His initial reaction to hearing he had won the award was that of shock.
“When I found out I had won this award, I was very happy but at the same time I didn’t know the YMCA had this kind of award,” he said
The Tri-Cities student has dedicated himself to volunteering at the Y since he was four years old.
His motivation to begin and to continue all these years was simple — enthusiasm.
“I started volunteering at the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA because, in a way, I had already been volunteering before,” he said. “It has really been a joy for me.”
Benton’s volunteer tasks depend on what the particular needs are that day at the Y, but his tasks are never the same.
“At the Y, I am involved in many things from working in the pre-school classes and helping at the front desk,” he said. “My favorite activities at the Y are swimming, playing basketball and working with the pre-school classes.”
His joy for volunteering and his subsequent receipt of the award come as no surprise to Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA’s executive director Diane Baker-King.
“Every day after school, Ronald comes to do whatever is needed with the most cheerful and positive disposition,” she said in a statement. “He is extremely responsible and continuously looks for ways to make a difference at the Y. Ronald’s attitude uplifts everyone.”
Exuding that disposition to everyone he encounters at the Y is natural, Benton said, because he finds the environment to be welcoming — almost like a second home.
“The Y is special because it changes the lives of so many people,” he said.
There were a total of 21 volunteers named from all the Metropolitan YMCA Atlanta branches.
Honorees attended a recognition dinner on Nov. 12.
Benton is currently a junior at Tri-Cities High School, where he plays the French horn in the marching and concert bands.
He is the son of Tia and Ronald Sr. of East Point.