CHARLES TOWN The Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court continues to aggressively move forward in efforts to help the youth enrolled in the program. To that end, the first Mentor Dinner was held Dec. 4 at Paul's Restaurant in Charles Town.
Business leaders in the community have agreed to serve as mentors to the youth enrolled in the program, said Shannon Travis, probation officer. The businessmen and women were paired with a young man or woman with interests in their particular business. 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 on hand was West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin.
Greenberg explained to the youth and the guests at the dinner that the dinner sends two messages. First, he said, is that the young people in the court need to succeed.
"These people here today from the community are spending their time and effort and Justice Benjamin is coming from Charleston for no other reason than to say 'We need you to succeed.'"
Greenberg went on to say that the goal continues for the youth to build positive relationships.
"That's why you are here with these business people who all want you to succeed," Greenberg said.
Justice Benjamin congratulated the group on having the first mentor dinner in the state.
"It's great to see you talking to these mentors," Benjamin told the youth. "This program does work," he continued as he told the group that he plans to return to the Eastern Panhandle for their graduation from the program.
"If you can, and you do graduate, you can do pretty much whatever you want," Benjamin said, citing college or jobs.
The participants in the drug court program range in age from 10-17, although Greenberg says most participants have been between 14 and 17. These youth 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 Panera Bread, Chick-Fil-A and Martin's Grocery.