03/28/05 — Volunteer program aimed at helping students

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Volunteer program aimed at helping students

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 28, 2005 1:48 PM

Members of the Governor's One-on-One Volunteer Program met Thursday at Walnut Creek Country Club to exchange ideas on ways to build on its successes.

The mentoring program's aim is to help keep at-risk young people more firmly anchored in their communities by providing them with role models. There are 47 such program in operation across North Carolina.

Thursday's all-day workshop was hosted by Smart Choices for Youth Inc., formerly the Wayne County Youth Outreach Program.

Among the state representatives in attendance were Don Hargrove, assistant secretary with the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He said the tide is moving toward more community involvement.

"The state trend is to coordinate and collaborate with local folks," he said. "We're moving at breakneck speed trying to make that happen."

Hargrove said support from other agencies is being sought to back such services as mentoring and counseling. With additional volunteers and training, the effectiveness should improve, he said.

"When you have a problem kid in a family, what you want to see is the school, juvenile justice people, and others working together," he said, "to really approach the problem as a Wayne County problem as opposed to sending them off to Cherry Hospital or to prison."

He said by keeping children and youth rooted in their home community, the potential for delinquency can be drastically reduced.

"In our program, kids that are in the worst situations, headed for jail, having to be removed from their homes, have had a 70 percent decrease in the number of kids in that kind of situation," he said.

"What we're really interested in is providing a resource to the community that helps keep the kids close by, particularly in their own homes."