement. “I personally have heard stories of people who have been costumers of my dad’s for years and often follow him when he moves store to store,” Serrano says of her father’s ties to the community. Describing the central tenet of her father’s business, Serrano notes, “Customers are viewed as family instead of dollar signs.” As a front row witness to how the RTO industry’s focus on building up rapport with their customers, Serrano understands the importance of ongoing engagement. 

This insight has fueled Serrano’s remarkable academic career, where she has combined her work ethic with enthusiastic participation in community efforts. Serrano is a vital member of the Southeastern University community, hosting campus tours for prospective students as part of the Admissions Office, in addition to serving as a mentor and confidante for other students through her role as a Resident Assistant.

Outside of the university, Serrano has assisted the Lakeland community’s churches in recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma, as well as working for the 410 Bridge organization in Kenya. Serrano will be taking an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP over the coming summer as she studies toward acquiring her CPA certification.

Serrano is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. She is among a cohort of 47 students given more than $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping future leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Jarred Ford

Meet first-time APRO Education Foundation scholarship recipient, Jarred Ford, grandson of MAJIK Rent To Own Operations Trainer Carol Ann Buckett. He currently attends Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology with the aspiration to work in occupational therapy. Ford received his first APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship last summer which he used toward his 2018 fall tuition.

Not a stranger to RTO, Ford mentioned that his Grandmother had been in the retail business for as long as he can remember, first in the retail industry and then rent-to-own. “I learned about new merchandise vs pre-rented product, refurbishing, trade-in credits, collections, commitments, Steri-Fab and the dreaded word, bed bugs!” shares Ford. “With no credit checks to process, customers with no credit, or even damaged credit, can enjoy new products that fit their budget. The best part, they’re under no obligation to keep the product, it’s like test driving a new car. If it’s not quite right, you don’t make the long-term investment.”

Ford graduated high school with a 4.5 grade point average and participated in many extracurricular activities such as band, track and field, National Honor Society, Key Club, and the Yearbook Committee. Ford also held the title of Link Crew Leader for incoming freshman his junior and senior years.

In addition to his school-related activities, Ford was active in his community in Marietta, PA, where he played the drums in the local church youth band and volunteered to feed the homeless at the local food pantry. Through his church, Ford also completed the World Vision 30 Hour Famine project—fasting for a day-and-a-half to raise funds for the hungry.

In 2018, APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee awarded 47 students more than $110,000 in college scholarships as part of the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. Our scholarship program would not be possible without the generous support of donors throughout the year. Thank you for supporting our future leaders in pursuing their dreams through furthering their education. Please continue to help students connected to our RTO-family by supporting the pursuit of their college degree by donating now.

In Atlanta, new homeowner Ronyelle and her 5-year-old son (center) were surprised by former NFL star Warrick Dunn and Aaron’s representatives with a home filled with furniture and electronics just in time to celebrate Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, WDC and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled two new homes with furniture, electronics and appliances as a holiday surprise for two single moms in Atlanta and Nashville. This holiday wish come true was part of Aaron’s partnership with the Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program, sponsored by former NFL star Warrick Dunn. The WDC HFTH program helps single parents become first-time homeowners.

In Nashville, additional partnerships with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville helped provide single mother Carrie and her five sons with a new, fully furnished home for the holidays. In Atlanta, Ronyelle and her 5-year-old son were surprised with furnishings and gifts for their home just in time to celebrate Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, WDC and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

“Aaron’s is thrilled to be working alongside Warrick Dunn, Marcus Mariota and Habitat for Humanity to provide these families with this surprise during one of the most joyous times of the year,” says Aaron’s, Inc. CEO John Robinson. “Carrie and Ronyelle work hard to provide the best for their children; it’s humbling to be a part of providing safe, modern and inviting homes they and their families can truly call their own.”

Carrie works as a forklift operator for a Nashville logistics company, and has long dreamt of having a safe home with enough room for her five boys to grow and aspire to promising futures. Ronyelle worked throughout her pregnancy while earning her medical assistant’s degree in Atlanta; her dream was to offer her son a safe and inspirational environment.

“Carrie’s and Ronyelle’s commitments as single parents – to provide their children with the lives they deserve – make them admirable recipients for our Homes for the Holidays program,” says Warrick Dunn. “I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside Aaron’s to bring holiday magic to these commendable and hardworking families.”

Aaron’s has been a longtime supporter of WDC initiatives, and has contributed home furnishings, appliances and electronics to the Homes for the Holidays program for the past 15 years.

Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and this holiday season, Ohio-based Countryside Rentals, dba Rent-2-Own [R2O] is lending a hand. APRO Member R2O hosted a virtual holiday wish list on its website, where visitors submitted all they wanted, with no limitations. The company received more than 2,500 submissions from customers throughout Kentucky and Ohio, and yesterday, 34 wishes were granted – one for each of R2O’s store locations.

“Reading through the submissions was incredibly humbling, knowing we were going to grant families their holiday wishes,” says Mike Tissot. R2O CEO and President. Examples of those granted wishes included the following:

  • Michelle Yerian, Manager of R2O Cambridge, OH, presented a longtime customer with a new set of tires. “When we told her, Maggie cried, and so did we!” Yerian says. “She takes care of her grandchildren and rarely does anything for herself. We’re so happy and excited for her!”
  • Over in Amelia, OH, R2O Manager Brad Matthews, gave a customer a laptop for her autistic son, whose computer had been stolen from his backpack. “When we called Stacy, she cried and just thanked us over and over again,” says Matthews. “Knowing we made a difference simply by providing a laptop computer was incredibly rewarding.”
  • R2O’s Zanesville, OH, store gave a 40” TV to a family who had to start over after losing everything. In Grayson, KY, a dining room table was offered to a family who had never had a table big enough for everyone to come together for a holiday meal. And R2O Flemingsburg, KY, presented a cash gift of $250 to a customer whose family is suffering through tough times following her husband’s involvement in a semi-truck accident.

Everyone at R2O’s holiday workshop was overjoyed to help make a positive difference for their customers, especially at this special time of year. “A wish is just a wish until someone grants it,” Tissot concludes. “During the holidays, it takes all of us to help those in need and make a holiday wish come true.”