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Pleasant passes the OBP torch

Although Robert F. Pleasant Jr., founder of Operation Be Proud Inc., has stepped down as CEO and board president, he said he thinks OBP is in capable hands.

He said he is pleased with the organization's growth since its inception more than 10 years ago.

"This was a very difficult decision," he said regarding his resignation,

citing personal reasons. "I had to decide what is best for me and what is best for the organization."

Maxine Mills of Burlington, will take over both positions of board president and CEO at OBP. Mills is a graduate of Ironton High School, Ohio University and a former teacher at St. Joseph School and Ohio University Southern.

"It is a challenge, but I know it is doable," she said. "We have a great team in place and some exciting ideas that will take the community working with us.

"With us all working together and coming together for a common purpose, we can do this.

Mills said that people all across the Tri-State are becoming interested in the program, geared to educate and enrich the lives of children.

"OBP is about the community, the kids and reaching out to people," she said. "We are going forward with some of the things that Robert started and also collecting some new ideas."

For upcoming programs, the organization plans to focus on interaction, bringing in teachers and professionals to talk with the children. It also plans to look at educational field trips, she said.

Pleasant said he is confident the new leadership will do a "fantastic job" and continue to expand the program.

"The whole purpose is to give young people a positive outlook on life and provide them with opportunities to succeed," he said. "I am extremely proud, and there have been so many people who have made this possible. I want to thank the community for their support and guidance."

Operation Be Proud had a humble beginning. Pleasant started the organization in 1992 in his parents' living room while he was still a college student.

"I came home on break and noticed that a lot of young people's heads were down and they needed a vision," he said.

After hearing a speaker at a local church discuss how many young adults are locked up in prison, he knew he had to do something.

"Every young person has a purpose for being here and something to offer the community," he said.

"It is up to us to nourish that and help it grow."

As a testament to the growth, OBP opened a community center at 628 S. Ninth St. about four years ago.

Pleasant said he will still be involved with OBP and volunteer with the organization when he can, but his role will be diminished.