In May 2014 over sixty people interested in supporting disconnected youth assembled for a symposium “Creating Community Connections for Transition-Aged Youth in Maine” at the Wishcamper Center at the Muskie School of Public Service. Attendees, who included youth, community members, and care providers representing a broad range of social service systems, listened as keynote speaker, Colby Swettberg of Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring, discussed the importance of strong and healthy partnerships for youth in transitions. A panel discussion followed, where panelists related their experiences of what works and what doesn’t in developing partnerships between youth and adults.
Panelists included: Melanie Cardus, Co-Chief of Volunteers at Long Creek Youth Development Center; Laurie Davis, the Executive Director of TRIO Programs at the University of Southern Maine; Olivia Kolar, who spent several years in foster care, living in seven different towns, ending with Portland, where she graduated from high school and currently resides; Maria Russell, the Opportunity Youth Transition Specialist with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, working on behalf of MYTC’s Post-Secondary Success Opportunity Initiative; and Dave Wurm, who as Coordinator with Goodwill Industries of Northern New England’s Youth Services, coordinates the Off-Grounds Employment program for Long Creek Youth Development Center residents.
After a discussion with the panelists, participants shared lunch and viewed the film, “A Shoestring for Mackenzie”, followed by a discussion led by the producer, Carl Lakari of Project AWARE.
Sponsors for the event: Portland Mentoring Alliance, Seeds of Independence, Strategies for a Stronger Sanford, and Community Partnership for Protecting Children.