Youth at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility raised more than $850 for the Red Cross.

By Karette Fussell, PIO
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Students and graduates at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) donated to the American Red Cross to aid on-going, large scale hurricane relief and the recent earthquake disaster in Mexico.

The Sept. 19 earthquake in Mexico caused the collapse of more than 40 buildings, killing 370 people and injuring more than 6,000.

The youth, on their own accord, spearheaded a donation drive. They are also members of the Student Council Committee at Mary B. Perry High School, located at VYCF.

Many of the youth have jobs and are attending school or have graduated and are working full time. Youth are paid from jobs available at VYCF to receive vocational experience, an important part of their rehabilitative programming and fundamental to the Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model (IBTM). This model drives treatment, education and training at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and heavily emphasizes positive reinforcement to assist youth in developing pro-social behavior and better decision making skills with the overarching goal of enhancing public safety and reducing recidivism.

Selflessly reaching out and lending a helping hand to assist others in need reflects the growth, maturity and positive decision making skills essential to being productive members of society. The offenders at VYCF are demonstrating they are poised for a bigger, brighter and better future through helping others by paying it forward, raising $852.93 from a population of 174 youth.

Staff are seen as our greatest resource at VYCF, often going beyond their assigned duties to assist youth with innovative projects encompassing the principles of restorative justice like donating to the Red Cross.

Teachers Annette Raschke-Tussey, John Johnson and Bruce McGowan and Parole Agent Robin Kamara were highly instrumental in facilitating the youths’ efforts in this successful fund raising venture. They offered support, guidance and encouragement. Members of the Student Council Committee shared the following sentiments regarding their motivation behind their fund raising efforts:

Angel A.: “During this holiday season, I am reminded of how often I am the recipient of gifts from various organizations. I know how grateful I was to receive these gifts and soon, I longed to have the opportunity to give back to those in need. When I learned of the hurricane Harvey and the earthquake in Mexico, I was happy to give what I could to help others especially during such a difficult time in their lives.”

Jessica B: “I want the victims of the hurricane and earth quake disasters to know that we are here for them. Not only are they in our thoughts and prayers but we can donate money to help purchase the supplies they need and I was happy to be able to help out.”

Oscar C.: “I saw that people were without hope and in need. It was important to me to donate to such a noteworthy cause. It made me feel good to have an opportunity to give back to society. “

Belva E.: “To give back to those in need means to have hope, to feel supported, and to be encouraged from the monetary support of others. It shows the victim’s that someone cares and reminds the world of the importance of giving.”

Matthew G.: “It is important to help those in need, especially during a crisis or catastrophe. It makes me feel good to give back to society.”

Veronica G.: “When I first heard about the earthquake in Mexico, I immediately thought of my family and I reached out to them and learned that they were okay thank God. I then shifted my focus on others who were directly impacted by the earthquake and knew I had to respond by donating money to help them out no matter how small the amount. I truly believe that every little bit donated helps out.”

Eduardo H.: “I am motivated to give because I have empathy for the victims’ of natural disasters. I can relate to what they are going through and just knowing that someone cares and there are resources available, provides hope to many.”

Makenzie M.: “It means a lot to know that I can help someone by donating money. It feels good to offer support and resources to those in need.”

Rodkei R.: “I understand tragedies occur and I know how it feels to be a victim of circumstances beyond your control. It is during these times of tragedy, people recognize their loss and I am grateful to be in a position to provide resources and encouragement to them during their hour of need.”