One of the powerful ways people like you can help CJR’s young people is by enabling us to provide many different options to reach kids who are in trouble and to draw them towards a different path.
For 16-year old Trevor, that meant piglets in the middle of the night.
Before he came to CJR, Trevor had helped out on a farm in northwest Connecticut. Unfortunately, his home and family life were not good, and Trevor began to abuse drugs and alcohol. He got into trouble with the court system and was sent to CJR’s boys’ residential program in Litchfield.
The goal of all our programs, which serve approximately 1,800 CT young people every year, is to help each child change directions and begin to develop in a positive way.
This would be easy if all of our kids were the same.
They are not, of course. Each child comes to us from a different situation. And their strengths, weaknesses and interests are all unique.
With the generous contribution of many individuals, businesses and foundations that support CJR, we can provide many options for kids like Trevor.
In Trevor’s case, classroom work and “book learning” had always been a struggle. But if you had ever seen him cleaning barns and caring for the animals on our farm, you would know it’s not from any lack of willingness to work hard.
When Trevor’s classroom work was combined with opportunities to work on the farm, this incentive helped him focus on his schoolwork.
For some boys and girls, if we said “Get your homework done and you can help feed the cows,” it would have meant nothing. On the other hand, if you told Trevor that when he was done with his homework, he could work on building a cabinet, or restoring a car, he wouldn’t have been motivated.
That’s why the strength-based opportunities we offer – with generous support from people like you – are so important to our students.
Each year, on our working farm, students help raise animals, grow hay, and harvest nearly three dozen different crops. Last year, we began a fish farm for the first time ever. As spring progresses, we’ll welcome new calves, baby goats, hatching chicks ... and many adorable piglets.
Every student in our vocational agriculture program learns valuable lessons – such as how planting something with patience today can lead to a harvest tomorrow. And the responsibility of caring for another life – especially a baby animal – can be transformational. At CJR, some pretty tough street kids become amazingly nurturing when caring for animals!
Trevor became such an indispensable helper that our farm manager would ask him to assist whenever new farm babies were expected – whether new calves, baby goats or a litter of piglets – Trevor could always be counted on to work hard and responsibly.
It meant so much to Trevor to be valued in this way. For the first time in his life, he was the one needed in a pinch.
The teachers and counselors who worked directly with Trevor still maintain that if it weren’t for the vocational agriculture program, we might not have been able to reach this young man and turn him around.
When he was ready to leave us and go back home, Trevor told us the farm was “The best part of being at CJR!”
And before he left our program, a farmer in his hometown offered him a part-time job!
We’re very hopeful for this young man, and one thing is sure: The skills and emotional maturity he gained at CJR will help him over a lifetime! Click here to learn more about CJR’s Vocational Agriculture Program and some of the projects our students are involved in throughout the year.