Drug Court hosts second mentor dinner
The Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court hosted their second annual Mentor Dinner on Dec. 4 at Paul’s Restaurant in Charles Town.
This year, members of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle’s Emerging Young Leaders will serve as mentors to the youth enrolled in the program, said Shannon Travis, probation officer. The mentors joined their youth partner at dinner where they conversed about common interests and how the mentor can help encourage and guide the youth in various areas. The mentors will, in a complete voluntary capacity, continue to have contact with the youth with which they have been paired.
The goal of the program continues with the goal of the drug court program as a whole, to instill positive attitudes and a focus on completing the court program.
The program, begun in 2012, has a mission stating: “Through judicial accountability, the Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court works to reduce juvenile substance abuse and delinquent acts through a collaborative community effort and with supportive programs of intervention that work toward eliminating substance use and related problems of our area youth and their families.”
Speaking at the dinner was Judge David P. Greenberg, who has developed the program and continues to serve as the judge each week during court appearances. Also speaking to the group was United Way representative Tiffany Lawrence and West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin.
Greenberg told the young folks to pay attention to the theme of this year’s progrma: “Invest in Yourself.” He said that by showing up each week, the participants are showing their desire to invest in themselves.
Travis expressed appreciation to the mentors and the community at large.
“This community is so receptive to this program and these mentors show that,” she said. She expressed that having a mentor is a blessing and encouraged each of the drug court participants to take advantage of the opportunity.
Lawrence explained what the Emerging Young Leaders program involves and encouraged the youth to work toward serving in that capacity as a young business professional in the future. She explained that each of the members of the program contribute financially and volunteer in a variety of ways via community service projects such as the mentor program.
Justice Benjamin, who once again drove from Charleston to take part in the dinner, shared, “I brag about this dinner all around the state.”
He encouraged the young people to keep working toward graduating the program and moving forward in a positive way in their lives.
John Clinton, one of the mentors for this year, spoke briefly sharing that he has been in the shoes of the young people in the room.
“I shouldn’t be here,” he said. “You don’t know the road if you continue this path,” he stressed. “I’ve seen it; I’ve lived it.”
He went on to say, “I never thought I could make a change in someone’s life.” Being involved as a mentor is providing that possible opportunity.
The youth in the drug court sprogram demonstrate substance abuse or high risk for abuse and are charged or can be charged with any nonviolent misdemeanor or felony crime where underlying substance abuse may be a factor or who are substance abuse offenders. The juveniles in the program are referred by the court or possibly the school system and must be accepted into the four-phase program. The youth and parents meet each week for Drug Court where they take part in counseling sessions and then enjoy a meal as they did Thursday.
For those who wish to find out more information about the Juvenile Drug Court, contact Travis at 304-728-1973.
Several businesses contributed to the success of the dinner, including City National Bank who sponsored the meal. Other contributors included Chick-Fil-A and Martin’s Grocery, among others.