Protecting Our Children: Citizen Volunteers Use Inventive Means to Round-up Resources for Kids in Juvenile Court System

4/10/2008

NOTE: National County Government Week is April 6-12. This year’s theme is: Protecting Our Children. This is the first of a multi-part series that examines how Pinal County Government works to protect and serve the children in the county.

FLORENCE- In her job with Pinal County, Debbie Limon-Madrid works with fifth through eighth grade students on drug, tobacco and alcohol education. Her volunteer service with the Community Advisory Board (CAB) is almost an extension of her day job.

Limon-Madrid along with Yolanda Najera Ewing, Tony Rascon, Manuel Ruiz, Amy Gonzalez, John Hernandez, Carson McWilliams, Carol Rexroat, Vanessa Mendoza and Erica Compton volunteer their free time with the county’s Juvenile Court System as members of the Community Advisory Board.

Making a difference in the life of a child is what the CAB is all about. Although the children they serve are in the Juvenile Court system, Limon-Madrid and the other volunteers feel that it’s important to give the kids a chance at success.

“Kids in the juvenile justice system are seen by many as negative people,” Limon-Madrid said. “These kids sometimes have a lack of education and they are less secure in their environment. I like being their voice. Sometimes people need help and don’t know how to ask for it. I like being able to get them the help they most definitely need.”

In an effort to bring activities to those inside the Juvenile Detention Center, the CAB has worked tirelessly to obtain everything from gym equipment to music instruments for the children.

“Some of musical instruments were gathered through our posting on Craigslist,” Limon-Madrid recalled. “We wrote about the people and the program on the internet message board. The next thing you know, we started receiving calls from people who wanted to donate. Word of mouth started to spread about the program and we picked up even more instruments.”

Donations included a Fender guitar and amplifier along with a keyboard, saxophone, clarinet and a harmonica.

But the making of a band wasn’t complete.

The Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Casa Grande provided an additional $1,000 to purchase even more equipment to help get the music program get off the ground. Other local residents have offered their time to help teach the kids how to play the instruments they have on hand.

“We’ve had people call asking how to become a volunteer,” Limon-Madrid said. “The potential volunteers have to pass a strict process such as background checks to get into the system. It’s important that we help to bring the kids knowledge to see the value of these activities. Give them an opportunity to see into they could be if they keep a positive attitude on life.”

Music is not the only activity the CAB is successful in bringing the youth inside the Juvenile Detention Center. The group has partnered with the Copper Basin YMCA in Queen Creek to bring exercise equipment to the Youth Justice Center. The partnership has resulted in a donation of equipment valued at $17,000.

“Actually, when I first got the call I thought it was $7,000 of equipment,” she said. “When I went to see the equipment, I was amazed! That equipment is immaculate. I was told it is actually worth $17,000. Everyone was trained to properly use the equipment.”

Limon-Madrid was quick to praise the people who have helped the program as members of the community who want to make a difference in the lives of children.

“These are people who are not looking at what they are going to gain. They are looking to do something positive for the community. It makes me happy to know that there are people who are like that.”

Working in conjunction with Juvenile Court Officials, the CAB works to ensure that Juvenile Court practices continue to reflect the best interests of you, families, victims and the community.

“Our Juvenile Probation Director Diane McGinnis has built a dedicated staff,” Limon-Madrid said. “They bring so much wealth and knowledge to the programs. Their main goals are the kids and their health and welfare.”

For more information on the Community Advisory Board please call (520) 866-7065.

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CAB Extra Notes:
For the past 6 months The CAB has been collecting books for the Restorative Justice Center. The outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous. The CAB has had so many donations and books and some that 12-17 year olds really can't use. The CAB will be at Florence Heritage Days on Saturday April 19 selling the donated books and all of the proceeds from that sale will go to purchase new and appropriate books and materials to the Restorative Justice Center.

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