A Juvenile Court Reaches Out to the Community

juvenile-court-outreach_community-gatheringBlue skies, a beautiful park and live music set the stage for the 3rd Annual Community Awareness Fair we hosted on Saturday, June 27, 2009. The Juvenile Office in Greene County, Missouri organizes this event to connect youth and families with local resources. The fair also allows us to expand beyond the walls of the courtroom and detention center, and into the community.

We want other agencies to broaden their understanding of our office as well. There were roughly 30 vendors present at the fair this year, including Job Corps, Jordan Valley Dental Clinic, Springfield Conservation, the local Health Department, the United States Navy, Vocational Rehabilitation, Pregnancy Care Center, Parents as Teachers, Parenting Life Skills, youth outreach programming, and substance abuse treatment providers. Lots of great opportunities for networking!
Marilyn Gibson, who directs Reclaiming Futures for Greene County, was pleased that “the Community Awareness Fair was able to educate parents and youth about drug-free activities and services in our community," with assistance from the initiative. Despite the 105-degree heat on the 27th, we were able to serve around 350 youth and parents during the fair.  Thank GOD for bottled water, flavored ice, and a fountain for the kids to play in!
The fair was covered by a local paper, the Springfield News Leader. (I'd link to the story, but it's no longer available for free.) A parent who attended left the following comment on the paper's website:

"There were a lot of organizations there, from after-school programs to support/advocacy organizations for kids with mental health issues. We found lots of useful information. A big thank-you to the Juvenile Office for doing this!"

These kind words were very refreshing to read as I tended my sunburn and the blisters on my feet the day after. A lot of energy goes into organizing and planning the fair. Dozens of Juvenile Office staff, youth volunteers and community partners make our Fair successful each year. Without them it wouldn’t be possible, and that big thank-you went a long way. 
Shawn Billings, M.S., serves as the Probation & Field Services Supervisor for the Juvenile Office in Greene County, MO, as well as its Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Justice Fellow. He has worked with youth and families in the juvenile justice field for nearly 10 years.

Updated: August 04 2009