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Secretary's Message

December 10, 2019


Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

The holiday season is a special time of celebration, where together with our friends, family and loved ones we reflect on the year and look towards the future. I want to thank our DJJ staff, providers, partners, and friends for their dedication and support of our agency this past year. DJJ has achieved great success this year which could not be accomplished without a deep commitment to provide the very best services to Florida’s youth and families. I would like to wish each and every one of you a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season and a wonderful new year.


Secretary Simone Marstiller




Staff Announcements and Kudos

it award winnerCongratulations to Jackie Suttle for being named the Agency IT Professional of the Year at the 2019 Public Sector Chief Information Officer (CIO) Academy.  Jackie was recognized for her leadership, vision, and innovation related to the agency’s Juvenile Justice Information System and other agency software applications used by DJJ employees, providers and law enforcement partners.  Congratulations Jackie on this well-deserved recognition!







Congratulations to Mike Lucas and Larry Lawrence for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for October 2019.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process.  Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.  Congratulations to you both for this deserving award!

 mike lucaslarry lawrence

Pictured above (from left to right): Mike Lucas, Systems Project Analyst, Larry Lawrence, Distributed Computer Systems Analyst.

Congratulations are in order for all the graduates of the recent Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Academy in Alachua. Two classes participated in the ceremony which was held at the Alachua Regional Service Center. The guest speaker was Gainesville Police Department (GPD) Chief Inspector Jorge Campos.  Inspector Campos shared the importance of law enforcement and DJJ working together as a team to make a difference in the lives of our youth and how committed Chief Tony Jones and GPD are to forging a successful partnership.  He touched on the history of the theory of probation, which dates back to the 1840s.  The “Father of Probation”, John Augustus, realized that under certain circumstances compassion needs to play a big role in understanding what people need to help them turn themselves around, not just judgment and penalties.


These graduates are ready to take on their role in DJJ and help youth have a brighter, successful future! 


Class #96:  Jacara Adams, Edmund Birnbryer, Joshua Colson, Bernadette Demmings, Belinda Frank, Loni Gibson, Amanda Johnson, Justa June, Royce Smith, and Catherine Wilson

Class Motto: The Ability to Give Back is the Greatest Reward


Class #92:  Clifford Chitwood, John Stepaniak, and Linnea Henry

Class Motto: Striving for Excellence through Effective Leadership

jpo graduating classes


winner gary bridgesCongratulations to Gary Bridges on his promotion to Captain at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). Captain Bridges is a 22-year veteran of Pinellas Detention and has a plethora of knowledge about the center and all of the youth it serves. Captain Bridges is known for his quick de-escalation of the youth that are acting out. Congratulations Captain Bridges, we are looking forward to your leadership and your new role!







cristy harrisCongratulations to Pinellas RJDC Food Service Director (FSD) Cristy Harris for reaching her 10 years of service with the Department. Director Harris received a wristband with two gold stars and a card thanking her for her service. Thank you Director Harris for your service to our agency and state!  





fsw sonia rodriguez and teamCongratulations to Food Service Worker Sonia Rodriguez from the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center for being awarded the Regional Employee of the Quarter for Central Region.





Congratulations to four ‘Orange Tough’ staff that received their ‘Orange Tough’ pin this quarter. The Orange Tough Award is presented to staff at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who best exemplify the toughness that is required to work at the center and exhibit the following qualities: integrity, loyalty, decisiveness, leadership, and toughness.  Anyone who works for Detention Services in the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is tough, but staff who work at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center, the largest juvenile detention center located in Florida, are “Orange Tough.”  Four staff were given the award which features a pin that can be worn on the uniform that is unique to the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center and features an orange with the word tough across it.

angela harris

Facility Training Coordinator (FTC) Angela Harris consistently trains staff that hit the floor ready to go with a positive attitude! 


luis rodriguez

Captain Luis Rodriguez, who is known around Orange RJDC for being everywhere, is always willing to help. He is a youth favorite around the building as he is in charge of behavior management.


anderson lenon

Sergeant Lenon Anderson has gone above and beyond for the detention center. He is reliable, always ready to help his shift and his staff. 


sherry barksdale

Administrative Assistant (AA) II Sherry Barksdale has been instrumental at Orange in supervising, learning, and handling HR and Fiscal duties. 


