TYS stories

Second Chances

Jenny Hodge
Executive Director, Tidewater Youth Services Foundation
Resident of Portsmouth

27 March 2020

If I’m being honest, prior to my tenure at Tidewater Youth Services, my experience with youth in the juvenile justice system was confined to movies.

The images Hollywood created for my generation included Shia LaBeouf in Holes or Dwayne Johnson in Gridiron Gang (I know, technically inspired by a true story but still dramatized). I think it is fair to say my knowledge of the juvenile justice system was fairly incomplete.

Yet, I do know that all youth deserve second chances. Or third. Or however many chances they need at getting things right.

Youth who are at-risk or already court-involved are no exception. 

Working with the youth, families, and staff at Tidewater Youth Services has taught me that the juvenile justice system can be both challenging and rewarding.

Working with the youth, families, and staff at Tidewater Youth Services has taught me that the juvenile justice system can be both challenging and rewarding. It is hard to read the statistics about juvenile justice and not be overwhelmed with the needs our local youth have in their lives. It is hard to watch a youth make the “wrong” choice in life and witness the resulting consequences affect their family, friends, and community. For a case manager, it is devastating to hear a former clients name mentioned on the evening news or local paper. 

Yet, it is inspiring to watch a youth and their family have a break through during their family counseling session. It is hopeful to participate in efforts to curb the effects of the school to prison pipeline or the over representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system.  It is fun to watch a court-involved youth expand their horizons by doing new things, like crabbing, participating in a cooking demonstration, design a comic book, or going on a charter fishing boat. For a case manager, it is the best feeling to see a youth accomplish goal, after goal, after goal as they work for their second chance. 

Tidewater Youth Services is in the business of creating second chances for any youth by nurturing potential, creating opportunities, and instilling hope. 

As many times as it takes. 

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