*Please note: Personal names in this story have been changed to protect identity.
The chances of Wayne committing a juvenile offense were high that spring. The weather was warm and the teens were just “hanging out” killing time. It was a simple act, just something to do for fun. The fun was short lived and the situation quickly escalated out of control. Juvenile court became involved and handed down a sanction of $500.00 restitution. This meant 69 hours of community service to pay for damages. It was going to be a long summer for Wayne.
Timing really is everything. A local county government agency was looking for an assistant for the summer. They called our Community Service and Restitution program staff just on the chance that we might have a youth who could handle being in a real office environment, performing real office tasks. At that time, we hadn’t received a referral for anyone we felt would fit the bill. Word was that there was a pending referral in the pipeline for a 15 year old that would be able to rise to the challenge. That 15 year old was Wayne. It would be a waiting game for all involved.
Not long afterward, our office received the referral. Meetings were arranged and before long Wayne was going to the county office four days a week from 8:30 until 12:30. Expectations were understandably high – arrive on time, dress appropriately, perform all jobs that were assigned and act like a professional employee each day. Jobs included filing, organizing, meeting with commissioners, fieldwork with government employees, and computer work. In fact, the county office had been planning to implement the computer work for years, but hadn’t been able to get it off the ground. With Wayne’s help, they were able to accomplish work they’d never been able to fulfill and one that made a huge difference in their office record keeping. Wayne created efficient workflows so that the work would be more organized and intuitive; a system that is still in use even after Wayne had finished his hours.
Wayne went beyond meeting all expectations. Success was documented by his supervisor in a glowing letter of recommendation. To top it off, Wayne received an offer for paid employment beginning this summer.
When asked to reflect on his experience, Wayne stated, “This was a learning experience for me. It made me think about what I do everyday and about how I make decisions because while I was working this summer, I had to make decisions every day – decisions that really made a difference.” Clearly Wayne’s insight and his positive outcomes demonstrate a resounding vote of confidence in someone who needed that second chance.
CIS CC’s Community Service and Restitution Program provides juveniles, ages 10-17, who have committed a non-violent crime, a way to pay back their community by serving work hours at approved sites such as our community Youth Garden. To learn more about this program, please contact Gwen Overturf at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919.663.0116, extension 406.