Jr. Police Academy Performs Community Service
at Siloam Missionary Homes
(July 23, 2013 – Snow Camp) Junior Police Academy middle-school cadets from around Alamance County got the opportunity to leave the big city and experience farm life Tuesday at the Camp Glory Farm of Siloam Missionary Homes.
The rising seventh- and eighth-graders were participating in a “community day of service” as part of a four-week intensive summer program for at-risk youth begun on July 1, according to Chad Laws, assistant Academy coordinator. The 28 boys and girls helped spread landscape mulch at the 33-acre gated missionary community under the supervision of 15 school resource and D.A.R.E. police officers from the Alamance Sheriff’s Department and the Burlington and Graham Police Departments.
“This is the second year that the wonderful kids from the Junior Police Academy have come out to give us a hand. This helps maintain our grounds for our missionary families who come here to get much needed rest and comfort after spending years in the mission field under harsh conditions,” said Larry George, president of Siloam Missionary Homes (SMH). “As a nonprofit we depend on volunteers, but most importantly, we’re eager to partner with the Junior Police Academy to help our at-risk youth and the opportunity for us to give back to the community too.”
After a morning of spreading bark-a-mulch, the cadets and Academy staff broke for an all-you-can-eat hot dog lunch with all the fixings and desert. While seated for lunch, the group heard from Marcy Conaway, 35, a visiting missionary who worked with indigenous native people in the jungles of Argentina and Ecuador. Many of the cadets listened intently as Conaway talked about her own troubled youth and the domestic violence she experienced in her home. She credited her success and happiness to her early reliance on God who helped her to not only to survive her difficult upbringing and finish high school, but to realize her goal to go to college and become a teacher.
Following lunch, the cadets were eager to walk around the farm and see the animals. Rachel George, responsible for animal husbandry and agriculture at the SMH farm, had their undivided attention as she talked about the colorful personalities that farm animals have, including “Flash,” the chocolate-brown alpaca with big eyelashes who likes to spit at you if he’s displeased.
For many, this was the first time they had ever gotten up close to pet and feed alpacas and goats, see guineas, chickens and white geese, or learn how to grow a natural herb garden. The laughter and broad smiles on the cadet’s faces spoke volumes about how domesticated animals can touch the hearts of hurting kids. Some asked if they could visit again.
Developed by the Burlington Police Department in 1999, with Graham and Alamance County Sheriff’s Department joining later, Laws said the year-round mentoring program is staffed by law enforcement personnel who have extensive training working with troubled youth. Many of the qualifying cadets, he said, have behavioral problems at home or at school, or both. Laws said the early intervention program, thanks in part to generous donations from individuals and businesses, is designed to help at-risk students learn social skills, character development, basic respect, responsibility, integrity, goal setting, building self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management, instruction on substance abuse, preventing violence and gang prevention, and more. The cadets are paired with academy staff members.
“If we give these kids a chance to talk and share what’s going on inside them, then we can help prevent a Virginia Tech or Columbine,” said resource officer Quincy Adams.