POINT PLEASANT — West Virginia Juvenile Services has been working in Mason County for several years, and finds success in helping the youth of Mason County through community service. Currently, the program is in the midst of its summer garden project – a two year initiative to grow and donate food to the homeless shelter.
The WVJS is an intermediate program, giving kids with an offense a second chance to stay in Mason County and not be sent off to a more serious facility.
“The kids here have a bad rap for getting in trouble. Here they get a second chance and to stay in Mason County” explained Juan McCabe, director of Juvenile Services for Mason County. “Most kids don’t want to come here, but once they get here, they kind of like it and want to stay.”
The program consists of two major components – community service and classes. Those in the program have access to psychological help, counselling, group therapy, and substance abuse training. The program also manages the random drug testing in Mason County Schools, which in turn offers the substance abuse classes required by the school for those who fail the test.
“Most of the kids that come through here [WVJS] are not repeat offenders after they leave” said McCabe.
The community service is an important part of the program, teaching the youth the importance of community and hard work. Some of the projects they have worked on in the past include placing stuffed animals in police cruisers for calming children, washing police cruisers, painting and cleaning around Wahama High School and PPHS, and the garden.
This year they grew watermelon, squash, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, green beans, and cantaloupe. Over 90 percent of what is grown is donated to the homeless shelter, with the youth being allowed to take some home as needed.
One of the kids said: “We like doing the garden so we always have fresh produce, it helps us feed the hungry.”
Another explained: “It helps us develop communication skills and helps the community, its hard work.”
Krista Cummings is the staff employee that came up with the idea for a garden.
“We want to convey hard work and the kids to know where their food comes from,” she said. “They’ve done really well.”
Teens in the program do work for many people in the community, cleaning and doing basic tasks. If you have something they can help assist with, contact McCabe at 304-675-4835.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.