Youth program presented to community


TORRINGTON – WyoHelp and the Torrington Police Department are working together to create a new youth alternatives program in Goshen County, but they need help. 

On Wednesday, members of the community met at 21st and Main for a “Torrington Business Breakfast” where Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson and WyoHelp Executive Director Kyle Borger gave presentations on alternative youth programs. 

Johnson gave an overview of the program and what the goal is. Johnson said the current program saw the same kids coming in each week with no visible growth which was causing frustration.

“Out of that frustration we really just started to look for what’s the best fit,” Johnson said. “How do we find a way to intentionally engage in kids’ lives that we see starting to struggle before they go down such a level that they’re hard to save.” 

Johnson said it is important to inspire change in one’s life as a kid as they are more likely to go down the right path than if it happens later on as an adult. 

According to Johnson, there are five services which have the biggest impact on youth in the county: restorative justice, community service, homework club (academic engagement), mental health resources, and mentor programs. Johnson said mentoring might be the most critical aspects of the program. 

“As we look at some of these kiddos that are struggling, they have no idea what it looks like to function outside of addiction. They have no idea what it looks like to function with someone who cares about them 100% of the time and wants them to be successful,” Johnson said. “I really believe that if we can engage kids with community mentors that can hear about them and help them to be successful long-term… we hope that those relationships will carry on in the future.” 

Johnson said the big picture will be other community services such as DFS, law enforcement, and the courts collaborating with the youth alternatives coordinator connecting kids to one of the services. 

Borger talked to the audience about the financial side of the program. Borger said Wyo Help was changed from Goshen Help because they work with five other counties. Combining six counties allows for larger grants and more staff. 

Borger also said community action is a way for the community to support the program and WyoHelp. 

“Community action is inviting our community to be part of the process. To be a part of discussing how we should do it, what it should look like, and how were going to pull in the resources to make it work,” Broger said. 

Having a large base of community support allows for more grants. Broger said is about involving as many people as possible, and still making it work. 

Broger also announced Sandra Schultz will be the coordinator. 

In terms of funding, Borger said they are raising funds for next year in order to take the staff’s focus off of worrying about if they will get paid each month. The current draft budget is set at $75,000. 

“I have to make sure it doesn’t impact WyoHelp as a whole. So, the 75,000 that I’m asking you for is on top of all the rest of the funds that we need for WyoHelp,” Broger said. 

The total amount Broger is looking to raise is around $165,000 which is just for Goshen County.  

The breakfast served as a way for community members to see the new youth alternatives program, and how they can help. 

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