"Invest In Our Youth" Fundraiser Gala Set For June 11

St. Mary's County Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Services, Division of Community Services and the Seagulls are hosting the "Invest in Our Youth" Fundraiser Gala on Saturday, June 11, 2005, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hall in Lexington Park, Maryland.

Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with Hors d'ouvers. A dinner of Steamship Round and Crab Cakes with all the trimmings will be served promptly at 7:00 p.m. Dancing will begin at 8:00 p.m. with the sound of Yamama'Nym, a band based in Washington, D.C., which was recently selected to entertain our military troops overseas. This is a semi-formal adult event. The cost is $35.00 per person and $60.00 per couple. To attend, please make checks payable to: The Seagulls, c/o Community Services, P.O. Box 653, Leonardtown, Md. 20650. The proceeds from this annual event support quality youth programs in St. Mary's County such as the St. Mary's County Teen Court and The Seagulls Drill Team.

St. Mary's County Teen Court is a juvenile delinquency prevention program. The first program of its kind was created in 1976 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Over the past 25 years the program has spread throughout the United States. Its proven success in providing juveniles with a second chance to succeed has made it a popular program in our neighboring counties. St. Mary's County began its Teen Court Initiative in 2001, after a St. Mary's College of Maryland student completed her St. Mary's Project on the success of Teen Court. In January of 2002, a committee was formed consisting of representatives from the community and different government agencies to discuss the feasibility and sustainability of developing a Teen Court program in St. Mary's County.

Teen Court is unique in that juveniles play the major roles in the courtroom including the jury, defense attorney, prosecutor, clerk and bailiff. The judge is an adult leader in his or her profession and/or community. Currently judges include members of law enforcement, attorneys and education professionals. Eligible juveniles to appear in Teen Court are first-time offenders whose crimes are relatively minor in seriousness. Upon successful completion of the program, which entails staying out of trouble, completing sanctions determined by their peer court, and maintaining contact with the Teen Court Coordinator, the juvenile's criminal charge never becomes a part of his or her permanent record.

Teen Court provides a number of benefits to the community. The first, and perhaps the most important, is the reduced recidivism rate associated with Teen Courts (such programs around the country have reported recidivism rates significantly lower than those of more traditional juvenile courts). In addition, Teen Court provides an activity for both young and older volunteers in our community. The program gives young people an opportunity to get Student Service Learning hours, while also developing a sense of responsibility and autonomy in each participant. Adult volunteers, whether acting as a judge or jury monitor, have the opportunity to learn more about and become involved with the young people of St. Mary's County.

The Seagulls is a youth program, which was organized in 1983 by Community Activist, Mr. William (Al) Porter. The Seagulls have three units, Color Guard, Drill Team and Pompoms. The participants are county youth ranging in ages from 4 to 15. The Seagull's purpose is to give young people healthy, disciplined, alternative activities. The Seagulls have participated in numerous events: Maryland Day, St. Mary's County Fair and the 350th Anniversary Celebration of the Maryland Day Parade. They have also participated in events at King's Dominion and Hershey Park.

For more information and to make reservations to attend this year's Fundraiser Gala, contact the Division of Community Services, 301-475-4200 ext: 1849. If you are unable to attend, your donation is most important and gratefully appreciated.

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