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Getting Involved

Making A Difference : Youth Center Helping Kids for the Future

December 06, 1994|ED BOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

One of the sad things about children who grow up in group homes--placed there because of lives filled with abuse and neglect--is that many do not make it when they grow up, said Meg Sciscento, a recreational therapist with Children Are Our Future, a small and relatively new collection of group homes in the West Valley.

"This is the first time we've been able to do something about it," said Sciscento, speaking of a new Youth Enrichment Center opened up in back of one of the group's nine homes about a month ago. The new center's emancipation classes are designed to teach life skills and build confidence in the children.

Through the classes, group-home residents, can learn basic skills such as how to order gas, electricity and telephone service when they become adults. Volunteers are needed to help with other skills, including teaching the children how to fill in a job application, prepare for an interview, shop, plan a menu and cook.

"There is a horrendous amount of children that have ended up back into the system after they turned 18 because they didn't have the skills," said Sciscento, who added that many end up in jail.

Children Are Our Future has also been able to offer new programs, such as drama, in the new enrichment center. The drama program has drawn nearly half of the approximately 50 youths in the group homes. One teen-ager was such a natural actor that he was able to get into an acting workshop in Beverly Hills, Sciscento said.

She said the organization is looking for more volunteers to work with the drama program, as well as someone to teach music, art and crafts and other talents. Also needed are volunteers willing to come in to talk about their jobs and what kind of work is available.

In addition, volunteer tutors are needed to help students as young as 7 with their homework. In one of the group homes, a high school chemistry tutor especially is needed, said Sciscento.

Sciscento started as a volunteer three years ago and is now an employee overseeing weekend activities such as field trips to Knott's Berry Farm, sports programs and helping to feed the homeless in Downtown Los Angeles.

Children Are Our Future also needs donations of books, help for a holiday party scheduled Dec. 13 and gift-wrapping help on Saturday. To volunteer or for more information call (818) 709-3808 or (818) 773-8136.

A support/therapy group for women in transition is forming at the Family Service Agency of Burbank. All women are invited to join the group and to learn strategies to increase coping skills to lead more full and happy lives. Meetings will be held in the evenings. For more information call (818) 845-7671.

Volunteers are needed for the Senior Connections Program of the Family Service Agency of Burbank. Volunteers are trained and supervised by a licensed therapist to help seniors with aging issues, bereavement in individual or group counseling and other problems. The agency also provides home visitation. For training information call Nell at (818) 845-7671.

Volunteers and donations are needed by the Hospice of the Hospital Home Health Care Agency. Hospice volunteers give three to four hours a week helping the family of a terminally ill patient. For more information, call Lisa Nagy, volunteer director at (818) 785-1800.

North Hollywood-based Activities for Retarded Children needs volunteers to make occasional repairs on two houses, to read to children and help with painting. The group has volunteer counselors, a Saturday recreation program and an English hand bell choir. For more information, call Dixie or Mary at (818) 762-4365.

Getting Involved is a weekly listing of volunteering opportunities. Please address prospective listings to Getting Involved, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or fax them to (818) 772-3338.

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