Teen programs need sponsors

By Christina Calloway
Senior writer
ccalloway@pntonline.com

The coordinators of the Municipal Court’s DWI Program and the Portales Teen Court program are looking for more sponsors that can provide community service opportunities for court offenders.

Every offender in Teen Court, an alternative sentencing program for youth who commit misdemeanor crimes, is given community service hours to fulfill, anywhere between 12 and 150 hours.

There are about five to six teen court offenders who need to complete community service each month.

DWI Program Coordinator Riki Seat said some organizations have been skeptical in the past of the youth participants of Teen Court being left unattended to do work, but Seat said they will now be offering supervision.

Sponsors need to be a nonprofit organization, church or public agency, according to Seat, and have to be in Roosevelt County.
Anyone who has a request for service, such as painting over graffiti or picking up trash in certain area of town, can contact Seat and she will add it to their list of projects, a list she is looking to grow.

“It’s more of a service to the community,” Seat said. “We accept people who need to fulfill court ordered community service.”
Seat said the supervision will be provided on from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

Seat said the program not only benefits the community, it makes the offenders responsible and teaches them to give back to their home.
“It makes them feel like they’re a part of the community,” Seat said. “Doing something positive has its own rewards.”
She added having a supervisor will build positive reinforcement and self esteem among the youth offenders.
“Just because you get in trouble doesn’t make you a bad person,” Seat said.

Teen Court Coordinator Mary Poynor said she wants to show court offenders they can contribute back to the community.
She said while the City of Portales has offered spots for youth in the past, she wants other community leaders to step up and give youth an opportunity to better themselves.

“What I really like to see happen is these sponsors not only allow them to work, but to have an interaction with these kids,” Poynor said. “I think these sponsors would be excellent in giving them direction.”

Poynor said these youth often need role models and their family lives may not provide that for them.
“I think this community has a lot to offer without giving too much,” Poynor said. “The youth need to learn to interact with the community. If the sponsors can give them that, they can be more productive citizens.”