Roeshone Scott, a GPA risk management technician, is doing her part to help troubled youth by investing her time in children at the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center. The YDC is a secure short-term facility for youth sentenced by juvenile courts.
Working with the Center’s Advisory Council, Scott encourages members of the community and family to develop relationships that provide future direction for the residents of the YDC.
“We’ve all faced challenges in our lives, like some of these children who’ve hit a bump in the road,” Scott said. “We come in as ministers, mentors and motivators to help them regroup. We affirm each person there, not necessarily their behavior. We show them they’re valuable — we don’t discard them.”
Scott has been volunteering with the Center for 14 years and said she always had a heart for youth that are considered at-risk. She first become involved with the outreach opportunity through her church, Living Hope Community Fellowship in Savannah. In addition to serving on the Council, Scott also volunteers at the facility on the second Saturday of each month.
Scott’s work and the work of other dedicated volunteers is paying off. One of her students recently graduated from a Chatham County high school and is now attending vocational school. Another earned his high school diploma after being transferred to an Atlanta facility and one young woman went back to high school after her release and is now taking college courses. Some former residents have even returned to workshops at the Center, encouraging others to steer clear of risky situations.
“There have been several cases where young people have stopped me in the street and told me that volunteers’ involvement has made a difference in their lives,” Scott said.
Scott gives the staff at the YDC credit for being on the front lines of some of society’s most difficult issues. She said Advisory Council volunteers are guided by Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Nile’s vision and goals — one of which focuses on successful re-entry programs.
“We want every child to be able to re-enter the community as a positive citizen,” Scott said. “We’ve had a great response, with more young people making better choices and learning to stay away from negative situations and negative friends. We just want to let the kids know we appreciate them.”
One way Scott’s group facilitates successful re-entry is by connecting residents to a diverse community of mentors. Scott said having others show interest in residents’ lives makes all the difference.
“We can restore hope, reshape destinies and rewrite the stories of those who have been impeded by the chains of delinquency,” Scott said.
Throughout the year, the Center hosts events that allow mentors and volunteers to further connect with residents. Life skills training workshops, career fairs, a spring festival and Christmas banquet provide opportunities to interact one-on-one.
The events require residents to work together to create decorations, escort guests and showcase their talents. Successful volunteers from all walks of life are paired with residents during these events. They are seated next to each other and talk about interests and life in general.
These interactions are often the key to changing the trajectory of a troubled child’s life. As for her involvement, Scott said she was inspired by the words of the late Rev. Billy Graham — that each person is responsible for reaching someone else.
And Scott has advice for those interested in volunteering in a similar capacity.
“It starts with an open mind, a sincere heart and ears to listen,” she said.