Volunteers help mentor youth offenders at CDCR facilities
By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer
It was a day of celebration for the men and women who volunteer their time for the juvenile offenders at N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (YCF).
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP), so the foster grandparents, teachers, staff and youth gathered in the N.A. Chaderjian YCF gymnasium to honor their accomplishments.
“Our grandparents are priceless, and have hearts of gold, and we love you,” said N.A. Chaderjian YCF Superintendent Erin Brock. “This is your day so enjoy it.”
FGP volunteers serve a critical role at N.A. Chaderjian YCF and O.H. Close YCF. The seniors sit in the school classrooms and encourage students to pay attention to the teacher. They also provide some direct assistance with schoolwork and homework.
FGP volunteers also share in free-time activities such as games, conversation or just listening.
“During this time the Foster Grandparent (FG) is acting as a positive role model, helping the youth and teaching them to relate to others in a positive manner and to set goals for themselves,” explained former FGP Administrator Paul Woodward.
During the celebration, event coordinator Jay Gibbs introduced the foster grandparents while some of the juvenile offenders from N.A. Chaderjian YCF escorted them to their seats.
There was a slideshow presentation with the youth interviewing the seniors, and asking them a variety of questions.
“What is your favorite time of year?” one youth asked.
“Graduation day, because I saw you come in with so many things going on in your lives,” one of the foster grandparents said. “But in the end you accomplished something wonderful in your life.”
Another youth asked, “What makes you come here and volunteer your time for us?”
“I never had children of my own, so I get a lot of satisfaction just being around you young men, and watching you grow and mature,” said another foster grandparent.
Some of the selected youth also danced for the large crowd, with the foster grandparents joining in, swaying to the music of the Temptations.
There were also a few of the youth who sang or read poems they’d written in dedication of the volunteers and their contributions.
As the festivities wound down, each foster grandparent was given a commemorative plaque, and recognized for their years of service and dedication to enhancing and enriching the lives of the youth.