By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Jan. 25, 2018) Nonprofit Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services continues to provide enriching programs for young people in Berlin.
Worcester Youth Executive Director Stephen Taylor and youth program coordinator Austin Piccarreta gave a summary of recent activities during a Berlin Council meeting, Monday.
“Worcester Youth and Family … provides youth with programs and activities for kids age 6-14,” Taylor said. “We do a variety of things with them that are going to help promote their self-esteem, give them experiences that they might not experience otherwise, foster team building and give them the confidence that they need to have a bright and promising future.
“If we want our businesses and social atmosphere to be as strong as it can be, we need to invest in our children, and that’s exactly what we do,” he added.
Taylor said recent activities included trips to Jolly Roger and Assateague State Park in July, and Altitude Trampoline Park, the Salisbury Zoo and Frontier Town Water Park in August.
Children in the program participated in town events like the Fiddler’s Convention in September, Oktoberfest in October and the Christmas parade in December. They also volunteered during a Giving Tuesday event in November, helping to feed needy people at a community dinner and delivering meals to those who were homebound.
Girls in the SAGES program led the first “Chalk the Walk” event in Berlin in October, writing positive messages on town sidewalks.
The Christmas Spirit Campaign, hosted by volunteers from Ocean City Young Professionals, included 22 children from Worcester Youth programs. Children were given $100 to shop for themselves, family and friends for the holidays.
“It was truly an amazing experience,” Taylor said. “These kids, when they get the $100 and go to the store, they’re not looking for gifts for themselves – they want to buy gifts for their mom or a brother or sister.
“A lot of kids who have few challengers are more self-centered, I think … than kids who don’t have as much,” he continued. “When they see others around them who are sad because they can’t have something they want, they have that desire, that strength, to try and get it for them. We witnessed that during the Christmas Spirit Campaign and it truly is a good feeling when you see kids that want to care for others.”
Taylor said partnerships were essential for the programs at Worcester Youth, naming Berlin Police and Baked Dessert Café owner Robin Tomaselli as particularly indispensable.
Tomaselli, he said, accompanied the children on several trips and taught healthy cooking classes. Members of the Berlin Police, including Chief Arnold Downing, also went on several trips and spoke with the children on a number of occasions.
“We can’t do it without everyone,” Taylor said. “The investment that we put in is small compared to the overall investment that the community puts into these programs and these children.”
Several councilmembers took the occasion to compliment Taylor and Worcester Youth.
“Thank you for your work, thank you for the work of your organization, and thank you for your leadership,” Councilman Dean Burrell said. “Each year it is a pleasure for me to hear about all the work you all do.”
Burrell said he knew many children who participated in Worcester Youth programs.
“They always talk positive and they always have fun – and they even learn some stuff too,” he said. “Just keep it up.”
Councilman Elroy Brittingham said he sees many of the Worcester Youth participants on a daily basis.
“I wonder what these kids would be doing if they were not in these programs,” he said. “I thank you and I thank your organization for doing all the things that you do for the youth.”
Councilman Zack Tyndall said he was greatly impressed when meeting several of the participants during the Giving Tuesday event.
“Thank you for the service you provide,” he said. “They’re great young kids.”
Councilman Thom Gulyas has owned a business in town since 1985 and has been able to watch Worcester Youth grow, he said.
“It’s amazing what you have done with the resources that you have available to you,” he said. “We should all be so successful.”
Mayor Gee Williams said Worcester Youth programs nurtured children, gave them opportunities and helped them grow as people.
“Not every kid has the opportunity to have these qualities be nurtured – and that’s what you’re doing,” Williams said. “I think all of us are saying, in our way, we’re very grateful for Worcester Youth and Family Services.”