The Board of Commissioners for St. Mary's County and the Division of Community Services welcomed two volunteers into the AmeriCorps *VISTA program on Tuesday, June 29, 2004.
Ms. Elaine Chun will be working with the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), which is an intensive 14 week family program, combining parent and youth skills training, that focuses on drug abuse prevention of children between the ages of six and twelve. Ms. Chun will provide administrative and logistical support, thereby ensuring the development of a sustainable and replicable program through St. Mary's County to help families raise their level of functioning.
Ms. Erin Fay will be working with the St. Mary's Teen Court Program. Teen Court is a community deterrence initiative designed for first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders. Under the program, juvenile offenders have the opportunity to have their cases heard in front of a jury of their peers. In addition to acting as jurors, youth act as attorneys, court clerks, and bailiffs. Moreover, adult volunteers also serve as jury monitors, judges and trainers for the youth volunteers. The St. Mary's County Teen Court can not be successful without the collaborative effort of multiple agencies, including, but not limited to the Division of Community Services, Department of Juvenile Services, St. Mary's County Public Schools, the St. Mary's Sheriff's Office, and other community volunteers. These agencies, along with a number of private citizens, continue to meet monthly to ensure the sustainability of the innovative program.
The AmeriCorps *VISTA program in St. Mary's County is part of a national effort to engage community volunteers in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, the environment and homeland security. For more than 35 years, AmeriCorps *VISTA members nationwide have been helping bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Members serve full time for one year in nonprofit organizations and public and governmental agencies throughout the county. If you are interested in becoming an AmeriCorps *VISTA volunteer in St. Mary's County, please contact Walt Biscoe in the Office of Community Services at 301-475-4633. To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit www.americorps.org.