Before providing information and background on Middle Earth, I'd like to make an editorial comment. With regard to choosing a charity, there are certainly larger organizations with greater name recognition. However, Middle Earth has a personal significance to me, since I have been working closely with the charity for over a year as a Board of Trustees member. It has provided me with insight on the positive impact that Middle Earth has on youth and the community. Below is an overview of Middle Earth, its purpose, activities, and importance. Of course, more details can be found on www.middleearthonline.com.
The following background and context will help frame the work of Middle Earth.Stemming from the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future (attended by all living US presidents, 30 state governors, 100 mayors and many of our nation's prominent thought leaders), research-based consensus has been built around 5 key fundamental resources that are required for kids to grow into healthy, responsible, independent adults:
•caring adults •safe places and productive use of time •healthy start and development •effective education for marketable skills and lifelong learning •opportunities to make a difference through helping others
It seems so basic, but an estimated 20% of America's youth have little or no exposure to these resources. Moreover, the most dramatic impact is seen by providing success-oriented intervention to the most disadvantaged youth. While these building blocks of human capital have been brought into focus in the past decade through America's Promise Youth Alliance, Middle Earth has been applying these principles for over 35 years, concentrating on the local youth population most in need of these basic resources.
Middle Earth's mission is:
To provide prevention, intervention and crisis services to youth to assist them in developing into responsible and productive members of the community
The primary activities of Middle Earth are to •act as advocates for the community's youth •work collaboratively with other agencies to link youth and their needs to appropriate services •involve youth in volunteer initiatives and community service •provide positive role modeling and teach values, life skills, and respect for self and others •provide positive alternatives to delinquent behavior
Middle Earth operates two community youth centers (in Bridgewater and Bound Brook, NJ) where caring adults provide a safe supervised environment for over 500 kids making more than 3500 visits, annually.Aside from recreational activities, the centers run programs focused on career and education development, decision making skills, community service, girls’ groups and music groups.Middle Earth collaborates with local agencies and schools to link the needs of students with tailored programs and activities.Further, Middle Earth runs specialized programs targeting youth most in need.The specialized services include structured, therapeutic after school programs, summer volunteer opportunities, and mentorship for emotionally challenged youth who are at risk of institutionalization.More than just the centers and the programs, Middle Earth promotes empowerment, establishes boundaries and expectations, and practices patience and perseverance.In some cases, interaction with Middle Earth staff and volunteers may be the greatest positive reinforcement some of the kids experience.
Based on experience with previous generations of kids, as Middle Earth youth grow up to be future parents, neighbors and employees, the benefits resulting from intervention with Middle Earth will potentially have far reaching implications.