Some of our clients are referred to us for a specific program, but most of the children we come in contact with just walk in to our Community Youth Centers. The support of our valuable donors has ensured that our Centers become a “home away from home” for many youth, a place to go instead of “hanging out” on the street or being left alone at home. These Centers are the foundation to our other programming. Our Youth Centers provide valuable services to hundreds of children from all walks of life every year. Although it is impossible for us to know how many times delinquent behavior was avoided because a child visited our centers, the research continuously proves that afterschool activities help children succeed academically, emotionally, and socially.
Our Community Youth Centers are a tool for our staff to get to know the youth and identify those kids that require more intensive help. Our work with the Center youth has allowed us to develop effective programs that address other needs. We have created many programs to address specific issues we see our youth are facing. For example, when our team noticed a lack of employment skills among youth, Middle Earth developed programs to address that need.
And sometimes, there is no ‘official’ program for the work that needs to be done. There is a small group of our Center attendees – approximately 150 children each year – who are most deprived of a warm, human connection that receive a great deal of attention and investment from our staff. Thanks to donor generosity, our team provides these kids with individual attention to address their needs, even when the Centers aren’t open, such as taking the teen to a health clinic, helping them fill out a job application, mediating their conflicts with family and friends, or providing their family a grocery gift card. Although these efforts absorb a significant amount of our time, we believe that every child deserves a strong support system. We have been that support for many teens over the last five decades, and it is these kids that stay connected to our organization for years to come, returning to tell us the wonderful things they have done with their adult lives or even returning to discuss their adult struggles, because this is a place where they always felt heard.
Every person needs a start for their success – someone who makes them feel worthy, someone who believes in them, someone who puts them on the right path. Middle Earth is that support network for youth. We step in and fill the void so that youth avoid risky behavior and realize they are capable of thoroughly succeeding in their life.