Congratulations also to the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center for recently receiving the Assistant Secretary Award for Most Improved Detention Center.  It takes a team effort to make a detention center work every day, and this is the ‘Orange Tough’ team that gets it done every day!



orange rjdc staff

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Douglas Fergerson, Major Adrian Mathena, Srgt. Raynisha Dent, Srgt. Tameka Rucker, Srgt. Stefanel Crockett, Srgt. Giovanny Rivera, Srgt. Jessica Pompey, AA I Sue Frieberg, AA II Sherry Barksdale (holding the award), MM Jose Martinez, FTC Angela Harris, Srgt. Jonathan Swift, Captain Kutina McLeod, Srgt. Hector Navarro, Captain Luis Rodriguez, Srgt. Leandra Bell, Srgt. Arica Mann, and Srgt. Lenon Anderson.


MQI Staff and Author Participates in Book Fair

gary mogan at book fairRegional Monitor Gary Mogan with the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement recently participated in the Miami Book Fair. Mr. Mogan, who is also an author, displayed several of his books at the fair, which was held on campus at Miami-Dade College.






DJJ Staff Participate in Field Trip with Elementary School Students

prevention staff and elementary youth

Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Director Christopher Goodman, Chief Dennis Hollingsworth, Matt Sauro, Jashett Omeally and Doris Strong recently attended the Pineview Elementary School Youth Exposure Field Trip to the FSU Stadium in Tallahassee.

This trip provided an amazing opportunity for the students to attend a Florida State University (FSU) vs Alabama State University (ASU) football game, the last FSU home game of the season. These students were incentivized and rewarded for their outstanding academic performance on their math assessment tests. 

Youth were treated to a tour, brunch, field passes for the pregame warm up, game tickets, and goodie bags to take home with them following the game. Many of the students indicated that this was their very first college football game experience and that they really enjoyed the festivities. One youth, who aspires to be a football player, received a glove from one of the players and plans to save it as a souvenir.

The event was organized and sponsored by the Ernie Sims Big HITS Foundation, whose mission is to “empower and strengthen youth, families, and communities through developing the body, mind, and spirit for success”.  Other sponsors were the City of Tallahassee Fire Department, the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend, and Pineview Elementary School. 

pace youth at fire stationThe girls at PACE Center for Girls, Polk recently learned about women working in the fire service in Lakeland. Students and staff from the PACE Center for Girls in Polk County visited the Lakeland Fire Department for their Women in the Fire Service Campaign, an effort to inform and inspire more women to pursue a career in the fire service. PACE is a DJJ Prevention program.

Girls were challenged with obstacles including suiting up into bunker gear and using a hydraulic rescue tool to pry open wrecked vehicles and free trapped passengers. Girls heard from one of only seven females representing Lakeland Fire about what it’s like to be a female in the firefighting industry.  The girls also had the opportunity to meet and speak with Lakeland Fire Chief Douglas E. Riley.






miami shores youth with policeDelinquency Prevention Specialist Johnny Sanders recently hosted a G.A.A.P. Discussion at Miami Shores Elementary School in Circuit 11, furthering the Office of Prevention’s work to engage, interact and present prevention initiatives to youth at an early age.

School Resource Officer T. MacNeil of the Miami-Dade County Public School Police and Officer D. Fernandez of the Village of Miami Shores Police Department shared their career and life experiences with 5th graders inside the school’s media center.

The youth asked questions and continued the information sharing, which afforded the law enforcement officers a glimpse into the experiences of youth who have access to so much technology and information.

Cyber bullying, harassment, prank phone calls/emails and violence in schools were some of the topics discussed.  A highlight of the discussion was the interactive portion when youth were sworn in as mock officers and experienced the challenge of conducting a traffic stop with disorderly, non-compliant occupants.    

Probation Youth Celebrate Thanksgiving

ami 6tampa youthSeveral AMIkids programs across the state hosted Thanksgiving luncheons recently for their youth. From AMIkids Tampa having their student government lead the event, to AMIkids Greater Ft. Lauderdale showcasing their kids’ culinary vocational training, youth and staff had a great time sharing delicious food and appreciation.

AMIkids Volusia also hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for staff and youth. They had a special visitor, State Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff, who spoke to the group and shared her support for the AMIkids mission.

