Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2017

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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FALL / WINTER 2017 PIERCE 37 the services that Davidson has managed and led, with significant drops in teen pregnancy rates and increases in high school graduation rates during his tenure with the organization. Kella Stone, who met Davidson as a teenager at the club and went on to work alongside him there for nearly 10 years, says he has been able to be an effective leader because he shares his past experiences in a way that helps youth in their present-day struggles. "I am who I am today because of the relationship I have with Ricky," says Stone, who began her career as a junior staff member, going on to be the club's assistant program director and later recreation coordinator. "Because of [the] hardships [he experienced] in his childhood, it makes it easy for him to relate to the hardships of the youth he is surrounded by. He has been there and done that. He is always willing to share personal stories with anyone to help them through struggles that they may be enduring in their lives." Giving Kids What They Need D avidson says he has just a few rules that he's followed as he's worked with youth, the most important of which is not to lie to them. "So many young people expect grown-ups to lie to them," Davidson asserts. "Grown-ups will tell the youth what they think they need to hear instead of saying what they really want to say." Another guideline he follows is admitting to young people when he doesn't know the answer to something. When he taught a health class as part of a part-time position with Planned Parenthood, he said, he intentionally created it as the "health class you wished you had in high school," striving to help students discover the answer to any relevant question, no matter how controversial or sensitive the topic. Finally, Davidson says, it is important to give youth a sense of what's possible for them to achieve. "One hundred percent of our [Boys and Girls Club] kids graduate high school on time with a plan for what's next," he says. "We help them articulate what their dream is and work forward from there." Tending to the Next Generation L ooking ahead to his future as a professional youth advocate, Davidson says his role is changing as he journeys through middle age. "As I get older, I'm losing some of my 'cool' factor with the kids," he admits. "It's better for me to hire people who can be 'cool' and handle the day-to-day, and I can take care of the bigger picture." Davidson's commitment to youth doesn't end when the work day does, either. He was a long-term foster parent for many years, and recently moved into a Brattleboro homeless shelter for youth as its resident manager. "I'm old enough to be the father or grandfather of the kids in the shelter, so they see me as a parental figure," he says. And this intensive lifestyle helping youth achieve their full potential is something he couldn't have achieved without experiencing Pierce, he says. "I was challenged a lot at Pierce — it made me a better person and a better problem solver," he says. "Without those challenges, I wouldn't have been able to do half of the things I've done." Previous page top: Davidson with Holly Beretto '93 at Academic Convocation, May 1993; and listening to concerns. This page: Brattleboro youth enjoying the amenities of the Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro.

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