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As the clock strikes 9:30 a.m., approximately 60 middle school students are quiet and attentive.
It’s Monday, July 30, at the Flagler County Youth Center — the last Monday of summer camp and about two weeks until school starts.
But it wasn’t a quiet summer for Cheryl Massaro, director of the Flagler County Youth Center, who reads over the agenda for the week.
Summer camp is just another way Massaro has helped keep Flagler County’s youth out of trouble.
‘Kids are kids’
Massaro, 58, of Palm Coast, has been in education since she graduated college — a total of about 35 years.
She started in Flagler County in 2005, when she was tasked with opening up the Flagler County Youth Center. The purpose of the facility is to act as a location where students can go after school, but before parents get home. The facility is available to any middle or high school student for free from 2 to 7 p.m. According to Massaro, the majority of juvenile crime occurs between 3 and 6 p.m., when there’s no supervision.
“They are here and they are supervised and they are safe in a comfortable environment,” Massaro said, adding that she has 140-160 students on a daily basis during the school year.
Massaro, who also directs the after-school youth center at the George Washington Carver Community Center, in Bunnell, has been the chairwoman of the Circuit 7 Juvenile Justice board for the last three years.
She was appointed July 19 by Gov. Rick Scott to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group.
“I’m excited about (the appointment),” Massaro said. “We are just volunteers to serve at the pleasure of the current governor.”
The state advisory group serves as the connecting link between the circuit juvenile justice boards and the actual secretary’s office in government.
The entire purpose, Massaro said, is to help the youth. “Kids are kids,” she said. “And unfortunately, some of them will break the law and they’ll be caught. Our job is to educate them to keep them out of trouble and find programs (diversion) ... to get them out of bad habits and bad choices so they can become contributing factors to our communities as young adults.”
Grant you this opportunity
Massaro said that through the Center for Business Excellence, the Carver Gym’s youth center was recently awarded the Road to Success grant, a $140,000-per-year grant for the next four years to provide job training for youth ages 16-21 who are either graduated or no longer enrolled.
“You’ll see a lot of these particular youth walking the streets with nothing to do,” Massaro said. “Hopefully we can positively impact their future by giving the training they need. It’s my job — I have to make this program work. ...
“I love what I do,” she said. “I’ve been working in education my entire life. ... I think that’s why I’ve been doing so well at it. If you like what you do, you’ll enjoy getting up each morning.”
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