Staff, youth and their families also enjoyed a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast at AMIkids Clay County. The youth had the chance to show off their vocational training skills and share their program with their families and loved ones.

ami volusiaami clay


ami youth at gaapAMIkids Orlando was honored to participate in a recent G.A.A.P. Discussion hosted at the local DJJ probation office. Working with DJJ probation officers and facilitated by Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Egan, youth engaged in a program meant to help at-risk youth and law enforcement build trust and understanding in order to help strengthen the relationship between the two groups.





ami service dayThe City of Fort Lauderdale decreed December 3rd as “AMIkids 50th Year of Service Day” in recognition of AMIkids Greater Ft. Lauderdale working to change “the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth locally and nationally with proactive alternatives to institutional incarceration.”









ami jaxStaff, youth and board members of AMIkids Jacksonville recently had the opportunity to visit with Senator Aaron Bean at his district office. They discussed how their program is helping kids obtain vocational training and jobs. Thank you, Senator Bean, for your support of services helping at-risk youth!







eckerd youth at collegeYouth enrolled with Eckerd Connects Project Bridge in Miami had the opportunity to join the Project Bridge team and mentors for a College and Career Day tour at Florida International University (FIU).

The youth viewed the college classrooms, library, and dining facility and participated in a group session where they learned about the programs the college offers, the admission process, and financial aid while also getting to experience the FIU Hospitality, Journalism, and Marine Science programs in action.


youth at miami zooEckerd Connects Project Bridge youth also had the opportunity to participate in a field trip to Zoo Miami as a part of their experiential learning. Not only did the youth have the opportunity to experience something new, they also learned about the lives of the wildlife, how some made it onto the endangered wildlife list, and how to protect wildlife.





safety demonstrationSafety is always of the utmost importance and Eckerd Connects Project Bridge youth in Circuit 15 had the opportunity to learn about the elements of fire safety as well as the appropriate procedures to take in case of a fire.










youth purchasing work clothesOutside of the Box creative thinking is always at the forefront of the services provided by the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge team.

This young man is a true example of that!

CJ was recently hired for his very first job and was in need of work clothing in order to start on his new work journey. The Project Bridge team assisted CJ in learning how to shop within a budget and purchase his work items with a budget provided by the team.

Not only is CJ now a working man, he now knows how to navigate a store and search for the best prices on items to fit within a budget.

Education is an every day opportunity and the world is our classroom! Congratulations CJ and good luck on your new job!




shana feren and buddy hall with donationsProbation and Residential Services united in giving back to the rural area of Circuit 20, which covers Glades and Hendry counties.

JPO Shana Feren has been the mastermind behind giving needy families meals for Thanksgiving. JPO Feren began the task in 2007. This year, a total of 28 boxes were given to needy families in Glades and Hendy counties. Each box was equipped to feed families from 4 to 10 people.

JPO Feren’s act was accomplished with donations coming from co-workers and community partners in Glades and Hendry counties. The relationships she has built with these community partners throughout the rural area is quite overwhelming to see. Donation boxes were placed into schools and other entities within the community.

Commitment Manager Buddy Hall offered his assistance in handing out the boxes and replenishing items that were needed.  Commitment Manager Hall advised that “witnessing such a heartfelt act was amazing, to say the least, there were a lot of tears shed by very appreciative parents or guardians”.

The overflow of items that were received from donations are placed into a food pantry and hygiene pantry in the Hendry County Office. JPO Feren keeps this pantry stocked throughout the year with donations from around the rural area. Families facing hardship or just needing something extra can come to the office and get what is needed, with no questions asked.



international represantatives group photoThe Organization of American States recently had representatives visiting from Paraguay, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Barbados, Canada, Peru, and the Bahamas who observed juvenile drug court staffing meetings and subsequent juvenile drug court hearings.  These countries are all contemplating beginning their own Drug Court programs and Miami-Dade Juvenile Drug Court appears to be well known abroad. Mexico City, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have previously had the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Drug Court Team travel and conduct developmental workshops in their homeland.

The team that met with the visiting countries included the Honorable Judge Orlando A. Prescott, Public Defender Donna Fields, Assistant State Attorney Luis Rabayo, Drug Court Coordinator Ashley Wiggins, Case Manager Kiani Flores, Dade County Public School Staff Member Veronica Wade, Senior JPO Carlos Coronado and Senior JPO Irving D. Jackson.

jpos lana wilcok and ss cheryl minterThe Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP), in conjunction with the City of Miami Gardens-Vice Mayor, Senior JPO Rodney Harris, and the Office of State Representative Frederica Wilson were able to provide seven Thanksgiving baskets to local families. The baskets were given to three STEP participants families, two community families and two veteran widows. Thank you to STEP staff for reaching out to the families and making the baskets festive and full of the spirit of giving.











