Berlin Council Extends Worcester Youth Partnership

BERLIN — After a successful nine months, the Berlin Mayor and Council agreed Monday to extend their partnership with Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) for about another year and a half.

“I definitely think they’ve become an important asset to our community,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The partnership between the town and WYFCS officially began last spring when Berlin contracted the group to provide a free summer camp for area youth. The contract also extended into the fall and winter with WYFCS tasked to offer an after-school program with the same target audience, Berlin youth ages 6-12. Nearly a year later, town officials say the results are noticeable and positive.

“Overall … you’ve exceeded our expectations,” Williams told WYFCS Executive Director Teresa Fields.

During the most recent of several updates, Fields revealed Monday that the WYFCS’ Berlin initiative has reached out to 55 kids so far this year, the majority of which were involved with the summer camp.

As of this week, 17 are signed up for the after-school club, with typically a dozen or more showing up every day the program is offered, which is four times per week.

While the council was satisfied with the number, Fields is confident that it will continue to grow as the club becomes better known and partnerships are formed with other after-school groups.

“We recognize the project is still evolving,” she said. “We’re looking for the community to help us get the word out.”

Fields said that WYFCS is grateful for the opportunity from the town and pointed out that her agency is just as committed as the council in seeing comprehensive programs developed specifically for youth in Berlin.

“We’ve matched town funding to date dollar for dollar,” she said.

Fields told the council that she anticipates increased enrollment in the after-school club once other programs are finished. She also revealed that WYFCS plans to concentrate more on providing experiences on days when there is no school, such as holidays and professional days. At those times, members are usually taken on field trips much like they were during summer camp.

According to Fields, those trips include things like movies, the zoo, miniature golf, dinner and tours of historic Berlin, activities thar are donated by local businesses and the community.

Wrapping up, Fields revealed that Melanie Windsor will be taking the reins on the Berlin program from now on and expressed confidence in her ability to continue the success of the project.

The council agreed and unanimously voted to extend WYFCS’ $2,000 per month funding through June 1, 2013.