Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau cel­e­brates 45 years of ser­vice to chil­dren

Sen­a­tor Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton to speak at din­ner and gala

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Em­pow­er­ing young minds and seek­ing re­sources for the youth of South­ern Mary­land has al­ways been the mis­sion of the Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau.

On Dec. 3, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will cel­e­brate 45 years of serv­ing young peo­ple with pro­grams, coun­sel­ing and ad­di­tional as­sis­tance pro­vided by the bureau’s staff.

The bureau’s 45th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion will be held 7 to 11 p.m. at Mid­dle­ton Hall in Wal­dorf. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s din­ner and gala will have Sen. Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles) as the guest speaker and will also raise funds to al­low the bureau to con­tinue to pro­vide

ser­vices to lo­cal chil­dren, youth and fam­i­lies.

Lau­rel James, the bureau’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said Mid­dle­ton was in­stru­men­tal since the ear- lier years of the bureau’s work with the com­mu­nity and has been one of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s strong­est sup­port­ers.

“Through the bureau and its com­mu­nity part- ners, young peo­ple are able to be­come self-ef­fi­cient and given the tools that they need to be suc- cess­ful,” James said. “One of the great­est ac­com- plish­ments in the past year is part­ner­ing with the Tri-County Coun­cil for South­ern Mary­land’s youth and young adult pro­gram which fo­cuses on mov­ing young peo­ple 16-24 who are not in school, not em­ployed, dis­con­nected youth, and get­ting them ready for adult­hood. That was criti- cal. We’ve been able to en­gage a lot of young peo­ple in their schools to serve as youth lead­ers.”

The Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau is a non­profit, com­mu­nity-based delin­quency pre­ven­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion, pro­vid­ing coun­sel­ing, youth de­vel­op­ment and fam­ily sup­port to chil­dren and youth up to age 24 and their fam­i­lies in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties. The an­niver­sary is a cel­e­bra­tion of the thou­sands of chil­dren, youth and fam­i­lies who have sought ser­vices at one of the bureau’s of­fices over the years.

“We will be rec­og­niz­ing the 45 years of his­tory, along with some of the staff by pre­sent­ing some Length of Ser­vice Awards and pre­sent­ing Sus­tained Su­pe­rior Ser­vice Awards to staff for their sus­tained ex­cel­lent per­for­mance,” said Stephen Cric­chi, pres­i­dent of the bureau’s board of di­rec­tors.

James said the or­ga­ni­za­tion will also be award­ing com­mu­nity part­ners such as the Tri-County Coun­cil with the Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship Award for cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful youth and young adult pro­gram, along with Project Li­nus, a group of women lo­cated in Charles County who pro­vide one or two dozen knit, cro­chet and quilt

blan­kets on a monthly ba- sis for chil­dren who may have been abused or have lost a par­ent or sib­ling.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­sponded to the needs of the com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing young peo­ple with ser­vices such as coun- sel­ing, sub­stance abuse as­sess­ment and re­fer­rals to treat­ment ser­vices, sui­cide pre­ven­tion, cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion, com­mu­nity out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion, and school-based coun­sel- ing pro­grams ev­ery day.

Cric­chi said the orga- niza­tion started off as a group of peo­ple just try- ing to help kids and teens, and it grew into what it is to­day. He said he’s never seen a more com­mit­ted and pas­sion­ate group of peo­ple in an or­ga­ni­za­tion help the youth on a “shoe­string bud­get” and have such great out­reach.

Paula Cub­bage, sec- re­tary of the board of di­rec­tors, said with the re­cent bud­get cuts and de­creased fund­ing, the bureau has to pro­vide its ser­vices with even less re­sources.

“I see how the bureau is pro­vid­ing vi­tal pro­grams and the chil­dren are reap­ing the ben­e­fit of the ser­vices that are pro­vided to them, but they lack the re­sources,” Cub­bage said. “The cel­e­bra­tion will show how over 45 years the bureau has pro­vided great ser­vices to the com­mu­nity and chil­dren at large and it will show that we have the chil­dren’s best in­ter­ests at heart. Chil­dren seem to be left be­hind in so many ways ... it’s re­ally great that the or­ga­ni­za­tion is still here af­ter 45 years of ups and downs with fund­ing. Fund­ing is the No. 1 chal­lenge that faces the bureau.”

In the last year, the bureau touched the lives of 3,454 in­di­vid­u­als — al- though there has been sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in fund­ing for badly needed pro­grams as­sist­ing chil- dren and youth. The or- ga­ni­za­tion’s goal is to pre­vent young peo­ple from en­ter­ing the ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem by pro­vid­ing them with the tools needed to make a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion to adult­hood.

“We’re catch­ing at-risk youth at a point in their life where we can turn the di­rec­tion their life is tak­ing,” Cric­chi said. “If we can in­ter­vene when they’re young and turn them into pro­duc­tive mem­bers of so­ci­ety, that’s the gift that keeps on giv- ing for the com­mu­nity and county at large. It’s a way to take folks that have been marginal­ized or are strug­gling through is­sues and turn them into folks that ap­pre­ci­ate the need and the value of hard work.”

Tick­ets to the 45th an­nual cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day are $50. For more in­for­ma­tion about the event, con­tact the or­ga­ni­za­tion at 301-645-1837 or email info@tcycb.org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Par­tic­i­pants are pho­tographed dur­ing one of the Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau’s Youth Power pro­grams in St. Mary’s County. Ac­cord­ing to Lau­rel James, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the bureau, this group fo­cuses on well­ness and healthy liv­ing.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Young peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in the Charles County Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Project dur­ing Global Youth Ser­vice Day in Charles County. The Tri-County Youth Ser­vices Bureau has also adopted Henry Ford Cir­cle in Wal­dorf, with a min­i­mum clean­ing of three days an­nu­ally. This ac­tiv­ity em­pha­sizes civic re­spon­si­bil­ity through com­mu­nity ser­vice.

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