graduation photoCircuit 11 is also proud to announce the successful completion of the 18th cycle of the STEP sessions and graduation of youth.  The purpose of these sessions are to provide information and expose DJJ-involved and prevention youth with the opportunity to engage in topics of discussion that will assist them in making positive decisions and choices.  STEP group youth are encouraged to invite their parents, friends, and siblings to participate in these discussions in an effort to impact youth’s circle of influence. As the 18th cycle comes to a close, the team was able to honor the youth and parents with a graduation dinner, certificates, gits cards, and raffle prizes. Hats off to the Circuit 11 DJJ staff who make this all possible.

letters graphicTwo of our juvenile probation officers recently received letters commending them on their support and guidance of youth on their caseloads. Recently Circuit 6 JPO Lynda Hampton received a correspondence from a parent who thanked her for encouraging their son and helping to guide him through what can sometimes be a complicated system.

Circuit 3 JPO Katrina Taylor received a letter of thanks from a grandmother who is guardian of her grandson. The grandmother appreciated the way JPO Taylor explained the probation process in both a professional and personal way, making the process much easier and stress-free.

These letters are a great example of how DJJ is making a positive impact on the lives of youth, their families, and our communities!



youth with guest speakerJuvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Terry Evans was asked to be a guest speaker at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota. JPOS Evans explained the duties and responsibilities of a juvenile probation officer. He also spoke about prevention, anti-bullying and respecting each other. He addressed school threats and how serious they are and the consequences of them.

During the process, JPOS Evans selected several from the group to role play the juvenile justice process, starting from a youth’s arrest. The group had the roles of a police officer, parent, youth, state attorney, public defender, and a JPO. JPOS Evans played the role of the judge. They group demonstrated the arrest, the screening process, the first appearance and disposition (which was a probation placement). JPOS Evans ordered sanctions (fees, curfew, attend school, stay away from Tik Tok), which were explained in detail. JPOS Evans truly believe the youth were able to understand the role of JPOs by the end of the session.   



sdt logoCircuit 4 Probation had the privilege of being the first circuit to participate in SD&T’s Secondary Trauma and Personal Wellness training in Jacksonville. Maureen Honan with SD&T discussed the effects of trauma on DJJ staff and the importance of identifying ways to cope with stress. She provided videos that illustrate ways to deal with bullying, the benefits of identifying and expressing gratitude, understanding that employees have more in common than not, and the importance of taking care of each other. Karines Musgrove discussed self-care, living a balanced lifestyle, and she presented simple techniques to reduce stress, many of which can be done at our desks.  Feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive and we thank SD&T for a really great presentation!



probation staff at farm share eventCircuit 2 Probation Reform Specialist Brittany Condry, JPO Danyelle Hobbs, and JPO Anzio Bouche participated in a Farm Share event which took place in Gadsden County.  Farm Share was established in 1991, based on the simple idea to distribute fresh food, free of charge, to families, children, seniors and other individuals in need throughout Florida.  This simple but innovative project has now grown into an organization that feeds tens of millions of people and distributes more than 55 million pounds of healthy and nutritious food annually. 





food drive basket for youthCircuit 2 Probation staff also presented Thanksgiving baskets to seven deserving DJJ youth and their families. The baskets were sponsored by Circuit 2 staff, which included turkeys and other nonperishable items.













group photo c8The Circuit 8 Management Team showed their appreciation to the Probation staff for the hard work and dedication by honoring them with a cookout. Following the Circuit “Lunch and Learn” the staff enjoyed grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, along with a variety of side items.  This dedication and teamwork not only shows results in their youths’ successes but it also was evidenced by Circuit 8 receiving an excellent rating on their recent quality improvement review. Great job Circuit 8!



youth and staff at luncheonCircuit 8 Probation staff also provided a holiday luncheon of pizza, chips, and brownies to the girls at Alachua Academy.  Alachua Academy is a nonsecure, residential commitment program for girls located in Gainesville.  The Circuit 8 staff enjoyed interacting with the girls and providing them some fun and encouragement during this holiday week. Following lunch, the staff and girls played a game of bingo and Thanksgiving Trivia. The partnership between Circuit 8 Probation and Alachua Academy continues to grow with regular activities planned for the next few months.  Sharing a little holiday cheer goes a long, long way in the lives of these youth. 


