Building Bridges Celebrates our 40th Anniversary
Published on April 4, 2014
2014 marks the 40th Anniversay of Building Bridges and our service to at-risk youth involved in the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. The following press release has been issued and will be published in local media outlets. Please take a minute to read the release and celebrate with us!
BUILDING BRIDGES OBSERVES 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Provides Intensive Rehabilitation For Thousands of At-Risk Youth
Dayton, Ohio – Building Bridges, a non-traditional wing of the Montgomery County probation unit, has been providing rehabilitation and case management services for at-risk youth between the ages of 9-18 since 1974. Serving 200-300 young people yearly, Building Bridges has been highly successful in working alongside the Montgomery County Juvenile Court with a “Work Therapy” program that is the Building Bridges foundation.
Providing 25+ labor or therapeutic after-school and summer activity groups weekly, Work Therapy groups offer structure, discipline, the opportunity to learn skills, a chance to give back to the community, and an incentive for appropriate behavior. Examples include serving meals at homeless shelters, training and walking dogs at the Humane Society of Dayton, interactive assistance with veterans and the elderly, cleaning schools and parks, and other community assignments.
“As a service group, our mission is to be a safety net for troubled youth by redirecting them through programming that offers discipline, structure, and a supportive environment,” explains Clearcreek Township resident Kelly Lance, Executive Director. “Our budget is incredibly small, and we depend on volunteerism and financial support from individuals and corporations,” she added. She pointed out that over 95% of donations go directly to programs helping the children.
Emphasizing their productive 40-year history, Ms. Lance points to a dramatic improvement in participant self-esteem, a lower recidivism rate, sense of achievement, and better performance at school. “We supply resources that the kids cannot get at home,” she said. She also added that Building Bridges offers services that the Montgomery County Juvenile Courts cannot offer on their own.
Illustrating the power of Building Bridges, a graduate of the program from 30 years ago, Julie Michael, notes she was 13 when she was placed there. “It was the last resort before going to the detention center in Columbus,” she recalls. Julie grew up in a single-parent home, and got in trouble with misdemeanor crimes, being out past curfew, and skipping school.
At Building Bridges, Ron Reigelsperger, Julie’s probation officer, became heavily involved with her life. “He showed me love and discipline I never had before,” Julie stated. Reporting to Building Bridges every day after school, Julie worked at such places as the Stillwater Mental Health Center, and the Humane Society to help clean out kennels. All her work involved helping the community. “This was designed to take the focus off me, and make me focus on others. It wasn’t easy being a ‘BB’ kid, but they never gave up on me,” she said.
At 15, Julie was the first girl placed into a foster home through Building Bridges. “I was fortunate to be placed with a family who loved me unconditionally, with all my baggage,” she pointed out. Today Julie owns a home in Bellbrook, where she is a volunteer fire fighter and EMT. Her journey was not easy, and she concludes that Building Bridges’ success is in “building bridges that build strong relationships! They saved my life, and I am forever grateful. To this day, I’m who I am because of them.”
Ms. Lance elaborated that Building Bridges is not well-known. One of her objectives is to increase awareness for this community resource. “We do more with less than almost any organization!” she stated. “With a little extra assistance, we can reach more kids and reach them at a younger age, helping them learn to make wise choices,” she concluded.
In addition to the Work Therapy program, Building Bridges sponsors an “Adopt A Kid” program for Christmas gift giving, a Thanksgiving meal program, and other activities. Donations are tax deductible. “Community partnership and participation is needed and can help in many areas that we serve,” Ms. Lance stresses.
Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz elaborated that Building Bridges is a marriage of public and private funding, and is unique and special. Juvenile Court Judge Tony Capizzi remarked that no other non-profit that works with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court focuses solely on the court other than Building Bridges. “It’s always been that way; simply stated, Building Bridges reduces the number of kids in detention,” he said.
Building Bridges speaks for free to businesses, churches, and organizations. For more information, contact Ms. Lance at 937-224-8907, or visit http://www.bbyouth.org.