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Building Young Leaders, Strengthening Communities

Posted September 9th, 2019 at 10:00am

Spotlight of Wesley’s very own, Derick Charles.

Cultivating Leaders

Among the project’s young leaders is Derick Charles, a 22-year-old rising senior at Wesley College in Dover. The son of Haitian immigrants, Charles is one of nine children and was raised in Florida. He studies exercise science and kinesiology and plays basketball at the Division III school.

He learned the game starting in eighth grade, and he worked hard to improve. The 6’6, 190-pound forward loves to win. But Charles’s coach also emphasized community involvement, and Charles met Downen when the agent spoke at a school assembly in Dover. He’s volunteered with the project for several years and has seen younger kids benefit from it.

Charles also knows firsthand what life is like in Haiti from family visits; he’s grateful to be an American citizen. As he reminds the project’s younger participants, “There’s a kid out there in Haiti, Africa, India, in impoverished conditions, who would trade your life right now in a heartbeat,” he said.

With Downen’s guidance and encouragement, Charles plans to enlist in the Delaware National Guard and use his service to help pay for his education and, perhaps in the future, help Charles one day work for the Bureau.

When Downen first suggested to Charles that he consider becoming an agent, “I thought he was joking,” Charles said. “But I was thinking about it the past couple of months: Can I really do this? Yeah, let’s go for it. I want to see what it takes to become an FBI agent.”

In Charles, Downen sees a young man with grit, compassion and a top-notch work ethic.

The Green Beret Project has partnerships with the Dover Housing Authority — it uses a former community center as its command post — and the state’s Department of Correction.

Downen would like to see the Green Beret Project expand beyond Dover and Wilmington. In recognition of his volunteerism with the project, Downen will receive a Director’s Award and the William H. Webster Award from the Society of Former Special Agents this fall.

Read the complete story below.