Berlin Youth Club Program To Expand

BERLIN – An increase in funding is expected to allow Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services to expand its reach in Berlin.

The Berlin Town Council last week agreed to increase funding to Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) for the coming fiscal year to $40,000. The $5,500 in additional funds will allow WYFCS to combine two programs to serve more children.

“For this modest investment, we can almost double the size of the group,” said Steve Taylor, executive director of WYFCS.

The funding request came after Taylor and project coordinator Amanda Chaffee presented an overview of the Berlin Youth Club’s activities from the past year. The council has provided funding for the free youth club since 2011 in an effort to give local children access to educational and cultural activities when they’re not in school.

Chaffee said the program had served 38 kids in 2016. Members of the Berlin Youth Club were able to participate in swimming lessons, take field trips and work on arts and craft projects. Beyond that, they met both children and community members they might not have otherwise.

“It’s really nice that they get to meet new friends that they may not otherwise build relationships with,” Chaffee said. “It also allows them to build relationships with adults in a different setting as opposed to being at school.”

One young participant told the council that he’d joined the group as a way to get out of the house during summer vacation.

“I did not know that I’d end up having so much fun,” he said.

Mayor Gee Williams told him it was never too early to lead by example.

“You’re already playing a positive role in influencing your peers,” Williams said.

Taylor told the council that many youth club participants moved on to the WYFCS adolescent programs (SAGES and SABERS), as the youth club was meant to serve kids up to 11.

“What we’d like to do is integrate these two programs,” Taylor said. “This is our way of expanding the program and providing more services to the youth in Berlin.”

Town staff said that $34,500 had already been included in the proposed budget for the program. The council agreed to adjust the preliminary budget to provide WYFCS with $40,000 in the coming fiscal year.

The council also agreed to provide $7,500 to the Worcester County Developmental Center.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.