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Service Agency Warned Not to Rest on Laurels

November 03, 1998|ANN CONWAY

Expect violent crime in Orange County--down 6% last year--to stay low for as much as five more years, Orange County Sheriff-elect Mike Carona told business and community leaders.

That was the good news.

"The bad news," Carona said last week at the Center Club in Costa Mesa, was the next wave of violent crime would be committed by children of the "baby-boomer generation--the largest mass of humanity ever to hit American soil."

Carona was a keynote speaker at a breakfast celebrating the 25th anniversary of Community Service Programs, a nonprofit agency in Irvine that serves youths, adults and families who are at risk of becoming involved with the justice system.

"Those of us in law enforcement know the vast majority of crimes are committed by males between the ages of 16 and 25," Carona said. "And my generation--the baby boomers--committed crimes at a greater rate than any group before us. The good news is we're no longer in that age group. But we had kids--members of the 'echo boomer generation'--the second largest mass of humanity ever to hit American soil. They [will constitute] the next crime wave."

What that means to organizations such as Community Service Programs is that working with at-risk youth will continue to be of major importance, Carona said. "At CSP, you invest time, energy, effort and money in youth and you change the future. You can either put a child through school or put an adult through state prison. The choice is ours."

Through programs that provide family counseling, victim assistance, shelter, child abuse prevention and dispute resolution, Community Service is a resource for the justice system.

"Our primary goal has always been to divert people from the justice system or serve the justice system," CSP executive director Margot R. Carlson said. "We claim to be the first diversion program in Orange County."

Community Service Programs--originally Youth Services Program--was established in 1972 as a field-study project for students at UC Irvine. At the time, new prevention-intervention strategies--as outlined by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice--favored treating families of adolescents involved in minor offenses to prevent them from committing more serious crimes.

The program was so successful that it received federal funding and began to provide youth diversion counseling in police departments throughout the county. Additional programs--such as victim/witness assistance and dispute resolution services--emerged in response to the needs of the justice system.

In 1973, the program joined the nonprofit sector to avoid overhead fees charged by the university on grants it received from the government, said CSP founder Arnold Binder, a professor and dean of social ecology at UCI.

Binder chalked up the organization's success--about 50,000 people are assisted annually--to its ability to please both ends of the political spectrum: "Human services are respected by the right because they're nongovernmental, and by the left because they don't generate a profit," he said.


Humanitarian Awards: Laguna Shanti will honor show biz icons Carol Channing and Rita Moreno for their humanitarian efforts on behalf of people with AIDS on Nov. 22 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel. As if that weren't enough star power, singer Davis Gaines will provide the entertainment. Scott Morrow, a Los Angeles producer, booked the celebs for a nominal cost, Laguna Shanti executive director Sarah Kasman said.

"Morrow also negotiated with the Ritz to provide suites for the stars while they're in town." Tickets are $200 each. For information: 949-494-1446.


Saluting Women: Hundreds of luncheon-goers applauded the winners of the annual Clara Barton Spectrum Awards at a benefit last week for the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Honored at the Irvine Marriott for their service to the community were:

* Adriana Perez of Santa Ana, for service to youth. Perez, a high school student, is a dancer with the St. Joseph Ballet.

* Janice Smith of Laguna Beach, for service in the arts. Smith is supporter of the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and the Pacific Symphony.

* Gloria McDonough of Westminster, for educational service. McDonough is director of Abrazar in Westminster, a nonprofit organization that provides educational and social services for senior citizens and low-income families.

* Engrid Matthews of Newport Beach, for environmental service. Matthews is a volunteer coordinator for the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach.

* Nancy Katherine Clark of Newport Beach, and Clark & Associates Alternative Sentencing Programs of Newport Beach, winner of the group award. Clark founded the Recovery Center--with locations in Anaheim and Costa Mesa--a residential treatment facility for drug and alcohol offenders.

* Sandra Landry of Huntington Beach, for service in health care. Landry is an administrator of the Health and Wellness Program for the Orange County Department of Education.

* Myldred Jones of Los Alamitos, for humanitarian work. Jones founded the Casa Youth Shelter for runaway youth in Los Alamitos.

* Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine of Laguna Beach, for the Elizabeth Dole Glass-Ceiling Award. Sonenshine is the only woman to sit on Orange County's 4th District Court of Appeal.

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