BERLIN — When the Town engaged Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) to run its youth programs it got much more than it expected. The original plan had been to hire a person at a $24,000 salary to help coordinate youth activities for the town. When WYFCS director Teresa Fields showed up and asked the Town to contract the local non-profit the Council was a bit skeptical but in the end relented.
The primary condition was the WYFCS make quarterly presentations demonstrating what they have been doing with the funding and how they will use it in the coming weeks. After the most recent presentation the Council voted to extend the contract two more years. The extension was structured to line up with the annual budget process so that WYFCS would eventually have their funding in step with the rest of the Town programs and employees.
Fields told the Mayor and Council that WYFCS provided in-kind support and matched dollar for dollar the $24,000 the town provided.
Fields and Stefanie Gordy, current program administrator, told the Mayor and Council that the fall programs had gone even better than expected and that they would be tweaked somewhat to make better use of both the amount of funding available and the participants’ interest.
WYFCS ran an after school club Monday-Thursday from 2:45-5 p.m. that provided homework help, a healthy snack, and amount of physical activity and a craft. Although the program was popular, attendance increased significantly day that the schools were closed.
This could partially have been related to increased demand from families who therwise had the afterschool aspect of their lives in check or the enticement of the field trips the WYFCS was able to secure for these days.
“We have been able to take 14 trips, many of which were donated by philanthropic business owners,” Fields said.
In the coming year, the hope is to expand the program in such a way as to refocus the efforts to include more days when school is closed, possible at the expense of some of the after school projects.
Fields also told the Mayor and Council that Gordy, who had been running the program in addition to her regular duties, would be phased out as administrator of the Berlin program and replaced by the newly-hired Melody Windsor. Windsor was engaged with the specific aim of having her take over as the Youth Coordinator.
Williams thanked the WYFCS representatives for their presentation and for their continuing hard work on the project.
“This is something that will pay dividends well beyond out lifetime,” he said.