Volunteers for Youth helps young residents succeed
September 19, 2011
By: Valarie Schwartz, http://www.carrborocitizen.com/main/2011/09/15/volunteers-for-youth-helps-young-residents-succeed/
People here have historically taken action in response to negative trends.
In 1974, a rape crisis center was established after a series of rapes of elderly women; a women’s center was started in 1978 when meeting the needs of struggling women became a national hue and cry; and in 1982, Volunteers for Youth (VFY) was started in response to a rise in juvenile crimes, at the recommendation of concerned members of the Orange County court system.
Susan Worley has been the executive director of VFY since 1988. She grew up in Chapel Hill, the daughter of a professor.
I love this town, she said. It was a great place to grow up and for my kids to grow up. Yet some people here live with dire circumstances that are hard for the rest of us to understand.
VFY has three programs to which it can credit its continued success in turning lives around.
First-time offenders aged 11-17 can be referred to Orange County Teen Court if they have admitted guilt to a misdemeanor offense like shoplifting, disorderly conduct or involvement with drugs or alcohol. An adult plays judge, but all other court roles are played by teens, including the jury, which metes out constructive punishments, like jury duty at Teen Court or community service, especially if restitution is required.
VFY is paired with several nonprofit organizations with which the teens complete community service, like in a community garden, with volunteer supervisors who ensure that the youth learn about responsibility and accountability during the completion of their assignments.
The most compelling of VFY’s programs is the Volunteer Mentor Program, where high-risk young people aged 7 to 17 referred to VFY are matched with a mentor. The first match was made in August 1988, and a few months ago, the pair, Tami Williams and Ginny Fowler, attended a VFY open house together.
Ginny was 11 when they were matched, Worley said. They have become adult friends.
A major turning point came early on, when they were together in Williams’ car and Fowler was acting up, trying to push Williams away.
The volunteer pulled over and said, ‘You can do whatever you want but I’ll still be here.’ Ginny went on to graduate from college and grad school and became a teacher, Worley said. They have been there for each other throughout.
Worley is excited that the mentoring program has really caught on with UNC students involved with the APPLES (Assisting People in Planning Learning Experiences in Service) program.
There are 42 students signed up to help us for the entire academic year, Worley said. The idea is so ambitious, and the undergrads have completely astounded me.
Federal and state funding for VFY has been drastically cut over the past decade, but the community continues to keep them alive through dedicated support. This will be the 12th year for VFY’s major annual fundraiser, now called the Hubert Davis Golf Tournament. Davis, a former UNC standout basketball player who is an ESPN analyst, gladly lends his name to the event that he and his wife generously support.
The tournament will be held Monday at the Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., with the first tee-off at 11. On Sunday, anyone interested is invited to a free reception with a silent auction from 5 to 7 p.m. at Studio 91 in Glen Lennox.
Learn more about the tournament and volunteer opportunities at volunteersforyouth.org or call 967-4511.
No comments have been posted.