Local Success Story To Be Honored As “Gold Medalist For Life” By The Youth Home That Gave Him A Second Chance
Friday, September 3, 2021
Chris Carlino, of Chattanooga, never expected to be honored as a “Gold Medalist for Life.” The 37-year-old business owner and father of two lives a relatively peaceful life. It could have been the exact opposite of what he is experiencing now if not for Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression.
Paul Anderson, who was declared “the strongest man in the world” after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, was a gold medal winner and weightlifting legend.
To this day, no one has exceeded or even matched his feat of lifting 6,270 lb. in a back lift. Mr. Anderson used his fame to promote youth physical fitness and his devotion to Jesus Christ. While touring the country as a goodwill ambassador, he developed a desire to help young people mired in bad behavior and poor choices who were throwing their lives away. Along with his wife, Glenda, who still maintains quite a presence at the Home, the Paul Anderson Youth Home was founded in 1961.
PAYH celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with a specific goal in mind. The organization will be reaching out across the country to let parents and advocates know there is a place to find an alternative to jail for troubled young men and boys who need a second chance.
Mr. Carlino is one of six distinguished alumni who are being recognized by the youth home as true success stories, living productive and positive lives and named “Gold Medalists for Life.”
In tandem with the 60th anniversary and award, an awareness campaign encompassing print and digital channels will focus on stories like Mr. Carlino’s, targeting prosecutors, law enforcement, legal aid, social services, parent groups, churches and other organizations who could intervene and keep a troubled boy or young man from prison and put them on track to change their lives.
Mr. Carlino began abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age, and by the time he was a junior in high school, he was a regular user and suffering from depression. Facing felony drug charges at 16, he spent three months in lock-up as his family searched for an alternative. They found the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
“My parents were relentless trying to find a way to keep me from prison,” Mr. Carlino said.
If necessary, each young man in PAYH’s care receives counseling, academic assistance to complete their education, job training, and substance abuse therapy. Although raised as a Christian, he was not very spiritual when he arrived. The adjustment was steep, and he was open to the message. Physical activity, hard work and discipline broke down the barriers and rebellion.
“After overcoming all the hurdles and learning so much, it’s like a light switch went off,” he added. “Once I got past that, the sense of brotherhood, family and pride takes over. You don’t feel like you’re incarcerated or stuck there. It felt more like my own free will and something I had to accomplish for myself,” he explained.
Upon graduating, Mr. Carlino didn’t know what to expect returning to a world that had been frozen to him for two years, but he felt equipped and confident to tackle it. He worked at Athens Y Camp before going to Lee University in eastern Tennessee. He fell in love with the area and settled in Chattanooga after college. Mr. Carlino began his career in radio ad sales and now owns a local insurance brokerage in the human resources and workers compensation industry.
“I credit it all to Paul Anderson Youth Home,” Mr. Carlino said.
He also credits what he learned at the Home for making him a better father, a role he says is the top accomplishment of his life.
The PAYH mission has remained the same, as has the need for alternatives to prison. “Rather than facing a life of crime, jail time, and poor adjustment, young people need continued support and counseling like the kind that our Home has provided for decades, said Glenda Anderson. “Our boys who have completed this program are the living example of how this ministry turns lives around and helps make respectful men who are an asset to their communities.”
The success stories span decades, with graduates found all over the country.
On the occasion of the Paul Anderson Youth Home 60th anniversary, Mr. Carlino added, “The Home has an enduring legacy. It’s unique and special, and I can’t imagine there is another place like it.”
For more information about Paul Anderson Youth Home or to donate, call 912-537-7237 or visit www.payh.org.