As a new immigrant in 1998, Jan Dobr knew so little English that he simply told diners at his uncle’s restaurant that he was “The Nephew,” and the nickname stuck.
Dobr, 38, proudly tells the date he became a U.S. citizen—Sept. 17, 2009—and says he’s inspired to give back to his new homeland. The Czech Republic native explains, “Once I became a citizen, the doors of opportunity were opening…. [I saw] an endless possibility of success and happiness. I felt like I would be able to achieve anything I desired in life. I never felt like that before.”
In November 2009, he joined the Optimist Club “because it is a positive way to live.” Working with the club a couple of years later, Dobr helped bring the SUCCESS for Teens program to the residents of Waccamaw Youth Center, a home for boys from troubled families in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.
The latest development in the Optimist program is to get teens who completed the original program to be the facilitators for other boys. These boys “can learn a leadership role,” Dobr says. “They need to gain confidence because of the background they are coming from.” Up to 16 boys at a time live at the center, not because they did something wrong, but because their families were unable to take care of them. “They’ve probably never had anybody who could share good values with them.”
One boy, Christopher L., told Dobr that he realized having a positive attitude is a real plus in life. Now the teenager tries to help other friends overcome their bad attitudes by explaining to them how he improved his outlook by following the SUCCESS for Teens program for lifelong success, which is funded by contributions to the nonprofit SUCCESS Foundation, Dobr says.
Patrick M. really liked the book SUCCESS for Teens, which is the centerpiece of the program. Written in teens’ own words, the book discusses challenges in their lives and how they coped. Like others who have followed the SUCCESS for Teens lessons on goal-setting and positive behaviors, Patrick easily identifies with the book’s content and took its lessons to heart. He stopped hanging out with the wrong crowd and made new friends. He studied harder and didn’t flunk out of school, although he previously teetered on the brink. Patrick told Dobr he knows he made the right choices.
“The Nephew” also counts himself as a SUCCESS for Teens fan: “I’ve read the book five, six times,” says Dobr, adding that its principles are keys to happiness, “which is the ultimate success…. Every time I read the book, I learn some more from it.”
Contact the SUCCESS Foundation at [email protected] for more information about the SUCCESS for Teens program or to make a tax-deductible contribution to it. If you are a leader using the program or a donor, email the foundation to be profiled in a future column.