Every single program at Middle Earth offers community service – it is that important. We believe that the opportunity to help others is critical to helping a teen develop into a responsible adult. Volunteerism provides youth with an awareness of the needs of others and a sense of personal responsibility to contribute to the larger community. Research shows that teens who volunteer:
- perform better in school,
- are more able to adapt and be flexible,
- are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (drinking, drugs, sex, crime, etc.),
- gain skills and experience that colleges and employers value, and
- feel a responsibility to their community.
At Middle Earth, we have offered the following volunteer opportunities to our youth:
- creating balloon anchors for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City;
- cleaning local parks;
- helping at community events such as the Tour of Somerville;
- collecting donations for charities; and
- harvesting fresh vegetables to donate to the local food bank.
While all of our programs encourage volunteerism, we do offer one program that offers mandated community service:
Station House Adjustment Program
The Station House Adjustment (SHA) Program provides mandatory community service to first-time offenders who commit minor (petty) offenses, as a consequence for their behavior. Community service activities are always supervised and conducted within local communities, usually on Saturdays between 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The goal of this intervention is to deter youth from continuing their negative behavior and progressing further into the juvenile justice system, teaching them to take responsibility for their actions. Staff identifies the needs of the youth and his/her family and provides additional support services, if appropriate. To participate in the program, youth cannot have any prior arrests or be on Probation, must be between the ages of 9 and 18, and be a Somerset County resident.