BERLIN — Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) gave the Berlin Town Council the most recent in their series of ongoing updates on the town’s youth club last week, and the council liked what it heard enough to renew the $24,000 annual contract with WYFCS for the youth club.
The organization last appeared before the council in February, and Berlin Youth Club Coordinator Melanie Windsor said last Monday that it’s been a busy five months. The youth group has traveled extensively locally, she told the council, going everywhere from Berlin parks to Harlem Globetrotter games.
“It was terrible outside but we had a lot of fun with the actual Globetrotters,” she said.
Besides the trips, the youth group has hosted events at home such as a family safety night at the WYFCS building in Berlin.
“We had over 30 parents and kids and family members come to that event and we’re very thankful to see that kind of a turn out,” said Windsor.
After touching on what the group has been up to, Windsor broke down the demographics of who is involved with the program. Since the last update in February, 63 kids have taken part in some club activity. Of that, 35 were African American, 20 were Caucasian, and 8 were Hispanic.
This year WYFCS also has a paid intern attached to the youth club, a first for the group and made possible by a grant from the town. That intern is Calvin Garrison, a recent Stephen Decatur High School grad who has already developed a reputation locally as a volunteer and community advocate despite his young age.
Garrison volunteered with the youth club last summer and thanked the council for allowing him to operate as a paid intern this summer. Garrison had nothing but compliments for the youth club.
“The program is phenomenal, the kids love it…it’s like a big family,” he said.
Even with the help of interns, WYFCS Director Teresa Fields promised the council that her organization is fully committed to growing the youth club.
“Worcester Youth has contributed $26,000 in additional funds to support the program and well over $100,000 in in-kind support for the program this year as well as working with a group of staff members to develop additional programs as we see needs within the groups of kids that we’re working with,” she said.
Mayor Gee Williams had a positive reaction to the presentation, singling out Garrison’s involvement as an example of how “the youth of the community are now helping lead the youth of the community.”
The council voted to extend the WYFCS Berlin Youth Group contract for another year at a cost of $24,000.