For Immediate ReleaseJuly 18, 2017
Board of Supervisors OK’s funding for Canal Welcome Center youth programs
San Rafael, CA – With three years of collaboration already completed, the Marin County Probation Department didn’t think twice when it came to renewing an agreement with the Canal Welcome Center in San Rafael to provide programming for at-risk juveniles.
Also at the meeting, the Supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming the week of July 16-22 as Probation, Parole, and Community Supervision Week and commended the Probation Department for its commitment to working with community partners, agencies and law enforcement to achieve public safety goals.
An illustration of that collaborative effort was the partnership with the Canal Welcome Center, in the bayside Canal neighborhood just east of downtown San Rafael. Center staff works to advance the social, cultural, and economic well-being of the area’s residents and encourage them to participate fully in broader civic life.
“We’re extremely happy about this because the Canal Welcome Center has been an amazing partner for us and we have some dramatic successes to show for it,” said Kevin Lynch, Director of Juvenile Probation Services.
Douglas Mundo, Founder and Executive Director of the Canal Welcome Center, said upwards of 200 young people have participated in the three programs over the first three years. He can’t keep track of all the positive results, but three recent examples come to his mind:
“I’ve seen their paths turn from the wrong direction toward a successful life,” Mundo said. “One big reason why some kids get in trouble is a lack of learning how to be successful. Most of the youths involved in these programs haven’t been successful in anything. They’ve never started something and seen it to the end. Sometimes they don’t have role models or anybody to provide guidance in a culturally appropriate way. If you don’t have that, you don’t build trust. Lots of them who start with us really don’t trust anybody. Just getting them involved in our programs is a big step.”
Lynch said Marin has a surprisingly high percentage of those who come into the juvenile justice system who are Latino, and Probation has not been as successful in getting them to complete probation as compared other populations. “They need assistance getting across the finish line,” he said.
The assistance really comes from the hired mentors who run the three programs, Mundo said. “Since they have real-life experience, they really understand the challenges and they are eager for the opportunity to work with this population,” he said. “They bring compassion and provide a safe place for the young people to build relationships and trust. Once (the youths) succeed for the first time, they build confidence and feel comfortable and empowered enough to do it on their own.”
David Escobar, a former County of Marin employee, works full-time as the director of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program for Center Point Inc. He spent four months earlier this year facilitating the Canal Welcome Center’s Presente Youth Leadership Program. A dozen high school students attended his evening workshops twice a week for three hours at a time and listened to university-level lectures about leadership, civic and governmental issues. The topics ranged from public speaking and listening to navigating institutional government to contemporary indigenous political and environmental issues.
“They not only kept up, but they soaked it up like sponges,” Escobar said. “They were interested and resilient. Some of them are working now at the Welcome Center as volunteers on different projects. Coming from San Quentin where I work during the day, it would make my week to be with those young people in the evenings and have the opportunity to help develop them into leaders.”
Kevin LynchDirector of Juvenile ServicesProbations Department
Marin County Juvenile Hall4 Jeannette Prandi WaySan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6620Email: Kevin LynchProbation website