c8 staff with donations for youthRecently in Circuit 8, the Probation Office and Project Connect team were challenged with meeting the needs of a 16-year-old youth who, tragically, lost his mother to cancer.  The youth is the middle child in a family of three boys. In an overwhelmingly sincere response, both the Circuit 8 Probation Office and Project Connect staff worked together to shore up the family's emergent needs, provide grief counseling services as needed, and connect them to community resources. While Circuit 8 JPO Robert Scott immediately initiated a referral for grief counseling for the youth to ensure he was able to process the emotions of the traumatic event, Project Connect went to work to address the near and long term family needs. Catholic Charities was engaged to support the family to include assistance with food and temporary utility expenses.  Emergency Assistant Coordinator Jackie Oliver with the Catholic Charities, personally directed these efforts.  She also provided bus passes, vouchers for the thrift store, a Thanksgiving basket, Publix gift card, and collaborated with the Partnership Library to provide the older youth with interview attire. 

TS Brown connected the youth with local clergy, Pastor Dixon, for continued mentorship and support.  Lead Transition Specialist Nazia Basha procured additional financial and physical resources for the youth.  TS Brown  provided workforce readiness and interview skills for the youth and facilitated a job interview at a local Arby's restaurant.  All in all, Circuit 8 probation and transition staff were able to pull together many resources to assist this youth and his family throughout this tragic event, show them a community that cares, and give them a glimmer of hope for a bright future.                    

Reform Specialist Zemetria Anderson and Deacon Fitz McKinzie of Hope Fellowship ChurchIn response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, Circuit 7 Probation staff, in collaboration with Hope Fellowship Church of Daytona Beach, started a relief project within the circuit. Reform Specialist Zemetria Anderson spearheaded the project, collected donations, and delivered the items to the church for transporting to the Bahamas.

Various circuit-wide stakeholders assisted in this project, providing several hundred dollars worth of food, clothing, cleaning items, and money to aid in the loss suffered by the victims in the Bahamas.

The devastation, witnessed nationwide, was not only tragic to watch but affected several families in the community and DJJ personally. We would like to extend our biggest gratitude to everyone that assisted in this project and a special thank you to the staff at Hope Fellowship Church for transportation of the donated items.

pace volusia facility collageThe Circuit 7 Probation staff and the Volusia County Juvenile Justice Council had the pleasure to visit PACE Center for Girls Volusia–Flagler during their monthly Juvenile Justice Council Meeting. Hosted by the PACE staff, the Volusia Council members had the opportunity to learn about PACE and how girls who are enrolled are moved further away from the delinquency system.

Beginning in 1996, PACE has served approximately 1,200 girls in Volusia and Flagler Counties. The Volusia Council members were given a tour of the facility, led by the Executive Director Georgia McCurdy. During the meeting, there were also presentations by the Volusia County School Board and Stewart Marchman’s Beach House.

Thank you to all of our partners involved in this event. Our partnerships with these organizations are strong and together we are making a big difference in the lives of these youth, their families and their communities. 



Detention Youth, Families and Staff Celebrate Thanksgiving

pinellas detention thanksgivingDetention centers across Florida celebrated Thanksgiving with their youth. Pinellas RJDC celebrated the level three meal differently for Thanksgiving and went with dessert instead. Youth that maintain their level are usually treated to the level three meals on Thursdays at Pinellas Detention. Thanksgiving 2019 pushed the usual Thursday meal to Wednesday and youth were treated with freshly baked brownies, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, fudge, and sprinkles. Twenty-six youth were eligible this week and all were surprised and happy to have dessert. Pictured is Major Reginald Allen and youth from the B-1 mod. Pinellas youth have adapted to the level 3 program and all strive with good behavior to be able to participate.



st. lucie thanksgivingSt. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center had their 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Celebration with Pastor Terry Ingram. Pastor Ingram is a mentor and educator in St. Lucie County. He volunteers his time to share with youth fashion and modeling. This is the 2nd Annual Fashion Show provided to St. Lucie Detention level 3 youth. This event is coordinated by Juvenile Detention Officer Pamela Durant and Captain John Johnson. After the event, youth enjoyed pizza, chips, drinks, and sweets.



escambia thanksgiving mealEscambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted its annual Thanksgiving meal that was happily celebrated with the kids and their family members. The food service department prepared a wonderful meal which included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, green beans, corn on the cob, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, and many more tasty treats.

