Tag Archives: youth

Youth Services Case Manager Honored for Two Decades of Service

Patrick Fleming 

Patrick Fleming, a Court Diversion case manager for Youth Services since 1981, was recently honored by the organization for his nearly two decades of restorative justice work in Windham County.

Youth Services’ Court Diversion program involves victims, offenders, and community members in a constructive process that helps offenders repair the harm to victims and the community, according to Sally Struble, Youth Services’ Director of Restorative Justice programs. Every year, this one program works with close to 300 referrals.

“Patrick is the glue between our volunteer panelists and the offenders,” Struble explained, describing how once the State’s Attorney offers Diversion to adults charged with committing a crime or youth charged with being delinquent, Fleming meets with both the offender and the volunteer panels to prepare for one or more sessions together.

“Patrick’s skill and commitment to the goals of the program make him an outstanding liaison,” Struble said. “Our hope, realized in 90 percent of his cases, is that the offender not only learn from their mistakes, but also make different choices in the future.” After successful completion of the Diversion program, the original charge is dismissed, she explained.

“While being charged with a crime is often experienced by the client as a mini-tragedy, more often than not they avail themselves, with the support of the panel, in finding the silver lining,” Fleming attested. “In many cases that means re-evaluating their behaviors,” he stated. “Being able to refer them for counseling or substance use treatment as part of their diversion agreement is very helpful in this process,” Fleming admitted.”

The entire process takes on average between 60-90 days from start to finish, Fleming said. Describing how in an average week he prepares five distinct panels of trained community volunteers in Brattleboro and one in Bellows Falls. The case manager credits the Diversion Board members, who meet only once a month to hear cases, with possessing a diverse skill set that when combined is like a carefully tuned orchestra.  “I’m in awe of our volunteers. They hit all the notes and I always end up learning from them!” Fleming exclaimed.

Fleming described how powerful it is for clients to grapple with what they did and how it impacted others.“Unlike pleading guilty, paying a fine and getting a record, our participants have to engage with their actions and come to terms with the human elements,” Fleming emphasized,

What keeps Fleming doing this work case after case, year after year? “I’m interested in people. I’m interested in the challenges each case presents,” he stated. “When our participants comprehend that their life is out of balance and that there is an opportunity to set something right, take responsibility, make this crisis into something positive, we get to witness a truly transformative change for the better,” he said.

“What more can one ask for?” Fleming enthused. “Being an agent of change is the best feeling, treating them with respect and kindness in the process. Helping people to become healthier- that’s everyone’s goal.”

For more information on becoming a Youth Services Court Diversion board member, contact Sally Struble, Director of Restorative Justice at Youth Services at 802-257-0361 or email info@youthservicesinc.org.

Youth Services celebrates new Bellows Falls location

Bellows Falls, Vermont — Youth Services has opened a new office at 22 Bridge St. to better serve the young people and families of the Greater Bellows Falls region. An Open House was held  in June with a ribbon cutting ceremony and local dignitaries and elected officials. Youth Services is a 45-year-old nonprofit organization with 19 programs serving Windham County and surrounding New Hampshire communities.

Last year over 200 young people from Athens, Grafton Saxtons River, Westminster, and the Bellows Falls areas received services from Youth Services, including 10 young people who spent 4-6 months in its Transitional Living program housing for homeless or unsafely housed youth while they gained employment and other independent living skills.

Youth Services has operated a satellite office in Bellows Falls for 20 years, previously at Parks Place on School Street, with at times up to four full-time staff. Before then, Brattleboro-based staff provided all the services for area youth, including full-time student assistance counselors at Bellows Falls Union High and Middle schools with an emphasis on substance abuse prevention.

Out of the new office, Bellows Falls-based staff members Michelle Sacco and Janice Berube continue to offer case management for ages 16-22, job skills training and transitional living skills for area young people living under difficult circumstances.  JUMP (Just Us Moms Program) and the Diaper Bank Collaborative serves young parents. This year alone, Sacco and Berube trained 106 high school students in healthy relationships and STD and Pregnancy prevention using the evidence-based Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) curriculum.

Youth Services Court Diversion board will continue holding panels in Bellows Falls as needed as will its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) program serving youth ages 13-22. These are young people who have been adjudicated in Family Court, are on probation, are at risk of a truancy filing, have Youthful Offender Status, or require additional support.

Youth Services’ RAMP mentoring program at Bellows Falls Union High School is holding its last meetings for the year and they are laying the groundwork to recruit new participants, mentors and site visit locations for when school starts next September.

“We are pleased to have a sustained presence in the greater Bellows Falls area and enjoy close partnerships with the area’s nonprofits, social services and schools,” stated Russell Bradbury Carlin, Youth Services Executive Director. The office on Bridge Street gives us higher visibility in the community and we hope many more young people and families seeking assistance walk through our doors as a result.”

There are many ways community members can get involved in Youth Services Bellows Falls operation, according to Bradbury-Carlin. “We are seeking Host Homes to provide emergency shelter for homeless and runaway youth, need volunteers to share their time, skills and life experiences with young mothers in  our JUMP: Just Us Moms Program and welcome donations of diapers and wipes to the Diaper Bank Collaborative,” he said.

Bradbury-Carlin explained that Youth Services is always looking to collaborate with area businesses on training its clients in job skills while its RAMP mentoring program at BFUHS is seeking area professionals to share their career trajectories with the high school participants.

For more information about Youth Services in the Greater Falls Region, contact (802) 460-0398 or email michelle.sacco@youthservicesinc.org