Thanks in large part to federal funding obtained for the agency by Senator Bernie Sanders, Youth Services' very successful Brattleboro Drop-In Night "The Junction" has now been replicated in Bellows Falls at the Bellows Falls Boys & Girls Club at 12 Church Street every Wednesday night from 6 to 9 p.m.
The Brattleboro night started with 20 attendees and has since grown to an average of 41 participants each week between the ages of 15 to 21.
According to Youth Services organizer in Bellows Falls, Ruston Mitchell, the youth he is targeting are not typically members of the Club and are not required to join in order to attend the Wednesday night events at the club which are hosted by Youth Services.
"This often hard-to-reach population has shown through their enthusiasm that they are hungry for more than the free meal," Mitchell said. "Local youth are eager for activities that are not only fun, safe, and substance free, but that will support them in realizing their full potential as individuals and community members."
Mitchell describes the drop-in night as a chance for youth to participate in life skills and livelihood development trainings which are incorporated into the mix of healthy activities already available at the club.
Upcoming Wednesday night discussions or activities may include martial arts, diversity and gender issues, and the dangers of substance abuse. A Pool Tournament is planned Jan. 27 and a Valentine's Day Party is scheduled for Feb. 10.
Community members who have an expertise to share are encouraged to contact Youth Services.
The federal dollars are being used for staffing, space rental, and a few of the hot meals cooked and served by youth who attend, while most other program costs are supported by local donations.
If community members want to find out how to be a part of this important work with our youth, please call 463-9927 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org.