For those kids who did not receive a visit from a family member, the detention staff, education, mental health, medical and volunteers ate with them.  Escambia RJDC wants to thank all of their staff members and volunteers for working so hard to prepare and serve these meals and make this event a complete success.


kitchen staff at marion rjdcMarion Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) had their Thanksgiving luncheon for youth and parents. The youth and parents enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal prepared and served by GOCII Lissette Godfrey, Food Service Director  LaShauna Matthews and, Food Service Workers Kevia Coach, Brenda Pate and Martha Youmans.











staff at hillsborough rjdc thanksgivingAlachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) held its annual Thanksgiving festival with the youth and their families. Staff served approximately 20 youth and their families a delicious Thanksgiving meal complete with sides and dessert. The classrooms were decorated by the staff and a few staff sat with the youth and had lunch. The youth got to spend some time with their families on this holiday.






camDeputy Wilmot with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office recently brought K9 “Cam” out to the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center to speak with youth about how to properly interact with law enforcement and how the K9 unit works.

The detention center looks forward to having Deputy Wilmot visit again to help build a solid rapport of respect and understanding for law enforcement and how we should interact with the officers.






manatee classThe Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) classroom is showing great improvement thanks to great teamwork. Teacher Jay Friend has turned a once less than 2% class participation to 99.5%. He believes this accomplishment is solely based on his overwhelming support from his co-workers and the Manatee RJDC staff.  Way to go Manatee RJDC!





orange guestThe Orange County Public School (OCPS) teachers from Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center invited special motivational speakers to reach out to the youth and inspire them when transitioning back to our communities. Special thanks to the following speakers that visited the center: Robert Benavides with Arroyo Landscape, Marcus Brown, Michaels Fama, Julieta Knapp with Stratus Roofing, Lisa Nalbone, Stefanie Nicholson, Jacob Taylor with Ark Plumbing, and Arlene Willis. We also want to thank all OCPS staff who worked at the center for making this event successful.






youth with community allianceOrange RJDC would like to thank Tammy Druely and the Community Alliance for having Marlow’s Tavern donate food for the youth. The Community Alliance members spent time with the Honors dorm and level 3 female youth. The Community Alliance spends time with the youth in order to provide them with skillful direction when they are transitioning back into the community.












Residential Youth Meet Harley the Therapy Dog

harleyThe youth and staff from Center for Success and Independence – Ocala, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, had the opportunity to meet Harley who’s a very friendly and well-groomed therapy dog owned by the program’s mental health therapist. This was great opportunity for the youth and staff to spend time with Harley, who also greets you with a paw hand shake.

Therapy animals, typically dogs, play a special role in providing comfort and affection to individuals in a hospital, retirement home, nursing home, hospice, schools, or other situations that will support those in need. There are three main classifications of therapy animals: animal assisted, facility therapy, and therapeutic visitation.

To have an animal become certified as a therapy animal, it must be well tempered, obedient, clean and well groomed, current on all vaccines, well behaved around other dogs and strangers, at least one year of age, and well socialized. The animal must also pass an examination to test its obedience and temperament. Most therapy groups may also require that the animal passes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.

palm beach thanksgiving

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel, hosted its 3rd Annual Fall Feast with the ladies of Halle Place. Halle Place is a program that houses women who were formerly incarcerated in Florida jails or prisons and now find themselves homeless. The program opened the evening with an interactive game using Skittles where the group shared the different people, places and things they are grateful for. Most of the ladies shared they were grateful for second chances. One of the young men performed an original rap selection for the occasion and was met with a standing ovation! The program also had a poster presentation of original artwork by the youth dedicated to the ladies of Halle Place. The program ended the evening with the guests sharing words of encouragement and motivation to the youth over a delicious meal of turkey, green beans, stuffing, rolls, macaroni and cheese and pumpkin pie lovingly prepared by Palm Beach Youth Academy kitchen staff. Sharing similar backgrounds of obstacles and challenges, the boys enjoyed great conversation and learned life lessons from the Halle Place ladies. It was a heartwarming evening filled with fall-themed food and fun!


palm beach gingerbreadTo enjoy the holiday season, the girls at Alachua Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by Sequel, participated in a gingerbread house competition.  Each team created their own gingerbread house village. This activity was used to teach the girls teamwork and the skill of using proper communication to complete a project. In addition to the learning opportunity, the girls enjoyed eating their completed projects.

The girls from Alachua Academy also went to Splitz, a local bowling alley.  The girls bowled, played arcade games, ate pizza, and participated in laser tag.  This gave them an opportunity for a little friendly competition, to learn teamwork and communication skills and have some fun.